A little over a decade prior to the War of 2215, stone-powered cermet (ceramic/metal) tech is perfected. It initially runs on several types of precious and semiprecious stones that have changed in structure and dynamic. It is not known why this change has taken place, but certain stones become untouchable to human hands, producing strong energetic currents. Our characters - a thousand years in the future - take it as a given. They live in a technologically devolved world where only remnant examples of cermet tech still functions.
Stones are regarded as paired when they have a permanent human partner, else they are regarded as unaligned. Of all the stones, black opals are never pairable.
Black Opal - Black opals are batteries for cermet tech, that's all. These last pieces of tech still function because they are hermetically sealed and conform closest to A.C. Clarke's law that "No Machine May Contain Any Moving Parts" from The City and the Stars, 1956. The digger mentioned in the prologue is one such piece of cermet tech, so that machine is well over 800 years old when Patrick is using it. Cermet tech is very long-lived, but it's not impervious to damage or destruction, so it is rare, almost gone, because the knowledge, technologies and infrastructures to make it are long gone.
Fire Opal - What I describe in the story is actually precious fire opal. Fire opal (sans the precious) is fully translucent, has no color play, but is a solid warm yellow, orange, or red in color. I'm just calling it fire opal in the narrative, though. I've leaned into the idea that while all stones with which a person can pair are emotive and cognitive agents, fire opals are the "Latinos" of the stone world. Occasionally hot-blooded. They are also the very rarest of the opals. We will encounter only three of them, and only one of those three to any real extent through the MC who is paired with the largest fire opal we encounter in the story.
Communication with the owner at the level of empathic emotive communication and simple, low-register, abstract thought.
Locating black opals that are capable of shielding their own presence.
Projecting glyphs that have parsable meaning to both humans and many of the metatherian megafauna (mainly those belonging to diprotodontia).
Connecting to a web of unaligned white or crystal opal that serve as a kind of extender to repel arthropods from campsites.
Crystal/White Opal - These actually haven't come up yet in the story other than the scene where a set of very pale unaligned ones serve as an extender unit to the MC's fire opal when making camp. My plan is to make them similar in capacity to the fire opals, just much quieter, less independent of their owners.
Nephrite Jade - Nephrite is the farmer's stone. It's found in Cowell, whence Timor, the co-MC, hails. It is found in a large seam that is very easy to access, so the mining tradition that surrounds nephrite at Cowell is very different to that found in the Ridge where black opal mining is central to life. In Cowell, life is about tending crops in great grotto-cave farms. Where fire opal has use with megafauna, nephrite has use with plants, aiding in their growth and health. I haven't really dug down into the way that will look, but that's the narrative purpose of nephrite in this story. Though I have yet to ascribe any kind of general personality to the stone, it's connection to flora invokes a quiet, restrained, yet determined personality.
Jadeite Jade - This is the one piece of jade we do encounter so far and it's the one item that refuses to sit still for me, narratively speaking. In the story we will encounter only two pieces of jadeite, one of which belongs to a corpse we discover at one point. Jadeite is not native to the lands of Sepilon and Stralyon, and most indicative of its unusual nature, unlike all the other stones that are shaped and polished in their naturally occurring forms, the two pieces of jadeite we encounter are carved into shapes. Timor's is a tortoise in white and lavender jadeite. The corpse we encounter has a fish in white and green (moss in the snow) jadeite. This stone is markedly different to all the rest in that this stone has a connection to a kind of geologic database, but you have to know how to ask it for information. It's wildly pedantic and will not offer up anything of its own accord. It's relationship with Timor is a very cool, controlled personality. It is the Mr. Spock of stones. It existed in its carved from in Cowell as a kind of artifact, unaligned and refusing to pair until Timor comes along. Their pairing is accidental, which sits very poorly with the form-obsessed denizens of Cowell.
Communication with the owner at the level of empathic emotive communication and more complex, higher-register, abstract thought often speaking to Timor's mind in actual words.
Serving as a simple lightsource.
Capable of accessing and projecting schematics for cermet tech.
Capable of delivering this information to people other than the owner through direct skin to skin contact with the owner.
Topaz - Not a flipping clue yet, but I know I want there to be three general categories of stone we encounter. I already have a character who will likely serve as our guide to where topaz is happening, Brenda's husband, Randel.
Cermet digger unit used by Patrick in prologue...
Just a little Puerto Rican guy living on a coffee plantation in the middle of the Caribbean.