The rocks shook a bit and a cloud of dirt streamed down from the wall, but the rest of the wall held steady. Just as Fanged prepared to strike the wall again, Phi called her attention to a small creature. The little creature appeared to be just like a hermit crab and Fanged was quick to grab it. On further examination, it was evident that the creature was a pocketpet. She didn’t know what price it would fetch, but it would certainly be a number greater than zero.
“Good find, Phi!” she exclaimed.
The Raikiri fluffed out her wings at the praise. Fanged tried to hide a smile as she turned back to work. She examined the wall again, her eyes narrowed as she tried to choose the next spot to strike with her pick. She ran her fingers along the wall, making her decision when her fingers caught in a groove.
She pressed her fingers against the wall, beaming when she felt the rock loosen at the press of her hand. This spot should be easy enough to break off. She gripped the pick and hesitated for a split second before striking it against the wall. A shower of small stones met her pick and Fanged had to take a step back to avoid being covered in dirt.
“I take it you don’t like getting dirty, do you?” Fanged teased Phi as she jumped back from the dirt with more urgency than the woman had.
Phi shook herself, ducking to hide her head from Fanged’s shining gaze. After a few moments of sulking, she returned to the wall, ready to watch the woman work once again. Fanged used her shovel to sift through the loose stones, making sure that there were no gems hiding in the carnage. For now, there was nothing.
She was making steady work at destroying the rocks embedded in the wall. She felt a growing confidence as she continued working. Phi was patiently watching her, waiting for her to make her next move. This time, Fanged would be more ambitious. She spotted a large rock, jaggedly shaped and located at eye level. This one would take a bit more effort, but she was certain that with a bit of work, she could break it free from the wall.
“Stand back for this one, Phi. I’m sure it will get a bit messy!”
Fanged gripped her pick with a relaxed stance. She didn’t want to wear herself out by being too tense. She had learned that lesson before in her life. She took a step back, lining up the pick with the spot she intended to hit. When she was ready, she raised the pick and struck downwards in a fluid motion.
The rock shuddered, but ultimately remained embedded in the wall. Before giving the rock time to settle, she struck down rapidly with her pick once more. This time, the rock split in half, sending the broken half spiraling towards the ground. Phi startled, but she remained safely away. The rock landed rather close to Fanged, but she was also unharmed.
“I guess I better be a bit more careful when I do that in the future,” she muttered.
There would always be danger present in the mines, but that didn’t mean she shouldn’t be careful. It would be a real shame if she were to break a bone because she was being careless. Phi inched closer, not quite trusting the woman not to get hurt.
“I’ll be okay. That just gave us both a bit of a fright, didn’t it?” Fanged spoke in a soothing tone, trying to reassure her mining companion.
With the splitting of the rock, a whole new section of the tunnel wall was exposed. Fanged held the flashlight up, using it to scan for any signs of gems. Phi’s bioluminescence helped her dramatically in her search and the use of her flashlight meant that no area would remain hidden by shadow.
“I wish I had more knowledge about how to locate gems, but a bit of trial and error can be fun. It wouldn’t be rewarding if I already knew how to do everything!” she exclaimed.
Phi fluttered her wings, choosing to respond to Fanged’s words with body language rather than with her voice. Fanged hadn’t heard the Raikiri speak, so she wasn’t quite certain what noise the creature made, if any at all. It wouldn’t be uncommon for a lab creature to prefer muteness. There were many ways for beings to communicate.
“I think that section of the wall might hold gems, that rock looks a bit more glittery than the others.”
When Fanged decided to hit the rock, she hadn’t expected it to slice cleanly in half, revealing itself to be a geode. While she didn’t think geodes were worth much, it was still worthwhile to take with. Phi appeared pleased as the woman picked up the geode.
“I don’t want to get too tired, so I think it’s best if we move on for now,” she commented.
She didn’t really know what to do next, so heading deeper through the tunnel seemed like a reasonable idea. Phi began to walk forward, deciding to take the lead for a while. Fanged was grateful. She must have looked a bit hesitant, prompting her familiar to take charge for a while.
“All these tools can be a bit heavy, but they all have their uses,” she muttered.
Traveling on foot through the mines seemed like her only option, but Fanged was curious if there were other transportation systems.
The tunnel was tranquil in an odd way. The air was stale, indicating that there was no access to the outside anywhere near where she was. Phi walked silently, moving gracefully across the rough terrain. Fanged was not nearly so coordinated. Her scars still ached and she had phantom pain that made her clumsier than she used to be.
“Best not to dwell on it,” she mumbled.
Phi was a comforting presence. Fanged felt them growing an amicable companionship the more time they spent down here together. With time, they would learn all the small nuances that made each other tick. In time, Fanged was sure that they would become a formidable mining team. The mines were colder than she would have expected, but she supposed being further underground had that effect. She’d forgotten that people buried food in the ground to keep it cool at times where they didn’t have adequate technology.
“Most of it looks the same, but we just need to learn how to differentiate landmarks in this territory.”
Phi walked with dignity, maneuvering herself around each spot that she deemed unworthy of her stepping on it. Mostly, she avoided the muddiest of patches, something that Fanged wasn’t particularly concerned with herself. She enjoyed watching the Raikiri walk. Her grace was innate and she had no difficulty navigating the rough terrain. Fanged tended to stumble across the areas with trickier footing. She needed to train in the art of balance, but she was still recovering from her injuries and she didn’t quite want to face the limitations on her previous abilities.
“I’ve still got my mind. Nobody will ever take that from me. I’d rather die than lose the sanctity of my mind,” she mused.
Phi was a good listener, which she appreciated. Fanged was the type to monologue quite a bit.
The Raikiri was beautiful and Fanged was a great admirer of her colour. She had a fondness for pink and Phi had a beautiful pink tone to her body. Her natural bioluminescence was stunning as well. Fanged felt a bit inadequate in the presence of such grace.
“You seem to fit down here. Not in terms of mud and rocks, but you sparkle just like a gem does,” she observed.
Fanged had a fondness for jewelry, even if it wasn’t always practical for her to wear. She was certain that once the gemstone workshop opened up again, she was certain she would try it out.
“I guess we can always keep some of the gems we find down here. It’s not necessary to sell them all, even if I do need the credits.”
There was a lot that she wanted to buy. Her pets were deserving of cool items like injections.
“I wonder what injection would match well for you?”
She didn’t quite know what element would match Phi best, that’d be something she’d need to learn by spending more time with the halfbreed. She might appreciate the beauty of an ice injection, but there was no need to make a concrete decision now. She didn’t have nearly enough credits saved up for that.
“We’re the only ones that can change that right now. Come on, let’s hunt down some treasure!” Her declaration came with a sudden burst of enthusiasm.
There was something exciting about being deep in unknown territory. The mines were mostly unexplored. There was always the chance that she could run down to someone down here, but that had yet to happen. She hadn’t made much of an effort to make friends in so long. Perhaps that was something she should work on. For now, she would focus on this mining expedition.
Fanged was surprised to see another gem. She was not yet confident in her abilities, so finding gems was still rather surprising. Phi appeared pleased as well. She watched with intrigue as the woman scooped up the blue gem and put it away with the others. With another treasure secured, Fanged felt confident to continue on through the cavern.
Phi was content to follow her, keeping an eye out for any gems that the woman might miss as they walked along. The cool air of the tunnels was a harsh reminder that it was not quite spring. When spring was in full force, there would be a lot of different things for Fanged to do. She had recently established her garden and with warmer weather, she would be able to make some real progress with tending to it. She longed for the sun, but in the underground, there would be no warm sunlight.
She still needed a bit more time to get fully acclimated to the underground terrain. She was glad to have Phi with her. The halfbreed didn’t need nearly the same amount of time to get used to the mines. The two of them continued on in comfortable silence. Fanged didn’t mind having a silent companion. She was used to doing most of the talking when it came to her pets.
“If it’s silent, that’s mostly because I’m lost in my thoughts,” she mused aloud.
Phi paused for a moment, contemplating her words. They hadn’t spent nearly enough time together for the halfbreed to pick up on her language, but Fanged appreciated her taking the time to listen. Fanged didn’t think her eyes would ever truly adjust to the darkness of the tunnels, but she was grateful that she had brought a lot of light with her. It would be something she’d need to keep in mind during future trips.