Once his noble gases should stay noble spell was active, Kyle gained an awareness of all the argon in the room because he could feel it drinking in his magic. Little atoms floating around, and not even considering bonding with anything else even if someone did mix them with hydrogen fluoride on a caesium iodide surface at 8 K. That was the heart of tekhnikos percipere, you cast a spell not to achieve some result but to avail yourself of the magically expanded awareness of the subject of the spell that always came with such a casting.
It was a limited trick. Kyle could feel where his spell was drawing power, and more to the point where it wasn’t, but he didn’t have much beyond that. Nor could he pump much more information out of it. If he were to cast some spell to affect adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine then try to write down a DNA sequence based on awareness of those molecules the spell would collapse. That was something the Archmagi were studying intently and there was a theory on what was happening.
It held magi were seeing an expression of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. The Heisenberg Principle defines uncertainty in systems where measuring one variable alters another. The principal applies to quantum particles but it can be visualized as attempting to determine if a light sleeper in a dark room is asleep. It’s too dark to see them so, unless they’re snoring, the only way to know if they’re asleep is to ask. If the speaker whispers very quietly they won’t wake the sleeper, but the sleeper might not hear the speaker even if they are awake. The louder the speaker is the more certain they become that the sleeper would have heard the them if the sleeper were awake, but the more likely waking the sleeper becomes.
Likewise, as the spell provides more information to its caster it becomes more likely to collapse. What the Archmagi were still studying was the mechanism by which the true nature of reality was able to affect a spell. It wasn’t like there was an obvious particle exchange there, but it somehow tied back to magic’s odd, and still poorly understood, relationship with information.
It was over Kyle’s head. However, with his spell in place he knew where the argon in the room was pulling power out of him and where it wasn’t. As such, he could feel a human-skeleton shaped hole in the room’s argon over near the elevator. Jessie had arrived.
Kyle tracked her. She walked into the room fairly confidently, stopped, and turned her head a few times. Presumably she was looking for him. She couldn’t have seen him from the door, of course, so she proceeded to take a weaving path between the various obstacles. The strange way he was sensing her made it hard to figure out exactly what she was doing, but Kyle thought maybe she was minimizing her exposure while maximizing her view of the area.
After taking a path that probably let her see most of the elevator side of the room, she jumped to a fairly shielded high point at the center of the room. The jump had carried her at least 10 feet up and 20 over, but Kyle doubted it had stressed her much. She was now insanely strong. She stood there for a long moment turning side to side. Presumably, she was scanning the area.
Kyle waited until her back was turned, then he peeked around the obstacle at her. She was definitely looking around. She also seemed to be hiding herself as she did so. He pulled himself back mostly behind his obstacle then deliberately faced away from her and let his shoulder show just a little bit out of concealment.
Through the argon spell Kyle felt Jessie turn back towards him. She froze as soon as her face was pointed in his direction. She’d spotted him. He gave her a moment to look at his shoulder then he edged back behind the obstacle, concealing himself as well as possible. He didn’t want to make his trap obvious.
Jessie didn’t waste time. She jumped from her obstacle at the center of the gym to another about halfway behind him, then to one directly behind him, then to his own obstacle. Her sneaking was uncanny. Kyle knew she was there, but none of his ordinary senses registered anything. He had no idea how she had moved so quietly.
She stood watching him for a moment, and Kyle realized he’d inadvertently frozen. He shifted, slightly, trying to make it look natural. Then he looked both left and right as though trying to spot Jessie’s approach via mundane means.
That was, apparently, enough to put Jessie off guard. She jumped down at him.
Even Magical Combat Jessie could only fall as fast as gravity accelerated her, so her pounce was probably the slowest move she’d make the entire fight. Kyle could actually react to it in real-time. He let her fall for just an instant before he launched his own attack by directing a chi burst at her hip just before her foot would have caught him in the back. She was caught off guard, knocked to the side, and landed in a way she couldn’t have possibly expected. Sadly, she didn’t have the good manners to be even slightly shaken by that turn of events. Kyle had just enough time to spin to face her while she was still falling. Then she hit, rolled, and came to her feet so fast she almost blurred. Kyle thought maybe she’d actually managed to accelerate while rolling.
She jumped forward launching an insanely fast series of punches, kicks, and even what felt like a headbutt at him. In the past, Kyle would have had to have a spell up, or she would have taken him down in the first five attacks. This time, tied to his spell, he felt every blow coming like he was sensing a change in his own balance. He didn’t consciously react to any of them. He just let unfocused magic go every time a hole in the magical drain came at him.
The room filled with a series of cracks like a string of fireworks going off. Each punch and kick was blocked by a chi burst. It drained Kyle’s magical reserves faster than he could pull in new energy, and for a moment, he thought she was going to land a blow through sheer brute force. However, all of that energy must have hurt Jessie’s hands and before Kyle had to try to block her physically or retreat (both of which would have ended in failure) Jessie backed off.
“Picked up a new trick, I see,” she said. Her smile was wide and feral. She had that strange astringent smell that almost matched vanilla. She was pulling hard on the spell Thomas had laid on her. As always, that worried Kyle whatever Charles said about the relative safety of the way they were using it.
Kyle didn’t bother to respond. Instead he flipped his hand out and open then said, “Flash!” A ball of light appeared floating just a little above his hand.
He shot that forward at Jessie as fast and hard as he could. Since the little ball of power could pack nearly the energy of a grenade they had a rule for their sparing that if he managed to touch her with it, Jessie automatically lost the fight.
As always, she dodged it; bobbing to the side without shifting her feet. Kyle had expected that, he made the light do a U-turn shooting it at the small of her back from behind. Jessie somehow sensed, or at least expected, that as well. She jumped in the air covering her entire body height from an almost flat-footed start. The spell missed a second time, and now she was flying through the air toward him.
Kyle had been expecting that.