NFG Season One - Like Second Nature

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Description: In which Minal Panesh crosses the traditional divide between highly advanced technology and magic, and everyone learns what a halberd is.

Rumble was nuts. The draft that followed was even worse. But to the participants of the new Team Metal it just looked like government bureaucracy, as... well, most of the insanity was hidden behind a few tersely-worded text messages from Corporal Minal Panesh of the US Special Forces. Apparently... everyone was busy as hell making sure this new system was even going to -work-.

At last, though, the day has arrived to finally meet one of the new arrivals. Minal is currently on the first of the EVOLVE floors off in the workout equipment area. A thermos of coffee sits on a nearby table, piping-hot steam emanating from within. The corporal herself, garbed in an olive drab tank top and baggy cargo pants, is currently in the process of hammering her Jony Ive-inspired hands into a speed bag.

She's gone through the process of making sure Iris can breeze through security as quickly as she can -- though she would probably need to smile for a photo at the security desk. Mint's positioned herself so she can keep the elevator in view while she punches away.

The email that Iris had received from Gregory Ilvich might be the creepiest thing that the wizard had experienced since joining the NFG, and this is including being attacked by a baby-faced actor who was literally drooling and a guy who turned his arms into octopus tentacles.

But it wasn't creepy in an existential, 'I am considering the nature of life on this Earth' way. Rather, it's a 'late capitalism will end everyone soon so intense marketing-ese makes me anxious' way. Still, she Signed A Contract, and if you want to find someone who takes the nature of signing contracts EXTREMELY seriously, a ritual magic user is somewhere to look. In the world of sorcery, if you sign a document, you better be VERY sure you've read it thoroughly.

This thought will not come back to haunt her later this year, for sure. Definitely not.

Regardless, it means she's got her LifeBand(tm) on, and when the message comes in from the sponsors (well, sponsor singular, in Mint's case) for training, the Brit honestly jumps at the chance. She doesn't necessarily blame them for it, but being so distanced from Team Blaze in round 1 has made her resolved to take on more opportunities for socialization and training as a new part of Team Metal. Plus... well. Her conversation with Ichika at Starbucks looms large in her mind, now, and while she respects the young Japanese fighter's view on the matter, the opinion of someone more experienced seems good to have, too.

This is why despite her anxiousness about Ultratech's... uh, tech, it's a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Iris who jogs into the workout room only SLIGHTLY after when she was supposed to be here, a shiny new Ultratech ID card clipped to her jacket. "Hello!" she ventures, walking in. "Apologies, got held up forcing the security people to retake pictures until one of them was flattering."

Mint spots the elevator in motion -- but honestly, those things buzz through her so often through the day it's hardly even worth a second look, so she gets a few more swift jabs in. So she's a -little- distracted by her next volley of attacks until Iris walks more directly into her field of view. At that point, though, she lowers her guard and flashes a cheerful smile.

"Oh! Miss Osterlund! So glad to finally meet you in person!"

Mint dabs her forehead dry with a nearby towel, then drapes the towel across her shoulders. If Iris was worried about first impressions, well, it's clear she's got the upper hand here. It could have been intentional on Mint's part. Maybe.

"Yeah, so many of them are just happy with faces being totally over- or under-exposed. My first picture had me lookin' like a big featureless blob." She pauses one beat, then follows up: "... Oh, right. Minal Panesh, but you knew that. Feel free to call me 'Mint!'"

She looks down at her hands -- and then realizes she's probably been working out a little -too- much. Might not be the best time for handshakes. But, having done that, she coughs out a laugh. "There's times I realize the Japanese greeting works well!" Cue placing her hands at her sides and bowing forward.

"So... I take it this might be a little different than Blaze's base of operations?"

She laughs slightly at that, still in that awkward stage of trying to get a feel for who Iris really -is-.

Because it's the British side of the family -- her mother's -- that are the wizarding family, historically Iris had very little to do with the American side of her heritage. Didn't hurt that the Osterlunds (they're matrilineal, which thankfully Iris's easygoing father didn't care about) were about as snobbishly, upper crust British-y as they could possibly be about an American family from the Twin Cities who were so Minnesota Nice that they utterly failed to catch any of the snotty backhanded double entendre and just asked if they wanted more hot dish.

As Mint delivers her refreshingly personable greeting, some ancient childhood part of Iris's brain remembers thinking Grandma Hanson's hot dish being pretty good and that she could really go for some right now.

"Oh god," Iris says, smiling with vague embarrassment at both the 'miss' and the bow. "Just 'Iris' is fine, ma'am... Mint." Unable to stop herself, the wizard bobs a tiny proper curtsy with a grin. "Honestly, I love being in the US. I know I've got an RP accent but British formality makes me feel insane. A lot of showy social behavior with 0 substance to it."

Iris shrugs off the dufflebag she was carrying, letting it slump bonelessly to the floor next to one of the training dummies or weight racks or somesuch.

The question about Blaze's accommodations gets a nervous little 'aheh' from the Brit, who rubs the back of her neck. "So interesting fact, I was SUPPOSED to be living with them in the digs they set up, and nobody ever told me that, so I spent the whole time in a hotel with my sta--" A pause, a notable one, as she remembers that her butler and nanny vanished without a trace OR a word of goodbye, a thing that continues to needle her internally. Shrugging it off, she continues: "Either way, this whole vaguely cyberpunk setup is my first real time being in team space."

"Iris, then!" Mint's happy to use the much shorter name. Much better vibes. Though the New Jerseyan does show a puzzled look at the mention of an 'RP accent,' as if she's trying to figure out if that's something British or not. "... Ah. Well, yeah, it's a lot more comfy for me being in the States too... Though it -was- nice to see more people at eye-level in Japan." Short people problems.

The dark-skinned Marine is... honestly not surprised at the lack of communications from Team Blaze. Their lack of professionalism was one of the things she'd noted in her Draft pitch... and well, the faint smile on her face shows just happy to have been right about that point. She does take note of the pause -- but, aside from a brief return of that puzzled look, she's content to let it slide.

"Oh. Well, yeah! Welcome to life in Team Metal! It's a pretty neat little enclave they've set aside for us here. Last time we were working out of a gutted drugstore. So we're definitely moving up a step or two." She lifts her wrist -- showing off that she's got a LifeBand similar to Iris'. "Even if some of your teammates might feel a little, er, tethered, I think it pays off." Her voice drops to a conspriatory hush -- though, of course, that obviously wouldn't change anything in the midst of an Ultratech facility. "All you gotta do is say the keyword I'm definitely not going to say right now that was in your email."

Returning to her usual volume, she gestures around to the floor: "On this floor we got, well, everything you see here, stuff to get better at fighting. Second floor's got a kitchen, group areas to chill and -not- think about fighting. If you want food, just make a wish and they got you covered. It's pretty neat."

She passes a brief glance to the duffel bag, before looking back up to Iris. "And the third floor's the living quarters! I know you just got here an' all, so it'd be totally cool if you wanna go upstairs and freshen up or whatnot."

She rests her hands on her hips, easing into something more of a professional look despite her casual workout gear. "... Or if you're ready for a workout -now-, I mean, I'm more than happy to oblige!"

"A gutted out whatnow?" the Brit asks with a tinge of genuine shock and maybe a smidgen of horror. Yeah, she was a little miffed at missing out in round one, and more than a little aware that she herself could have tried harder to reach out, but at the very least they weren't put up in a post-apocalyptic Duane Reade. She looks around the room, getting strong 'Wonkavision camera room' vibes once more, but... still. "Yeah, I'd call this a definite improvement."

Mint's comments about the watches is weirdly reassuring to Iris, and it shows on her face, but it's just in her nature to quip it out. "Good to know, but I mean, I'm Gen Z," she adds with a faint smile. "If I were super worried about a little unasked-for surveillance from our capitalist overlords, I'd never leave the house." How will this statement play out to a Literal Military Person? Who knows. Maybe she's equally cynical after seeing the military-industrial complex up close.

The question of training, however, makes the young Brit suddenly seem much more reserved than she had been to that point. "I, uh... honestly I'd love to get some training in, and I hope some of it can be actual combat stuff because, I mean... you saw." For a moment, a sheepish grin returns, a smile seeming more natural on the wizard's face by contrast. "I had good luck in the Rumble, but despite what Ichika thinks, it really DID feel more like luck than anything I did. I definitely need the help. But truth is..."

A sigh, and a frown replacing the sudden smile; Iris looks off to the right, like she can't say this while looking at Mint's face, and leans on the shoulder of a practice dummy. "Honestly I need some psychological... maybe spiritual?... help first, about all this. Especially coming from someone who's been fighting their entire career."

"A drugstore." She pauses, with a neutral expression on her face. "It's a government trick to get cheap property up and running on the drop of a hat; just pick up cheap real estate and do a makeover. Property's just gonna get vacated when you finish anyway, ain't no sense in making a dream home out of it."

She dismisses the topic with a shrug. She has... -opinions- about the surveillance state that she'd be perfectly happy to share when -not- tethered to an always-on microphone. In all reality, she's just happy that Iris is happy enough to sign on to the LifeBand terms and conditions without a fuss -- to which Mint sems to flash a grin. Yes -- that's... kind of the situation she'd signed up to ages ago -anyway- in her military career. "Just existing as a person gets entries in eighty jillion databases anyway. I'd always taken their asking for permission as a sign they'll at least -try- to do right by you."

The Marine seems... more than happy to dial back her enthusiasm once she sees Iris getting into a more introspective mode of thought. She doesn't interrupt -- rather, she lets Iris finish her thoughts without rushing her. But one thing that -might- be uncomfortable is the way Mint continues looking at her; even if Iris looks away, Mint is still staying focused on the young woman's face.

"Well, I mean, you're gonna hear this a lot and I'm sorry, but -- you did -fantastic- in the Rumble." She grins reassuringly. "And in my book, the first step to 'luck' is to position yourself in the place where luck can actually figure into things. Because let's face it, just wishing and praying didn't win you that fight wouldn't have made things happen."

Her reassuring mode of speech falters slightly, as it is now Mint's turn to look away: "You wanna talk about luck, you had a teammate critically fail at *walking down a ramp*."

Her aside complete, she looks back to Iris with a reassuring grin. "Well, close enough on the 'whole career' thing, but sure, I get where you're coming from. I'm happy to listen and offer any advice I can!"

Relaxing, she takes a half step back, patting her forehead down with the towel again. "So, do you wanna talk out here or grab a snack from upstairs?"

"You know," Iris says, with an almost grateful smile at Mint's description of how she did in the Rumble, "I met Ichika in the street before we left Sunshine, and we went for coffee, and she said almost the exact same thing about that?" She'd demurred the earnest swordfighter's claim at the time, but she hadn't forgotten it: 'Even if it was luck, it's proof that you CAN do it.' "I mean, after she told me I was being hard on myself, her point of view was: if it's luck, just learn how to do it consistently from now on."

Standing up and having this conversation is starting to weird her out, so the Brit looks for the nearest thing she can sit down and discovers it's an unoccupied weight bench, which suits her fine. And for a moment, a blessed moment, Mint gives her an opening to finally, FINALLY say something that's been bugging her ever since. "What was his DEAL? Did you ever notice conspicuously bad things seemed to happen to him every time he showed up?" She vaguely remembers his appearance at Lucky Chloe's beach-cleaning party where he LITERALLY appeared to rise from the dead on a beach and was instantly mobbed by children. "Not gonna lie, I was tempted to sweep the arena for actual curses afterward."

She smiles, again, if only because the moment is one of both release (seriously WHAT is his DEAL) and carefully-manicured avoidance of dealing with her actual feelings. Sadly, the latter can't be put off forever.

"Look... don't tell anyone else on the team, she says in the probably-microphoned room wearing her official biometric surveillance watch, but this?" And here, she punctuates the statement by holding out a hand and summoning a dagger into it with her customary flicker of rainbow light. "I'm sure it feels impressive to other people, but what you need to know is that by magus standards this is baby stuff. Briefly summoning useful objects is really not that hard. It's no different than another fighter who trained all their life with a sword knowing special things to do with the sword." She lets the dagger vanish. "This is my way of saying that I'm not--" For a brief second, her nose wrinkles up like she smelled something bad, before she finishes the sentence: "--Dumbledore, or whatever."

Iris clears her throat. "Sorry. She ruined it for British magic-users everywhere with those books and then twice-over with all the... well, you know. Anyhow."

Iris leans forward, elbows on her thighs, and looks at Mint carefully. "The teleporting stuff is maybe a little more advanced," she concedes, "but it's still a very basic principle. I just... I don't feel like a *fighter*, you know? Not like everyone else. A fancy lightshow doesn't feel like it makes you a fighter." She sighs, and lets out a breath of frustration that blows her bangs up briefly. "I feel more like a fraud than a fighter, to be honest."

Mint is content to listen for the first part. At least until Iris mentions coffee. At which point, Mint compulsively reaches for her thermos and takes a sip.

"Ichika's good people. Almost had her on the team, but." Her screed in the draft probably made clear -why-.

As for Brian Storm... Mint laughs. "He's a pro wrestler. He's good at mugging for the camera. I just..." Drawing in her breath, she turns away with a thousand-yard stare. She's... been in life-or-death battles before. It's with that sort of resignation in her tone that she admits: "I got a feeling that there's a lot of uncomfortable truths in that man. That's all I got, really. I'm afraid if I delve too deeply into those mysteries I might never know true happiness ever again."

Mind. She laughs afterwards. So maybe it's not -that- serious.

She listens for a good long while, nodding when it feels right, giving a slightly puzzled look when young adult fiction is brought up. "... Oh. That's... yeah. Okay. I know who you're talking about now." Mint does not, in fact, know who Iris is talking about, as she sets her coffee thermos back down. But she is engaged for the point that follows. At which point, she thinks for a moment, resting her chin on a pensive hand.

"Iris, have you ever heard the phrase, 'fake it till you make it?' Because..." Her gaze flits around for a moment, before landing on the speed bags. At which point, she turns back to Iris with an inspirational smile.

"Lemme give you an example. Before I lost my hands -- Afghanistan war, improvised explosives, long boring story, moving on now -- I was a boxer."

She puts up her dukes, stepping over to the speed bag, and starts throwing out punches. She already has breath control mastered, so the task is one-hundred percent rote. "I can be sitting here throwing punches all day. There's been hundreds, thousands, millions of books written about what constitutes the 'right' way to box. The 'right' way to throw a hook, or an uppercut. I studied all that stuff. Got pretty good at it. You can spend -days- just discussing whether a single punch in a pro match followed all the rules or whatnot. And believe me, people -did-..."

Mint gives the speed bag one final slam. Not, like, excessively -loud-, but just enough to put a period on that last sentence.

She shrugs sweat-slick shoulders at Iris. "Suddenly, ain't none of that mattered afterwards. These fists ain't good for anything but training, boring-ass paperwork, and handshakes when they're not greased down with sweat. I fight with metal prosthetics in the ring. They add about ten inches of reach. And that alone tears the rulebook in half, pitching it right into the trash. You see, changing that length made *none* of the old physics work any more. I had to figure out all new ways to manage my weight, relearn breathing and cycling, just so I could punch people."

She runs fingers through her hair, momentarily lost in the memory. "... So yeah. People complained. But they didn't lose their hands in an improvised explosives mishap. So it actually got a lot -easier- to tell them all to piss right off."

She smiles, walking back over to Iris, resting her palms on her knees.

"I guess what I'm sayin' is... there ain't a whole lot of people usin' magic to fight with. If you don't tell anyone you're not sure how something works, by and large, no one will ever know." She laughs, adding: "I mean, internet keyboard warriors might. But they're wrong just as often as they're right -anyway-, so who cares?"

Mint stands up again, pacing to the side. "... That got long, sorry. The big thing for -you- to take from this is... if you need to bop someone with a hammer, you need a hammer, right? You're kinda right -- it ain't the lightshow that matters, it's whether you can lay the other guy out with it."

That was more story than Iris was expecting, but she seems rapt as she listens to it, not part of the reason for which being that as one might expect, she definitely WANTED to know about the hands -- they stand out! -- but was far too polite to ask. Plus, well... regardless of the fighting style, you kinda have to appreciate strong and practiced form, and as Mint lays into the bag, she's showing off an effortless form that Iris is, frankly, deeply jealous of on some level.

Mint has never gone to punch someone and then found out her fist is a squeaky mallet.

Probably never, anyway.

"You know?" she suddenly says, at the mention of keyboard warriors, "I haven't read people's comments on my socials because I'm thankfully not THAT far gone." This is an internet-savvy fighter who spends a lot of her free time online; she knows exactly where that road leads, i.e. madness. "And I solemnly promise that if it EVER comes up I will change the topic as fast as possible."

Still, Mint's story is weighty, and it's a lot for Iris to think over. "Forgive me if this comparison feels insulting, but... in a weird way I'm kind of in the same boat," she says, expression screwing up a bit with consternation. "I've been able to pull a sword out of thin air since I was 16, but that was the skill I learned: making it happen. Now?" She shadowboxes briefly, as close as she can to gesturing to what she would ACTUALLY need to do. "Now I need to summon it, make sure I didn't actually get a frozen swordfish or something instead, because... well, you saw," she adds, alluding to a number of Summons Gone Wrong in the Rumble.

"Before it was a success just to make the spell happen. Now I actually have to do something with it, something I was... well, I mean. I got the Rich British Girl experience, so I learned a bit of fencing in school, and I did track and field so I can throw a javelin, but I am basically learning an entirely new way to use an old skill where what I knew before is only fractionally helpful. That's why I mean by 'similar situations'."

The brown-haired magus shakes her head a little, letting out a loud breath that betrays the frustration she still feels. "I'm sure it'll work out in time, but there's always a voice in my head saying 'you're being stupid, move back home, stop fighting, finish your magical studies'." A pause, and then a smirk. "A voice that sounds an awful lot like my sister's, actually. But it's also looking at all the people I saw in that big-ass fight who were really giving it everything they had and who were really invested and..."

A final shrug, hands in the air for a second. "It's very easy for impostor syndrome to slip into that gap, you know?"

Mint grins. Controlling the urge to egosurf is a big part of coming to grips with expanding one's social footprint. It can be useful to find out what one's own status is ... one step at a time. "Sounds like the right way to approach it, yeah."

Mint listens. She's engaged, of course -- nodding her head where appropriate, pursing her lips at the mention of a swordfish, grinning at the idea of Iris as a track-and-field star. But it's a good long while before the normally-loquacious New Jerseyan finally speaks up -- to the rhetorical question at the end, of course.

"Right? I totally get that." Impostor syndrome, that delightfully annoying stowaway to confidence that forces one to question their every move. "There's always that burning question of, like, are you -really- good, or are you just in denial? But ... I can say that, in fighting..."

She throws out her fist in a straight line. It comes nowhere close to hitting Iris, or anything of consequence -- but what's certain is that if her knuckles -had- hit something, it would have gone flying. And the intense look in her eyes, as she looks just past Iris, shows that.

"In the ring, confidence is a weapon." She turns hazel eyes back to Iris. "All of that other stuff... family issues, worries about magical studies... it's easier to set that aside, because you've got one -mission- in front of you. Right? Just one goal: do the best you can."

Here, Mint relaxes, bringing both hands in front of her, lightly curled, as she backs toward the speed bag.

"Insecurities, doubt... there's one trick I've learned for dealing with that. And that's to write them down -- and read them right as I'm starting training for a day."

She reaches up to pat the speed bag. And then she just hauls off and -whacks- the speed bag with a hammer, so hard it will keep flopping back and forth while she continues.

"And then I focus. I fight that battle -outside- the ring, by trying to do -everything I can- to make those doubts surface where I have some control over them."

She steps away from the speed bag, squaring her feet shoulders' width apart, and raises her hands before her again, lightly curled. "You apologized for the comparison, and I didn't take any offense then -- but similarly, forgive me for not knowing how these things -work- in your fields. ... But I'm gonna guess you weren't always a pro with summoning. Yeah? You had to start at the bottom and work your way up. So my question is... How'd you work past that? How are you now at the point where when you wave your hand or whatnot -- sorry, again, clueless about these things -- that when you wave your hand, you know *something* will pop out, even if it's not what you want?"

Iris would LOVE to say she has 'confidence' but if pressed on the issue what she would actually admit to having is a combination of 'a belief in her own invincibility' and 'a disregard for common sense'. The truth is probably where between those two extremes, of course, but whatever it is she has, as Mint's fist slices through the air with considerable intention, the Brit can't help but feel like she probably doesn't have enough of it.

The advice the Marine is giving is good, but it's just Iris's nature to tease people, an urge she has an extremely hard time curbing for the most part, which accounts for the grin she gives Mint. "Fake it 'til you make it? Make a list of my worries? Is this training or multi-level marketing?" She pauses for what she HOPES will be a laugh rather than an annoyed grunt.

Turning her eyes up toward the ceiling, the magus kicks her feet under the weight bench back and forth for a bit. "We don't START with knives," Iris says, voice going vaguely distant as she recalls her training in the one skill she's claimed to be "good at" since coming here. A faint chuckle, a smirk. "Though I bet if Mother thought she could get away with it, she WOULD have." Lowering her head, she turns back to Mint as she explains. "You start with everyday things: a spoon, a hammer, a tape measure. There's rules, obviously; you can't make living matter out of thin air, for example, so I couldn't conjure myself a sandwich, though I could MAKE a sandwich by hand and summon it later." Iris twirls her fingers and a silvery spoon appears there, basically indistinguishable from a stage magician's legerdemain.

With a *pop!* the spoon vanishes. "When you start out, it requires so much concentration. You have to visualize the object, but you also need to focus on the form it'll take, the place it'll appear in... you drill it until it becomes so ingrained that you can do it unconsciously." She pauses, then laughs. "Mom would sometimes be hiding around a corner with a broom or something, and as you rounded the corner she'd swing it at you and expect you to do ANYTHING but dodge. It's how I got VERY good at summoning shields... like, physical shields you hold in your hand." Her face lights up with the amused grin that is her default expression. "It was that or get hit in the head a lot."

Shrugging and leaning back a bit on her hands, braced against the weight table, Iris lets out a sigh. "Which isn't so different from your advice, really. Listing your doubts, I mean. You're basically ambushing yourself, with an emotional broom."

Is this training or multi-level marketing?

Mint? Grunt? -Laugh?- The New Jerseyan arches an eyebrow and an amused grin. "Look, Iris, Team Blaze is slogging through lectures on walking down ramps properly. Team Frost is trying to figure out how to lob -more- explosives at the audience. And -we- are having a nice leisurely chat, by way of comparison."

Mint takes a step back, scratching her chin. She doesn't -disagree- with Iris' voiced criticism -- if it even -was- that. It does sound a little cheesy. But she's happier to have some back-and-forth with Iris, rather than just soapboxing her way through a dry lecture.

Especially one that would make Uri Geller jealous. Instant spoon manifestation? Mint blinks her eyes in amazement, before she gives a nod of approval. Other than that -- she remains quiet as Iris continues to explain the significance of the broom.

"Mm. I was going to try a more dangerous version of the broom, but apparently it's already on your list of tropes to avoid..." She gives Iris a knowing smirk, slipping back to lean against a piece of workout equipment. "The idea is the same though. But ... from what I understand, it isn't that you -can't- conjure what you want, but it's about doing -what you want- on the timeline you're given. Being able to, uh... -manifest- things on command. So we already know you can make swords, and hammers, and spoons. But for fighting, you know certain ones are going to have more utility than others. A swordfish is great for dinner, kind of terrible for dueling, that sort of thing."

She hums softly to herself, lost in thought... Then raises a finger.

"I don't know much about magic. But I've studied martial arts a lot. And there's one guy who might have something to keep in mind here." She clears her throat, and then speaks crisply into her LifeBand.

"ARIA, please read me the quote from Bruce Lee involving a thousand kicks."

A smooth robotic voice emanates from the watch. "I fear not the man who has practiced ten thousand kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick ten thousand times."

"Thanks, ARIA! Okay, so I was off on the magnitude, but the point stands. You have ten thousand weapons at your command. I'm not saying practice -one- of them. But... ten's a lot easier to work with, wouldn't you agree?"

She holds up her hands, splaying out her fingers. "Again -- I don't know about how magic works, so correct me if I get it wrong. But if you're thinking about 'sword' and it could be one of ten thousand swords... then would it be prudent to just think of a code word like 'scimitar one' and have one -specific- sword pop out?"

(It might become clearer, now, the last fingers on her left hand are not plastic like the rest, but flesh and blood. But she's not stressing that detail.)

She can't help but laugh at that, especially the notion of her former Blaze teammates getting a very strict lecture on proper ramp etiquette. Still, Iris is happy to be having this 'nice friendly chat' for certain; in truth, she had no idea what to expect from Mint, having not had a chance to watch any of her FighTube hashtag videos before coming to this meeting and only knowing that she was US military, a background that presents a very different picture than 'that's so sad, Alexa, play an inspirational Wing Chun quote'.

The suggestion that she limit herself in terms of summoning is certainly met with approval, the Brit nodding slowly along. "Honestly, I've been trying to do that already, because there's a big difference between 'great, I'm holding a halberd' and 'what the hell do I do with a halberd'," she jokes, grabbing thin air as if she were holding the haft of a polearm. "Swords and maces and spears and stuff are pretty clear cut: you swing it at the opponent or you try to stick them with it, or you throw it." A pause, and the wizard looks pensive. "I wish I had some sort of explanation for stuff like what happened with Buck. You'll have to take my word for it that I got all the... the magic right, but I absolutely did not get a warhammer. Which I guess is why I've been torturing myself over it. Doing everything right and then still screwing up feels pretty bad."

With a rueful expression, Iris nevertheless smiles at Mint. "Sorry. I hope it doesn't sound like I'm pushing back on your ideas. They're all good ideas. Maybe I should make flash cards?" She mimics pulling a card out and presenting it to thin air. "Quick, summon this! And if I get a rolling pin instead of a mace I get electroshock or something." Okay shit got dark at the end for a second there, Iris!

A pause, and then the Brit can't help but hang her head a little. "This will sound awful, but I wish the others made those kind of errors, sometimes. I feel like I'm the only one who messes things up on that scale."

"Hmm." Mint listens and to make sense of what Iris is explaining. There is a world of nuance between a halberd and a sword. But Mint is trying to remember how a halberd is different than a sword. Or what even -is- a halberd. In fact...

"Okay, hold up, what -is- a halberd? I thought that was a sword."

She doesn't dwell on the thought. The more concerning part is when she hears that... well, the -magic- was all done right. With her brow furrowed, Mint realizes: she really doesn't understand magic that well either.

"I believe you. It's... just taking me a minute to process, that's all."

The idea of electroshock therapy is met with a raised finger -- "Flash cards -could- work. But electro-shock, er..." Mint looks uncomfortable for a moment as she processes her thoughts on that matter -- especially as Iris is demonstrating a number of other concerns that could be similarly performance-related.

"Okay, I... don't know how to fix the weapon thing. That's... that's all magic. Though I do know a specialist I can pull in, if you'd like, who might be able to get to the bottom of that!"

Mint draws in her breath... and laces her fingers together, pressing her thumbs against one another as she hangs her hands before her.

"You're -not- the only person in this situation. You're literally -just starting- to fight, and I can honestly say, there's a good chance that it's related to your nerves. You're... afraid it's going to happen, so it kind of happens. I mean, it could even be karma. I mean, like, what if it's tellin' you to pull out a squeaky mallet because it knows you need to chill, girl?" She cracks a smile -- hoping her attempt at a friendly jibe is read as such.

"... And in that case, electro-shock therapy actually makes the problem -worse-, you know?"

She smiles, stepping back a little bit -- and giving Iris a little more breathing room.

"Now, I don't get the sense that you're gonna calm down if I ask you to. So I won't! But the easiest way to -get- calm is... practice. And that's where the ten thousand kicks comes in. The more you do it -- the easier it gets, and the less you stress about it."

She tilts to the side, looking askance for a moment. "And if you get eight thousand warhammers and two thousand squeaky mallets, then... just learn to whack people with the squeaky mallet instead." She turns back with a hopeful grin. "You gotta be comfortable with what you got. If you're tense, you can't execute as well. Fighting just... goes better when it's second nature. Happens without thinking."

"It's, uh..." Alright, Iris was not anticipating having to explain a halberd today, because in truth she's only like 60% sure she knows what one is herself. "A halberd is like a spear but instead of just a sharp point at the end there's an axe bit too so you can stab or slash with it. I think? To be honest past 'it's a sword' 'it's a spear' all the medieval weapons kinda blur together for me?"

Rubbing the back of her neck, Iris breathes out loudly through the side of her mouth; the kid's got a thousand body language ways to say 'I'm frustrated,' apparently. "Truthfully basing a fighting style on a bunch of extremely old school weapons wasn't my first choice, but there's a complexity limit on the summoning, too," she explains, holding out her palms and weighing them back and forth, like scales. "I could never make a gun, for example, because there's too many interlocking complex parts. Even something like a crossbow would be too much. A longbow isn't so bad, because it's just wood and a string." She glances at Mint, with a look in her eye wondering if the Marine is following all this. "Celica could probably do a crossbow. She could do a lot of things I can't." A brief pause, then Iris seems to realize something and adds, "Celica is... WAS... my older sister, the favorite." She leaves it at that, with the definite suggestion that any listeners should too.

"And since I'd already learned a little fencing, and the javelin toss and such... simple weapons were an easy choice. That's the story of my style: Guns Are Impossible, I Guess It's Swords." Another shrug, then a genuine laugh. "Not that I'm in a hurry to step into the ring and start shooting at people with a pistol, but you get what I mean."

It's the repeated argument that what Iris really needs is more and more practice, however, that dominates the Brit's attention. She doesn't even disagree, or seem inclined to. "Literally all my fights that weren't me and a training dummy alone have been in the NFG," Iris says thoughtfully. "So four, total. I've been practicing as best I can, but I mean... you're a professional. There's no substitute for a human opponent, or a human coach for that matter." She stretches, her fingers interlocking, arms making an arc well over her head. "And if I don't remember to say it... thank you. At minimum you've given me a lot to think about."

Mint seems... a little unnerved that she doesn't know medieval weapons that well, but seeing that she's got company does draw a smile on her face. "Oh thank goodness. I thought I was gonna fail a test or something."

When Iris shows her frustration, Mint makes sure to counter that with an understanding smile. She may not be a magus, but she's an engineer, and she understands the difference between simple and complex weaponry; she nods to that, understandingly.

The mention of Celica earns an even more sympathetic expression. "... It's a rough spot to be in, but I get you. My... sister's a doctor." She offers a tight smile. It's not the same as being without a sister. But family pressure is a shared perspective. And... now she knows a little bit more about Iris' family.

The choice of style is a little easier for the Marine to respond to. Flashing a broad grin, she shakes her head. "Look, you're talking to someone who used to hit people with fists, then couldn't make fists any more, who then literally -made- fists to hit people with. I don't think weapon shaming is a real thing here, Iris."

Mint glances away for a moment, in thought: if it were a thing, pistols would -probably- be on the acceptable shaming list.

Mint sucks in her breath at the realization that she sounds like a broken record. But, well. Iris is asking her for help -- and she's helping in the best way she knows how.

"You're more than welcome, Iris. And -- yeah. I really think you're at something of what we call an inflection point -- the point where you're starting to realize -what- you would need to work on. While this is going on, I'm gonna do everything I can to help you with that. It won't be easy. But my hope is that by the time we're done, the question in your mind won't be 'What the hell do I do with a halberd,' but somethin' more like, 'Where should I poke this guy now?' Bein' comfortable with your tool set lets you work on tougher questions."

Mint smiles, raising a fist. It's a prelude to a knuckle bump -- but it -could- be seen as a challenge. Or maybe a test of street knowledge.

"Sound like a plan forward?"

'Weapon shaming' makes Iris laugh more than it should, because she spends a lot of time on AO3. So, ideally it's not SO much laughter that she seems like even more of a weirdo than she already does (she knows what a halberd is, for example). When the fist is extended, our thankfully Gen Z wizard knows how to respond: with respect knux, in return. "What's that old quote? Sufficiently advanced science etcetera, etcetera?"

Frankly rocket-powered cyberfists might as well be magic, as far as Iris is concerned, as she usually works no technology more complicated than her laptop.

"I appreciate that. And maybe, just..." A pause, and then a breath. Nothing has really changed, but perhaps Iris has admitted some things to herself that she needed to actually say, rather than bury. "I appreciate having someone who actually thinks I can do this around, to be honest. Not to get too real about it, but I've had a lifetime shortage of that. It's a new feeling and I'm kind of getting used to it, but it's not bad."

Stretching, she rolls her head on her neck and cracks her recently respected knuckles. "Okay. Sounds like a plan."

Mint doesn't seem to mind the laughter. There's always -something- the kids are laughing at these days. "... Yeah, I'm not gonna get picky on the wording." It's only one step away for ARIA, who probably already -has- the answer, but the corporal's fine with denying her that one simple pleasure. As long as she has another sip of coffee, which she takes from her thermos.

The pint-sized pugilist looks up at the much, much taller student with a reassuring grin. There's... definitely some psychological issues that Iris brings to the table with a statement like that. Mint's already in the right position to address it -- and what's more, it sounds like she already is. So that's something the plucky corporal can be proud of.

"I'm happy to help, Iris. You're gonna go far, I know it."

Flashing a confident smile, Panesh laces her fingers together, then stretches them hiiiigh overhead. Which won't be high to Iris, of course, but it's not a competition, gosh! ... And it's not even that her fingertips need stretching so much as her arms, anyway.

"Okay, how about this, then. Let's just hit the ground running for a bit, then we can take a break at the cantina."

Mint starts to walk over to one of the training dummies. On her way there, she stops by a rack of weapons she'd set aside for this exact purpose. Foresight!

"We'll start with this guy." Standing next to the practice dummy, she holds the staff up for Iris to see. She grins. "This...?" She holds it up, with the respect as if it had a pointy end. "This is a halberd."

And then, with a broad grin, she tosses it to Iris for her to catch. It's easy -- and it's light.

"Quick, now, what do you do with it?"

Log created on 11:35:40 09/10/2023 by Iris, and last modified on 11:32:00 09/11/2023.