Mint - Sugar and Atomic-grade Spice

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Description: Clio and Mint catch up in Southtown, not long after the ill-fated finale of the Golden Angel tournament.

Winter has begun to relax its ice-cold grip upon the metropolis of Southtown. With T-shirt weather just around the corner, the colorful banners of the Chinatown district ruffle from a light breeze. Altogether, a tranquil scene that bears hardly any resemblance at all to the turmoil and strife that infected the city just a short while prior. All in all, it's probably for the better that springtime is near, considering most residents -- at least, the ones who don't love tokusatsu -- haven't wanted to go near that big ol' Golden Angel Hippodrome considering what happened there.

With the late hour, many of the shops along the street are already closed, but that doesn't stop the local business from keeping their red and gold lanterns lit. Pretty much everything on this particular street are in pristine condition -- except for the Sleeping Dragon, which, in comparison, seems to be on the verge of disrepair. A scaffold has been erected to keep the eponymous Dragon from collapsing to the street. The windows are boarded shut as well -- if it weren't for the giant sign that reads "YES, WE ARE OPEN! COME ON IN!" with a cartoonish drawing of the proprietress, one might think it was a condemned property.

And, standing just in front of the scaffolding, one Corporal Panesh is checking the cellphone in her realistically-proportioned prosthetic hands. She wears an olive-colored beret, along with a billowy, cloak-like dolman top, its pale colors lit harshly by the replacement lights of the Sleeping Dragon. Capri pants and soft-soled shoes aren't the tomboy's usual look, but they suit her all the same.

She seems a bit lost in thought, as she pages through the browser on her phone. And every so often, the breeze sets her top aflutter, eking out a slight smile.

Chinatown's proven to be a haven for good food in the past, and this time is no exception. Even with the destruction, the rebuilding, the revitalizing of a wounded district in the wake of near warfare and invasion by various forces of additionaly varying darkness, things are getting better in the district.

Late hours are bright, the darkness beat back by the myriad lanterns and lights of a bustling and active populace, even if many of the buildings are still covered in tarpaulin and scaffold. It's a living place, one that will soon have much of the past well behind it.

Clio St. Jeanne has found herself in Chinatown yet again, a place she includes on her patrol fairly frequently. Though this time she isn't on duty. She's not exactly dressed to the nines; a pair of jeans tucked into engineer boots, an overlarge lavender sweater that has had "Witch" stenciled onto it in black ink, and carrying a backpack with several gashapon charms hanging from it. The backpack makes a light clinking shuffling sound when she walks.

Approaching the Sleeping Dragon, she holds her hand up to catch Mint's attention when she arrives slightly lateer than she had hoped. "Hey, Minal!" she calls out. "Nice hat!"

Minal had heard the jangling of gashapon charms, but hadn't looked up right away. After all, several highschoolers had already passed by since she'd started standing at this location.

But when Clio calls out in greeting, Mint's eyes light up. The phone is stashed away and forgotten just as quickly, as the Marine waves her hand in a cheerful reply.

"Clio! Good to see you! And... Thanks! I started to go out with any hat at all, but it just felt so -weird-..."

She thumbs to the door -- "I would've went ahead and snagged us a table, but there's like no one else in there. Apparently there was like a huge fight last night or something..." Giving a noncommittal shrug, she moves right on to the next topic: "That's a cute look for you! How've you been? I bet you're glad for that tournament thing to be over..."

The gashapon distractions are there to not only look cute and to pass the time on patrol, but also hide the smaller chain she has secreted into the backpack just in case work and duty calls upon Clio. A tactic she's used since her earliest days back in Metro. A common belief among most people being cute backpacks don't carry weaponry.

"It's a cute hat," Clio says, "And some people are just hat people. You're one of them. Though is does make you look a little shorter."

She shoulders her bag and looks up at the scaffold all around. "Yeah, I'm glad that stupid shit is over," she says. "I can put the whole thing behind me." Though she still has more to investigate, she's already being posted for a European joint effort with the Sacred Order. And her job to escort is being pulled.

Still, she has a pleased grin for Minal. "What about you? Hope you repaired those big turbine arms after I shoved my spike into the blades. I didn't really mean to jam them up that much."

Mint's smile from the compliment is followed by a distressed pout when it's claimed that the hat makes her look shorter. The look is only fleeting, though, as her expression softens: "... My folks joked that I should've made bionic legs instead of arms, so at least I could see over the deli counter."

She steps back, opening up the restaurant's door with a jangling of bells. Inside... well, the restaurant seems to be in as poor condition as the outside, with a cordon of hazard tape marking off one section of the dining room as off-limits. A hostess waits attentively, just inside the door.

"I'm doin' well, yeah! The turbines were fixed pretty quickly, I had some spare blades from the last repair work. Bit of grinding, bit of polish -- almost good as new! Did you have to do any buffing or anything to your spike, though?"

She grins back at Clio, expectantly. "Still, I never would've imagined that -finale-... You all looked so -cool- in that, fighting against those goop monsters!"

"Sorry. Don't mean to insult you, Minal. But the beret does sort of give you this cute kid look," Clio tries to explain with an embarassed red blush coming to her cheeks.

"Wait, can you do that? The leg thing?" Clio asks as she walks along into the restaurant with Mint. Poor condition and construction inside won't matter if the food is good. Clio's learned that even the dumpiest of food trucks can have great taste.

"I carry a few spikes on me," Clio explains. "Some of the formula etching might need some touching up, but not a lot. They're sturdy things. If they can stab a demon, they can stab some metal."

She holds up two fingers for the hostess and follows, glad there's no wait as she's not had much in the way of food for some time. "What's that? Oh yeah, that. Not the toughest thing I've been up against, but we had a whole group of us tearing at the two obviously helped."

The assertion that Mint is a 'cute kid' does not go unchallenged. "I'm older than you are! ... Probably." If she notices the reddened cheeks she doesn't really say anything about it. "It's all good! I wouldn't know these things if no one brought 'em up, so... thanks!"

As for the legs... Minal has a brief shrug in reply. "Sure! Just take a hacksaw to the old legs, bolt on some gas pistons from an old Chevy or something, good as new aside from the gushing blood..." The tip of her tongue darts out for a moment, before she adds in a more matter-of-fact tone, "Legs are actually a ton simpler than hands -- since they're load-bearing, you can't get too fancy with the joint work. One reason peg legs were all the rage, you don't even need to grip hold of anything with a foot. ... Though it could take a few months to get used to balancing that way..!"

Mint continues prattling on even as the pair is being led to a table. The restaurant may be in disrepair, but there are some wonderfully appetizing aromas wafting from the kitchen all the same.

"Yeah, it'd be a real pain to be stuck facing off against those guys one-on-one..."
She thinks for a moment, sliding into a booth.
"I mean, unless someone brought a firehose."

"... Still, I wonder how they came up with stuff that, like, reacts to your thoughts like that...? Did you find anything out about that?"

"I'm not exactly old," Clio points out. "I graduated the academy just a few years ago." Yes, Mint is older, and given they way the two are dressed, she's got a more adult fashion sense in the casual times. After all, this is just a fun date, not a meeting with a member of the duodecim.

While Mint rattles off all the details of an impending amputation and eventual breaking of the mythical five foot mark, Clio just listens and nods along. The mechanical work was never her strong suit, understanding magical formula was more her forte. But it's interesting to Clio that she's struck a vein with Minal's interest in mechanics.

She's just smile and somewhat glazed over when the comment of the gooey combat in the hippdrome snaps her back into reality. "Oh, yeah, I don't think any civilian would want to have run into one of those things on the street. Just another potential threat to keep an eye out for in South Town." She sighs and shrugs. Though she wouldn't mind another throw down with a goo thing. She felt she wasn't ready for it given the dressing situation at the time.

"No, didn't find out much about it. Left that investigation up to the right people," not entirely true, but Mint isn't really that close a confidant when it comes to the nitty-gritty of her work. "I've run into more than a few things that have had mental effects on people, though. So I can't really rule it out as impossible."

Eased into her seat, Mint nods back to the hostess, idly poking at the pages of the menu. She already knows what she wants, but she's just confirming that the menu hasn't gone through any radical changes since her last visit.

"Well, I guess Southtown can rest easy whenever it's raining, hm? It'd be kind of silly for those guys to weaponize something with such an exploitable vulnerability. It's like they begged M. Night Shyamalan for a twist they could recycle..."

The menu is all but set aside, as the corporal fixes her gaze on her dinner companion's face. "You... have? Like, drugs or something? The only time I ran into anything like that was back in M..."

She blinks for a moment, forehead creasing as she's lost in thought -- searching for words that vanish before she can give them voice.

And then, she decides not to.
"... Ah, but you don't wanna hear my ol' war stories. Besides, I got somethin' else to tell you." Her mechanical fingers lace together, resting atop the folded menu.

"When we were blasting each other with water guns, you said somethin' that kinda stuck in my head." Her cheeks darken for a moment, supplanting her earlier hazy memory with a more vivid one.

"You said you were, uh... comfortable with yourself. Does... I mean... I wouldn't call myself -shy-, but... I guess, in some ways, I kinda am, y'know? I guess it's a silly question, but... were you ever, y'know, anxious about how you look?"

Clio takes her seat quickly. She's fast with the menu, having already decided on something with chicken and a half a boat of rice if she can find it in there. It's not too hard to mix spicy and rice together.

"I don't know. Most things already have a weakness to getting hit really hard. And yet new things keep coming up like that," Clio says as only a half joke. She's mostly just glad she's not being forced into sunny situations anymore.

"No, I mean a demon that wanted to dig into my head and make me obey it," Clio says in a way that's too matter of fact to be legitimate. It was an intrusion, and one that grated at her. Even if she was more likely to get angry at the thought than scared. It did blow its own head off, after all. "I like Darkstalkers, for the most part they give me interesting people to look at, but I won't lie that some of them have nasty abilities and aren't afraid to use them."

And then her hand goes up and she shakes her head. "No, no, I want war stories. I like war stories. Tell me war stories," she says, grinning as she leans just a little closer to Mint. But her happy face starts to falter when Mint gets into what apparently was her reason to drop the war stories.

"Well, I guess, yeah, why not?" she asks with a shrug. "I mean, years ago. Like when I first moved to Japan for the academy, I grew my hair really long. Like right about to my butt. Because I thought it'd look more normal here." She laughs off her school yard fashion choice, even if it was only two years ago she cut her hair off as short as it is now. But her face does tilt back toward somber and sober. "Is this about the height thing?"

Mint flashes an agreeable smile when Clio talks about a very common weakness -- after all, hitting things hard is the Marine's go-to solution for just about any problem.

%When Clio starts talking about demons digging inside her head, though, that's when Minal's face had started to lose its characteristic cheer. That's when Mint started to think even more about her past -- and it seems that the melancholy sticks with her, even as she tries to put a name to the location.

And fails to do so.

She certainly -heard- the request for more war stories, for there is a brief, melancholy smile. Perhaps in a moment...

"... I guess, yeah. People can make fun of my arms, or my knee, or the fact that I rush into things without thinking. But those are choices I made, things I can control. I can't... I can't change my height that easily, y'know?"

She looks down at her hands. Eight fingers and two thumbs rub against each other with a squeak of plastic.

"I need more practice dealing with it." I'm not mad you brought it up, I... " Mint looks up, sympathetically. It's this kind of ethos which she -didn't- want to get into, and she seems just as eager to move on. "I just wanted to explain that it's still touchy for me sometimes. Part of the reason I got into boxing to begin with."

Her smile takes a dramatic, lopsided uptick -- here it comes.
"It's just something I'll have to 'get over,' y'know?"

Mint relaxes, leaning back in her seat as she notices the waitress coming over. She puts in her order -- a Szechuan dish translating roughly as 'saliva chicken.' And after the waitress takes Clio's order, Mint seems to be back to her usual cheer.

"But yeah. Being short's just part of who I am... Eye-level with people's chests."

She rests her elbows on the table, resting her chin in her palms. "Some views better than others, of course. But hey, you... you said somethin' about war stories?"

Something there. Something is boiling just under the surface. Clio can see it. She's not bad at reading people. She can see something is eating, worrying, wearing down at the cheer inside of Minal's mind. The loss of happiness. The sudden distance. The melecholia that hangdogs over the tiny soldier.

Height aggravated Minal, clearly, but the mention of the demon not prompting even a cursory line of questioning was something to consider. Especially with Mint trying to avoid her own stories. But that would be something to look into later.

Something to look into later alongside the comparisons that could be me of Mint's Golden Angel suit and the Shadaloo Syndicate uniform and gloves. After all, the GA liquid was psychosomatic.

The hound of the NOL sniffed something, and she was following trails when they presented themselves.

"You could wear those little springy stilts," Clio offers. "Or show the world how wrong they were for laughing at you. Muahahahaha." Her voice is deadpan as she speaks out the mad cackle.

A nothing special pile of hoisin soaked stir fry sets in fron of Clio. It does not survive the encounter quickly.

She snorts, choking and laughing on her rice. Her hand goes up in supplication, trying to hold onto the subject in her mind as she breathes clearly again. Did you. . .did you just taunt my boobs?"

She laughs, this time without food accompniment, and smiles to Mint. Clio is having a good time. This is a good time. Not just a friendly investigation. "Yeah. I like to know about them. I already said I met a fricking demon. I think you owe me something."

Normally if a person don't want to talk to something, it's usually pretty obvious in their expression -- a gamut of emotions ranging from hardened resolve to outright anger. But in Minal's case, there's no frustration at all -- a hollow change of subject, as if she were simply distracted by a shinier, more interesting topic.

Like, perhaps, the idea of fastening springy stilts to a perfectly serviceable set of legs, inspiring a contagious smile across her face. "Haha, yeah! The crews at work didn't take long to get used to my big ol' metal meathooks, I'm totally sure they'd get used to the idea of me kangaroo-bouncing about the place!"

The corporal is in the process of miming out the motion when the waitress brings out their dishes -- forcing her to stop with a hesitant half-smile so that their orders can be set down. Hers is a plate full of chicken drowned in chili oil and Sichuan peppercorns, sprinkled with crushed peanuts, with enough spice to content a Fremen for a week. She leaves the lone scoop of rice alone, swishing a morsel of meat around in the sauce as Clio calls her out on the oddly-placed analogy.

Her ear-to-ear smile is matched with reddened cheeks -- and as Mint hadn't quite dug into her meal yet, it can't be blamed on the spice. "Ahaha... I was just trying to say you had a great rack -- but I guess that came out odd, huh?" She laughs, barely able to contain her humor - "I mean, there's some people I can't even hold a conversation with, they're like right there, hypnotic and all, like ... you are getting very sleeeepy..."

She separates a morsel of chicken from the plate, raising it didactically: "So yeah. Jealous, just a bit, but I'm fine with bein' dealt a weak hand in the genetics department, y'know?"

The chatty Marine takes the moment to sample her dish, closing her eyes as the hot chili sauce begins to work its magic. She nods back in reply, a bit more soberly to the mention of meeting a demon. "... Eh, closest I got to meeting a demon was a Saturday Night Fight against this ... creepy... ninja guy in yellow. Why yellow, I'll never know, I guess not all ninjas try to hide in the shadows, but... man. He was -creepy-, and though he turned out to be a nice guy, I felt he would've eaten my soul if I lost too bad against him. Blasted out my knee trying to wreck him -- s'why I got the bionic one now."

She frowns, looking down at her plate for a moment. "... As for like, -actual- war stories? I got deployed to Afghanistan for a tour once -- that's where I lost my hands. Probably the most scared I'd ever been -- our unit got to sleep during the daytime since the nights were so vicious. Yeah, we had NVGs, but the bad guys still get to hide in the cloak of darkness everywhere, so it's a real pain in the eyes hunting for 'em..."

Strange styles of deflection, but not too strange. Not everyone is good with facial emotion. If Clio St. Jeanne had only simple empathy to go on, that would be it and done. But she knows enough from disparate angles to start piecing together theories.

But theories could wait until after the lunch date.

"Let them get used to it. If it's what you want to do, then it's all on you," she says. How the woman even got along with the NOL would be a mystery to those who don't really know who she is. Her rebellious and independant streak is no cover, but sometimes events coincide to make for strange bedfellows.

She's still in the middle of looking vaguely smug in her individualist philosophy when she nearly chokes on her rice. "Can't." she coughs. "Can't say I've heard that too often." Not when you go to school with the likes of Makoto Nanaya and Mai Natsume to compare with. She's not embarassed by herself or her physical self image like Mint had asked, but, well, it was just pretty blatant to state.

"Ninja?" she swiftly moves past the talk of genetics before she's about to make a crack about a bionic boob job, much as she wants to. "And wait, your knee? So you're already most of the way there with the limb enhancement. Also, wait, isn't that kind of pro fighting not supposed to go that far into shit?"

Despite the world she lives in, Clio wasn't always checking fight tube. To her, the worlds of pro combat and her kind of life were world's apart. A showman's and craftman's place in the pros. Where gimmick and style ruled. Not the stab-in-the-back and pack tactics fight for survival that she felt she had to take for each patrol she took to the streets.

"Eh, maybe -- Mom always tells me that America was about embracing what made us unique an' all, but that's what moms are supposed to say..." As much as Mint seems to fly in the face of tradition and order, she does still have a soft spot for her family -- always on her mind, even if not in her actions.

That doesn't mean she won't speak her mind when it comes down to it though. "Is... the rice too spicy there for ya, Clio?" she jokes. On the one hand, her Indian palate has absolutely no difficulty with the chili sauce slathered all over her chicken. But on the other, she knows that being in the Marines has had an emboldening effect on the way she speaks, and finds Clio's reaction amusing in its own right. "Like I said, though, eye level for me! Kinda hard to ignore, is all." And with a wink and a grin, Minal is more than willing to let the matter slide...

"... Eh, yeah, I think his name was Scorpion. Which... y'know, fits considering he uses this big-ass spear like a hook. He was actually a lot nicer than he looked, really." She grins. "Wasn't even his fault. I took a big bump, and on the way out of it I slammed my knee a bit too hard into the ground, shattered the patella and a few of the, uh, processes? It was just so far gone it was just easier to replace it."

Pausing to take a sip of her drink, she continues: "But yeah. Some pro fights can get vicious, even if the fighters -are- holding back. And sometimes they don't -- a fighter last year lost her eye in a Saturday Night Fight! Pretty brutal!"

"My mother always called it a new start," Clio says. She's never fully delved into the implications of why her mother left. She always assumed it tied into the mystery of her father. "But you might be right, probably a mom thing." She stares off into space for a moment. "I hope I never really end up like that."

"And no. It's okay, could use a bit more spice. Not a fan of bland food." She spins the chicken sauce and rice all around onto her plate. "You should see the people I work with." She laughs a bit, grinning back. Not too bad when she can be more open about herself with someone.

"And is that so? I kept my chain away when I went into Golden Angel because I figured it wasn't going to be serious, serious." She sighs. "Well, I only really lost cause I gave up on that stupid porn round." She shakes her head. "I really wish I could rain down on them, but it's not what we're looking into. Science isn't magic." It's a bald-faced lie with chi-tech around, but still, it 'limits' the NOL's apparent involvment with things around the world.

"But serious, he hurt you that bad, you got a metal knee, why not go for broke?"

Mint is often outspoken, but seeing the way in which Clio stares off into space, and saying she hopes she never ends up like 'that'... Well, there are some topics which probably shouldn't be prodded or joked about. Maybe once she gets to know the NOL officer better, sure; for now, Mint is left with a sober half-smile.

"Well, maybe you can introduce me sometime! I've heard so much about your company, but we just haven't had much cause to interact. Jurisdictions and all that nonsense, way over my pay grade, haha."

The corporal takes a few minutes to scarf down her food. A bit of warmth spreads through her cheeks, but it's pretty clear she enjoys the dish -- even if she is shoveling it down pretty fast. "Yeah, you were doing pretty awesome, all told! You got some good shots in on me all the same. It's... good to try -different- things though. S'what I figured out fightin' Hayley... doesn't matter how good a boxer I am against someone who's really good with kicks. So I guess it's good to shake it up there. And... I -am- glad I got to see what that chain was all about!"

Mint scratches at her cheek, mustering a hesitant smile. "... Are you sayin' I should break my other knee and just turn into a big mecha-Mint? I mean, cool as that -is-, it's still cutting into my pay! And plus, like... the phantom pains. I try not to make a big deal about it but they do keep me up at night sometimes."

Mint cordons her meal into an ever-shrinking portion of her plate. No worries about food mixing here.

An impish smile spreads across her face. "So before you have -me- turning into a robot, what about you, Clio? Planning any body mods in -your- near future?"

"Maybe you will. We do look for a lot of people from different backgrounds. Helps shore up our numbers against threats," Clio feeds the line with a smile, she does think that Minal could meet with the NOL, but she has investigatory matters to finish before that happens.

Clio is quiet when she eats. Her mind is drifting here and there and a lot of her focus is on the food. Just trying to off hand take in the compliments that come her way.

She looks up for a moment toward Mint. She looks back down to her plate. More eating. Tapping her fork on the plate. "The phantom pains thing seems like it's important, but I won't push too far into it if you don't want. Not like I can give any help on that."

She looks aside, cursing herself out interally for seeing something and mentioning it more to show she's paying attention than to actually be able to help. So she fobs it off and moves on as much as Mint does. "I'm not some super engineer. I can't exactly do what you do. Nor do I really have plans for it. Don't really have plans for anything, really. It's not that I don't like the idea, just never had a good enough one or ever really went for it." She's busy, mostly, and when she gets downtime, it goes into a naps and eating to maintain the times she's awake.

Maybe you will, she says? That's enough to keep Mint's smile burning. "Oh, yeah. I... I'm kinda wondering if I missed my calling, working for the Marines instead of some place like the NOL. Part of the reason I have those big meathooks is so I can go toe-to-toe with a Darkstalker, if it ever came to that, hehe..."

As bubbly-headed as Mint can be, even she can notice Clio tapping her fork upon the plate, as if she's distracted about something. Which is part of the reason the Marine is trying to keep from spending the entire 'date' talking about herself -- and why she wants to find out more about the NOL officer who is enjoying dinner just across the table from her.

"Oh, they're normal for amputees! So like, when my hand got blown up, all the nerves are still there..." Minal traces her left index finger up the length of her arm for demonstration. "... wired up, fused into some other connection. It's like when you unplug your speaker wire from the jack and it just happens to brush against something metal. For me, instead of a burst of static, I just get a sensation like, 'Hey! Your hand is on fire!' or some junk." From the way her widened eyes and shudder run through her at the supposed immolation, it's pretty clear she's told the story a few times before.

"So yeah. Not a big deal. I'm sure acupuncture or some new age stuff would help, but it doesn't bother me often enough to worry about. Thanks for the thought, though!"

When Clio mentions that she's not a super engineer, Mint is quick to interject, "It's okay, I won't hold it against you!" with a mischievous glint in her eye. But she won't interrupt further -- just listening with interest (and a few bites of Saliva Chicken) as Clio speaks.

"Yeah, I... I never saw -too- much of a point. I hurt myself enough as it is to wanna go do it on purpose, haha. Doesn't stop the Marines back at base from getting tats all over the place though."

She pauses for a moment, biting her lip in thought.
And then she blurts out a thought.
"So when you -do- get off time, what do you like to do, Clio?"

Clio focuses on her eating for a time. Listening, taking in the behavior of her date. Noting things, figuring things out and assessing. She's on a defensive, a suspicion toward Minal that is coloring a number of the small woman's words. A lot of interest at getting involved with the NOL. A seeming distance and downplaying of her service.

Clio mentally pokes at the possibilities. A genuine dislike of her place in things. An attempt to gratiate someone she's romantically interested in. Something to do with the Marine Corps and fact-finding. All three possible. All rolling over in Clio's head as she tries to enjoy the date.

"As someone that can do fire, I still can't say I know what it's like to be on actual fire." Clio speaks with a laugh in her tone, but it's trying to source some kind of mirth out of the rather saddening statements from Mint. But since Mint looks fine with her situation, Clio finds herself verbally dancing to not seem too condescending and pitying.

"I don't know about acupuncture and all that. I mean, I'm literally able to do what can be called magic, but in all honesty we have methodology. Formulas." Clio knows there's a hypocrisy to her statement, but it's nevertheless true. It's just based more in her distrust of certain people and her mother's own scientific influence.

She does finally get a question oasis in a desert of awkward and slight paranoia. She smiles and spreads around her rice to pick out the chicken. "I like to explore. Sneak around in places where people aren't. See what's there, what's forgotten. Sometimes I like finding that spot that's surrounded by people that don't even know it's there."

"Also stars. I like stars."

Pretty much every single command the corporal has served under has placed a premium on quick, decisive thinking. And on top of that -- Minal is abrupt by nature, having grown up as a runt on the rough streets of New Jersey. She has enough street savvy to keep her mouth shut in most instances, but for a social setting like this, the time between thought and vocalization is almost nonexistent.

If nothing else, Mint's anxiety is something she herself doesn't even understand. There are butterflies in her stomach, and she can't even blame those on the chili sauce.

No idea what it's like to be on fire? "And that's a good thing!" The war veteran is more than willing to stay on the mirthful side of the emotional spectrum. Good food and good conversation are the best antidote to a sour mood!

"Yeah, I saw you've labeled yourself as a 'witch' somewhere before," she notes with a grin. "Well, sufficiently advanced technology can be considered 'magic' too, as the sayin' goes, but like... I wouldn't expect you to be able to fix nerve damage any more than someone should expect -me- to be good at fixin' flight controls on a helo. This 'magic' is kinda... specialized, right?"

Mint seems utterly -fascinated- with the concept of a spot surrounded by people going unnoticed. "Wow. Exploration and stars, that's neat. ... I'm still kinda lost though -- if it's surrounded by people, how would it go unnoticed? Like some giant Trojan Horse in the middle of a town square, full of candy and sriracha sauce?"

The randomness even seems to take Mint by surprise, as she cracks open a toothy grin.

Life in Metro City. Growing up. A rough time. But one she called on herself. And one a mother never stopped. She doesn't remember France. She was far too young to remember anything from her birth nation. Her mother never really went into depth on it. Metro's been her hometown. And with it came Mad Gear. Though that involved less street smarts and more knowing how to hit things hard and burny.

She's having a good time, even if much of it is hiding under the pall of an upcoming investigation and the fear and anxiety that the fun potential friend may be compromised. This time, Clio hopes it's just the paranoia of a combative lifestyle and the job that comes with membership int he Librarium.

She laughs, smiles, and looks down at her shirt. "Guess I do." She nods along, conceding the point to Mint that magic and tech are more similar than thought by most. Especially with things like Chi-tek slinking around out in the world.

At least there's talk of exploration to get Clio off the track of once more falling into thinking of work related matters. The upcoming excursion into Illyria will be enough to occupy her. "Oh yeah, there's plenty of places and times you can find yourself basically all alone in a city. It's just a matter of where you look and at what time you go. Getting a good spot just above people's eyeline is good too. Just perch up there and let them all go by. Most people don't normally look up. So they can be all over and around and not a one of them know you're there."

Clio's smiling at that thought. The places to go and hide and just enjoy yourself while the people around are unaware. There's more to rooftop vigilantism than just punching without reports.

On base, it's pretty much assured that there's always -something- to talk about. And by the time conversation has the opportunity to run dry, a superior officer is usually around to bark out another work priority, or it's time to head back to the bunk. But, since Mint entered the Special Forces and found herself with a dearth of free time, she's been a bit ... lost.
Never mind the random blackouts that she and doctors haven't quite been able to figure out.

Mint had found her mind wandering. But Clio's smile is contagious -- a bright light to chase away the doldrums of Southtown life. Which would probably be ironic considering how much she prefers darkness...

The Indian-American's smile grows a bit lopsided. "Doesn't sound that hard, I mean heck, just about -everything's- over my eyeline..." she notes, holding up both hands in a sign of surrender. "Okay, okay, that's it from me on -that- topic, promise!"

Sweeping chopsticks back into her hands -- you'd think it would be difficult, but she seems to have either mastered this skill or programmed her tech to do it for her -- she scoops another morsel of atomic-grade chicken into her mouth with a grin. "So you like stars, and you like getting up high... d'you like to climb too? I usually spend a lot of time on the climbing wall back home, but I've always wanted to go scale a real mountain. It'd probably be real nice to get -super- far away from the cities, too, yeah?"

Clio is a suspicious person lately. She sees potential threats in a lot of places. If anything, she has found obvious, considerable threats to be far, far more palatable than cloak and dagger poking. And as far as she's considering investigating things with Minal Paresh, she cannot do so without some reporting and initial findings given to her superiors.

Besides, she needs to run that footage by the bounty database to find for certain if she has seen that uniform before. And moreover, what that uniform means if triggered by a psychoreactive chemical.

But for now, Clio is amused. Amusing. And comfortable. She talks just easily. Though she gives Mint a darkly eye-shadowed glare when the subject of height is breached yet again.

With a laugh, she waves her fork, grinning all the same. "I've been known to climb," she says. "You should see what I can do with my little friend. It may look heavy, but it gets me places," she explains. "But yaknow, I've never been super far from any cities. Always like to keep civilization somewhere in sight."

Whereas Mint is... street-savvy, perhaps, but not -suspicious-. If Clio started asking any questions about classified data, she'd probably have a ready retort to shut down that line of questioning. As it is... Clio just seems like a really nice girl, who could be a friend.... and seems to like girls who are not short.

Admittedly, the competitive Marine may just have taken that as a challenge.

It doesn't take her much longer to scarf down the remains of her fiery chicken dish. Good food and good company always go hand-in-hand, even for those with mechanical replacements. "Oh, yeah, I'd love to watch your climbing in action!" she blurts out, either not cognizant of the words' alternate meaning, or not minding enough to stop herself.

"Huh, though. I guessed wrong. How can you even -see- the stars if you're in the city all the time? Especially here in Southtown..."

Mint slides the plate back, dabbing her mouth with a hankerchief from her pocket -- something she's had to learn to carry, here in Japan, the land without napkins. She actually thinks about her words for a moment, drawing in her breath.

"... Hey, Clio, I just wanna say -- thanks. For letting me treat you to dinner." Her brow furrows for a moment, and she shakes her head dismissively -- all that extra forethought didn't even save her from awkward wording. Stammering, she twirls a finger in acknowledgement that she's not making much sense! "... I mean, you could've just pushed for a gift card and ran, and you didn't, I dunno!"

Tenting her mechanical fingers together, she collects herself, and follows up with what she really wants to say: "I know I'm... I'm not your type. And I'm gettin' super weird on you, probably."

She flashes a half-smile, full of anxiety.
"But it's been fun. I really like hanging out with you, Clio."

Clio St. Jeanne has some tastes. They just happen to run against Mint in the height department. She likes Mint, the woman's fun and she can carry on a conversation one sided. Both traits that Clio likes in a friend.

Minal also has a degree of suspiciousness around her that's got a draw all its own.

"Get high enough, or get just outside. Maybe it's because of the city I like them like I do. They're rarer that way." She shrugs, she doesn't know and she's never looked much into the why about why she enjoys looking up at the night sky the way she does. It's just peaceful.

It's while she's clearing her plate of any errant rice that she hears the thanks. She looks back to Mint and hesitates. She looks down. Red creeps in at her cheeks and the tips of her ears. "It was nice. Haven't really had something like this in a while. I had a good time and yeah, you might not be my type but I still want to hang out with you. We could go climbing. I kind of want to see you tear shit up with those hands, too. Throw like big rocks or something." Simple things, maybe that'll cheer Mint up. Praise on something she was proud of, like her engineering.

"I do want to see you again. I need friends outside of work."

"I never really look up all that much when I travel, I'm always too busy thinking about my next project." Mint flashes a grin, as the wait staff brings by a check -- and a pair of fortune cookies. "But now I got reason to read up on the stars, maybe I'll try an' memorize some of the constellations for next time."

Setting aside a fortune cookie for her dinner date, she sweeps the other cookie and the check under wing. She can't help but smile at Clio's coloration -- not even realizing that her own skin is betraying her in similar fashion. "I will be -delighted- to tear shit up with you. They have places for that, where you can just completely tear a house apart or something. Totally commercial, though! But... I guess that's why I went into combat engineering, we get to do that anyway."

Mint's eyes go wide.
"Oh my-- I never showed you what I used to -work- on, did I?"
Her hand snaps to her cellphone, which she unlocks in rapid fashion and slides across the table. On it, is a picture of an unholy fusion between an M1 Abrams tank and a jumbo-sized rake. "This... is the M-one-one-fifty Assault Breacher Vehicle. It will chew the hell out of a minefield so you can start rolling wheeled vehicles through it safely. I worked on these babies for -years-, know everything there is to know about 'em!"

She wells up with pride, nodding. "So yeah. Sometimes we gotta get crap out of the tines in front. Used to take *hours* to clean 'em off, before I got my big ol' KNUCKS. Then it only took -minutes-. Kinda miss those days."

Mint smiles, reaching for Clio's hands -- or else looking really silly in the process. "Yeah. Definitely, I'm looking forward to it!"

Log created on 09:51:02 03/27/2018 by Mint, and last modified on 13:51:47 04/08/2018.