In Which Mackenzie Volunteers

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I wasn’t at all looking forward to going to my last class of the day.

Unlike Local Hazards, it wasn’t just that I resented being required to take a class that I wouldn’t have picked for myself. It was true that I didn’t like the fact that we had to have at least one Weapon Proficiency class under our belt to get any degree, but I’d actually already fulfilled the graduation requirement back in my first semester.

But as part of making it through the class, I’d made a deal with the instructor, who had her own way of doing things but could be quite reasonable within that framework. For instance, she’d agreed to move her class indoors when the weather turned cold to accommodate my vulnerability to low temperatures in order to give me a chance to learn what I was doing before I had to fight at that kind of disadvantage. She’d also let me take the grade as a pass/fail to protect my GPA if I would agree to take another class of hers that she thought would suit me better.

That class was a new one she’d started this year: Fighting To Disable… or as she called it, fighting to win. The whole thing was kind of her personal take on the saying about the best defense being a good offense. The goal wasn’t specifically to use lethal force, though that was often the shortest route to it.

Of course, we didn’t usually employ real force. We had mockeries… illusionary versions of real weapons that could duplicate all their physical properties… to practice with. And when students with a sort of average level of mortality clashed together, that was usually enough.

But my demon strength presented some challenges. It meant that I could plow through ordinary opponents too quickly and easily to learn much from the experience, and it also posed a danger when I found myself in a tight spot. If I swung my phantasmal staff with all of my strength, the impact would only be an illusion… but if I were to lash out with a punch or kick, or even headbutt someone or charge into them, I could very easily kill them.

My last opponent had been Nae, a kobold. She’d chosen to up the ante by getting physical, knowing that her iron teeth couldn’t penetrate my half-demon skin but would cause plenty of pain anyway. I’d ended up flinging her right through the mockbox that had created and was sustaining our weapons.

If she’d been a human or an elf, she would have died. Even a dwarf probably would have been direly wounded. Goblinoids are made of tougher stuff, literally. She’d wanted to keep fighting, despite having a shard of wood stuck clean through her chest and signs of obvious brain damage that I was hoping would prove temporary.

But Coach Callahan had shut the fight down and sent her to the healing center, and anyway, our weapons had poofed. So had my fighting togs, which had also been provided by the box.

All in all, it hadn’t been a great day for me. Coach Callahan had told me to come back Monday and she’d figure out what to do with me… and that was the source of my dread.

I didn’t really expect to be punished… but that didn’t mean I wasn’t worried about the reception I might get, both from Callahan and Nae. Nae lived on our floor… she was actually suitemates with Hazel… but I hadn’t seen her since the incident. It seemed like she’d spent the weekend off-campus. That seemed to suggest she’d recovered okay… or at least it would if I knew for sure that she’d come back.

I made a point to show up early, since dragging my feet wouldn’t have made allowed me to avoid whatever consequences were coming. If there was anything that needed dealing with, I wanted the chance to deal with it before class began, if possible.

I was the first student one to reach the salle where the special section I was in fought our battles. Even the teaching assistant who oversaw us, Pala the diminutive storm giant, wasn’t there.

Coach Callahan was, though. She was trailing her fingers down the edge of a brand new red mockbox. IT was a bit bigger than the standard model, more of a square shape like a booth. There was another matching one in blue set up in the opposite corner.

The coach hadn’t acknowledged my entrance. I figured she was taking the time to get her thoughts lined up, since the possibility that I would have managed to approach her without her knowledge didn’t seem to be worth considering.

She wasn’t a tall woman. Her build was slim. You’d want to call her petite, but that didn’t quite fit. Between her relatively small size and her unlined face, it would be easy to mistake her for a student, albeit one who was into the barbarian punk look.

It helped to remember that she only looked human. Her ancestry was a mix of elven, dwarven, orc, and ogre. Somehow it… averaged out.

There was an old theory among humans… long-since discarded by most people… that humanity was the “original” race, the pure one, and that the other major races were descended from it, hence the somewhat outdated term “demihuman”. There were a lot of flaws in the theory, not the least of which being that it was informed entirely by what the people who came up with it considered to be “major races”, and those were mostly the ones that they had a lot of contact with.

Those who’d believed this theory had occasionally tried to prove it by attempting to breed the other races “back together”… I didn’t know her story, but Jillian Callahan resembled the more successful fruits of those experiments.

She looked human, unless you started paying attention to the length of her limbs and the ways her muscles moved beneath the skin, until you looked at the shape of her jaw and the set of her eyes.

She looked like a human who’d been put together wrong.

Or herself, put together perfectly. There was nothing awkward about how she moved, for instance. It looked wrong, but it worked fine. She was probably the best fighter in the region, and possibly one of the best of the age. She wasn’t a dilettante adventurer resting on her laurels while teaching to make ends meet, though. She was a soldier, waiting out that awkward period between major, world-shattering wars.

“I was hoping you’d show up early, Frybaby,” she said, finally turning around to face me.

She either had a fondness for nicknames or an aversion to real names. I didn’t love mine, but it was a hard-won upgrade from the previous choice of “Crybaby”.

I didn’t know what to say to her, and she wasn’t impressed by people who talked to fill the space so I waited to see what else she would say.

“Okay, first things first,” she said. “You’re still not in trouble. What you did last week was exactly right.”

“Breaking the mockbox and rupturing several of my opponent’s organs was exactly right?” I said.

“In a real fight with real stakes, there’s never a downside to rupturing your opponent’s organs,” Callahan said. She stopped like some memory had just popped into her head. “Okay… almost never. It’s not enough to keep a kobold down, but if it had been a real fight… well, you’d put her down hard enough that you could have kept her down if I hadn’t called it. The problem is, you can’t keep doing things like that, not even to her. Kobolds are tough little fuckers, but there’s such a thing as luck.”

“You put me in the special section because you didn’t think I was learning anything from swinging my staff at ordinary fighters,” I said. “But how much better is it if I still can’t cut loose without trashing the equipment or killing my opponent?”

“That’s the question. Here’s the thing that I keep coming back to: there’s always going to be limits to how much someone can learn swinging illusionary weapons around in a classroom,” she said. “The farther someone is from normal human levels of strength, speed, and injury resistance, the more the limit’s going to matter. I can keep rotating the gimmicky fighters in against you, but you’re going to keep running into situations where your real best choice is to do something lethal. And you’ll have to keep restraining yourself, which is not in your best interests… and not what this class is about.”

“You picked this class out for me,” I reminded her.

“I know that,” she said. “But there was a failure of imagination on my part… to tell you the truth, I thought it would have taken a lot longer to bring you up to the point you’re at now, and I thought by the time we got here I’d have some idea what to do with you after that.”

“So… I’ve been exceeding your expectations, then,” I said.

“In some ways,” she said. “But that’s not worth an A, before you ask… just because I didn’t expect you to clear the bar yet doesn’t mean it’s set any lower.”

“I wasn’t going to ask,” I said. I knew she rarely assigned grades before they were due… grading was a formality she indulged because she had to. “But I feel kind of weirdly good about it.”

“I love the mockbox,” she said. “I really do. Don’t get me wrong, I think when teaching the art of war, a certain amount of attrition can be a good thing. It keeps the survivors motivated, keeps them focused… but experience is the best teacher and the experiences that are the hardest to survive can be the best teachers. The problem is that it’s too limited… it always has been. So I’ve been working on taking it to the next level. I have been for a while, but it’s taken time… I can’t do the work myself, and I found it harder than I expected to explain to my enchanters exactly what I want them to do. Especially since I’m only allowed to communicate with them in writing, now. It’s just about ready.”

“What exactly does it do?” I asked.

“It mocks people,” she said. “Someone steps into the box, and an illusionary duplicate steps out. Just like the mock weapons, the duplicate looks and acts just like the real thing. I wanted something that would give the original person control over the phantasm as if they were controlling their own body, but that wasn’t working out. The best the eggheads could do was make it respond to commands, which would be fine if this class was about how to tell other people to fight for you.”

“If we aren’t actually controlling the duplicates, then how are we supposed to learn anything when they fight?” I asked. “Do we watch and take notes?”

“You don’t see it?” she said. “Good, I’m glad… that makes me feel like my brilliant stroke is really fucking brilliant. Say we did your bout with Nae again, using these boxes. You wouldn’t learn anything from your dupe fighting her… but you would learn plenty fighting her dupe.”

“Two fights,” I said, catching on. “Each with one real student and one illusionary opponent.”

“Right,” she said. “Any harm the illusion takes is illusionary, even from a punch or kick or a fucking fireball. Any harm the illusion dishes out is illusionary.”

“And you got approval for this?” I asked, surprised. There’d been a bureaucratic challenge to just the modifications she’d made to the standard mockbox.

“I showed it to the dean of the College of Delvers and he couldn’t keep his tongue in his mouth… he wants to get it cleared for use in his programs as soon as possible,” she said. “Apparently, it would save wear and tear on monsters, and there was also something about student safety. And even though I paid out the ass for these babies, I still used university resources to create them, so the patent belongs to the school… which I don’t give a rusty rat’s ass about, but it means I don’t have to waste my time defending it. It’s in everyone else’s interests to have it certified as safe.”

“But that’ll still take time,” I said.

“And testing,” she said. “Don’t forget testing. The good news is I have a bunch of volunteers who are willing to stress-test them under extreme versions of the conditions they’d be used in every day. With that kind of intensive testing going on every day, we should be able to get them cleared for general use in no time.”

“But… what exactly are we going to do in class until then?”

“For fuck’s sake… were you even listening to me?” she said. “I just told you.”


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77 Responses to “Chapter 142: Boxed In”

  1. Arkeus says:

    Oh Mack, you so silly.
    Also Callahan, you so sexy.

    Current score: 3
  2. APangaea says:

    OOK!

    Callahan chapters make my heart sing. And bark. And ook so many happy ooks.

    Current score: 2
  3. Angnor says:

    Brilliant solution. 🙂

    Current score: 2
  4. Dani says:

    It’s not cleared for general use – but it’s cleared for testing on students. It’s like taking Psych 101: You’re automatically eligible to be a guinea pig. 🙂

    Current score: 3
    • Ducky says:

      Our psych majors are required to be guinea pigs. They have to earn a certain number of REP Points per semester to stay in the major, and the only way to earn them is to participate in research – as subjects.

      Current score: 2
      • Ermarian says:

        (Studies by psych majors have shown that nearly 100% of surveyed students tend to be psych majors. 😀 )

        Current score: 2
        • Julian Morrison says:

          In other words, psychology students are like white mice: medicine is very, very knowledgeable about them, and very, very good at curing them. But this knowledge may not generalize to actual humans.

          Current score: 1
          • Oni says:

            Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve also found that the vast majority of my old psych professors have noticeable mental issues to one degree or another. The most noteworthy example was a guy who came from a family with a dominant history of both autism and schizophrenia (i would have placed him in the low-impact zone for schiz and aspergers), had major issues with anything higher tech than a ribbon-tape typewriter or a remote control (he would not touch a computer under any circumstances; his student aids doubled as dedicated dictation machines) and he ran a gamut or a whole lotta weirdness and paranoia.

            Current score: 0
            • HiEv says:

              Somewhere I still have an audio tape of my psych professor losing his shit on me in front of everyone for correcting him in class twice. The first correction he took in stride, but the second (what was basically a copying error) turned into a long tirade about his degrees and years working in the field versus my inexperience.

              Afterwards a couple of people in class came up to me to tell me how weird that was.

              At the next class he corrected the copying error, but he didn’t refer to the incident beyond that, admit to being wrong, or apologize to me, the class, or anything.

              It was awkward.

              Current score: 0
            • The Chosen One says:

              Every psychiatrist I’ve seen got into the field at least partly because they had a mental condition of some kind and had difficulty getting anyone else to look at it for one reason or another.

              Current score: 0
      • Kim says:

        haha. I knew the guy who got “exempted” from psych requirements.
        … this is what you get for bankrupting the experiment.

        Current score: 0
  5. zeel says:

    This chapter made me so happy.

    Perfection (accept all those typos!) in writing.

    Current score: 0
  6. Jalben says:

    I wonder if a illusionary duplication of a half-demon is open to possession.

    Current score: 0
    • 'Nym-o-maniac says:

      Good question. My first thought was that possession required a soul, but then I remembered that the whole deal with Mack’s pitchfork probably means that demons can possess objects under some circumstances, which leads to a rather terrifying potential use.

      Current score: 0
    • Not her the other girl says:

      I wonder if the box itself is open to possession somehow so we’d end up with a doppleganger Man walking around.

      …I can’t even imagine the levels of pissed off that Callahan would be if that happened. She doesn’t care about copyright but somehow I think she’d see that as the Man infringing on her turf.

      Current score: 0
      • Hollowgolem says:

        It also sets things up for a pretty bad-ass battle royale.

        When it comes to sheer face-melting power, only Embries and Mercy could stand toe-to-toe with Jillybean and the Man, of the characters we’ve seen.

        Both the Man and Jillian are pretty crafty, too, in their own ways. My brain is now fuming over the concept of those two crossing each other.

        Current score: 0
  7. Zathras IX says:

    A certain amount
    Of attrition helps keep the
    Survivors focused

    Current score: 0
  8. Cadnawes says:

    I actually wondered if we’d get to mocking people. Did not anticipate that being how it worked. Very interesting. Now how’s it going to go wrong? Call me paranoid.

    Current score: 0
  9. genericIntent says:

    Typo alert:
    “I made a point to show up early, since dragging my feet wouldn’t have made allowed me…”

    Good stuff, tho. 🙂

    Current score: 0
    • Luke Licens says:

      More Typos:
      “I was the first student one to reach the salle where the special section I was in fought our battles.”
      Looks like you swapped between student/one without deleting the predecessor.

      “IT was a bit bigger than the standard model, more of a square shape like a booth.”
      Not sure if that’s added emphasis, or a misplaced capital.

      Current score: 0
  10. Brenda A. says:

    I love Mackenzie going in early instead of trying to postpone the inevitable conversation.

    I notice the last couple of chapters have been making a point of recapping what the classes and characters are. Just wondering if this is a turning point, like a new chapter?

    Current score: 0
    • Anvildude says:

      I think AE is/was intending for this second semester/year to essentially be a second book.

      Current score: 0
      • Brenda A. says:

        Yes, but it’s still the same semester. It’s only been a couple of weeks for Mack since those classes started. I was just curious if AE is planning to do this at set intervals, or just felt things needed a boost. Just curious, honestly.

        Current score: 0
        • zeel says:

          Actually, MU is divided in to many “books”. The last one ended just before the old campus stories. You will notice that this story has under its title: “Volume 2 Book 5: Nasty Disturbing Uncomfortable Things, Volume 2: Sophomore Effort.”

          The big jump was from volume one to volume two. The reintroductions however happen per-book (or so).

          If you go back through the archives you will see that each chapter is tagged with a book number. Back until the later ~2/3 of vol.1 which was never organized into books, but will be at some point.

          The first few books of vol.1 are organized, the first of them was recently released on Amazon (with a great author commentary, worth the $2.99 for sure): http://www.amazon.com/Tales-MU-Welcome-Weekend-ebook/dp/B00C9285FY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365829934&sr=8-1&keywords=tales+of+mu

          Current score: 0
  11. Oniwasabi says:

    Yep, no potential harmful reputation modifiers could possibly come from a class where you actually get to see the half demon cut loose for real. Assuming she can stop injuring herself 🙂

    Current score: 0
    • Cadnawes says:

      But what Mackenzie has always failed to grasp is that people are afraid of her as a concept no matter how meek she appears. The fact that she’ll now potentially be able to defend herself with obvious skill will give some of the people who might have targeted her pause.

      I am legally blind and it turned out I’m also gay. Funny how the high school psychopaths always know before you do. I got tons and tons of grief in high school- until enough people found out that they put kids like me in the weight room for gym and let them go feral. Funny how hip sledding about nine hundred pounds keeps people off your freaking back already.

      Current score: 0
  12. Ducky says:

    It would be interesting to pair the blue mockboxes up with some subtle artists and see if people with subtle arts talent could exert some control over their duplicates.

    Current score: 0
  13. Michael Barr says:

    Am I the only one who hears Callahan speak with Jane Lynch’s voice? So awesome!

    Current score: 0
    • ne0x says:

      Nope; I hear it too.
      If there’s to be an audio version of this, I’ll bet she’d read for it.

      Current score: 0
    • zeel says:

      Something like that, maybe a bit more gruff.

      Current score: 0
    • pyrephoenix says:

      I actually just realized now that’s who I’ve been hearing in my head all this time.

      Current score: 0
  14. Xicree says:

    Oh Coach Callahan… wherefore art thou so awesome?

    And the Beatings shall continue until somebody dies. ^_^

    Current score: 0
  15. pedestrian says:

    I am amused by how dense, Our Mack is. You’d thunk that her previous ‘educational’ experiences with Calahan would have automatically triggered a “Paranoia is your friend…pay attention to that nasty, crawling feeling in your gut!” Or be prepared to lose said internal organs, painfully and permanently.

    Current score: 0
  16. Burnsidhe says:

    “I can’t do the work myself, and I found it harder than I expected to explain to my enchanters exactly what I want them to do. Especially since I’m only allowed to communicate with them in writing, now. It’s just about ready.”

    HAH!

    Current score: 0
    • Zergonapal says:

      I loved that too, made me laugh out loud.

      Current score: 0
  17. Readaholic says:

    More Coach Callahan awesomeness.
    Om nom nommy nom!
    Definitely Ook-worthy.

    Current score: 0
  18. Nicholas Beener says:

    Typo:
    “I was the first student one to reach the salle where the special section I was in fought our battles.”

    Seems like either student, or one, should be removed?

    Current score: 0
  19. YawnGasm says:

    Now that was a good chapter. If only there was sex somehow involved in it to make it excellent.

    Current score: 0
  20. Yumi says:

    I thought Mack had to take this second fighting class because Callahan said she’d grade Mack as pass/fail for the first class if she agreed to take this one?

    Current score: 0
    • 'Nym-o-maniac says:

      She did, IIRC. Continuity error, perhaps?

      Current score: 0
      • Memory error on my part that became a memory error on Mackenzie’s part… there were two agreements and I got them mixed up.

        Current score: 0
  21. Month says:

    “So class, we need some volunteers! All of you are it!”

    I always thought that the term volunteer meant something else, especially for the military…

    Current score: 0
    • Stonefoot says:

      Like in the army
      ‘Volunteer’ is transitive
      In Callahan’s class.

      Current score: 0
  22. Ermarian says:

    there’s never a downside to rupturing your opponent’s organs … Okay… almost never.

    There is probably quite a story behind this.

    (Maybe a creature that sprays acid everywhere, or is Made Of Explodium?)

    Current score: 0
    • Ermarian says:

      Especially since I’m only allowed to communicate with them in writing, now.

      …and another story. 😛

      Current score: 0
    • Morten says:

      Remember that story about that time Callahan leveled a city? That would probably be the story behind this.

      Current score: 0
  23. Ermarian says:

    I was imagining this as more of a full-immersion virtual reality thing, where you stay in the mockbox and your avatar or something steps out and fights. But that’s needlessly complicated, since it’s already safe enough if only one of the combatants is illusory.

    Current score: 0
    • That was what I was going to go for at first, but it didn’t quite jibe with the nature of the mockbox, which just makes copies. It was too big a leap for the internal logic. I was actually stuck on that point for quite a while before I realized that an illusionary copy was sufficient by itself.

      Current score: 0
  24. 'Nym-o-maniac says:

    YES! Oh, I was so hoping for something like this. This is going to be amazing.

    And red versus blue, ha! Very clever.

    Current score: 0
  25. Julian Morrison says:

    You could even have Matrix-style, thousand-Agent-Smith, all-on-one battles with that box, which might be quite interesting. Mack as Neo?

    Current score: 0
    • OhPun says:

      No. Coach Callahan as Neo, Mackenzie as the thousands of Agent Smith. The truly important thing about this mock-box is that Callahan does not have to restrain herself. There is a training bonus for the students, but that’s just a bonus.

      I wonder what safeguards, if any, are on the box. How long does a copy persist? How far away from the box can it get? I potentially see a mocked version of Callahan challenging other professors/creatures. How would Embries feel about fighting two Callahans?

      This also might make sanctioned duels more acceptable. If Callahan challenged me, I’d insist on being mocked and when I lost I’d agree that she was right and leave.

      Current score: 0
      • zeel says:

        Well I imagine it is incapable of causing real harm (though couldn’t a mock person pick up a real weapon). As for the persistence, I imagine no more than a few hours, we know that mock weapons expire after a while. And range? My guess is that they would key it to the room, so the mockery could not leave.

        But yes to the Neo style battles, would be cool to see how many students she can take at once. Great demonstration for them I would think.

        Current score: 0
  26. Andrea says:

    The mock version of Mack would have to be self-aware to fight independently and creatively. I imagine it won’t go smoothly when it’s time to let the mock people dissapate D:

    Current score: 0
    • Stonefoot says:

      I have two different answers for that.

      First, I think that, except for the ‘creatively’ part, self-awareness is not needed. If the mocked copy of the fighter exists completely ‘in the moment’ and is not self-aware, the copy will be the best fighter that the original could be at that time. It won’t learn, or come up with anything really new, but that’s not its purpose. It’s there for some other student to practice on.

      (As an ‘in the moment’ example: If I’m reading a book that I like, my attention will be completely on what is happening in the book. Later, I’ll think about how much I liked the book, what I think of various characters, etc., but while I’m reading it I’m really not self-aware.)

      Second, if the mocked copies are self-aware, but the mocked mind re-merges with the original fighter when the mocked fighter dissipates, then continuity of existence is preserved. Also, anything the mocked fighter learned will then be available for the original.

      Current score: 0
      • Author_Unknown says:

        I’m more curious to see if the mocked copy will have all of the same hang ups. If mocked Mack doesn’t restrain itself the same way real Mack does it could make for some really interesting fights.

        Current score: 0
        • Stonefoot says:

          Now that’s a very good question. My guess would be that, if the copy is not self-aware it would not have her hang-ups. But the key word there is ‘guess’.

          Current score: 0
  27. Lunaroki says:

    When I read that they were going to be mocking the students my thoughts turned to Pala. I’m guessing she’ll have to crouch down to fit inside the red box. Sure hope that little blue box is bigger on the inside! 😀

    Current score: 1
    • Brenda A. says:

      I was wondering about that myself – the blue booth being bigger on the inside!

      Current score: 1
  28. William Carr says:

    Oh-oh.

    Has no-one else realized the potential for abuse ?

    Stef is going to get her hands on that Blue Box and copy Mack, so she can indulge in her snuff fantasies. Over and over again.

    Amaranth is going to duplicate herself and have sex with the ENTIRE Student Body simultaneously. Or sex with herself, a thousand times over.

    Somebody is going to trick Two into the Blue Box and with a thousand Two’s running around, the Campus is going to be cleaner than it’s ever been !

    I see these having to be locked up to prevent public orgies.

    Current score: 0
    • Rin says:

      There will be no abuse. These are Callahan’s mockboxes. You do not use Callahan’s mockboxes for anything other than what Callahan explicitly tells you to use them for.

      Current score: 1
  29. Helge says:

    I love Callahan and her approach to life’s little problems. Where some people see obstacles, she sees shortcuts!

    Current score: 1
  30. Lakanna says:

    I love the Coach Callahan chapters. She’s got to be one of the best teachers anywhere. The red vs. blue mockup battles are genius, and she outmaneuvered whomever was causing her trouble by making sure the university benefits from her work. I still don’t know if she’s the perfect warrior, but she’s likely the closest anyone will ever see. Diplomacy is another weapon, and one she used perfectly, as always.

    Current score: 0
    • Brenda A. says:

      Callahan is fun to read about, but I had a LOT of better teachers than that.

      Current score: 0
  31. King of GAR Johan says:

    Do the mocked people have self-awareness/a consciousness? There could be all sorts of ethical issues there…

    Current score: 0
    • Father Latour says:

      I’m imagining a student who’s illusionary copy has an existential crisis EVERY SINGLE SESSION.

      Current score: 0
  32. Mad Nige says:

    So, how long until Callahan mocks herself and joins the fun? Or, puts Mack up against a mock Mack?

    Current score: 0
    • Daemion says:

      That’s actually a really good idea. Having to fight against yourself repeatedly would force you to improve quickly. Your copy knows everything you do and has your exact strength, speed and abilities.
      The only way to win would be to get creative, something the copy couldn’t do. If you win, the copy disappears and you have to mock yourself again… and the new copy knows how the last fight went… so you need to find a new solution.
      It might also prove beneficial to see yourself from the outside, maybe you’d notice a few flaws in your style.

      Of course, in the end this wouldn’t be enough since you need a variety of opponents and sooner or later fighting yourself would result in a stalemate.

      Current score: 0
      • pedestrian says:

        In Chess the saying goes:

        When you play against a more skilled opponent, you can learn from your mistakes.

        When you play against a less skilled opponent, all you learn is to copy their mistakes.

        Current score: 0
  33. tomclark says:

    It helped to remember that she only looked human. Her ancestry was a mix of elven, dwarven, orc, and ogre. Somehow it… averaged out.

    She was probably the best fighter in the region, and possibly one of the best of the age. She wasn’t a dilettante adventurer resting on her laurels while teaching to make ends meet, though. She was a soldier, waiting out that awkward period between major, world-shattering wars.

    …wait. How does Mackenzie know this? We know about this because of various OTs, but I don’t remember any place where Mackenzie learned about Callahan’s backstory.

    Current score: 0
    • Stonefoot says:

      Maybe she had a conversation with someone who does know (probably Steff) that didn’t happen to be included in any of the published chapters?

      Current score: 0
    • Daemion says:

      Callahan told either her or Ian at least part of her ancestry. Even if she had no idea, Mack would (sub)conciously know that the coach isn’t human because she smells differently.

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      • tomclark says:

        OK, I could buy that, but even if she knows about her ancestry, when did her opinion of Callahn go from “obnoxious, bullying warrior-jock wannabe (those who can, do; those who can’t, teach)” to “one of the best fighters around”?

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        • Computer Mad Scientist says:

          During the timeskip, presumably.

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  34. Eris harmony says:

    As I recall, Stef clued Mack in to Jill’s ancestry. I guess it’s more obvious when clothes aren’t involved.

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