Flexibility is a must on Pulonis.
The first thing a kit learns after taking their first steps is to make sure to stretch and limber up before running and climbing. Pahtra households often start their mornings with family stretches before breakfast.
Kyyduh may have taken this tenet too far. Sometimes. Most of the time. When they’re not taking advantage of just how flexible their body can be. When they’re not embracing the plant life that is as much a part of them as their heart and their eyes.
They grew up surrounded by machines. Surrounded by military, by guns, by ships, by technology, all of it fueling a clash that Kyyduh hadn’t so much been born into as they’d inherited. Starlance was a good place for a pahtra family to live, and with no obvious rebel connections, Kyyduh and their siblings were fast-tracked into the Veskarium’s military academy. Their siblings took the trainings and positions offered to them, succeeding and achieving and making names for themselves. Kyyduh found that their mind couldn’t seem to keep up with the words being yelled at them, the words being scribbled and erased too quickly on the chalkboards, the words appearing in the too-thick books they were expected to read too fast. They could run and climb and lift, but they couldn’t focus long enough on their commanding officer to learn when to run and climb and lift.
Kyyduh left the academy at the end of their twentieth summer. With what little money they had left from their parents, they booked passage on a ship for as far as their credits would take them, and wound up on the outskirts of the Holy Lands. They did a lot of manual labor there, listening to other, smarter pahtras and vesk discussing things like the biology of the plants growing, the geologic implications of magnetism on flora, the effects of radiation on fauna. The scientists were genuinely nice, even the vesk ones (maybe especially the vesk ones), and they explained what they were talking about to Kyyduh in a way they could understand.
Illustration by Alexander Gorbunov
The camp was studying the restoration of the Holy Lands. It was funded by the Veskarium—but what isn’t, on Pulonis? Only about half their discoveries made it to Command 6, while the rest seemed to go to Hafrerren or just to random places around the Shriek. Kyyduh learned about plants, animals, rocks, and most importantly, they learned about Pulonis and other planets. They learned about storms and the Shriek, and they fell in love with the sound of winds screaming and rain pounding.
So when the camp needed someone to fly out in a terrible storm to retrieve some valuable equipment, Kyyduh was already on the ravine crawler, ready to go. One of the scientists, an older pahtra woman named Nayawsa who often fussed over them and made sure they remembered to eat, gave them a concerned look before placing a charm of Meyel around their neck and telling them to be safe. Kyyduh gave their famous confident grin and tore off into the rain.
The ride was longer than they expected. Despite their weatherproof gear, the rain got in between the layers and made everything cling to them. There weren’t any animals out in such a wild storm, but there were plenty of trees that couldn’t be seen until they were nearly nose-to-nose with them. Kyyduh found it easy to focus when they required all their attention to keep the craft balanced and not slam into something. They located the equipment, loaded it up, and headed back. The scientists burst into applause when they came crashing through the surrounding brush. Everyone celebrated later that evening and Kyyduh was surrounded by warmth, good drinks, and friends.
This became their new norm. During storms they collected equipment, checked on animal spots, gathered samples, and made sure that everything in the camp kept running. They found it easy to stay focused, and their mind finally stopped moving a million miles an hour long enough for them to make sense of things when they were riding through the forests in the rain. Kyyduh developed a knack for being able to tell how bad a storm was going to be as it was forming, picking up on cloud movement and wind speed. They could sense the humidity in the air before the instruments started going off, and they were included in morning meetings about setup and missions.
Things changed when Kyyduh took a trip through a bad lightning storm to the edge of the Shriek. Their attention flitted away when they sensed a hymothoa nearby and they jerked the controls, slamming into a huge tree they’d passed a thousand times. The world went dark. They awoke a few times to the feeling of plants surrounding them, of vines along their fur, of their friends examining them with concerned looks.
When they finally came to, Kyyduh was different. They could feel it. They opened more eyes than they remembered; they looked in the mirror and saw a clash of plant-like features across their body. Their leg was different now, but that was the least startling change. A motion of their hand and their whole arm shifted into a giant claw and then back again. They spent time with their friends learning about their forms, finding that they could adapt their new changes by interacting with new plants, changing their body and their new biotech augmentations on a whim to better fit all kinds of scenarios.
Flexibility. Adaptability. Change. Evolution.
They found that they could change their friends, too, and when the military showed up to shut down the illegal camp, well, Kyyduh used their abilities to help everyone get away before taking off into the forest to escape off-world. They kept the charm of Meyel, though, as a reminder of a time before the Veskarium colonized their world. Nayawsa insisted.
Kyyduh found new friends and companions. Today, they maintain their laidback attitude, their tendency to joke when things get tense. They still struggle to focus in situations where they’re not fully entranced by the subject, and their impulsivity is made worse when they evolve too much, too quickly. Their lack of a filter can cause them to tumble headfirst into tough situations, but their genuine good nature and willingness to protect others save them just as often as the thick, bark-like armor that appears on their body when they’re threatened. At day’s end, they know they’re surrounded by friends and they know they have a home world that will always be a part of them, body and soul.
Meet The Iconics: Kyyduh
Wednesday, November 9, 2022