Flight of the Soaring Spirit - [FSS:Week 2] SPIRIT WALK: MINT

Description: Sometimes, the best way to learn about a culture is total immersion: eat their food, sleep under their roof, and experience life the way they do. The problem with this formula is -- Cpl Panesh didn't ever see anyone else drinking from the bowl she just did. Maybe they all did it as kids or something, who knows?! The point is, MINT GETS TO DO SOMETHING SUPER AWESOME. It's pretty wild!

The Flight of the Soaring Spirit Tournament has had battles and feasts and combinations of the two. Part of the ceremonies involve a Spirit Quest, and has been offered to two specific individuals. One of those is Corporal Minal Panesh, United States Marine Corps. The quest itself starts out fairly pedestrian: Panesh is loaded into a pickup truck with a local guide and taken out to the middle of nowhere on a long and lonely road. The Marine is told that she will be given a tribal medicinal brew to open her awareness to the spirits of the wild. From there, it is up to Panesh to learn what the spirits have to learn.

The clearing where the two arrive is fairly desolate; nothing to see for miles aside from rocks, dirt, and the occassional scrub brush.

The corporal knows embarassingly little about the tribal culture -- or even Native Americans in general. She learned about them in school like all of her classmates did, but for all she knows they could be making this up as they go along. It's almost a certainty that pickup trucks were -not- involved in the original form of whatever ritual she's undergoing, though.

Mint pretty much told the guide that. The response she got makes her wonder if the guide has any sense of humor at all.

For the beginning of the ride to the clearing, she's been fiddling with her mechanical hands, her headbound-mounted flashlight jarring about each time the truck hits a bump. With tiny hex drivers, she makes minute adjustments to the joints of her fingers -- it doesn't seem like she's ever perfectly happy with the way her joints flex, but it's probably better than trying to pay attention to the road bumping about.

... And then she realized it was making her motion sick, and jerked her head up to watch the road. That -was- better.

She'd considered popping a dramamine tablet, but now that she's positioned at the clearing, with the warm medicinal brew staring her right in the eye, she realizes: I'm -really- far from poison control at the moment. It's probably better I didn't add 'unplanned chemical reactions' to the list of things that could go wrong.

She smiles back to the guide -- it comes across as a bit forced, though, because as many foods as she's consumed here and considered 'yummy', this brew... is less so. A LOT less so.

She reaches for the bowl, and brings it up to her lips. "Down the hatch, eh-heh..." Here goes nothing...

The tour guide starts chanting in no language that Mint can understand as she drinks the bitter draft. As the last drop slides down her throat, the world turns sideways on the Marine. After a moment, things steady... for certain values of steady. The colors of the landscape are... odd. Shadows shift where there are not any, and flickers of motion that Mint cannot seem to isolate or identify. The woman might feel like several hours have passed, as the land shifts subtly and unpredictably under Minal's feet.

Perhaps most distressingly, the truck and the guide are simply gone.

Mint crosses her eyes back at the tour guide, even as she's downing the draught. Part of her wishes she could understand what was being said, while the more adventurous part of her throws caution to the wind. What's the worst that could happen, right?

'Losing consciousness' is the proper answer to that question, as the sound of the bowl slamming into the table sounds like a jackhammer in her head. The long shadow of the guide shimmers and flickers in her vision, as she steps back to steady herself. As soon as she regains some measure of control, she looks back... and yep. No truck.

Her hands clench tightly into fists. Or at least, she thinks those are still her hands. They still obey her commands -- for now.

"... I guess I should start walking, huh," she mumbles aloud, puzzled by how oddly her voice sounds to her own ears. What direction? Well, does it really matter?

The scenery shifts around on Mint, not really providing any landmarks or anything to orient on. The hands feel like hers but not hers, original parts but manufactured at the same time. A sibillant voice might get Mint's attention.

"Too dependant," the hissing voice declares. "Relying on extraneous things." A rattlesnake the size of a truck emerges from nowhere. "You must shed this to become stronger." The snake coils. "Or become dust in the desert!"

The massive spirit snake lunges at Mint, fangs bared and dripping with venom!

COMBATSYS: Longfang has started a fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  <
Longfang         0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Mint has joined the fight here.

[\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////////////////////]
Longfang         0/-------/-------|-------\-------\0             Mint

COMBATSYS: Longfang successfully hits Mint with Gaping Maw.

[ \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Longfang         0/-------/-------|=------\-------\0             Mint

Mint steps backwards, one hand going to her mouth as a new wave of nausea sweeps over her. She really could do without the landscape bumping and bucking around like it had ever since she'd gotten into the truck!

The snake voice does draw her attention, though. Her eyes widen to the diameter of saucers when she sees how big this thing is... but she reminds herself: Drug trip! Probably.

So... so much for 'walking' -- it's fight or flight, and there's only one solution apparent to the boxer! With a quick tentative clench of her fist, she lunges to the right, hoping to bring her left arm up to ward off the attack. But, dammit... it -is- different, isn't it? A heavier weight, that seems to be dragging her down -- it's like all the weight training she's done to get used to the heavier weight of her combat-ready KNUCKS has gone to pot, all of a sudden. "Dammit!" she spits out as the fangs slam down into the flesh of her upper arm, venom intermingling with her blood as she finds herself unable to move her suddenly-heavier arms.

"It's not dependency! These are my own creations! This -is- how I adapt!" she exclaims, trying in futility to reason with the snake while it's still latched onto her. If it were a -real- snake, it wouldn't be able to talk back, so that's a perfect opportunity.

But, as it is, she's also got a moment to punch for the underbelly of the spirit snake. Once, twice, a third time, making the best of a bad situation. "Hnn! Hnn! Hnn!!" she exhales with each strike, falling back on her old boxing training to get her out of this mess!

COMBATSYS: Mint successfully hits Longfang with Body Blow.
- Power hit! -

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Longfang         0/-------/----===|=------\-------\0             Mint

The serpentine body makes it hard to target anything vital, but the snake seems to wobble and give under the trio of punches. It makes no noise, gives no indication of being in any kind of pain as it lands on the desert floor. The dust clouds don't move at all like Mint might think that they should; scattering in odd places around the spirit as it turns to face Mint once more.

"You don't need them," the spirit hisses as it lunges towards Mint, seeking to wrap itself around the Marine and crush her to death! "They are not your strength!"

COMBATSYS: Mint dodges Longfang's Strong Throw.

[      \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Longfang         0/-------/----===|=------\-------\0             Mint

Mint quails at the lecturing from a being with neither arms nor legs about what she might or might not need! "I tried that already!" she shouts back while springing backwards. When the family-sized rattlesnake lunges at her, she ducks her head below it, fists tucked up by her shoulders as she weaves out of the way. "Seven months without a prosthetic!" she snaps back. "Do you know how hard it is to thumb through NATOPS manuals and MRC decks -without thumbs?!-"

Steadying herself, she takes the moment to get a better look at the dust clouds. That -is- weird. She looks back up at the snake, crossing her eyes. "So wait, are you saying you'll just poof out of existence if I admit I don't need my hands to do my job?"

She waits a beat. And said poofing does not happen.

"Yeah, didn't think so!" she quips back, lunging in. To her credit, she's not actually trying to -punch- the beast -- but she is trying to grapple with it, and maybe sling herself onto its back. And if she manages to do that, she'd aim to drive her -knees- into the beast instead. Maybe she -doesn't- need those fists after all??!

COMBATSYS: Mint successfully hits Longfang with Violent Clinching.
- Power hit! -

[          \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ///////////////////////////   ]
Longfang         0/-------/-======|=------\-------\0             Mint

The snake thrashes around, trying to dislodge Mint from its back as its body gives dangerously under Mint's crushing grasp. The snake takes off, Mint still on its back. The miles melt under the speed of the snake's almost flight. Dust obscures pretty much everything, a riot of mind-rending colors swirling around the fighter and the spirit before clearing with a jarring violence to reveal a large cliff face.

The snake whirls, aiming to slam Mint into the unforgiving granite!

COMBATSYS: Mint blocks Longfang's Mighty Roar.

[           \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////////     ]
Longfang         0/-------/-======|==-----\-------\0             Mint

Mint holds on for dear life as the snake races through the swirling technicolor desert. "Nnngh, wish I'd brought my safety goggles for thisssss!" She hunkers down tight, using the snake's body as a ward against the sand blasting at her from the forward direction!

But after she gets used to it, she steals a peek out to her left, and realizes just how -fast- she's moving. "Holy... WOOHOOOO! RIDE 'EM COWBOYYYYS!" she hollers, screwing one eye shut against the wind while taking it all in with the other.

There's a limit to just how much fun one can have, even in the midst of what Mint can only surmise is a drug trip -- she can tell the snake is about to bounce her across a cliff face. Driving her knee into the snake just one more time, she gears up for position, and when the cliff face veers close, she leaps away from the snake.

It's not pretty -- but rather than turning into a bloody smear across the granite wall, she turns her shoulder towards it, sailing upwards as she backslides across it.

Her back... yeah, it's pretty abraded after that, and she can tell from the sensation of moisture that it drew blood. But she's got more pressing concerns -- the snake staring her in the eyes now.

"I'll never take that rock for granite again..." she mumbles under her breath -- just before leaping forward at the beast. "Hey! D'you ever hear the joke about the snake and the lever?!" She leaps forward, starting with a punch from her massively overweight fists. But if she manages to embed the fist into the gargantuan snake, she'd use it as leverage to rain another series of knee strikes into the beast. She -was- challenged to think beyond her prosthetics, right?!

COMBATSYS: Longfang blocks Mint's Lock and Load.

[              \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////////////////      ]
Longfang         0/-------/=======|===----\-------\0             Mint

The serpent coils, absorbing the force of the punch and the knee strikes with almost fluid grace before slipping away from Mint, whirling around before rising up. The snake's form shifts, a hood flaring out as the rattlesnake turns into a massive cobra. The spirit's mouth opens, revealing serated fangs that drip with caustic fluid that eats at the rocks and sand with a bubbling virilence.

"DIE!" the beast hisses as it lunges towards Mint in a lightning-swift bite!

COMBATSYS: Longfang successfully hits Mint with Quick Punch.

[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Longfang         0/-------/=======|====---\-------\0             Mint

As the snake breaks free, Mint steels herself for the next strikes. ... But what she's not ready for is the snake suddenly appearing to change species. "... A cobra, now?" Mint stares on in disbelief, starting to take a few strides backwards. "Whatever this is, I know a few guys back home that'd kill for a hit of it."

But when the cobra fangs strike, the plucky Marine holds her ground, raising her left arm. She hopes to brush it away -- but the strike is -much- too fast for her, digging into her midsection and setting her torso aflame with the sensation of poison searing into her flesh.

One eye screwing shut from the pain, if no longer the driving waves of sand, she shakes her head in dismissal. She's had her hands blown off: the pintsize pugilist is familiar with pain tolerance. Digging her heel into the rocky floor, she narrows her eyes with a smirk. "'Die?' I'm dropping some quality trash talk here, try and keep up!"

And then, like a bolt of lightning, she's off. Her hands don't seem as heavy now -- and they might not bear the rocket boosters her real KNUCKS possess -- but it hardly seems to matter, as the pugilist manages to make the psychadelic colors work -for- her, bending to -her- will.

The first thing she does is rocket forward again, leveraging the full momentum of her right fist to drive it straight into the cobra's belly. "/I/ control the horizontal!!" she shouts.

But then the colors swerve upwards sharply, as she drives her heel into the crumbled granite below her new position. "And /I/ control the vertical!!" Mint steps through as if she's rehearsed it, changing direction rapidly and driving her noggin right up into the jaw of the beast, with force strong enough to crack a few of the viper's fangs right off! "OOOOOH-RAAAAAH!"

COMBATSYS: Mint blitzes into action and acts again!

[             \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Longfang         0/-------/=======|====---\-------\0             Mint

COMBATSYS: Longfang blocks Mint's Fierce Punch.

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  /////////////////////         ]
Longfang         1/-------/=======|====---\-------\0             Mint

COMBATSYS: Longfang interrupts Headbutt from Mint with Primal Fury.
- Power hit! -

[               \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  //////////////                ]
Longfang         0/-------/-------|=======\-------\0             Mint

The cobra lunges toward Mint as Mint charges it, absorbing the force of the first punch with slithering grace before wrapping itself around the Marine. A half a second later, the spirit has lashes out with a half dozen bites before evaporating in a puff of psychedelic smoke that palably swirls around Mint in a haze of loathing and disgust before reforming into massive anaconda that regards the Marine with an almost malignant glee.

Mint finds herself in the unenvious position of having her second bluff called. The "Mind" may have a general idea of how the physics work in this -environment-, but dealing with another apparent intelligence is... well, a complication.

"Nnnrgh!" she protests, as a dozen spurts of blood appear all across her swarthy skin. The blood loss alone ought to be enough to incapacitate anyone of her relatively tiny build, but one advantage has over her age and size cohorts is her sheer dogged determination.

And probably also the fact that she's dropped to the floor, which is enough to jog the adrenaline a bit, as she steadies her stance.

"I... herpetology isn't really my thing." For once, Mint doesn't have a snappy response; since she can't identify the species, any Mix-a-Lotta-Minaj puns will have to wait. "But I'm gonna guess you wanna give some Minty fresh hugs, and I don't think I'm ready for that kinda commitment!"

But instead of punching at the anaconda, Mint punches the rock face, knocking a rocky flake loose from it. And without missing a beat, she snaps it out of the sky and whips around in a tight circle, slamming it back at the anaconda like a discus. A really sharp discus. "Sorry, snakey, I gotta break it off!"

COMBATSYS: Mint successfully hits Longfang with Daisy Cutter.

[                  \\\\\\\\\\\\  < >  ////////////                  ]
Longfang         0/-------/-----==|=======\=------\1             Mint

The rock shatters against the side of the snake's head, causing the spirit to shudder for a long moment before it turns to regard the Marine with a predatory gaze. A lighting flicker, and suddenly the massive serpent is closing a circle around Mint, the spirit's tongue flickering in and out as if to taste the multi-colored dust and air.

Less than an eyeblink later, the spirit is lashing out with an open maw, aiming to grab one of Mint's "wrists" to rip the prostetic clean off!

COMBATSYS: Mint interrupts Rending Bite from Longfang with Attack of Opportunity.

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  /////////                     ]
Longfang         0/-------/---====|=======\=------\1             Mint

Mint smiles a bit as the rock forces a stagger out of the snake, but she frowns as the snake seems to be more interested in circling around her than chatting with her. "What, what, I guess I'm supposed to look deep inside for the humor in the situation too? I may as well be talking with myse-"

Mint frowns more deeply as she realizes that, in a way, she may have been talking to herself the whole time anyway. She prattles, "... Right then, maybe I am just crazy from heat exhaustion," backing away with wariness while the snake tastes the rainbow.

But when the snake dives in for the kill, Mint gives the anaconda more than it bargained for, as the pint-size pugilist pistons her fist right into the beasts open maw -- impacting the roof of its jaw. Sure, it still has its fangs on her fist, but with a twist of her wrist, she can shear those fangs right off...


Fear sets in, as the familiar sense of her bones giving way takes hold. Tears form at the corners of Minal's eyes as she feels everything happening again -- with just one hand, this time, instead of two. The bone and sinew give way, blood spattering her shirt as her right-hand prosthetic is ripped away from her. It's not clean -- and it's not pretty.

And as she hops backwards, looking down at the familiar stump of her right wrist, she turns eyes back up to the anaconda.

"I've had worse," she claims soberly.

The snake regards Mint soberly for a moment before sweeping silently around her without kicking up any kind of dust. Without any kind of warning, the snake leaps skyward in a high lopping arc. The serpents scales reflect greys and golds and browns and greens in its ascent.

An impossibly long moment later, and the massive serpent comes crashing down on Mint with glistening fangs. It seems pretty one-trick, but it's not like the snake has a ton of options...

COMBATSYS: Mint blocks Longfang's Alpha's Rage.

[                      \\\\\\\\  < >  //////                        ]
Longfang         0/-------/------=|=======\==-----\1             Mint

Mint squints up at the snake as it coils up like a spring, and then... springs into the sky.

The assault breacher mechanic can appreciate the mechanical beauty of it, if nothing else.

As she stands watching the graceful airborne beast for a moment, she appreciates the parched desert heat caking the blood upon her back and the stump of her right wrist -- it gives her some consistent focus despite the trippy colors of the background. But as much as she can stare at the snake, it's all she can do to dive to the side, using the steel gauntlet of her left hand to deflect the fangs aside. Sparks fly as the impossibly sharp fangs scrape across the metallic appendage, forcing it into rocky floor and kicking up its own surrealistic dust clouds.

Mint coughs into her stump, but once again, the colors swirl in sharp horizontal bands.

She's working that Outer Limits angle again -- trying to slam that fist into the snake's exposed flank. Once, twice, thrice, she exhales with each hammerlike blow, finishing off with a loud "OO-RAH!"

COMBATSYS: Longfang blocks Mint's Rapid Combo.

[                        \\\\\\  < >  ///////                       ]
Longfang         0/-------/------=|=======\===----\1             Mint

The snake coils in on itself, absorbing the trio of strikes before unravelling once more. The snake regards Mint for a second before simply hurling itself at the Marine, seeking either to bite the tiny woman to death or to simply crush her under its weight! The dust swirls up in a haze of crimsons and violets, sweeping around the fighter and the spirit even as it takes on a mass of its own that seeks to crush Mint under its vile hatred!

COMBATSYS: Mint interrupts Frothing Combo from Longfang with SNAFU.

[                                < >  /                             ]
Longfang         0/-------/---====|====---\-------\0             Mint

COMBATSYS: Mint has reached second wind!

[                                < >  /                             ]
Longfang         0/-------/---====|====---\-------\0             Mint

For a big snake, this monster is fast as heck! Mint surmises it might have -something- to do with it being all made out of muscle, but... whatever!

The point is, with the snake soaking up the best off-hand punches she can muster, the Marine finds herself at a bit of an impasse. What was the lesson here? That she -can't- rely on her fists, or that she seems to be doing a-okay with them?

She looks back at her stump. Riiiight.(*)

She can already tell that the poison is starting to take its effects. Or maybe the blood loss. Or maybe she's actually still stuck in the desert as punishment for calling Little Eagle's feast not spicy enough. But if she's going to die alone here in the desert, she at least wants to beat up the hallucinated snake that's trying to crush her beneath its mass. And the best way to do that...

Is to lower herself to the ground, bracing herself. Planting herself into the perfect position, she stares up at the snake, squinting beyond the light reflected off the brilliant pattern of scales. And she aims right for the eyes of the beast.

Uppercut. Right through the eyeslits. And the knuckles of her left fist ought to raze the side of the beast's head as she drives upwards, splintering bone and tearing flesh away in chunks.

If physics has any sense of -justice-, anyway. "OOO RAHHHHH!" she howls, sailing upwards -- her own fist taking its turn to fill the camera full of lens flares in the reflected sunshine!

But what goes up... must come down. And when Mint lands, it's in a perfect three-point landing...

That only emphasizes the burdensome fatigue, as she sags forward, leaning heavily on her mechanical hand. Did it just -gain- forty pounds?

[OOC] (*) Bonus pun. Didn't even plan on that, folks!

The snake catches the punch right in the square in the kisser, and rocks up from the force of the punch. Its head stays pointing at the sky for a long moment before flopping over to one side. The spirit beast explodes in a spray of rainbow colored smoke and dust. The lightshow of it tears at Mint's eyes before everything settles down and clears, as the Marine comes down off of whatever the hell was in that bowl.

When Mint checks herself over, both of her hands are functional if a little abused. She has a few scrapes and bruises, and she is bone weary, but otherwaise she is fine.

Well... as fine as someone /can/ be when they come down from a seriously bad drug trip in the middle of absolutely nowhere. Though Minet may spot a cloud of normal dust that might indicate an approaching vehicle.

COMBATSYS: Longfang takes no action.

[                             \  <
Mint             0/-------/---====|

COMBATSYS: Longfang can no longer fight.

[                             \  <
Mint             0/-------/---====|

Minal stares down at the ruddy dust beneath her left hand, watching her lightweight prosthetic sink in. It's... not heavy. But it's different than the one she was just fighting -- there's no snake venom spattered across it, and none of her own caked-on blood. Just Mexican dirt, orange powder strewn across the paint simulating her dark complexion.

She looks around, reassuring herself that the pretty colors are gone, replacing themselves only with the orange sky and the equally orange-brown landscape. She breathes a light sigh, trying not to inhale the dust that's kicked up from her proximity to the ground.

Pushing back to her feet, the corporal realizes that she has some sensation in her right hand, the proper nerve clusters triggered by the familiar synaptic interface of her own creation. These... are her non-combat hands. The ones she wears to make people feel comfortable around her. Dinged and marred -- and she realizes that she'd forgotten to bring another bottle of paint.

"Oh, whatever," she consoles herself, flexing her finger joints. They'll need adjustment again on the trip back.

Or maybe, she considers, it can wait till her return to town, when she gets some food in her tummy again.

COMBATSYS: Mint takes no action.

[                             \  <
Mint             0/-------/---====|

COMBATSYS: Mint has ended the fight here.

[OOC] The story about the snake and the lever is really obnoxiously long!

Log created on 17:27:20 06/28/2015 by Mint, and last modified on 19:55:03 06/30/2015.