Monstrous Compendium Ch4 bit – Controlled Panic

I partied with them. They were counting on me to keep my head when the psiwasps attacked. All of Fuurinkazan was. I have to help them. And Tae. She’s terrified, I can feel it

And that terrified him. What had Kayaba done to the NerveGear programming, that it was passing on not just sensory input, but this… this empathy with other creatures? Things that had never been human; people who should be human, but were starting to feel more and more like the wild-clannish-wide senses he’d tentatively labeled youkai….

And damn it, that empathy had tripped him up as effectively as any paralysis dart. The psiwasps had been one blurry bundle of wrong. And while he’d been trying to regain his mental footing from that – bam.

Tae… doesn’t feel human. But she feels scared. And she’s still here to fight.

He couldn’t turn away from that courage. He couldn’t let Fuurinkazan down.

Which meant this time, he couldn’t let the psiwasps take him out of the fight. And there was only one way to strengthen his defenses enough to block that daze attack.

Don’t think of the Otherworld. Don’t think about family. Let Kazuto Kirigaya sleep. Be Kirito.

It was like folding a puzzle box out of the fabric of his own mind. It was the exact opposite of what Vincent had advised; hiding part of himself away, rather than forming the shield of a seamless whole. But for a few hours, it should do.

Pressure here, and nudge there… I’m going to pay for this later….

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21 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Ch4 bit – Controlled Panic

    1. And yet that is /canonically/ what happened, just… a lot earlier in the Death Game. Day one Kazuto Kirigaya began the process of suppressing who he was in favor of the persona of Kirito. By the time you get to the end he’s actually begun to /forget/ that there is an actual world outside of Aincrad and can barely remember that he was ever anyone other than Kirito.

      One of the major themes of the the Fairy Dance arc was him struggling to return to being Kazuto and lay Kirito to rest.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Two different approaches.

        One presumes that everyone exits after SAO is cleared. SAO is perhaps more horrific than canon, and better prepares the survivors. The survivors are sent to a brutal reform school, which is relatively speaking a supportive and nurturing environment. It’d be a grimdark cyberpunk dystopia, except for love, heroes, friendship, forgiveness, republics, shock infantry, and cheerleading. (There is some eros, but I have agape more in mind. Also, no ‘megacorps’, and the societies are functional and move back towards nicer when stresses are removed. And the Kirigaya and Yuuki families are at least as loving and supportive as they are in canon.)

        The other bunny presumes that after SAO is cleared, Asuna and Kirito alone are transported by a bug to Kojiro’s SAO II, drastically under-leveled. The setting is built around making a Romance plot viable, one where there is enough enmity between the families that AsunaxKirito doesn’t just no sell it. They are rescued from the outside, and their families are involved enough to hopefully make the reader anxious. (I have a lot to learn about Romance plots. I think Asuna and Kirito cannot be the primary plot.) There are no actual Lovecraftian monsters. Grafting on the Dreamlands would be a way to put in Alicization characters without needing to have Alicization. (I don’t like Alicization, Alicization happens too late for what I want, and I haven’t worked out what tools I need.)

        In either case, having a clearer idea of Kazuto’s headspace lets me plot better.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Which, frankly, I suspect was always doomed to failure; you don’t spend two very intense years surviving as one person and not carry that the rest of your life.

        …No, not even if it makes people around you more comfortable. Ouch.

        Liked by 2 people

  1. Dissociation and repression! Well, that’s one fun kettle of fish Kazuto/Kirito’s cooking up for himself there.

    I get why he’s doing it. Say what you want about the human brain and unhealthy coping mechanisms, the fact is that if it lets you get through the immediate trauma then the long-term damage can be worried about later. Is there long-term damage? Oh yeah. Is Vincent’s advice probably a better idea? Probably. But to build that shield you need to be someone who’s parts don’t scrape against eachother​, with jagged edges that show every inclination to cutting in at odd angles like broken glass whenever you try to handle those parts. Until a person can reach beyond that pain just making such a shield may be an exercise​ in futility.

    What Kirito’s trying here looks much more short-term reliable. It leaves nice, breakable stress points in those shields – if the opponent knows where or how to look – but against a more generalized assault… It’ll probably work just as well. Sorta the inverse of the ‘When All You Have is a Hammer’ approach.

    Of course, DnD Psionics are one of its areas I actually know the least about and I could very easily be making a mistake as to what is actually needed for strong Psionic defenses. Canon, Psionics are ‘just’ another path of magic, and Psionics’ defences have more to do with experience and level than personality type. Meaning maybe it’s not so much what thought you put behind a shield so much as how you focus the Shield.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Yes, well, Vincent probably didn’t expect you to be going up against a nest of psiwasps under a ticking clock quite this soon. At some point, yes, because Vincent knows perfectly just how merciful Murphy isn’t . . . and even with limited contact with Kirito, he cannot have missed the fact that the boy is a huge trouble magnet.

    But as pointed out above, sometimes you don’t have a good option. Sometimes all you have is bad, terrible, and soul-crushing. Kirito cannot abandon Fuurinkazan and other allies they have gathered for this rescue mission – it would be soul-crushing. It would destroy him a lot quicker than disassociating himself from Kirigaya Kazuto would.

    Yes, he’s going to paid for it later. And yes, it would be good to come up with something better later. But right now, he and the people depending on him don’t have that kind of time. Like I said, sometimes you have to pick the least bad option, the one you can live with yourself later, and deal with the aftermath of that choice after you have survived. Because you have to survive to worry about long-term consequences.

    Plus, he has to deal with this empathy wrinkle . . . and whatever else might nudge him into realizing that many of those AI programs . . . aren’t. Peeling back the layers of Cunning Plan he and the rest of the players are tangled up in is going take significant time and attention – especially if they want to counter it with their own Cunning Plan.

    Not saying he doesn’t need to make time for a better solution than just ignore Kazuto in flavor of Kirito – just saying that our heroes already have and will have a lot of on their agenda so progress in each item might be uneven and circumstances might force certain things up and down the priority list.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Given rangers are supposed to have empathy with nature and the wild, my bunnies say dealing with aberrations – not natural! – can get very, very messy.

      And yes. Kirito’s going to have to reevaluate his list of priorities as he goes. Especially when he finds out about ALO….

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Given rangers are supposed to have empathy with nature and the wild, my bunnies say dealing with aberrations – not natural! – can get very, very messy.

        Sounds kinda of like how Virus feels to Kenshin and Battousai in Nightlife . . . OR how Hiko and Kenshin react to conditioned minds in Walk Through the Valley . . . .

        Messy would be the right word for it, considering it seems most beings with that kind of empathetic connection to nature reaction to that kind of stuff is to leave the little bits of aberration scattered over the landscape.

        (Can you tell that I’ve read all of Vathara’s fic posted on FF or AO3 – some of it more than once?)

        Liked by 2 people

  3. i’m kinda confused on what is going on.

    is he using an anti-psychic technique?

    forgetting his past fights off psychic assaults?

    i’m not sure how it is suppose to work better then the alternative.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It’s pretty basic actually. He’s (according to himself mostly but not just himself) supposed to be the player present with the most experience fighting psychic or Psionic encounters. But last time the Psiwasps showed up his anti-psychic defenses – his willpower and mental fortitude – crumpled under their assault almost as quickly as Fuurinkazan’s.

      So what he’s doing here is trying to avoid that. He’s using a variant of what looks like a focusing technique he picked up from Vincent after being told it was a good way to defend your mind from psychic assault.

      Here’s the problem: that focusing technique requires a certain amount of acceptance of self… and Kazuto doesn’t have that. But the persona he’s crafted in his mind for the character ‘Kirito’ he plays sometimes does. In truth they’re both parts of his whole but he’s got issues; And while choosing to deliberately repress one in favor of the other is a short cut to achieving the state he needs for that mental shielding technique, it’s not something good for long-term mental health.

      If you’re still confused I might suggest looking up Dissociation and what that means/does to people.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Oh boy does he have issues. The guy has subscriptions, and that was before he ever got into SAO. These days the general consensus is that adoptees should be told as early as possible that no, they’re not biological children of their adoptive parents and yes, they’re still loved and wanted.

        Kazuto… found out by hacking his own government records. This did not go well.

        And then he wound up in a mind-twisting death game. Oof.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. I read this joke on tumblr the other day about how humans are trying to do rocket science with brains designed to let us dodge ambushes from tigers…i.e. evolution doesn’t care about your mental health, just about reproductive success. As long as you survive until thirty, you’re considered great!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Hows about instead encouraging a more (societally and personally) helpful and pleasant type of insane?

        Because that may be the best I’ve got.

        Liked by 2 people

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