Description: It is estimated that, on average, a person spends 6 months of their life waiting in line. There are some processes in life even computers haven't eliminated yet, and getting ID renewals is one of them.
Compared to civilians, active-duty Marines get a lot of privileges on base. There could be twenty civvies in line already, but one Marine walking in gets to jump to the front.
But if there are already twenty Marines in line, as is the case when Cpl Minal Panesh arrives at the DEERS office, there's really no recourse. The Indian shrimp walks up to the counter with a folder full of paperwork under her right arm. She sighs upon noting the list of uncrossed-off names on the clipboard. Reluctantly, she snatches the pen with her left hand, scribbling out her name, rank, and 'RENEWAL' onto the clipboard.
Minal's not left handed. In fact, she's not really 'handed' in the general sense of the world, a fact made obvious with the shirtsleeves of her woodland fatigues rolled up. Each 'hand' is actually a metallic glove of sorts, with only the three minor fingers of her left hand sharing the dark skintone of her forearms. As she seats herself, she flips through the sheaf of paperwork, touching the pads of her fingers across each of the pages. The corporal seems to be having an internal battle with herself, her impatience with the menial procedure of renewing her Common Access Card probably shared by a good majority of the jarheads present.
Captain Zach Glenn, as an officer, enjoys a /little/ more slack than some of the Marines in the office. Glenn is sitting in a chair directly across from Minet, and is 'enjoying' a certain amount of difficulty of his own. Zach is right handed, but the cast around his lower left arm makes it difficult for him to keep a good, steady grip on his own clip board.
"You'd think," Glenn mutters, "That they would have a computer for this kind of thing these days."
"I know, right?!" The E-4's never been one to mince words, and coupling the current level of frustration with the unease of being in a foreign country... well. The commisseration is greatly appreciated.
Until she realizes the words are coming from a Captain. "I... I mean: sir, yes sir!" She snaps a quick salute, wondering idly to herself if this is one of those situations where she needs to snap to her feet or not.
There's a reason she prefers the relative isolation of the garage.
Wincing at the (likely poor) impression she's made upon the officer, her anxiety is compounded further by the recognition of who is sitting in front of her. "... Captain Glenn, it's--" But again her mouth runs ahead of her. "S-sir, permission to speak freely?"
One thing Zach has never gotten used to, and hopes he never will if he is honest, is how some people get utterly flustered when talking to an officer. As an O-3, Zach's not all /that/ far up to proverbial food chain. He cocks an eyebrow, trying to mask equal parts concern and amusement as he returns the salute. "Granted, Marine," Zach says easily. "What can I do for you?"
"I... " Minal falters for a moment, as if she's not sure herself why she'd asked for the permission.
And then it occurs to her again. "Well, I... n-nothing much, sir, just that..."
She hesitates, looking down at her hand for a moment, before snapping to a more 'at ease' position. "One of the Metro City stations released footage of the Ospreys in the attack of the city. My family grew up in Paterson, New Jersey. It's... it's not the City, per se, but we all saw it growing up. And...."
Minal reddens somewhat; getting emotional in the middle of a DEERS office in front of a total stranger was the last thing she'd want to do. "Th-thank you, sir. I'm really glad we had some Marine boots on the ground there."
Zach smiles softly at that. "I just go where they send me, Corporal," he finally says after a moment. "Just like anyone else." He thinks about that. He... was slinging some serious power around during that battle, nevermind the thing he was slinging power /against/. It shouldn't surprise him that footage got out.
The motion of the Corporal's hand gets Zach's attention. "Mind if I ask you a somewhat personal question, Corporal Panesh?" Zach asks. His tone would suggest that if she refused, it would not cause any problems at all, but the hands of the woman in front of him are... curious.
"Of course, sir!" comes Minal's rapid-fire answer, before reminding herself: at ease. "I mean, of course." The efforts of Zach to calm her nerves certainly do not go unnoticed.
"And they... have you back here now? That's good, I'm stuck here for another week or two, maybe more. I'm so nervous around here, but... I mean, it could be worse, everyone in town here's short like me, right? But..."
She realizes she's been babbling a bit too much, and attempts to reel it in a little. She is able to guess what he's about to ask about, though: she's made no attempt to hide her mechanical hands, added no paint at all -- in fact, she's left the metal as bare as can be. "It's the hands, isn't it? Hehe, I don't mind at all..."
"I'm assigned here, actually," Glenn answers. "Japan's not all that bad, actually," he half-truths. "It definitely takes some getting used to, though.. Mint's willingness to discuss the hands is good to hear.
"Yes," Zach answers as well, "What happened?"
Permanently assigned to Japan? Well, maybe there's worse fates in life -- a fact which Zach can speak to. Cpl Panesh doesn't know Zach well enough to know what's a half-truth or not.
So she takes him at face value, which leaves her with a simple question, and her boilerplate reply -- if it sounds stilted, it's because she's had to tell the story several dozen times before. "Was riding shotgun in a humvee on tour in Afghanistan when we came under fire. An IED was found to be secured to the side of the humvee nearest me. I was able to warn everyone else to get out safely, but the IED detonated when I attempted to defuse it."
Minal pales somewhat -- she still feels bad admitting that she tried to defuse a bomb -after- the evacuation, but it is what it is.
And then she feels necessary to explain, in her disjointed fashion. "I'm an Assault Breacher mechanic. Second Combat Engineer Battalion, Second Marine Division. Corporal Minal Panesh. It's an honor to meet you, sir."
She juts out her metal hand in anticipation. "I'm told I have an iron grip."
Zach regards the extended hand for a moment, before attempting to match the grip with his good hand. The pause isn't born out of discomfort, or pity, but an irrational flash of... jealousy. Jealousy that doesn't even belong to him, strictly speaking.
But Captain Zach Glenn tamps that emotion down with the ease of practice, and makes an earnest attempt to match grips with the Corporal.
Jealousy? Minal is the one jealous of Zach -- she has to put an extreme amount of focus in the act of as simple a thing as a handshake, lest she put Zach's -other- arm in a sling from the force of her servos crushing the carpal bones into a fine paste. Suffice to say -- the grip is probably a bit lighter than one would expect.
She is a bit curious about the hesitation, though. Though it's not too far from the norm, it does seem a bit out of place for the easygoing captain. But drawing attention to it just leads her into conversations she doesn't want to complete. "Heh, if it weren't for laser sintering, I don't think I would've been able to produce it. I mean, this is a custom design, made it myself! Otherwise, y'know.." She wiggles her three good fingers by way of demonstration. "I wouldn't have any tactile sensation at all. At least the bomb left me with -those-, I guess."
She folds her hands behind her back, bowing lightly. "I'm working on some -other- prosthetics too. I mean, these are good for delicate work, but what I really wanna do is get back into boxing. And these are my 'street' hands.. they'd probably buckle from the stress!"
When Minal mentions she made them herself, that gets Zach's unabashed interest. "I... knew a guy who would have loved to have met you," he says after a moment. "He was a boxer. You could say he taught me a bit about the sweet science." Zach grins a bit wistfully. "He ran afoul of a fourty millimeter grenade, lost his entire left hand."
What Zach does /not/ mention is twofold. Firstly that he is recalling his other memories. The second thing? That he tried to /catch/ the grenade after it was fired. Really, it sounded like a good idea at the time. Plus, the whole past-life memories thing might come off as a little weird.
"... Huh, yeah, that's... that's really not far off the mark, huh? I used to box when I was at Rutgers. It's... it's more fun to me than other sports, I mean, I don't have good reach most of the time, but people overextend themselves trying to hit me! It's pretty great to clean their clocks."
Her smile fades when she realizes she basically talked right over Zach's story. "... Sorry. Good friend of yours? Whatever happened to him, anyway, do you keep in touch?"
"Yeah," Zach agrees, "He was a bit of a swarmer. He was a bit short as well." Zach pauses when Mint asks what happened to the person Zach was talking about. "He's... not with us anymore," he says a little matter of factly. Glenn is not /really/ sure what happened to the other Zach; the memories just stop after a certain point. "But it's okay. He's never far from my thoughts," he says with a faint chuckle at the inside joke.
Zach frowns for a moment. "I didn't think they /had/ any Assault Breachers in Japan," the Captain says curiously. "So what brings you through Camp Fuji?"
Minal frowns slightly as they call more people to get their badges, but seemingly neither of them. Could this -take- any longer? Not that she minds chatting with the good Captain, of course, but... still! She's got things to do...
"Huh, neat... I wonder what it is about short people and boxing." She grins at that -- as she's already explained what -she- likes about it.
%r She is a bit sad to find out that the Captain's friend isn't around any more, giving Zach a sympathetic smile. "I'm sorry for your loss," she states, almost reflexively. Even in her short Marine career she's had to use it on several occasions, after all.
"... Oh, uhm... well, no, they're -not- in Japan, but Mitsubishi's trying to branch out and contract some more, so the brass is interested in some other low-cost alternatives, trying to figure out ways to get more bang for the buck. And there -is- a small possibility that we'll need to deploy in this theatre, so... we need to be ready for it?" She laughs, then telegraphs a short punch in the air. "I dunno, you guys are the ones calling the shots here, I just turn wrenches!"
Zach reacts to the telegraphed punch somewhat reflexively, bringing up his left hand to mime catching the punch. The cast slips free of the sling slightly to reveal some writing. A half second later, the Captain looks a little flustered and adjusts the sling again.
"Not me," Zach says amicably, "Second Vanguard doesn't really plan for things like minefields."
Mint is... not the most perceptive person in the world. She'd noticed the cast and the sling, of course, but the thought to actually -ask- him about it hadn't really... occurred to her. She starts to ask, but then Zach recovers, drawing a quick apology from her. "Sorry! It's a bad habit of mine..."
She scratches her cheek, at the notion that Second Vanguard doesn't ever plan for minefields. "... Well... no, I guess you wouldn't? But it's pretty essential for infantry grunts to be sure that they aren't marching into traps. Drop some M58s out in front, you're all set!"
And then she remembers the question she was going to ask. "... Oh, hey, so what about you, huh? What's the story of your cast here? You got like, a ton of signatures on it!"
"Would you believe I fell down some stairs," Zach asks with a somewhat bemused expression on his face. The rub of it is that the statement is absolutely true. "The signatures are from some friends of mine. Most of them were around when it happened."
Zach chuckles about the M58s. "I'm not that good with explosives," he comments with a chuckle, "I'd probably just blast the field." By way of demonstration, Zach flips his right palm up and summons a faint trickle of soul power. Motes of gold light spill onto the floor, fading out before they hit.
"... Must'a been some flight of stairs!" Without a frame of reference for understanding Zach's humor, she just takes it all at face value. "When d'ya think you'll have the cast off? That's gotta be super annoying! Has it started itching yet?"
He'll probably regret hearing her oblivious question in a moment.
With a wiggle of her fingers and thumbs, Minal sneaks in a quick quip: "It's okay. I'm not good with 'em either!" At least she can laugh about it, right?
... And then she notices that Zach is littering gold energy all over the floor. "Oh! Oh! That's... " And then she realizes that no, that's not napalm or anything. "... That's what you used against that... that monster thing, right?" She pauses for a moment. "Do you have to check in with ops or the armory or anything before you fight?" She has to check out sidearms, she figures it's only fair...
Zach chuckles. "I'm betting a couple more weeks before the cast comes off," he answers the first question. "And yeah, that," Zach nods to the last couple motes of light as they fade into the ether, "Is what I was using in the fight against that monster. It's something I was born with, so checking it in and out of an armory would be a tad difficult. If I need a sidearm, I /do/ have to check those out though."
"... Ah, yeah. Every time I put on a new set of these babies I gotta register it. The staff NCOs are getting better though, it only takes 'em about ten to fifteen to make sure I'm not gonna kill anyone by flicking the wrong finger or whatnot..."
Another person is called to the back office, causing no small amount of anxiety in the corporal. "Man. I wish we could talk back -there- too. It'd be a heck of a lot more interestin' than their dumb questions. Have you committed any felonies. Is there anything new we need to know about. Have you recently gotten married. What brand of toothpaste do you use. Do you floss. So many dumb questions!" She cracks a wide grin, asking Zach: "What's it like to fight people who -aren't- all boxers? I got a couple weeks of leave coming up, I was thinking of heading to Mexico for that big festival or something, d'ya think it'll be a fun time?"
Zach stares off into the middle distance for a moment, trying to come up with a good response. Zach's recently fought a zombie, monster bee-people, that guy who felt like a million people all in one body, and that dinosaur monster. "Just need to keep your wits about you. With boxing, there's only so many kinds of punches you can go, and only so many places you can throw them. When you add in two more limbs, eight or so more striking joints, fingers, and your head, with no targets off limits?" Zach shrugs a bit. "It gets interesting quick. Try fighting people who are good at the Program," Zach refers to the Marine Corp Martial Arts Program, "And you'll understand what I mean."
Two more limbs? Eight more joints? Oh, Zach means kicking. "Oh! Well, yeah, I mean I -figured- kicks. I trained a bit in Shotokan Karate back in Clifton, but I'm probably a bit rusty now. I--"
The civilian contractor calls out Zach's name. Minal frowns, at that. "Well, it was nice meeting you, Captain. I hope we run into each other again! Oh, and... you can call me Mint. Everyone else does!"
"And throws, and locks," Zach reminds. "And some people bring blades, staves, swords. Knew one person who used a meteor hammer." Then his name is called. "I'll see you around, Corporal," Captain Glenn says politely. "It was nice meeting you, as well. Keep at it."
Mint makes a sour expression in response to throws and locks. She knows about clinching. But she doesn't relish the thoughts of people delivering piledrivers.
One might question why she's showing interest in a wrestling event? But then they might remember the peculiar weapon of her own. "... Yeah? Great! Then I'd have a clear conscience about bringing my -heavy- knuckles out!" She smacks her fists together with an audible 'clink!'
"Thanks, I will!" She waves cheerily...
And as soon as Zach is out of sight, she slumps down in her chair. "Bored again, boredboredbored, bored... "
Log created on 19:43:41 06/15/2015 by Mint, and last modified on 10:36:08 06/20/2015.