The Plant One


dumortier_icon.gif yi-min_icon.gif

Scene Title The Plant One
Synopsis As he is settling down in Providence, Dumortier gets sent to the resident alchemist.
Date April 28, 2019

The Sunken Factory - Yi-Min's Laboratory

This small, squat, windowless brick building sitting adjacent to the main factory once served as a site for extra raw material storage, but its original purpose would be all but impossible to ascertain from the interior, which has undergone recent transformation into an improvised laboratory. Cleaned out of the buildup of dust and many other contaminants resulting from long years without human maintenance, it is now as sterile an environment as possible in the circumstances: an impression accentuated by the cool, white luminosity of the installed lighting.

The space's use for ongoing research (or at least, ongoing development of some kind) is marked by the array of handheld chemical apparati and variously-filled samples cluttering the tabletops. These in turn are dwarfed by the contortive tubes and mechanisms of larger, specialized laboratory paraphernalia— jury-rigged to the last, but painstakingly field-tested for function. Glass bottles, jars, and vials of numerous shapes and styles line a high shelf along the longest wall, each affixed with a label in meticulously penned Mandarin characters.

The blocky and towering contour of an industrial air purifier unit in a back corner reverberates with a low background hum, audible from both the central chamber and either of the two side rooms. At the end of the narrow corridor leading to these is a single door with a digital lock, leading downwards.

Providence is worth exploring at any time of day. The first night he got here, Rene slept through it in the church. It was there or the stable, given he came in so late. Morning allows him time to explore a little more; he takes his horse along, examining the village roads as they tread over them. Morning turns to afternoon, blue skies and April breezes. The Sunken Factory is his destination, eventually, seeking out familiar faces he hasn't seen in months.

There is not much after he shows himself and indicates he intends to stay, as planned. He will have to figure out his own logistics, of course, though the Factory remains open to those who are with the militia. Not his wavelength, just yet.

Maybe he will make his own place.

There was one thing, however. One person he was told that he ought to meet, before he leaves for the village roads again. 'Yi-Min Yeh', was the name. Her lab was out here- - and the name sounded oddly familiar, even though Rene knows he has never met her before.

Blonde hair is tied in a loose knot, bound with vine; his jacket has seen a washcloth, collar flared against wind coming down his neck. Just one pack with him, slung over his back. The quiet approach to the brick building is a judging one. There's not a lot too it, is there? No windows to look in. He finds himself assessing it for a break-in before reminding himself- - just knock. Which he does.

In his wake, the dry grass of post-winter has shifted from yellow to green, subtle but apparent.

Rene's knuckles produce a naturally resonant sound on the narrow metal door, and he does not have to wait long for an answer. It swings open wide in a manner that suggests that the proprietor within is fairly used to welcoming visitors, no matter who they may be; as it does and the figure of Yi-Min appears in the doorway to take stock of who this one is, dressed in a simple closed lab coat and jeans underneath, she mentally makes a note to herself to invest in a doorstop.

His is not a face that she recognizes, but that does not immediately concern her. Though the population of Providence and environs is tiny, it is not improbable that someone would come seeking her out for medicine whom she has not yet met. There is something else that does, however— her peripheral vision does not miss the change in hue in the turf over which Rene has trod, and this observation subtly transmutes her expression into one that is at once more scrutinizing and more welcoming.

"You are one who returned here recently, yes? The agrokinetic, from the look of things," she infers with the slightest tilt of her head, gaze lingering on that trail of grass for just a few seconds more before it flicks back to more squarely look him over. It is all very straightforward, but at the same time not unfriendly. "Good. I had wanted to talk to you."

Behind her small frame, through the fully open door she is holding, the interior of the laboratory is visible. There is no foyer. The door opens straight into the main room, complete with the harshly different vibe that it entails.

It seems as if he's been lucky so far, that new faces have more or less been at eye level. It's weirdly reassuring. Rene studies Yi-Min as she studies him, blue eyes contrasted to her dark ones.

"Not returned, just finally arrived- -" Rene begins to answer the first, glancing over his shoulder to where he'd trod. "Ah, yes. I do that." For the most part, when he's at ease. Unfortunately it also makes him a snap to find. There is a tilted smile for her as he slides into the lab past her, brows arched up and manner not unlike a corvid, peering around at the shinier things. "I was told you might." A little birdie, or some such.

"Looks like what I expected it to… small, though…" The lab is looked over from where he stands on the inside, eyes naturally drawn to certain parts of it; the labeled canisters, the chemical tools. A small glint of recognisance. Finally he does offer his hand out to her, a slender and only lightly calloused thing. "Rene. Doctor Yeh, yes?"

"You were part of the community that came from out west, so I hear? Then so far as I'm concerned, you've returned," Yi-Min suggests genially and with only a mild second of surprise as Rene ducks past her and onwards into the lab of his own volition. But the fact is true enough to her, at any rate. He has now returned to the fold in a formal capacity, as Chris Ayers had.

Letting the door fall shut again behind her with a clank, she trails him into the belly of her laboratory proper. There are no chairs inside where a visitor might sit— another detail which she fleetingly considers rectifying in the future as she observes the manner in which he takes in his new surroundings.

When the hand is offered to her, she takes it with one that is equally slim. "Good to meet you, and correct. You can call me Yi-Min." A first name for a first name seems fair; formalities are not much of her thing. She gives a briefly considering glance around her, as well. "It is not much, true. But it gives me the space that I have needed."

"Pleased to meet you. "For as disarming as he looks, sneaking past her into the lab is probably a hint towards something. He gives Yi-Min a smile, then, quite sweet and winsome by default. "That is the truth. More than nothing at all." His hand slides loose into a pocket, posture easing; those crystal eyes immediately take to roaming again. The lack of seating is definitely noted, scribbled somewhere in the back.

"So what is it you do here, Yi-Min?" Rene tips his attention back to her, rapt and expectant. "And how might I help?"

"As beautiful as Providence is, you've no doubt already noticed it is lacking in some things. Easy access to certain supplies. Medicine. I'm here to solve that second problem as best I can." The description is accompanied by another glance towards the setting, this one slower and more explanatory in nature, one which lingers on the densely occupied wall-adjacent countertops and the neat little row of Mandarin-labeled bottles up above them. In between all this, Yi-Min finds time to mark Rene’s wandering eyes, the nature of his smile; the second is returned with a visibly smaller but no less relaxed one of her own.

"Many medicines are plant-based. Some things, I am capable of producing on my own, but others I require outside help for. This is where you would come in— whatever your unique ability is able to provide. I would pay you, of course, and it would be a great boon for the community." Yi-Min is unsure how much this last thing will be a motivation for Rene, whom she does not know, but it does not hurt to throw it in there.

So she is that kind of doctor, which is good to know. Rene wouldn't exactly be confident in this otherwise. He is attentive, with the air of a person who knows how to be a student.

"I can provide whatever it is you want." He replies, smoothly. A moment lingers before he continues, smile cocking. "Getting paid for it wouldn't hurt, either." Rene lifts a hand to thread fingers into his hair, untying it with a swipe of his hand; as his hair falls down his back, the vine slithers out as if in water, coiling down his fingers and up around his wrist. A curling snake of olive green drapes across his palm and the grooves of fingers. "One other thing I am good at- - lucky for you- - is potency."

"Wonderful. "You will be just what I need, I think," Yi-Min murmurs half to Rene and to herself. She does not reach out to take his wrist in order to better examine that vine now gliding around it and upwards towards his hand, but she tracks its journey intently. "I may start you out small. Some of the more common items that people ask for. But there is no shortage of things you could possibly help me with. Are you capable of making things grow in environments they are not normally suited to?"

"Also," is added like an afterthought with a bright but approving laugh in the wake of that hair tumbling down like a small waterfall of gold: "You have better hair than most girls I know."

That Yi-Min is businesslike and has humor is reassuring. For a moment he had concerns about how fun this would be- - aside from fulfilling of course. Rene grins at her when he gets the compliment.

"Merci." So that's where the faint accent comes from. "It takes work. As for environment, yes. I can draw from most things to fuel it. I can also bring them back. Starting with what people need is as much a beginning as I expected. No poison yet. " Rene laughs softly and tucks the little vine away, a hand panning in an open gesture, welcoming of what she might have next. "Go on and choose something."

"Ah, no need for this. Poison is something I have covered," Yi-Min says with an easy-sounding and matter-of-fact note audible in her voice. An allowed smile as well, though this may still be in regards to the hair. It is hard to know if she is joking, but she does not seem to be.

A slightly more considering look creeps into her expression when Rene mentions being able to draw from 'most things' as a source, and she regards him with intentness. Then: "Wasabi plants," she says of the offer while that curl of greenery disappears again. "They are known to be notoriously difficult to grow. What are your capabilities?" It is an off the cuff idea, but nonetheless chosen for a reason. If there is to be a test, then he may as well start with the more challenging proofs first.

"Wasabi? The horseradish?" Rene sounds a little amused by this, though he flips through his mental rolodex as he speaks. "If I know what they need it's much easier- - but oftentimes I am able to transfer energy from other plant matter or myself to grow things in adverse conditions. Now, I wouldn't go as far to say I'd grow chili peppers in a tundra, because those would taste like garbage." Just because he can doesn't mean he will.

"Wasabi is ground from the rhizomes of the plant, and in layman's terms it's just the root system. Like ginger or turmeric. Except a hundred times more expensive and picky. It needs a monitored temperature and a certain humidity, and not much sunlight. That's why they originally grew along riverbeds." He's not all talk, either, it seems. There's a full little brain in there.

"If you're asking if I could grow it without all these rules- - yes. I could. It would have slightly different properties depending on where I forced it to grow, so I do my best to not go too far out from natural environment." A glance off to the side, at the woman's lab equipment. "I can also tell if someone has eaten something that I can get to." Rene looks back, a slightly more flinty expression. "A nasty business."

"Not horseradish, which is the poor man's substitute outside of Japan, but the true, expensive version of wasabi. It is a small nitpick. Otherwise, you are on point." In her own subtle fashion, Yi-Min appears highly pleased by the indication that Rene has ample knowledge of the field to match his ability. One notch of respect for him, ticked off on her belt.

"It is, in fact, precisely what I was asking. The soil in the Barrens is acidic and incredibly nutrient-poor, something you— with your gift— are doubtless aware of. Only certain things are known to thrive here, hence the name. And yet, there are so many different possibilities in plant life for the realm of medicine, that you can see why I am interested in moving outside the limitations of local flora."

For her, this is where most of the potential of his ability truly lies. She quirks one eyebrow slightly, letting her eyes rove around several pieces of said lab equipment in an approximation of the physical gesture of spreading her hands. "Nothing so extreme as chili peppers in a tundra," she says with a laugh as her gaze settles amicably back on his face. "But I may ask for a few non-native plants, where it is possible."

"Non-natives would be better off in greenhouses or raised beds. It's how the states have gotten so many invasive species and diseases." Rene has his own nitpicking, in a way; he does it comfortably rather than smug, a teaching moment. "I've seen some of the swampy areas too. And the cranberry bog. The pH here is definitely of its own mind, though the berries adore it."

"The first thing I plan to do out there is collect seed samples," He shifts, moving to find a safe desk to lean against where he won't be knocking into anything. "And do some culling. Those invasives I mentioned, I can use those to plant saplings and such in their place. It will help regulate things without constant interference."

That eyebrow arches up further. "You are the one growing the plants, not I," Yi-Min remarks. She had not mentioned anything about growing conditions, and certainly nothing suggesting that invasive species be allowed to propagate. "There are families around here with carpentry skills; the construction of raised beds can be arranged for. What you need for these tasks, you may do on your own terms, and I will reimburse you for them."

There are options for him, after all. And within the borders of the Barrens, lots of available space— much more feasible than to plop down a greenhouse inside Sunken Factory grounds, for example, which is what dealing with the matter on her end would involve.

She performs a dismissive wave of her hand. "It is not as though these things would need to be grown on a mass scale, thankfully. We are talking about supplying a settlement of several hundred." Much of the medicine she arranges for, she does so on an at-need basis; and of these, the plant-based ones still form only a part.

There is a chance that Rene is just excited to talk 'shop' with someone else. He rubs at the back of his neck, smile a touch more sheepish.

"I haven't figured out a place for myself just yet…" His hands thread together, idly twining fingers. "Physically, I mean. I've been staying with someone since getting in. This sounds like a sign for me to start looking." And no idea where to start. Rene could make his very own greenhouse, and worry about it there. Gardens. It's almost as if he just realizes that he can just go out there and take something for himself. Back in the colony, people had to stick together more. He helped with agriculture there too, but… it was hard to have a space for himself where nobody would bother it. "Whatever you need, though… we can make a list and go from there."

Something about the way that Rene is twisting his hands together on themselves appeals to Yi-Min for some reason that is hard to exactly put into words. That rubbing of the back of his neck, also. They are cute gestures in their own fashion, and the slight softening of the down-to-earth look in her eye reflects this.

"I remember that feeling," she says in commiseration, reflecting on her own arrival two months or so past. Not long at all, in truth, but it feels far longer. Already so much had happened. "I could help you look, if you wish. I expect you will want someplace where you can have a big backyard, no? There are some areas I can suggest, I think, if you remind me of it when I am done here."

Regular patrols for intrusions both mechanical and human did bring one extra benefit, and that was getting to know the surrounding land in a far more familiar capacity than she ever would have otherwise.

Rene knows that she is a newer face, come only from the city not terribly long before him. She still has more experience here than he does. Blue eyes tip from hands to the woman's face.

"That's a very generous offer." She must already know it is. Pink lips purse in a tiny smile, eyelids lowered but briefly. "Less a backyard and more… solitude." Space enough away. "Not that I am anti-social, that is far from it. I appreciate the quiet, because everything else tends to be so noisy. Plants are decidedly not." Rene stands up and sticks his hands down into his pockets, chin bumping against the rise of his collar when he glances to his boots. "I don't need much. Never have."

"That is a good attitude to have." Yi-Min's approval of this last qualifier is marked by the shifting in her tone towards something thoughtful. "I should probably clarify. I don't have time to take you on a grand tour of Providence, much as the diversion would be nice. There are a few choice spots I can point out that you may enjoy, however, whenever I am in town regardless."

Something else appears to cross her mind when Rene looks downwards towards his feet, but whatever this is makes her appear more wry for some reason. It does not take long for the why of it to become apparent. "Also, you have others looking out for you, apparently. There is a message I received just before you came: 'Give the French midget my number. The plant one.'"

She does not actually make the air quotes with her hands, but she pronounces the words as though they are clearly there, and there is some expectation in the dry glance she levels Rene's way as she reaches into a back pocket— presumably for a phone.

Three guesses as to who would pass on such a message.

"Oh, now he wants to talk to me?" Thoughts about getting some directions from Yi-Min get hustled aside; Rene looks up at her with an incredulous expression, and it shifts into a short rub of palm over his face. "How in the world did he know y- - ah, wait, you must be the doctor he was rambling about…" Fingers remain at his forehead, and Rene looks more sheepish than he did before.

"I am not sure I want to know how you know him. Small world…" He murmurs, somewhere between amused and embarrassed that she had to be this kind of a middle man. "Zachery is the only person who calls me that. Je suis désolétch."

Oh, no. Yi-Min visibly pauses in the middle of the motion of retrieving her phone from her jeans at the words you must be the doctor he was rambling about. Once in hand, the rest of its journey towards the front of her face becomes a much slower arc of amusement. "He helps me out with obtaining what I need from that hospital of his," she clarifies, because at least she can do that much.

With the type of past interactions Zachery and she have had, it is probably better if this next thing is one she doesn't know. But there is a mild glint of curiosity in her expression now. "…Dare I even ask what he has said about me?"

That he helps her with 'acquisitions' is a bit familiar, and the tilt of Rene's head and the shrug of shoulder seems to indicate he gets it. Fair.

"I found him rolling around in Park Slope, hammered and running on what I am guessing was several naps in a three day period." The blonde speaks with a note of experience, manner resigned to the fact. He's seen it all before. "After I pulled a feral dog off of him, he puked at my feet and started talking about nothing specific. Mentioned a Doctor, though I only got what I thought was a sound,"

"Now I realize it was your name." Yeh is short, alright? Rene frowns for first time in his visit. "Stress does not handle him well."

You don't say.

"So, that's where he went after he ran out right in the middle of our diner meeting," Yi-Min tacks on to this, deadpan. Clearly she can recall that same three-day span that Rene is talking about, because there is absolutely no surprise that registers on her features when she hears of the adventures that befell him afterwards.

Good god.

"Is he normally like this, or did some specific stress drive him off the rails?" is queried over a shoulder as she moves away towards one of the more cluttered of the counters, seeking something to write with. Despite that stoniness, there is something just passing for interest in the lower edges of her tone indicating she is trying to figure out what to make of that other doctor. If there is anything. It is hard to tell.

"He mentioned interest in changing jobs, but that does not usually change people into maniacal wrecks."

"He used to be a touch more put together. That was the first time I'd seen him in… years." Rene wanders after Yi-Min, curious for the number she's going to give him. A bird and a shiny. "He is, however… still ridiculous."

"After I got him to a bed he seemed to feel better once he woke up." There is a tiny shrug to come with this, hands still in pockets. "I gave him some pot and left." A cure for what ails, okay? Rene has his ways of paying for things too.

Yi-Min does not have to wander too far. It does not take long for her to spot what she had been searching for, tucked next to what looks like a centrifuge: a cocktail tin filled with identical graphite pencils. "You are a good friend to him," she says as she plucks one of these from its home, then the top layer from the stack of post-its sitting neatly nearby. It is a less meant as a compliment than a simple observation about the state of their relationship, but it may be construed as either. No judgment on the pot, either.

"I am surprised he has any friends. I hope he appreciates that he has you."
"We'll see." Rene is increasingly at ease around Yi-Min, and it shows. "I used to be. But it seems like all he wants to remember is that I worked for organized crime and he was just a poor coroner pressganged to service us." He spares her a wry smile with this.

"He isn't exactly… an easy person. I don't really need to tell you that, though."

That wry smile is returned with an acknowledging gaze, wry in her own way. With her other hand, Yi-Min gets to the task of tapping through the screens of her phone, seeking the one that will give her the number she is searching for.

"He has had a history, hasn't he? Some find it difficult not to dwell on their pasts. But he seems obsessed with it." Surgeon, coroner, Institute. Street doctor. As she pieces together the rough chronology of this downwards spiral, it is not difficult to conjecture that this, perhaps, accounts for a few of the man's more erratic behaviors.

"I suppose that answers the question of how you met him."

"I guess fate has other ideas." The notion that cosmic power smashed them together again is entertaining, at least. Rene grins when he thinks about it, and it eases back when she determines that is how they met. "Yeah. At first it was just business, you know? I had a job. He had a job. Wanted the money too, I think. I don't remember the first night we went drinking, but some of the others- -" The implication being he definitely drank too much the first time. And other times.

"I suppose we both needed a foil at the time." Rene crosses one boot behind the other, scuffing the floor with a toe.

"It's possible he is back in your life for a reason." Yi-Min says with her eyes fixated on the glowing screen, still wry, not dismissing the possibility out of hand either even if she is being half-serious about it. With the type of person Zachery is, it is possible that this reason is just the universe displaying its own bizarre humor.

"See, normally that approach works for me," that is, social drinking, "but I have not had… luck with him. Maybe one of these days, you can give me tips on how you deal with him." This is just as dry as everything that had come before. There are some understatements hiding in there.

A change of topic, as she finally finds what she is looking for. "Were you part of the militia out at Sedro-Woolley?" He had mentioned wishing to find a place of his own, where he could have solitude; it does not preclude the possibility entirely, however.

"Sure." Rene nods along with 'tips', even though he'd have to think about it more- - he just tries to act like himself. Masks seem to be a big thing. It's a strange talent. The swap of topic is welcome enough, and Rene's smile crooks.

"Part time, if that makes sense." A small hand tucks some flyaway blonde behind his ear. "If I'm needed or want to go out, I help. I'm no soldier, but I can take orders. I know how to fight, sneak, whatever is needed. " Rene watches her with a revisiting interest. "I wanted a change. This seemed to be a good enough match. Besides… these were my old stomping grounds."

Hence such a query, even if it is not really meant in seriousness. Yi-Min is quite good at acting like herself, but the only thing this has succeeded in bringing about with Zachery is a cascading track of disaster.

Also probably not something Rene alone could solve, tips or no tips.

"It does make sense, yes. You are a useful sort, aren't you?" This is said without sarcasm or derogatoriness; the sharpening of interest in Yi-Min's gaze as it momentarily drifts over Rene again confirms that the words are meant genuinely. There is more to him than first appears, it would seem. After another few seconds, she straightens fully, offering out a post-it with a very tidily written number on it. "Here you are. I'm not sure why he could not have given it to you on his own, but."

"He has this thing about not admitting that I'm his friend." Rene snorts, taking the note from Yi-Min’s hand. "and thank you, I do try to be useful enough to stay hale and alive." If you are too useful to everyone else, better chances!

"I appreciate you taking the time to meet with me. I'm glad to hear that we will be able to help one another."

The pleasure had been Yi-Min's, and she substantiates this feeling with a little smile. "I'll get in contact with you to sort out the details of our arrangement later. In the meantime, feel free to drop by here whenever you like. And—" She gives the edge of the countertop a small, official, spiral-like rap with the pencil still in her hand.

"Perhaps I'll see you in town, yes?" Perhaps for house hunt-related things. Perhaps not.

"Lovely." Rene seems pleased to know he can just pop in, and the last question has him equally so. "Probably will. I will be selling off what I collected on my trip, too, if you're curious. Some interesting pieces." Something tells him that she may enjoy rifling through it- - the discerning eye, and such. "You are more likely to bump into me out in the wild, honestly…" He gives a small shrug. Sounds like he's more likely to commandeer an old house in the woods than one through town-side.

"Thank you again," A small nod of head and a smile comes as Rene turns to go. "And thank you for putting up with the stupid request- -" He flashes the note in his fingers with a laugh. "Have a good afternoon, chere."

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