Mint - The Mission San Juan Capistrano Mission

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Description: A blog post from two years ago has landed itself in the middle of a social media discussion, and the author's identity is cloaked in mystery -- to those without connections, at least! A personal question leads Minal Panesh to enlist the aid of renowned chi scholar Rei Hazuki.

The text message comes at a suitably reasonable hour of the morning; brunch-time, maybe, nothing later than 10am. "Hey, Corporal -- this your guy?" Totally unremarkable except for the fact that it came from a friend in SIGINT, which might be notable.

The picture is of a short, freckled redhead in vaguely Chinese garb, eating a crepe. At first glance, the picture itself doesn't feel like it gives anything away; there's crowds of tourists everywhere, though the red hair and outfit DO make this person stand out. The pic itself was probably sourced from someone's Insta account, or something of that nature. But, looking a little harder ("computer, enhance"; i.e. zooming in a tiny bit) reveals writing on the pale white adobe wall visible behind him:

-- FOUNDED NOVEMBER 1, 1776 --
"Worth a Visit"

In terms of clues as to where this person might be, it's hard to get better than that, and if Cpl. Panesh wants to chase this individual down (or, you know, just... run into him), doing so wouldn't be too difficult; commuter rail running from downtown Sunshine would have her, sparrow-like, in San Juan Capistrano by lunch if she leaves without too much delay.

The actual mission itself, as a landmark open to the public, is surprisingly large, but again, Rei Hazuki's distinctive physical characteristics mean that even a casual 'hey have you seen' to people passing by would guide Mint to him in short order: standing in a dead end, open-air reflection room found through a dark tunnel of an archway. On the far 'wall', antique bells hang in window-like cutouts of the stone outer wall, and a round fountain bubbles away silently in the center of the floor.

For his own part, Rei is simply... standing there, back to the arch entry, looking at the bells, presumably... or some other thing only he can see that's in their direction.

As it happens, not many people like to know they're being followed. Or, worse, tracked. And that was one reason that Mint -- possibly known best for eating her whole boot at the New Fighting Generation draft meeting -- urged her contacts to exercise discretion in allowing her to follow this particular lead. One, it's impolite. Two, the target could easily make his way off the map in a heartbeat if he were to find out. And three, attempts to ignore points one or two might end up with someone in the hospital. Cpl Panesh -thinks- he's nice. But she'd -thought- a Shadaloo Doll was nice too.

Which is why she's not bringing in her heavy arms, having opted to stick with her casual 'tourist' gig. Collared polo shirt, mint green in color (of course), khakis, brown shoes and belt, and prosthetic hands made out of translucent green and white plastic. As her train slows to a stop, she makes her way out of the exit in an orderly fashion, and walks with a fast but unhurried gait to the front entrance of the Mission. And from there... she keeps her eyes peeled.

It doesn't take her long to find the ever-distinctive Rei Hazuki. And she thanks her blessings that their paths had intertwined, ever so briefly, in the past.

She stops just inside the archway, watching for just a moment. And then she lets out a brief gasp.

"Hey," she states, raising an eyebrow just in case Rei happens to turn his head at the sound. "Don't... don't I know you from somewhere?"

She cradles an elbow in one hand, stroking her chin with another as she's lost in thought, taking a few more steps closer to Rei in the meanwhile.

A lightbulb in her expression switches on. "Hazuki Rei... isn't it? From that, heh... tournament 'experience' back in Southtown..."

For Minal Panesh, the Golden Angel tournament wasn't so bad. But for Rei, and for a close friend of hers... well. She's glad to have heard it secondhand.

'Don't I know you from somewhere?'

All told, it's the kind of opener that does indeed draw attention. Never mind the fact that this little cul-de-sac that Rei found for himself in the sprawling mission is picturesque, but the average tourist can find 10 such rooms in this place easy, and this one's out of the way. So, the expectation that there would be anyone here at all is low. Perhaps thirdly, and more critically, as is the case for most fighters, the 'presence' of others often precedes them into a room.

Nevertheless, when the redhead turns to encounter the sound of the voice speaking to him, he does wear a look of quiet surprise, especially because the first words out of his mouth when he takes in Mint's diminutive form is: "Whoa, robot hands."

Truly, given her perfectly normal greeting, and his absolutely ridiculously bad response, there is almost certainly a nice little moment of silence before the xian clears his throat. "I cannot believe I just said those words, and I am really sorry for saying something so ridiculously STUPID," he finally says, into the sucking aural void. "I've had kind of a complicated week and it involves strangers, or near-strangers, appearing out of nowhere a lot. I'm a little on edge."

A brief pause, and then despite how BADLY this has gone so far, a mere 90 seconds into the conversation, Rei does smile a little bit. "As for Golden Angel, I guess I owe you a second apology." Well, at least we know now his feelings on that matter, too.

Robot hands. Yes, that's a not-uncommon reaction. The dark-skinned corporal's smile shows that if she'd taken any offense at all, it's miniscule at worst. She holds her hands up in mock fright -- or perhaps, presentation, as Frei would get to see the palms and their ruby-red light emitters in the process. "Whoa! Haha. I get that a lot!"

She grins light-heartedly, lowering her hands as she listens to Rei. With his apology -- and the statement which follows, she shakes her head to suggest, without interrupting, that such an apology isn't necessary.

Her brow furrows at the relation of his 'complicated week.' The well-connected Marine knows of Ichika Kasumoto's and Brandon Malone's interactions. But others, hmm... For this topic, too, she remains quiet for the moment, mirroring his frustration.

"Well, I mean, stuff happens. I mean, heck, like, -every- tournament has some crazy behind-the-scenes hijinks goin' on. It's like it's written into the contracts, right?" She forces a laugh -- the way anyone trying to build rapport with a complete stranger might.

And she's aware of that, sucking in her breath. "So, yeah. Apologies accepted, and now it's my turn: I'm sorry to bug you. I came here for some peace and quiet, and now I'm over here ruining yours." She gestures a circle with her hands: "It's like some cosmic, karmic, circle of awkwardness or something..."

Having said that, her eyes widen. And she sucks in her breath. "Whoo boy. I promised Kasumoto I'd try to be more tactful and it is -so- not my style, but what can you do, right?"

At the suggestion that fighting tournaments always seem to have some sort of sinister agenda baked into them on a sub-rosa level, the red-haired man can't help but shake his head sadly and laugh. He does, however, resist the urge to say 'kid, you don't know the half of it,' a sentence which -- while PROBABLY true -- does not seem tailor-made to endear him to this person, to say the least.

"In retrospect, you'd think we'd stop, go 'huh, an outside-funded festival literally about beating people up, certainly this can't go wrong' and do something about it, but we never do." Rei shrugs helplessly. "Maybe it's just us collectively hoping THIS time it'll be different." It has never once been different.

He's thankful that Mint did not seem to take 'robot hands' and accelerate it to killing intent, which is the kind of thing that can happen in the world nowadays, but the slight forcing of the laugh is not lost on the young xian. Nor, for that matter, is the mention of Ichika's name. Weirdly enough, mentioning Kasumoto puts the redhead a bit on his guard, a fact he doesn't bother to hide. "You're acquainted with Ichika Kasumoto?" he says, very deliberately saying her name Western-style, perhaps as a backhanded acknowledgment of Mint pronouncing HIS name properly. "I'm sorry to say you have me at a disadvantage, then, Ms. ...?"

Given that Mint is, at least outwardly, about the same age as Rei, no, it wouldn't go over well. But she can be pleasant and keep her own personal baggage out of this when she's got a larger mission objective in mind. As she does.

Minal laughs, nodding. She may not have been as mired in the intricacies of -all- the tournaments of recent years, but for a vast majority of them, the commonalities that Rei brings up are ones she cannot help but nod along with.

But, the dance of what she knows and what Rei knows is never going to be a fully 'clean' situation. Anything short of telling him the plain truth, the whole truth, and nothing -but- the truth is tantamount to an outright lie to some people -- which means she'll just stick to her strategy of telling plain truths.

Like her easily-confirmable acquaintance with Ichika, to which she nods with a grin.

And her name. Which she also provides with a grin. "Minal Panesh. But please call me Mint!" She straightens her collar by way of example. "I'm even color-coded for your convenience today."

She shyly dips her head in a nod. "Eh. So yes. Oddly enough, Fight-Fest 23 -was- outside-funded, and it... kinda -was- different? No spooky shady powers lurking behind the scenes as far as -I- can tell. I'm... a sponsor of Team Metal -- four twenty-somethings with a lot of potential to be the next wave of fighters. Proud to say they seem to be doing pretty well for themselves."

Her smile is... slightly abbreviated, however. "Nixie just -barely- edged out Ms Kasumoto in her battle. It was a super close fight! But my team's basically coasting by on talent, and when that runs out, they'll be looking to robot hands for guidance, and all I can do is punch things. None of the flashy Ms Kasumoto's been so passionately working out." She laughs awkwardly. "You know, 'chi,' or whatever it's called?"

Rei can't help but think about his discussion with Ichika, and what it is she wanted -- honestly, it would be fair to say 'burned' -- to know. He is also more than aware that his advice in that situation was to tell her that the things she WANTED and the things she NEEDED were not necessarily the same, which is usually a lesson that people don't want to hear or learn. Still, she seemed to at least engage with that well enough in the end... which is ALSO when Rei asked her to keep the fact that he's the author of that why-did-it-surface-NOW blog post under her hat.

The short king (it's a gender-neutral term) in front of Rei identifies herself as 'Mint', and some lizard hindbrain part of the xian cuts in and says, "Nice to meet you, then, Mint. Did you know that in the language of flowers, 'mint' is associated with 'virtue'?" He pauses, the adds, "Whether it's the old school Chinese concept of virtue, or a more Western one, I couldn't rightly say." Then why bring it up, you idiot.

To the extent that he can read her, Mint appears to be genuinely concerned for her mentees, and with a helpless laugh, Rei simply says, "Coasting by on talent is the province of the young, though." Which is, broadly speaking, true: the alternative to talent is experience, a thing they simply don't have enough of yet.

The conversational turn at the end, however, starts to make the redhead a little suspicious that this chance meeting is not so random or chance after all. It's not necessarily that he minds -- there's Google-able footage of him unraveling a Shinkuu Hadouken into component parts, asking him if he knows about chi does not seem out of bounds -- but this is three in a row, now, and even a guileless and good-natured soul like Rei Hazuki might start to get suspicious.

"I may have some small facility with the subject, yes," is the even, maddeningly Confucian response. "Though I think my days of training kids are probably long since gone, by now." Understatement of the century there, buddy.

Virtue. Minal responds to that concept with a guarded smile. Mostly because she thinks -someone- told her that, a forever or two ago, and she was equally perplexed by how to respond to it then also. "Huh, that's interesting," she says, not entirely following. "... but mostly because I didn't realize flowers had a need to... -speak- to one another?"

The smile she gives is the one that comes with a disclaimer: Oh, she's one of -those- people who likes puns, isn't she?

It... -could- be a perfectly plausible train of thought that someone with a northern New Jersey accent would just -happen- to tumble her way from topic to topic in the manner in which she did -without- it being completely artificial. Could. It's a very specific path of progression that Mint followed in an attempt to make herself -seem- personable, and yes, Ichika, -tactful-. But even that path has its limits as evidenced by the way Rei Hazuki seems to be taking shelter behind a shield of humility. But he also gives the Marine some ammunition in the process.

Which she accepts -- by falling dead silent and raising an eyebrow, while she pauses to reflect on what -led- him to that conclusion. And she realizes her credibility may now be paper-thin. But that doesn't stop a girl from trying.

Cheeks reddening, she rubs the back of her head. "Okay, that -wasn't- the angle I was goin' for, but I can see why you thought that?"

She pivots to the side and fires a few quick punches. "It's about me. You did great in Golden Angel. And I thought to myself, 'I wonder if -he- can help me.' So... can I tug your ear about a problem? If not, y'know, say the word and I'll be outta your hair."

Mint claps her hands together hopefully. "I mean, Mint stands for virtue, I hear. I'm good for my word!"

"Hanakotoba," Rei says in response, having learned from long experience that the response to puns is to plow through them, like unto a bulldozer. Or, he simply didn't get it, which is frankly equally likely. "Literally just the Japanese words for 'flower' and 'word'. It's really just a set of symbolic meanings, though nine times out of ten I look at them and go, 'really'?" A shrug. "Of course, every culture that grew plants developed that practice culturally so plant A might mean 'virtue' in hanakotoba and 'I'll eat your uncle's liver' in some eastern European country, who knows."

Taoist immortals are not, if you look up the classic Chinese examples, known for their straightforward nature. A certain degree of eccentricity or 'otherworldliness' is really the norm. Rei might be newly come to this, but the truth is, he's ALWAYS been a bit of a weirdo. Maybe being solemn about the language of flowers is how he shows it.

Still, the proverbial penny drops, and Mint does indeed have a request for him. If that bothers Rei any, however, he doesn't show it. Instead, he takes a few steps into the cul-de-sac and has a seat on the edge of the fountain, turning to look at Mint carefully as she throws some demonstration punches. Well... you already did this for two other people, so why not a third? Besides, there's...

He wouldn't say anything about it to Cpl. Panesh, who would probably find it more confusing than anything else, but the truth is that reaching a certain stage of enlightenment is effectively like spending your whole life learning to discover you don't know anything. Lately, it's... awakened a kind of hunger in Rei, one he hasn't felt since long before his life in the old world got continually wrapped up in mystical geopolitics and crime syndicates. A desire to simply... know more. To test the boundaries of what knowledge seems to be.

"Well. As I told Miss Kasumoto," he says at last, deciding not to beat around that bush, "strange questions are the only ones worth answering, nowadays. All the easy ones are on Google."

"Yeah, uh... languages get -real- twisted together in some parts of India. Trust me on this," she adds with a chuckle.

She breathes a sigh of relief as Rei agrees to hear her out. There's a number of ways that could have worked out in her head, and seeing that he's at least... -open- to her talking is one of the best outcomes she could have hoped for.

"Whew. Okay. I'm sorry to bother you with it." The words spill out quickly. "But I can assure you, Google was my first stop. My boyfriend was second, and... honestly? I'm asking on his behalf too." She draws her fists back to a guard stance, swaying nimbly back and forth on her feet. Yes, she's been boxing, for a -really- long time.

"I don't... -do- chi. Not on purpose." She throws a few punches into the air -- jabs, then mixing hooks and uppercuts into the mix.

"... But sometimes when I throw a punch..." She moves in for an uppercut, but slows herself down to match her words. "... everything gets all -cold-. It hurts like a motherf-" Marine vocal patterns being what they are, she catches herself and self-censors. "It hurts a -lot-... and it can hurt other people sometimes."

She takes a step back, shaking her hands out, dropping the stance entirely.

"I mean. I'm -told- that's chi. But it's so -random-, I can't do it on command. And there's no feeling to search for, so Googling that just takes me to Web MD, which tells me I've got bad circulation."

She bonks her left hand onto her right. And her eyes grow wide with mock panic. "Oh my god, I can't feel my hand!" Then she rolls her eyes. "So useful."

'I don't do chi, but it keeps happening anyway.' In a gesture almost certainly guaranteed to make Mint feel... well. Who knows about 'anxious', but a supposed expert suddenly tilting their head to the side in the universal sign for 'gosh that sounds like a fascinatingly horrifying problem, you science experiment, you' is not likely to elicit warm and happy feelings of security.

For his part, Rei is remembering both Ichika's protestations of a similar nature, and the detective Brandon's statements about people under what he called a 'chi curse,' or something of that nature. Considering Mint is connected to at least one of those people, he suddenly puts up a finger and asks, "Is your boyfriend an American private detective, out of curiosity?" Internally he doesn't think so; Brandon described himself as a magic-user, and something about Mint does not say 'I'd love to date the child of Raistlin Majere and Philip Marlowe.'

Regardless of her answer, her brings up a hand and waves it a couple times. "Sorry, that's not important." A pause to clear his throat. "Well, I can tell you one thing for certain: if the situation is as you are describing, then you DO in fact 'do chi'." The redhead brings a hand up, scratching his cheek with one crooked finger for a moment. "It's likely just on instinct, which for the record, is very, very, very common." That much he knows is true.

Pulling up one leg, Rei sits in a half lotus on the edge of the fountain, and clears his throat. "Sorry that I'm about to go a little 'The Last Jedi' on you, exposition-wise," he says, with a faint smile. He holds out a hand, palm-up, and a vaguely spherical but largely formless little blob of light green wisps into existence. "Chi isn't a thing you 'possess', per se. It's not like MP in a video game. This little guy," he says, and on cue the little green wisp does a little jig, in a very Pixar way, "was formed out of ambient energy that's just... in the world. When you see a fighter throw a fireball, or make their feet suddenly covered in electricity, that's not them 'using up' their internal chi. They're shaping energy that's already around us, all the time." There's a pause, and then Rei does a forgivably average Mark Hamil impression. "Basically: chi does not belong to the proverbial Jedi. With me so far?"

Mint is actually... somewhat -pleased- to get the head tilt to the side. Getting someone to actually show concern for her having the ability to make chi happen when she adamantly -doesn't want it to- is a welcome change.

"What? No." For a moment, she seems like she wants to say something else. Maybe, 'Oh, I know that guy,' or possibly even 'He's a Yakuza boss. Totally different.' Both of those would be valid, but neither is helpful for her goal. So if she looks frustrated, that'd be why. And she's not telling. So it's good that he doesn't ask.

She continues looking frustrated as Rei explains that she 'does chi.' But looks less frustrated as he makes himself more comfortable on the fountain. The references to the Last Jedi and video games bring about brief and temporary smiles from her, but what really seems to be captivating her is the animated wisp. Maybe because it's light green.

"Right there with you, boss."

She pauses, and then points to the little wisp. "So long as nothing bad happens to this guy. Us mints gotta stick together."

That gets a little bit of a chuckle from Rei, who probably lets his little typical demonstration light show go on a little longer than it normally would, thanks to Mint's response. "Well... the nature of these little manifestations, be they adorable light ball or some fighter chucking a lightning bolt, is that they're ephemeral," the xian says, and with a twirl of the wrist, our little example wisp blinks out of existence. "But don't worry. He lives on in our hearts," he adds, with a faint smile.

"Okay. Boring-sounding lecture continues," the redhead says, rolling his head on his neck a bit. "So. You DO have chi inside yourself. Everyone does. And it IS a finite resource, but even if you COULD somehow use it up, it would replenish over time as long as you aren't dead." And frankly, even that's not a complete barrier, but that's graduate-level work, not a 101 class topic.

"Humor me: can you tell me, the last time you remember this happening, what your state of mind was?" Rei asks, unexpectedly, face taking on a weirdly childlisk expression of curiosity. "I mean... as much as you can recall. I know fights are not exactly executive function central, but do you remember what you were doing? What you were feeling? I promise this is relevant."

Mint gasps as the little mint-green light winks out of existence. In solidarity, she pulls a bionic fist close to her heart, bowing her head in respect.

The Marine has been through more than her fair share of lectures -- but this time, she's glad to have a much more interesting teacher. She gives him a brief chuckle to let Rei know she appreciates both the levity -and- the back-and-forth.

"... It's starting to sound a lot like the Force anyway," she comments. "It's just the 'reaching out with my feelings' part that I don't get yet." She seems like she was ready to elaborate, but places her fingertips over her mouth as a sign that she'll hush and be a good student for now.

Aaaaand then, it comes time to humor the request. "I was in the middle of a fight with..." She bares her teeth, sucking in air. "Tall Finnish guy. Tarmo."

She holds her hands up high, even standing on her tiptoes, and straining to reach even taller. "And when I say tall, I mean he's tall compared to like -anyone-." She laughs -- then parks herself next to the stone wall, leaning against it. "So, we'd fought before, but this was for the Neo League finals. He was towering over me, right? And then he decided to like lumber over and body splash right on top of me..." She holds her arms out to either side in an aggressive T-pose -- and then starts to teeter forward.

She steps forward before she falls, dropping into a low stance, preparing to uppercut. "So then I just leapt up and popped him. Gunned the turbines on my gauntlets -- they're jet powered, if you didn't know -- and socked him right in the jaw!" She demonstrates -- to some extent. "But then his body hit me in the process, and I got knocked down."

But this is where she straightens up, leaning back against the wall again. Holding out her right arm, she starts to gesture with her left. "But those turbines get *hot*. It's small-scale, sure, but it's still explosive heat. But here I was, nearly icing over." A shiver runs her spine as she thinks back to that moment.

"So yeah. What was going through my mind? Fear. Maybe even panic. Shifted to exhilaration as I managed to keep from gettin' squished. And surprise when I got belted. But -when- I hit him, -when- I started feeling cold?" She stiffens up, nodding her head. "That fear, panic. That's it. Not unusual in a fight, though. And I've been plenty scared since."

For his part, the red-haired xian is actually... well, 'rapt' is maybe overselling it, but he's quite invested in Mint's retelling of this event, particularly because she's so physically expressive about it; it gives the entire affair a vibrancy that helps drive the point home, much like the punch she described making. But her story... hmmm. Something about it... "Hmmm."

Rei tries recreating this in his mind, meaning that he actually gets up off the fountain and drops into... well. It's not a boxing stance because he's not a boxer; it's a kung fu stance, one of the hard styles like Shaolin, the closest he's going to come. "I'm in a tournament. There's a lot on the line, obviously, but my LIFE isn't in danger." He throws a couple punches -- again, kung fu hand strikes rather than boxing blows, but the gist remains -- and dodges incoming attacks that don't exist. "I've got rocket fists, though, and I see an opening and I take it." He strikes upward with the heel of his palm.

Then Rei holds that stance, and turns his head to Mint. "But it feels wrong when I connect, and that's when I notice the ice. Right?" As if he's confirming the story, though he doesn't expect more than a nod.

Dropping out of stance, the xian puts a finger to his chin. "Well. Our emotions can influence how we shape energy, but I imagine you knew that. The thing that gets me about this is, you had the surge of recognizable emotion AFTER it happened, not before."

He pauses, then half turns to Mint. "And your recall of the rest of your mental state and actions seems very clear. If you were feeling a particularly intense burst of emotion right as you hit him, you'd have said so. Which means... hmmm."

Mint nods along. She seems... pleased that he's hopped down from the fountain to relive the experience for himself. Not wanting to interrupt the process, she stays quiet -- but nods along with each point, underscoring the moments he restates. "Yeah. That's it, basically."

She nods along as further conclusions are drawn. "Yeah, it was... a pretty chill fight, actually. Tarmo is pretty easygoing. If a bit -loud- about things. So I wasn't getting salty, wasn't hitting a boiling point, wasn't, like, -dispassionate- or anything against him, unlike a certain bitch-demon queen..." She coughs into a fist. "That's neither here nor there, though."

She does raise a finger afterwards. "Oh, and it happened later in that fight, too, when I was winding up a big rocket punch. Since it happened twice and I didn't know what it was -- heck, I thought -Tarmo- was the one making snowcones. But he looked at me like I grew a second head."

Leaning back against the wall, she holds up three fingers. "Happened a third time in a fight with Amandine the Cauldron Queen. Similar sitch as the first time -- was waiting to pop her in the jaw. But this time the cold struck -before- I could get my punch off." She seems skeptical on this. "Sorry -- I'm probably not makin' your job easier with that."

She pauses for a moment, and holds up just one finger -- her eyes grinning before her mouth can. "I -can- provide more details if you wanna dance those two out though."

'Demon Queen' gets an eyebrow, but Rei listens carefully to this, feeling keenly aware of the shift in Mint's speaking cadence now, compared to when the two first ran into each other. On a certain level it feels like a sign of trust, which is a nice feeling, after all. The situation she describes jives with what's in the xian's own head about this. Emotions can impact how chi is shaped and manifested, but not WEAK emotions, in his experience. The sort of emotions that really stand out.

Which means, well...

"So..." Rei says, carefully, looking... well, honestly, a little troubled. He turns somewhat so that he's looking at Mint sidelong. "On the one hand, it's not out of the realm of possibility you're doing is subconsciously. But given what you've described, it doesn't seem likely. Your fists, they don't..." He pauses. How do you explain that there's an international megacorporation that makes clones to test if chi usage is genetic, and a clan of ninjas that uses chi-based technology to build stuff like An Actual City-Sized Bomb, without sounding like a lunatic? "My guess is if they were technology that interacts with chi energy -- which is, I must stress, a thing that CAN happen -- you would know about it by now." He lets that sentence dangle a second, though, so that if the USMC is secretly arming NCOs with chi-powered rocket punches, she can fess up.

"That leaves a couple other options, but that's..." His expression darkens a little, and it's clear there's some unpleasant mental space behind that.

A brief pause, and then he gives Mint a curious smile. "Are you implying you could punch me until this happens? You know, for science?"

On one hand, it doesn't take long for Mint to warm up to a person. Especially when talking about a subject she's passionate about, like... fighting. Or prosthetic design. Or both, as it happens. But on the other, yes, it does help that she doesn't have to hold true to a promise to be 'tactful' with people she barely knows.

Mint leaps right in with the pause, as she's from New Jersey and she's really invested in this particular conversation. "Don't what?" she asks, just before Rei explores another aspect of the point he's trying to make. "... Oh. No. They're not -designed- to interact with chi." She laughs. "I'm the engineer behind them. And yeah. If it were something I could replicate in a lab..."

She trails off, giving Frei the opportunity to ruminate further. And she finds herself anxious at -his- darkened expression.

"... Well, I -could-, but not right -now-, because..." She holds up her plastic fist, frowning as she stares at them. After running the math in her head, she continues: "... I'd give it about five, maybe six goes before these things get pulverized." Looking up to Rei, she acknowledges: "... And I -really- like this pair, so I'd rather not."

With a cheery smile, she explains: "These are my street hands. I fight with the jet powered ones, my 'knucks.' They hold up better."

She splays out a hand, as a friendly gesture. "Though, yeah, I -could- punch you till it happens, if you want to meet up somewhere?"

Well, the news that Mint not only uses her current fists, but DESIGNED them, certainly helps reassure Rei that it's not equipment failure or user error on the technology side, but that isn't necessarily GOOD news. At the idea that she could fight him at some future time so he could potentially see for himself, he laughs. "Well, you know what they say about doing if you see the Buddha in the road." A pause, and then clearing his throat. "Not that I am particulalry bodhisattva-like, but you get my meaning, I assume." Smooth, Rei. Real smooth.

After the brief smile of that moment, however, his mood returns to being contemplative, if you're being charitable, or outright worried if you're not. "The problem is that it could be a huge range of things. If... okay. Think about it like this." He pauses, then holds out his hand and brings back Mint's favorite, Mr. Wisp. "I can tell you with some certainty, since I was the one doing it, that what I just did was... well. I visualized what I wanted, and I reached out to the energy around me, and..." He pauses, remembering what he told Ryu, when asked about this. Convince, not control. "I basically asked it nicely to do this. That anthropomorphizes chi a little too much -- to the best of my understanding it has no real will of its own -- but it paints the right picture."

A pause, and with a little blink of green, Mr. Wisp disperses again (buy his t-shirt now on CafePress). "That was relatively simple. But think of all the things that COULD go wrong. What if I was feeling really sick today, and couldn't get in the right frame of mind? Or what if we were on some sort of corrupted leyline node, so the energy around us was tainted in some way? What if someone were nearby and waiting to interfere with me? Those are all possibilities and it's not even an exhaustive list!"

Realizing to his own surprise that his voice was getting louder and higher as he got through that sentence, the xian clears his throat. "I feel like you have an interesting puzzle on your hands, Ms. Panesh. I don't know that I can help you solve it right this second... but I WOULD be interested in helping you in the future." A pause, and a grim smile. "Even if it means me getting rocket punched a bunch of times. You know, for science."

Mint looks positively aghast. Because she knows -exactly- what Rei means, mentally filled in the gaps, and finds herself momentarily lacking for breath. "-Wow-, dude," she comments, shaking her head.

For those playing at home, the phrase is 'If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him.' She knew what he meant. But taking the phrase at face value is one meaning; understanding that know-it-alls should look more deeply at puzzles they think are solved is the second layer of meaning. And the third is just remembering how that applied to the conversation.

"Seriously. Wow." She grins. Extra points for Rei, today. "And I do."

Mint is, however, glad that Frei still has her problem firmly in mind. She may not -totally- grasp the point he's making, but she is rather unreasonably excited to see her mint-green buddy make an appearance. "Oh. Oh! Yeah, that... that does make a lot of sense!" And, well, the -concept- he was trying to explain.

Yes -- maybe it -was- a good idea to track down the writer of that blog post. Shhh...

Once again, she feels sadness when Mr. Wisp vanishes. And once again, she clutches her hand close to her heart. Simple ways to stay engaged in conversation without disrupting it.

She seems... a little perplexed, though, as the possible complications are brought up. "Well, that would be... ways to stop -you- from talking to the energy. But they'd also be ways to shut me down in a fight just for other reasons, which isn't what I'm after." Minal puts on a smile all the same though. "Still, that explains it a lot better than I'd ever heard before! Thank you so -much!-"

She looks back at Frei -- and oddly, gives two -really- quick nods when he mentions the puzzle 'on her hands.' Because right at that point she starts fiddling with the ring in the center of her left palm. As if it were a puzzle. The damn punster even flashes her teeth in a grin.

Still -- with that moment short-lived, she nods, keying into the word 'future.' And taking a hint. It's 'tactful,' after all. "Right, well." She steps apart from the wall, reaching into her wallet. Not for money though -- for a business card. "Oh, heck, I'd really appreciate it. It's been bugging me ever since. I'm an engineer, I need things to work the same way every time or I get loopy." Laughing, she adds: "I'll be wherever the NFG is fighting, but I can meet you just about anywhere with enough notice, just a phone call or text away." She starts to hand it to him casually, but then remembers his last name -- and presents it to him with both hands, Japanese-style. "If we do meet up again, let me buy you dinner. I feel like I got a whole course worth of learning right there."

Mint grins -- and cracks her knuckles. Yes, she seems to have added sound effects for that. "But yeah. I like the sound of that. Rocket punching for science."

Log created on 22:30:51 06/24/2023 by Mint, and last modified on 10:13:51 06/25/2023.