(2019-02-22) Mineral Spirits
Mineral Spirits
Summary: Steelgirl Syd meets Khai, the walking hillside.
Date: 2019.02.22
Related: None
NPCs: {$npc}
Scene Runner: {$runner}


The patio is all cobblestone as well with a waist high, elegant wrought iron fence all the way around it, and gates to each path, each with a brass plaque labeling where it goes. The patio has teak wood tables and chairs for eating, homework, and parking coffee on. There are also benches along the fence, and like the chairs, they have burgundy velvet cushions, and are quite comfortable to all but the most sensitive behinds.


The evening snow has let up. Out in the open fields it's still blowing around some but here in the lee of the school complex it's more calm and a touch warmer. The patio area is however completely clear of snow. The cobblestones are even bone dry except for the stray snowflakes that hit them. All the snow that was there has been moved out to the edge in a few piles that are even now being pushed farther away in rough balls by soil and stone moving in a wave outward from the patio.

The school's resident walking cliff face with branches stands at the center of the clear area. The light from the emeralds that are her eyes shines intensely as she concentrates. There are still obvious claw marks maring Khai's face, right shoulder, and torso but they are filled in with lichen and tiny vines as she heals. When the snow is far enough away she returns the ground to its native state and just stands to enjoy the night air.

Sydney basically stays inside during the winter if she can. Steel conducts heat mighty well, and the steel girl gets cold easily. But… fresh snow can be pretty, so she bundles up in the leather jacket Bryce got her for Christmas (Desc coming soon. really.) and wanders out onto the patio where it's… bare. She looks around and sees Khai standing there. She waits a few moments, breathing the cold air and watching her breath steam, before disturing the other woman. "Heya."

Khai wasn't expecting to be alone out here. There are a lot more people than dig site base camps, after all. So she's not startled by the greeting and turns to give the steel girl a wave with smiling eyes. She reaches into the messenger bag she carries, taking out a tablet sized piece of smooth slate ringed with quartz. The quartz starts to flow across the slate to form words.


Sydney nods. "Yeah… Ummm… I get the feeling this is an alternate form of someone I've met?" She looks up at the stone and lichen woman. "And can't talk in this form?

Khai nods back, the words shifting more.


She walks over and sits down on one of the benches near Sydney to bring her down closer to eye level. She glances downward slightly as the next words form on the slate.


Sydney grins and moves over to the bench. She knows from experience it will support tons, so she joins Khai on it, pulls off a glove, and offers a hand. "I'm ok with telepathing at each other. Nice to see you again." She looks the giant over more closely. "Someone been strip-mining your cheek there?"

Khai's eyes widen in surprise as the hand is offered. She is hesitant as she reaches her own hand over, perhand expecting it to be a prank. When it's not, her shoulders drop from released tension. Her mind voice is a pleasant soprano with an odd mixture of accents and a hint of nerves. \\ Hi. Thanks for this. You're just the second person who's been… anyway, yeah. Good to see you again, too. \
The question about her face causes her to raise her other hand to rub over the claw marks. \\ Ah, yeah. That screwed up storm that blew in a week or so ago. I faced off with one of the wendigo that attacked during all that. Went worse for it, luckily enough. \
Sydney smiles at the mental voice, though the smile fades with the discussion of the wendigo. "I heard rumors about that, and saw some of the security footage. Is your… flesh face scarred there too?"

Khai shakes her head at the question. There is a bit of slump as she shakes her head. \\ I don't have flesh. Not anymore. It was mostly dig… It was lost. \\ She gestures at herself with her free hand. \\ This is me, now. A gradually shifting hodge podge of tree and earth with no face, no voice, and almost no curves. \\ Her mind voice it more upbeat with a hint of a laugh at the end.

Sydney gives Khai a squeeze. "Think of all the money you'll save on clothes. And bad hair days? Thing of the past. Also zits." Syd's trying to be upbeat, but she's pretty sympathetic. She adds, after a few moments, "You get used to being different, when you can't not be different. You get used to people staring and asking inappropriate questions. They don't mean to be mean." She thinks some more. "Now, at the carnival and the water park both, little kids come up to me and think I'm like… part of the entertainment. Which is fun."

Khai mind laughs as Sydney mentions various high points, nodding along to the points she agrees with. \\ Yeah, that's true. I do miss being able to talk on videos and such, though. \\ She gives a deep, dramatic mental sigh. \\ Ah, well. At least there's still Instagram. \
She gives the metalic girl a closer look. \\ Yeah, I'm getting used to the questions. Mostly. It's all still really new to me so far. So… I take it this is your full-time self, too? \
Sydney nods. "If you need keyboards that can stand up to stone fingers, I can probably point you in the right direction. Capacitive touch screens and I aren't good friends. But yeah. This is my full-time self. I went back briefly during some weirdness that effected powers around here… some of them turned into dogs and cats, I turned into plain-old-Sydney Turner, pretty much how I was in 1981." She looks down. "Didn't like it much. I'm realizing how much less afraid I am like this. Of everyone else, anyway." She ponders. "I could teach you some sign language. I picked up the basics to talk to folks around here."

\\ That would be nice, yeah. I've had to be careful with my laptop, and my phone might as well be a brick for all the good it is with these digits. \\ She nods at the part about being less afraid. \\ I know what you mean. Fleshy me would've been turned into kibble by that wendigo. Again. \\ She nods quickly at the mention of learning sign language, her eyeshine brightening. \\ I'd like that. I've been trying to learn from books, but I'm not the best at that. \\ She then pauses and goes back over what Sydney said. \\ Wait… 1981, what? \
You say, "It's a long, complicated story. Basically, I was born in 1967. I ran away from home at 13, got picked up, stuffed in a trunk, ultimately sold to a mad scientist type by the name of Doctor Wolffe as a test animal for the process that turned me into this." She knocks on her chest lightly, letting it clunk softly through the fabric. "He was working for the local mafia in Chicago, to do the same thing to a guy named Karol Kolczyk, who became Iron Fist. The bad guy, not the Marvel Comics one. The night before Iron Fist bought the farm, he took me to a restaurant and had me hide in a barrel in the walk-in freezer. Thing is, when my body temperature drops below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, I solidify, and basically everything stops. So there I stayed, because he was too dead to come get me. Eventually the place went bankrupt top of last year, and when the marshals came to shut the place down they got suspicious of the barrels in the freezer and took them all to the coroner's office to thaw. I was the only one still alive. So I just had my fifteenth birthday legally, but if you go by my date of birth, like Netflix does, I'm 52."

Khai listens to Syd's tale, her eyes shifting from sympathy to concern to surprise and several points in between. At the end all she's got is a quiet, \\ Damn. Just… wow. \\ There is a quiet mental static as her body moves reflexively as if in a nervous clearing of her throat, just without any of the actual throat clearing. \\ My deal is a bit different. Grew up all over the world. My parents work as arcanoarchaeologists. Well, Dad does and Mom's more the muscle. They go in to excavate old mystic sites. We were down in Venezuela a few months ago setting up to survey a new site. I was taking video of the jungle for a YouTube vid and I got caught up in a sort of ancient siren song. \\ A very real shudder runs through her body, causing her branches to rustle. \\ Next thing I know my parents and their support mages are all around me. Except 'me' was mostly digested wrapped in the roots of a twisted mockery of a Sangre del Drago tree and I was, well… this. They nested my spirit into a body made from the local mountain and plants, so I guess now I'm a golem of sorts. \\ Then she glances from Sydney's coat and gloves to the patio and the snow beyond. \\ Are you okay out here? Do you need to go back inside? \
Sydney nods. "Yeah… this coat my boyfriend got me for Christmas is warm, but… just sitting still I don't make a lot of heat. And my hand being out in the breeze makes it go even faster." She gets up and stuffs the one glove in her pocket, reaching out toward Khai's hand with hers so we can keep talking while we walk. "I'm sorry you… lost your body like that. I'd say I can't imagine what that's like, but there are days when I doubt I'm still… me. Theoretically I'm a cyborg on a cellular level, and my cells are all stem cells with nanomachines fused to them, but… that kind of doubt hurts. You seem really sweet. Maybe you'll bloom in the spring? That'd be cool.

Khai nods her understanding and stands up along with Sydney. She moves to stand on Sydney's other side, reaching out with what was her free hand previously, which is wood and vines instead of rock and while rougher to the touch is also significantly warmer. She lets Sydney decide which direction to go since interiors are much of a muchness to her. \\ I know what you mean. It's caused some sleepless nights, for certain. \\ Her eyes brighten and her mind voice chuckles at the last part. \\ That would be pretty cool. Could make some weekend cash by selling me bouquets. \
Sydney laughs. "Khai bouquets. I like that. Can you change the plants that grow on you? I can think of a few that would be way more valuable…" She mimes smoking a joint, then laughs. "Seriously, come summer, I'll show you how to make more bucks than that… I did Craigslist labor pulling out fence posts at like a buck each. For stuff like that, or pulling up trees, or stuff where they'd have to get a crane otherwise, you can do pretty well." Syd's hand is surprisingly warm, about the body temperature you'd expect in her mouth or someplace like that.

Khai mind laughs at the idea of growing marijuana out of herself, then shrugs, \\ My body just sort of shifts things around on its own. I'm getting better at changing the ground and plants around me but not sure if I'll be able to voluntarily change my body. If I could, first thing I'd do is give myself an actual face. Not just a plate with eyes. \\ She considers the idea of doing work like Sydney mentions, then nods. \\ Not sure how strong I am yet since they test all that inside and I get weaker when I can't plant my feet on a natural surface. But I know that if anyone needs landscaping, I'm the girl for the job. \
Sydney nods. "We can work on that next time we get a warm day. I'm pretty strong too." She walks with Khai indoors. "So you don't get cold outside?

Khai crouches down through the door and stays semi-crouched although the ceilings are high enough for her to stand fully. The taproots around her feet retract when she steps from the cobblestones to the flooring. \\ Temperature doesn't affect me, no. I can feel that it's cold, but it doesn't chill me. Same with regular heat, but fire still burns. If I can ever get back to a forge, I'll still need all the same protective gear I did when I was squishy. \
Sydney nods. "Cold screws me. Heat… you have to get me pretty hot before it matters. Steel melts at 2500. I'm good to at least 500. At some point something will cook, or some tiny parts of all the tiny machines will stop working long before I actually melt. The good news is I can lie out in the sun and never get skin cancer…

\\ Benefits come in all shapes, right? \\ Khai's mind lets out a short sound of relief. \\ I can't say how grateful I am for this conversation, Sydney. It's the longest I've had since arriving here. \\ She gives Syd's hand a gentle squeeze. \\ Thank you. \
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