Crossbreeding was an interesting concept. Fanged had been intrigued with it from the moment she had learned of it. Splicing together the DNA of separate creatures seemed like it was straight out of fiction, but then again, most things in the labs felt that way. Fanged felt slightly guilty participating in crossbreeds, but it was necessary for her to research the subject. And the best research of all was hands on experience. The end result of this particular cross was something magnificent. The freshly created halfbreed was a cross between a Rakai-Sarane, Equillion, and a Runic Gargoyle. Fanged had named her Phi, after a letter in a language that was not spoken in the labs. Perhaps it was no longer spoken by anyone. She hadn’t had much of a chance to figure out Phi’s nature just yet. Considering the halfbreed had a Gargoyle parent, Fanged thought it was a good idea to bring her along mining.
Fanged had an assortment of tools with her. She had recently bought them, so they were still in good condition. Phi was a bit wary of her presence, but the information that she knew about this cross had warned her that might be the case.
“You should adapt quickly to this environment if genetics has anything to say about it,” she joked.
Fanged was not well equipped to deal with mining. She was eager to learn, but certain that she was going to make a few mistakes first. She had her tools and a bag to put anything she found in. The bag itself wasn’t the sturdiest, but she hoped it would do the trick. She needed to buy a proper backpack, but she needed the credits first. Perhaps if she found some gems, she could sell those and then buy a backpack. Phi waited for her to begin, her tail flicking with impatience.
She felt a little nervous entering the mines. She wasn’t exactly afraid of the darkness, but she found it a bit more difficult to see in than most people. Phi seemed comfortable even as they entered the new terrain. She appeared to have a confidence that Fanged found herself lacking lately. The woman was quick to switch on the flashlight, grateful to have at least some tool assistance in the cavern.
“With this light, we’ll at least have some knowledge of what’s lurking ahead of us,” she commented.
Phi flapped her wings as though agreeing with her. The halfbreed walked with a gracefulness that Fanged tried to copy. The creature was at ease in the mines, as though she had done this a thousand times before. It was impressive for a creature that had been freshly created. Phi would still be considered a baby in terms of age, even if she was fully grown.
The start of the journey was always the most nerve-wracking part of the process. She didn’t know what to expect. Phi entered the first tunnel ahead of her. Her wings were raised as she walked, adding to her regality. Fanged was not used to this environment. She had tried to prepare as best as she could, but experience would be her teacher in this case. The tunnel was dark and her flashlight could only help so much.
“I suppose I can’t complain until I’m having to travel in complete darkness. Maybe I should have picked up an extra flashlight. If this one breaks, it’s going to be difficult for me to navigate.”
Phi thrust her head back, as though reminding the woman that she had natural bioluminescence. If the flashlight broke, they would still have a source of light. Fanged took her flashlight and shone it around the immediate vicinity.
Her flashlight illuminated a variety of strange rock formations. They didn’t appear to be natural. The looked as though they were meant to be used as markers. The entrance she had chosen to utilize hadn’t appeared to be used for years. Perhaps at one point these rocks had served a purpose, but now that purpose was long forgotten. Fanged itched to figure out what they were meant for, but there was little in the way of clues. For now, she would have to move on and leave these strange markers behind.
“I suppose we can always come back and try to figure these out,” she muttered.
Phi set a fairly quick pace as she headed down the tunnel. She had little regard for whether Fanged could keep up on not. The woman supposed that the halfbreed was testing her ability. They had yet to truly bond and for now, Fanged was viewed as a liability.
Just as Phi and Fanged settled into a steady rhythm, a strange noise filled the tunnel. It echoed from far away, as though carried closer on a breeze that Fanged could not feel. Just as she was about to consider this phenomenon further, a frigid rush of icy wind burst through the tunnel. Phi raised her wings, feeling the wind underneath them. Fanged knew that air currents could be important to flying creatures, but she wasn’t exactly versed in how they used them. Just as sudden as it had arrived, the wind died down with equal abruptness. She was left with a sudden feeling of unnatural calmness. The sort of feeling that was more foreboding than calming. Phi seemed at ease, which made Fanged feel a bit better about the situation. She squinted, trying to see further ahead. The darkness was too immense. The light she and Phi made only served to go so far.
The whole unknown aspect of the mines terrified her just a bit. Fanged was a quick thinker and she had gotten herself out of danger many times over. It was a bit different adventuring with a pet that had little trust in her. She was used to the company of Rusty, who was ever loyal to her. Phi on the other hand, was a lot more cautious than the little Lazaru. Her eyes gleamed with an intelligence that stopped just short of full sentience.
“I trust that we’ll grow into a marvelous partnership with time,” she told Phi.
The Raikiri ignored her, opting instead to study her surroundings. She shut her eyes, listening to the sounds around them. Fanged copied her, trying to learn from the mining familiar. Any creature that was bred from a mining familiar gained that status as well. The Raikiri were no exception to that. That was the appeal to familiar crossbreeds.
The problem with darkness was with how easy it was to play tricks on your eyes. Even with her flashlight, there was still plenty of blind spots surrounding them. And the problem with blind spots was with how her brain prepared for the possibilities that might be hiding within them. Phi didn’t have such a problem. At least not as far as Fanged could tell. The Raikiri was alert, but she wasn’t worried. Fanged supposed that had something to do with her natural bioluminescence.
“Is that why you seem so calm? I suppose it would be rather difficult to sneak up on you. Any darkness that you face, turns to light in your presence.”
Phi paused for a moment, listening to Fanged’s words. The woman supposed it was progress. The Raikiri didn’t trust her, not even close, but she seemed to be growing used to her. With time, this would only improve.
The more Fanged focused on the darkness surrounding her, the more her brain tried to make sense of it all. People had an innate ability to find patterns where there was nothing to be found. The longer she squinted into the black abyss, the clearer these patterns became. As she glanced around, Fanged could distinguish shapes within the shadows that looked distinctly like faces. The only thing keeping her calm was the lack of reaction from Phi. The Raikiri was cautious and as such, she would be alert to anything that was out of the ordinary. The faces that Fanged saw appeared human, with distinguishing features like hair and a mouth.
“I believe the term I’m looking for is apophenia. Finding connections where there is no such thing. The phenomenon that leads to ghost sightings and other supernatural occurrences.”
Talking aloud made her feel at ease. Her strength was in her ability to solve mysteries.
“The cause of fear is rooted in our endocrine system. It is not logical to experience fear when there is no danger, but our brains like to play tricks on us. We fear potential danger and fear itself can be an inhibitor. Commonly, we are taught about the fight or flight response. When faced with danger, your body either chooses to fight back, or to run away. However, there is also a third option: freeze. Freeze tends to be deadly, only useful in situations where you are already hidden away.”
Fanged explained the concept to Phi. The Raikiri listened closely, but she gave no acknowledgment of understanding, or even that she valued the woman’s words. At least she listened. Fanged would write that one down as a win.
“What response does your body choose I wonder? Mine tends to stick with flight. Though if I am able to, I’ll try to sneak in an attack and then run.”
The mines gradually began to still. Without the wind, the area was hauntingly silent. Fanged felt goosebumps form on her skin, even underneath the comfort of a hoodie. Phi seemed to settle without the eerie noise. They almost had opposite reactions. Fanged like the comfort of noise. It masked her footsteps and without it, she was the centre of attention within the tunnel. Phi on the other hand seemed content in the silence. Perhaps it was her comfortability in the tunnels. Fanged supposed silence did have the added benefit of allowing them to hear if anyone were to venture to close to them.
“At least it’s easy to hear myself think,” she commented with a smile.
Working with a new creature in unfamiliar territory was a bit nerve-wracking. Rusty was simplistic and as such, predictable. Phi was a more complex creature and thus, a lot more unpredictable than Rusty ever was.
“I suppose that makes you unique and that’s a good trait. If all my pets were the same, things would get rather boring,” she commented.
From what she could tell so far, Phi was a wary creature. She trusted her suspicions which made her rather similar to Fanged. The woman supposed that if she hadn’t ordered the crossbreed herself, their relationship would be even more distrustful. They had settled into a comfortable silence. At least, she found it comfortable. The fact that Phi hadn’t tried to go on far ahead seemed like a good sign to her.
“At least we haven’t run into anything dangerous so far.” She tried to make some semblance of conversation with Phi. The halfbreed may not have been able to communicate through language, but the experience made Fanged feel better about their circumstances. They continued on, Fanged with her hands clutching her tools and Phi with her head held high.