Monday, January 30, 2017

Toner - Character sketch (super people)

[A character came to me when I went to get my meds.  Just the one.  Hence "Person A" and "Person B" below.  They didn't come to me and remain largely amorphous though both are anatomical humans and I know their genders.  Person A is male.  Person B usually presents as female but is actually genderqueer.]

Person A: [question about why Toner always wears headphones]
Person B: Same reason she always wears mittens.
*Person A looks at Toner's hands, which are resting above the wheels to her chair*
*Toner is wearing mittens*
*Person A still has a look of non-comprehension*
Person B: (to Toner) Maybe it's time.  Up to you, though. Do you mind showing him?
*Toner shakes her head*

Toner reached up and removed her headset.  While the gear looked like large over ear headphones and an entirely separate VR eyepiece, which [Person A] assumed was for seeing video feeds, it came off of her head as a single unit.

*Person A gasped*
Person B: Don't gawk.

Toner had no face  The front of her head, from the top of her lips --well, the top of her philtrum-- to her hairline was entirely smooth.  She didn't appear to have ears either, instead what the "headphones" had concealed were her giant eyes, one on each side of her head.

She set her headgear on her lap.

Person B: And now you know why I call her 'squidy'.  We're still not sure whether she's more human or squid, but I do think it's lucky she got a human mouth.  Makes it easier to pass.

Toner nodded.  Then there was movement in the vicinity of her right mitten and a moment later her familiar electronic voice said, "I did not, however, receive human vocal cords.

Person A: I'm not sure that "squid" comes to mind.

Toner removed her right mitten with her left hand.  The "thumb" stayed inside of the mitten as it came off.  When it was removed, what remained wasn't a hand.  It was vaguely the right shape for a flat closed hand, but there was no separation, no features, just a smooth sort of leaf shaped protrusion from her wrist.  She flipped it over to show the suction cups on the underside.

Person B: You once said she didn't have super powers, but she's got to have super strength to use her tentacles like human arms.  Normal squid depend on their buoyancy and couldn't lift a sucker in air.

Toner slipped her tentacle club back into her mitten and there was some movement again.

"I'm not strong enough to walk on my own legs," her electronic voice said.

Person B: It's never held you back.  I like the chair.
Person A: So does she have . . .

"Eight legs," came Toner's voice.  "Two tentacles. Show and tell is over for now."

Toner's electronic voice had no emotions, so [Person B] wasn't sure how Toner felt.  Toner simply put her headset back on and wheeled herself toward her room.  [Person B] followed.  Once they were out of earshot, [Person B] said, "You ok?"

"Had to happen sooner or later," Toner said.

"That's not what I asked," [Person B] said.  "I pushed you and I shouldn't have.  Are you ok?"

"I am fine."

"Thank God."

"You are too easily worried."

"I just think you shouldn't have to hide what you are," [Person B] said.  "Your body is amazing."

"I am glad . . . Thank you."

"Do you think his brain would have exploded if he'd learned that your 'breasts' were really just tentacle you folded over and stuck in a bra to shorten your visible tentacle to arm-length?"

Toner breathed strangely for a bit, then said, "If I were capable of laughing, I would."

I have no idea what team Toner would be on.

I do know that she's an aluma of the Parts Store (described in an endnote to this story.)  As such she's the resident tech genius for the team.  Her head-gear does allow her to see video feeds from cameras the team is given access to, cameras she has hacked, and especially from drones she flies over and around any potential battlefield.

She's a regular at the first person drone racing hangout/club/thing on the outskirts of the city.  She's pretty good, but not so much so to be in the top ten or anything.

Her head gear also allows her to have roughly human-equivalent binocular vision.  Generally squid have three brains (one for the left eye, one for the right eye, one in the middle) as well as a highly distributed nervous system which allows for thinking outside of the brain shaped box.  In addition to having these things, ish, Toner also has a human-ish brain that includes a visual cortex.  As such, her mind is entirely set up to interpret binocular vision when the need arises.

When she feels free enough to not hide her nature behind headgear, but does have a reason for having binocular vision, she uses mirrors. (Two basic mirrors epoxied to an Alice band and angled at around 45 degrees so that when she wears the band behind her eyes her vision is redirected forward)

She doesn't limit herself to just visual spectrum feeds.  Her headset has all sorts of cameras (as do her drones) and by converting the data gathered to visual light and polarizations thereof she's able to "see" things that her eyes cannot.  It's gotten pretty natural for her.

Toner can hear people speaking to her, but anything softer than that and she just doesn't pick up on.  And this is with the help of custom made "hearing aids" that detect sound and convert it into vibrations she can hear-feel.

Her color vision is very dull, the human-squid trade off in her eyes left her with the functioning cones needed to see in color (she's not any sort of color-blind) but relatively few of them.  Without enhancements to the light entering her eyes her world is extremely de-saturated.  She can make those enhancements with her headset (as in, she's tested it), but it involves shining so much light into her eyes that it will hurt.  Plus she prefers her minimally saturated view of the world.

As noted, she cannot walk.  She is extremely strong for a squid, but there's a reason you never see them coming out of the water and looking like the martians decided that Octopods were better for taking over earth than tripods.   (Yes, octopods.  Tentacles are a different length than the eight legs.)

Though, on the subject of tentacle and leg length, Toner has an extremely unusual arrangement of parts.  presumably a result of the squid-human push-pull

Her mantel is below the eyes, specifically where a human would have a torso.  Her tentacles do come out of her in a shoulder-ish area, while her legs are at the end of her torso, where she does not have a beak.  When extended to their full length her tentacles actually end at about the same place as her legs.

Her head and neck are definitely the most human parts of her, she even has hair.

He mantel-torso does have those wing-fin things.

Her lungs are . . . unique.  They're very much human lungs in details, but in the overall shape . . . well they're crammed into a very squidish mantel, something that doesn't usually accommodate lungs.

Since she spends most of her time out of the water, her two secondary hearts serve little purpose (they service the gills.)

When she does swim it's usually alone or with [Person B].  Initially she thought [Person B] might be put off since she swims in the nude (no suit would fit her anyway) which was not, Toner thought, normal for humans.  Turns out [Person B] is into skinny-dipping  and Toner was the one who was somewhat uncomfortable the first couple times.

Toner is, so far as she knows, unique.  She entertains various theories about her origin, and the one she gives most credence to is an impatient scientist using magic to create genetic hybrids the actual science wasn't yet advanced enough to make.  She is limited to theories because she doesn't remember that far back.

Her blood is purple.

While her exterior anatomy is dominated by squidiness (except for her head and neck, and even there squid eyes, no nose, no ears) she's got a lot of human on the inside.  Her primary heart is of largely human design, her lungs certainly came from no squid, and her digestive system is almost entirely mammalian.

She spends a lot of time in a human head-space.


  1. I like it.


  2. So when she's passing as a human, does she bundle her her legs four-and-four into pants, or are some of them curled up elsewhere? Seems like she'd have to have pretty strange proportional sizes of her legs to her tentacles if she can present her eight legs as two and pass her tentacles off as arms.

    1. So there are multiple parts to the answer.

      First, she wears skirts, which allows for a larger margin of error and doesn't require her to bunch her legs into two groups.

      Second, she has somewhat ridged structures that approximate the shapes of human limbs built into her clothing (but loosely connected, so they don't always contact the exact same places.)

      She came up with this for her "arms", to help her avoid bending them at places other than the "elbow", but applying it to her legs seemed a natural extension. Unlike the arm ones, the leg ones do not need to be complete tubes since they only need to cover the parts that touch the skirt which leaves out the inside portion.

      She wears her skirts long enough that there's no visible ankle (sometimes no visible shoe), and the shoes are in fact simply attached to the chair.


      At least that's the thought I've put in so far.

    2. I find the idea of her having shoes glued to her chair adorable.