Description: Mint helps a blind girl by punching her several times.
As a general rule, Sunshine City is not what was written on the tin. The skies are filled with dreary smog. Humidity-soaked air is so viscous you could practically cut it with a knife. And the occasional sounds of gunfire and high-revving engines are never that far off. It's not the ideal vacation spot.
To say nothing of the gangs themselves -- you can't flick a penny in any direction without beaning some random syndicate member in the forehead. Luckily, if your vehicles and escorts present as a hard enough target -- as Team Metal's armored Suburban most -assuredly- is -- all but the most hardened criminals look the other way when you drive past. That -- and trips directly to and from certain favored locales tends to grant the travelers a free pass from unfettered violence. Even the lawless gangs know who keeps their bread buttered.
But for now -- it's easy to miss all that from inside the comfort of one of Team Metal's chartered SUVs. At the moment, there's only four in the vehicle -- a driver and an armed guard up front, and Mint and Djamila in the back.
"Gah. So... I'm so sorry we haven't gotten a whole lot of time together! I got stuck with the logistics for this whole trip, it's driving me mad!" Mint laughs, turning to face Djamila. Her breathing settles -- she's clearly trying to calm herself before she speaks again. "So... yeah... first things first -- I need you to feel comfortable coming to us if anything feels wrong or out of place. One of the things I do with the Special Forces is to help soldiers and Marines who've been injured in battle. Some are missing hands, like me -- others have other impairments. Suffice to say -- if there's something we can do for you, please let us know, okay?"
Djamila is quiet in the vehicle. She hasn't ridden in many over her lifetime. She has no control over the vehicle, so she can only keep her sense sharp to know everything is fine. Not that she is scared of Minal. But anything can happen. She has learned that before.
When Minal starts speaking to her, she listens. "Think nothing of it. I am not the only person in the group and we are not the only responsibility, as you just explained." She takes a deep breath to listen to the rest.
"I promise to come to you if there is something wrong. I just ask for one thing. To be treated like everyone else. As if I was not blind. Push me to my limits. If there is a big problem related to this, I will be honest and explain why I may not be able to do what is expected of me. But I want to try. I want to try everything and will do my best.
"Awesome. I had a feeling you'd say that -- but wanted to be sure. Just in case." Mint winks back with a grin.
"Second question. Sunshine City isn't the kindest place -- in fact, it's pretty shitty out with gang violence and whatnot. You already know we got guards here, we're gonna have more. I don't -expect- anything bad to happen, but we've got good people and good drones looking out for us."
She taps her phone for a moment, scrolling through, and continues. "Djamila, have you ever have problems with noise-cancelling headphones? It's similar to the tech used in some active crowd-suppression systems, which we're gonna try out here shortly..."
The SUV is starting to make some shorter turns; it's generally slowing down. Which is a good sign the destination is nearby.
Djamila smiles just as Minal does her wink. Like she saw it. Could be a coincidence too. "It's nice of you to ask, though I have a feeling. I might not have been held in high regard if I expected special privileges. My life is good, but I have never been privileged. What I got I did for myself since I am 14. Not that my father was that great before I left."
She takes a deep breath. Some memories try to invade her mind. She doesn't need those. She proceeds to answer the question. "I have no experience with those. I don't think it would bother me that much, besides losing a sense. If you think I need them to concentrate on something, I will wear them. It may go badly, but I will not know until I try.
She feels the SUV slowing down over all. "Speaking of Sunshine, we must be getting close to where we are supposed to there. We are steadily slowing down, like someone being careful to not go over where they are going.
Minal tends to be pretty expressive when she speaks -- and when Djamila responds to the wink she didn't even -consciously- rememer doing, she takes note of that.
Mint feels the need to clarify that equity isn't a special privilege -- and yet, she also feels she might be belaboring the point in doing so. So rather than that, she smiles, with that sort of breath that can be heard as a 'smile' all the same. "Fiercely independent. I like it!" Leaving one's father is... a big step, after all!
Mint does take note of Djamila's deep breath, but holds her tongue for now. She did promise Ichika she'd be more tactful, after all. "I hope we won't -have- to, but I just like thinking ahead of these sorts of things. Military and being prepared and all that." She lets out another audible smile.
And yes -- as Djamila notes, the truck is starting to slow down. "Yeah -- we're just about here! Sunshine City's kinda rough, but we're trying to carve out some places. Made some agreements with the locals to keep things quiet, in a sense. We're just gonna check this new facility out, maybe try some things out."
The truck pulls to a stop. The front doors open -- and a moment later, the back doors as well. There is the sound of heavy machinery moving into position -- something -not- generally associated with a vehicle, something lighter and human-portable. The driver and guard stand by for the two passengers to exit.
A few moments later, Mint moves to walk beside Djamila. "I just got two questions for you. I have heard that people without sight get stronger in their other senses. Something I got better with after losing my hands was proprioception -- knowing where the different parts of my body are with pinpoint accuracy. Did you get something similar?"
The mechanical sounds -- shifting metal, moving joints -- are definitely something Mint is carrying now. Gauntlets, on her hands.
"And two: You've fought in the tournament, and did damn well. What do you feel you want to work on most after that experience?"
Djamila explains her independence. A little anyway. "I prefer to always be at my best, and I can only do it for myself. I can get help, but it needs to come from me. If it makes sense."
"Sunshine City is about to get rougher." It's meant as a joke, but she has trouble conveying that. At least at times.
She's not sure about the noise she's hearing right now, and she turns her head in the direction of the noise. It may seem weird. But when Minal asks her a question again, she gives her attention to her. "My other senses got better, especially my ears." She nods her head. "There's also a reason why I am always blindfolded." Yet she does not expand on that. She simply follows Minal, aware she's by her side. "I am not too good at block blows. With my nimbleness and strip tease style, I tend to favor not being where my opponent expects me to be. I am not sure if I should be working on blocking or instead working on my toughness to sometimes power through some moves. My wind could help me with that." She ponders a moment. "Do you have an opinion on that matter? Or perhaps even a different area of expertise? You have a different view on this, after all." She hesitates a moment. "Does your hand still hurt? The one you lost? It is not really my business, but I am curious." She goes quiet after that.
There is the noise of machinery, nearby -- and then there is the noise of gunfire off in the distance. It's a constant thing, little more than white noise, but it's there all the same. Just part of day-to-day life in the constant gang warfare life of Sunshine City. If there were any real and present dangers, it wouldn't be hard for either of the two fighters -- or their escorts -- to notice and respond accordingly. It seems that the two fighters are walking on a freshly paved sidewalk leading to a structure that sounds like it's made of nothing but windows -- pure reflection.
"Mm, I see..." Mint thinks better of asking -why- she's always blindfolded. It doesn't take long to remember why the Marine keeps her knee hidden.
Mint laughs. "I have lots of opinions on the matter. But ultimately my opinions don't matter as much as you'll be the one fighting and making decisions on your own. We'll try a few things out."
She scoffs, slightly -- not though she's taken offense, but because the issue mattered to her, at a time. "Phantom pains? Did for a few months. Especially with the wooden prosthetics. But they've totally gone away once I got the dermal contacts put in. Now it just hurts when it's supposed to."
Mint stops -- there's a door immediately ahead, and while Mint slows to a stop, she glances over to see if Djamila does -- she'd be quick to reach out a hand if need be, but doesn't if it's not needed.
Digits on the keypad is pressed -- and then a card is swiped. Twin bolts retract, and the door is opened.
Once the pair steps inside, the ambient noise drops to almost a whisper. The glass windows only go up so far -- the building is open to the air above. It'd be easy to hear the difference -- it's -much- quieter now, even though the temperature and air pressure are the same.
"There's a raised ring, like a wrestling ring ahead. We'll work on blocking first." Mint stops just short of the ring itself, letting Djamila feel her way around if desired.
Djamila isn't used to the machinery that much, but she starts to ignore it when it's not necessary to care for them. It's simply quieter where she works usually. Of course, now, she's not going to work at her gig. At least not for a while. But it was worth it. Oh, that makes her think to ask. "Am I expected to work? Or am I expect to focus on my training and side activities related to said training?"
Minal doesn't ask more about her blindfold, and it suits her. There is a secret there, one she won't lie about to a teacher, but one she will not willingly give away without being asked either. "Thank you." She says out of the blue.
"It doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. Just the perspective. You might make me think of something I might not immediately think about myself. It would be silly to think I know everything. Survival means taking input from other people..."
She nods. She does mean phantom pains. She listens intently. "It's good there is no more. It sounds hard."
She stops before the door. Mint can probably feel it. Djamila sees things in some way or another.
She resumes walking once the door opens, going in with her teacher. Once in, she has to comment. "This is much better here. There must be some soundproofing of some kind. No way all the sounds disappear that much otherwise. There was some loud machinery out there." She stops in front of the ring and then again seems to look before cocking her head to the side. She even uses her staff to touch it for good measure. Almost like a show. "I am ready to give it my all." She finally says and moves to climb into the ring rather gracefully. Grace is part of a stripper after all. At least this stripper.
"No, the only work's in the ring. We're covering everything else -- your room, food and drink, insurance, and training. All we ask is that you work your butt off learning the tricks of the trade!" Mint grins -- though, she adds after a moment's breath: "I mean, sorry for the sales pitch, right? We picked you because we think you got a shot at bein' the best of the next generation of fighters. A -damn- good shot, if I'm bein' honest. Stuff I saw out there in the ring was nothin' short of -amazing-." The breathlessness in her voice is contagious -- it may be a 'sales pitch' but it's easy to tell she believes her words.
"No sweat," she adds quietly, in response to the thanking. Something she picked up in context. The corporal didn't immediately respond to the thought about her opinions in the ring... mostly because those will be relevant later.
Which is to say: now, that they're inside. "That was why I asked you about noise cancelling before. Actively cancelling the soundwaves involves blasting the exact same soundwave back, perfectly out of phase. The waves cancel each other out -- but there can be some splashback. If you didn't pick it up, we're good!"
But then, there's the sound of machinery again, as Djamila climbs into the ring. From the direction of Mint. She'll wait till Djamila's in the ring before she notes: "Oh. Yeah, the machinery is my punchy hands." She says this -- before all the servo motors get -real- loud as she hauls herself into the ring, sliding under the bottom rope and then pressing herself to her feet.
"Go ahead, touch if you want?" The mechanical sound extends, stopping just in front of Djamila. Her fist is roughly eight inches across, and almost six inches from first to second knuckle. But despite how heavy and cold it -feels- to the touch, Minal's control is flawless -- she moves as if they don't weigh anything at all. Plus -- there is padding on the individual fingers. An impact will -hurt-, but it would be distributed evenly so the actual impact is spread out.
"Not to scare you, but... if I tried boxing with my little hands? I'd break 'em, even without touching you. They're calibrated different." She snorts a laugh.
"Okay. Lesson one -- the first thing about blocking is getting over the fear of it. My gauntlets weigh thirty-five pounds - fifteen kilo - apiece. But I have -control- at all times, and this is training."
"ok, just be what I am here for, kick ass." She grins. "And learn to kick even more ass." She chuckles. "I promise to do my best." She smiles. "Thank you for the compliment. I still knocked out Hawksley too, while my body got burnt. I am a little sore about that, but I know I have to get over it and get better for the next time we meet."
"I am doing my best to get used to being part of something that takes care of me. What's new, and I think that's what feels the weirdest in all this." She adds honestly. "I know it's like super normal for you. Because in the army, you all watch each other's back or something." She stops there on the subject.
She does hear the sound. When Mint explains, she takes the chance to add. "No sneaky mission with that hand, yeah?"
She hesitates only a short moment before she reaches for it. She feels it up. "It's cold." She remarks. To the touching, she adds a little gust of wind that goes around the fist, just for a short moment, nothing threatening. "So your hand is a bit like a boxing glove? The fighting one?"
She can't laugh at this really, but she gives a polite smile. "We wouldn't want that to happen, but you know which hand to use."
She takes a deep breath when it's the start of the lesson. "I trust you. You will use what you think is necessary. It is up to me to take it. I will do my best." She gets into position.
Mint listens. She realizes she's fallen into a pattern of info-dumping -- a product of the way she talks, of the place she grew up, and just her general idiosyncracies. So it might seem weird for her to just... -stop- talking, but at the same time, it should still be easy for Djamila to hear her move.
But there's one time that she interject. "Okay, I'll give you credit: The Army's better than the Chair Force. But still not as elite as the Marines." Djamila should be able to hear the good humor in her voice.
She's happy to let Djamila feel around the gauntlets to her heart's content -- the knuckles, the reinforced cylindrical joints, the spheroid joints at the bases of the fingers and thumb, the extra nodules for tactical gear. "Pretty much a boxing glove, yeah. I still have my smaller meet-and-greet hands on inside. Just easier than taking them off all the time, it's a drag."
Once Djamila is satisfied, Mint draws back. "So, yeah. If I oil them up and switch a few knobs I can make 'em quieter... but not a whole lot. I find the raw strength can be useful to make repairs on heavy equipment."
The rubber floor feels like it's the same material as at kids' playgrounds across the globe. It has plenty of grip, and shouldn't affect Djamila's positioning in the slightest. And it's also easy to hear Mint as she takes a few steps back.
"There's several levels of trust. The first -- is that I want you to trust me as a mentor. But trust is earned. So let's work on that first. I'm going to throw several punches. Keep your feet planted, and deal with them accordingly."
The sound of her smile blends in with the mechanical noises. They sound tense -- springs groaning from stress.
"Beginning in 3, 2..."
Mint launches into her first punch -- a solid, straight blow, but not much follow through. She'd pivot slightly, and follow through with a lower punch. And then she'd swing around to deliver a backfist. Every punch enough to pressure Djamila -- since she's staying still -- but not injure her.
Djamila enjoys hearing Mint talk, but she wonders. "Is it natural for you to..." How does she says talk this much without insulting Mint? She enjoys it. "Like speaks this much. I mean, I like it, and I do ask things too. I am just wondering if you're talking to help me know where you are..." She sighs. "There is no way to make it sound nice. Foot in mouth."
Back to something else. "Your fist is pretty cool. I mean, you probably would want your real hand, but since you can't, that one is cool.
"I trust you because you speak." Cryptic a bit perhaps, but then she nods.
She listens to the count, listens to the punch, and does her thing. She uses her staff to try her best to deflect them. Except for the last one, where she throws the staff in the air, it stays there with some wind chi. She tries to use her arms this time to block the blow before letting the staff fall back into her hands. "My first instinct is to move always, to be in different positions around you. I threw my staff in the air for that last blow because I had the feeling you might disarm me if I blocked it". She is honest in her feelings so that Minal can have all the info to help her. Or perhaps there is more to it.
Mint almost snorts from laughing. "I'm from New Jersey. Talking fast is kinda my deal." Though, now that she's been called out, she thinks for a moment and spends more time choosing her words. "It's fine, I'm not offended: it's just a thing I do. Does it feel forced?" She snickers. "Cringe, even?"
Her punches are just that -- punches. Not moving to feint, not trying anything advanced. "Thanks! I... used to be a bit rougher when I was younger." Another light snort.
She steps back, assimilating the explanations from Djamila. She acknowledges with an audible murmur -- not wanting to belabor the point. "Three more," she states -- and then steps to the side sharply. Her footfalls are -very- clear in this, though not abnormally so. She jabs in with a quick right jab, following with a left jab...
And then she sharply pivots right, and delivers a punch aimed at Djamila's ribs. Again, not to hurt -- just to pressure.
"Another level of trust is to trust -yourself-. You've got excellent sense for timing, and guarding with your staff; this training is to broaden your horizons. About increasing your options."
"No, it's not cringe. I meant it when I say I like it."
As for the punch, she figures it's just to do straight blocking to get her used to it. She understands the principle. She understands they could be stronger or be harder to block with feinting or what's not. She needs to learn to fight her instinct before she can block harder blows probably. She can do it. She will learn.
"Ok three more." She blocks the right jab with her staff, deflecting it down, before spinning her staff to meet the left one. It's the rib punch that gets her, and she oofs. "Yeah. I don't know what happened. Or I know. I wanted to slam my staff down and move away, so I hesitated." She frowns. "I need to use the best tool for the situation, yeah?" She asks Mint.
Mint grins back. "Alright."
She seems satisfied with the way Djamila is maneuvering to deal with the constraint of not moving her feet. She backs off, tapping her boot a few times for the sound. Moot point, since she opens her mouth a moment later, but still.
"The more you do it the more comfortable it gets. Muscle memory's a thing!"
She hops back, grinning. "Okay. Now we'll relax a bit -- deal with these however you feel is right. I'm going to commit a -bit- more."
She clanks her fists together -- a common psych-up trick of hers, as she brings her fists up into a guard position. Not that she's going to -need- it. But it's part of the follow-through. "Alright. Just try to keep up!" More toe-tapping...
And then it stops. And Mint suddenly lurches hard to the left. She swings in with a low left hook -- and then steps forward as if taging Djamila's shoulder with a right jab. A sidestep -- a follow through. Wherever Djamila moves, Mint would keep tracking her, peppering her with light punches. It's a test, not of reaction -speed-, but reaction -accuracy-...
Djamila. "Yeah, if I don't practice, I will never learn. So I need to use it to learn it. I will work on it."
She does listen to Minal sounds and does her extra things too. She is happy she can do as she wishes now, but she keeps in mind block now too. If she feels there is an opportunity.
Djamila slams her staff to the ground and is up on the staff upside down to dodge the low left hook. Thenshe hangs with her legs as the punch comes toward her shoulder. She uses her arms to block that and lets herself spin with the momentum. She feels the blows in her arms, but it's nothing bad. It's just there. Then for another punch she flips onto of her staff, standing on one foot, only to jump off and land behind if she can, before summoning the staff back to her. with some wind chi. She does miss a few punches in there, but it's on time when she hesitates a bit, probably between going away and blocking. Something she must learn. To let blocking flow just like her dodges and attacks.
Mint had seen the staff move before in fight footage, but wasn't able to feel the -wind- then. Now that she's here in person, she has the missing puzzle piece that she'd needed. "Ah, I understand now," she comments, immediately after witnessing a wind gesture.
"A lot of times we work with combat augmentations. The aug helmets have full visibility, but people are still claustrophobic from it, and don't trust it."
She huffs lightly, hopping from one foot to another. The boxer is dialing up her speed a bit -- and ready to ratchet up her intensity.
"You've got good reflexes, good adaptation. Let's keep this up a bit more..."
Three rapid punches. Mint exhales each time. Proper footwork is crucial to a boxer's style, and proper breath control is a very close second.
"... And then we'll grab a bite to eat. Sound good?"
"Wind chi comes naturally to me, not too sure why. It's everywhere though."
She nods about the combat augmentations and the helmets, but she doesn't think any of this would help.
She nods again. She is ready to keep going. With that, she practices. Able to decide what to do in a pinch. Just a few times she misses, because she hesitates. But she is determined to work on it more and more. She trains for as long as Mint has time, knowing later they will get to eat. She feels like she has a family and feels nice.
Log created on 15:01:52 06/05/2023 by Djamila, and last modified on 04:14:21 06/06/2023.