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Picking up the new guy

Posted on Fri Jun 14th, 2024 @ 1:24 by Andrew Hallows & Rebecca McMillen & Alastair Temple

Chapter: Winter's Crest Festival
Location: Avalon car park, New Cresthill Train Station
Timeline: Dec 23rd
3658 words - 7.3 OF Standard Post Measure

Some cars purred. Little, economical four or three cylinders, built for reliability and not very exciting to use. Some cars roared.
V-sixes, flat sixes. Aggressively tuned for exciting performance. Some cars growled or rumbled. Big, American V-eights, like Claire's 1973 Camaro would, when Cameron finished putting it together for her. Some cars rattled. Like Charlie had, or those big, reliable diesels they put in London cabs. Some cars floated along on a whisper, like those big Cadillacs, Bentleys or Rolls Royces. But Omen? Alastair Temple's 1973 pearl white Nissan KPGC-110 'Kenmeri' GT-R with the 190hp, tuned, two-liter inline six?

It snarled.

"You ready to go pick up whatshisface?" Al asked his passenger, a fellow teacher, who had expressed interest in coming along on this trip to the station in town. For all the stress of recent times, Rebecca could see Al's face light up the moment he had turned the engine on in his immaculately restored, twenty year old, classic Japanese import sportscar.

Rebecca gave a nod, sporting a pair of shades to go with the casual winter look. Casual, however, was not what this car was about. This car was a statement, and that statement was chiseled in stone and carved by lightning. This car wanted to be unleashed like one of the Horsemen of old. With the way it probably guzzled petrol, it would probably be Famine. Though, a very impressive machine. "His name's Andrew, and yeah." She said, having to talk a little louder than normal to be heard over the demands of the demon dwelling in the engine block. She really hoped that Al didn't just gun the thr...

Upon reaching his destination, the train station in New Cresthill, Andrew stepped off the train and went to collect his duffel and trunk. He wasn't sure how long he would have to wait, however being stuck on a train for six hours left him feeling cramped. Setting his belonging down outside the station to wait for whoever Claire had sent to pick him up.

Without thinking, Andrew kind of made a spectacle of himself, He set the black leather jacket he had worn for the trip atop his three bags. This left him in a gray t-shirt, blue jeans and his old pair of combat boots. He walked over to a grassy area and took a few calming breaths before he simply dropped into a Wuji Stance from Tai Chi and began working the stress out of his body. He went through several basic movements before slipping into the Empty Stance and continued working his muscles and bringing himself to a light sweat.

He didn't realize how many people began to watch him, nor did he care as his mind was clear and all thoughts were on cleansing his muscles of fatigue, before finally relaxing again and returning to his bags, now that he had finished his work, the cold hit him once more as he put his jacket back on. The whole spectacle only lasted for about 15 minutes and as he stood there he could still feel the eyes of others upon him.

The approach of the pickup was heralded with thunder and metal. An angry god approached. Rebecca must have looked at the photo of their target six times in the last few miles. The windows were up, cause it was damn cold out, so she didn't have to worry about it being yanked away in the wind. "I ... I think that's him there."

"Considering he's the only one here looking about ready to start a new life and he's just waiting for his ride, I would agree," Al added, voice calm and with a smile in it. There was no sass in his statement, just agreement. The ride over had been fun, and although Alastair enjoyed driving - .... enthusiastically, he was sensitive enough to his passenger's state of comfort not to go too overboard, and making sure the ride had been comfortable for Rebecca as well.

He pulled up and parked Omen in an open parking bay near where Andrew had been waiting, then opened the door and stepped out. The music teacher struck an imposing figure with his height, luxurious mane and wild facial hair, his dramatic black woolen longcoat over heavy, buckled, black leather boots. "You Andrew? Claire sent me to pick you up," he called over as he approached the man, holding out a leather gloved hand in greet. "Alastair Temple, but - " he grinned, always enjoying an opportunity to make this joke, that he thought was very clever, "You can call me Al."

Rebecca looked, less imposing as she exited the vehicle. Choosing an outfit also meant that Rebecca had to take certain things into account when being in public, so to say that the blonde that exited the vehicle looked a bit...


Next to the imposing and statuesque figure of Al. She was dressed for the weather, a stark contrast in that she wore white. "Rebecca McMillen." she offered, though with no offer to call her Becky. Musical puns aside, she waited her turn to offer a hand to greet their newest arrival. Unless there were TWO people looking like they wanted a ride, and the universe just hated her today.

Andrew heard the loud pseudo-sports car as it came into view and parked near where he was waiting. He could only assume they were the ones sent for him by the purple skinned woman and her friend. The driver looked like he was stepping out of a heavy metal video while the passenger looked, well she looked mousey.

Andrew was not nearly as imposing as Alastair, however there was a sort of calm and dangerous air around Andrew, it was fairly obvious that he had had military training in the way he stood and held himself. They had missed the spectacle of Andrew going through his forms to loosen his body. It was indeed true that these two were sent to pick him up, when Alastair spoke his name. "It would seem that is correct, I am Andrew Hallows." Andrew shook first the offered hand of Alastair and then the tinier hand of Rebecca. "It is a pleasure to meet you both."

"Pleasure. So, that's your stuff, then?" Al indicated the trunk, duffel and backpack. It was more than he had expected. The music teacher considered for a moment, mentally puzzling how to fit it all into Omen, which wasn't a very big car to begin with. Maybe the trunk in the - well, trunk, the duffel on the rear seat and the backpack could find a space somewhere, for sure. That would all fit nicely. Though it left the issue of finding enough space for three adults, one of which was tall and driving, another was built like a brick outhouse and looked about as 'ard, as well.

Luckily, the third adult could become smaller, if she so chose.

"Yeah, I can make that work. Trunk goes in the back, duffel across the back seat, backpack will fit anywhere, and - Rebecca, would you be opposed to going small and riding on the dashboard?" he asked in his rich baritone. "That way Andrew can ride shotgun."

Rebecca shook Andrew's hand as offered. Always good to meet a new face. "Very nice to meet you. Welcome to the party." then as Al's mental calculations came to a close, he popped the question. Rebecca smirked, "Yeah that's a lot of baggage. No no, I meant HIS baggage." she upgraded the smirk to a full smile. "Yeah, hold on let me get situated." and the blonde returned to the car and hopped into the passenger seat. Then she hunkered down in the seat, then a little.... no, she wasn't hunkering down, she was getting smaller. Smaller, smaller, out of view and blocked by the door as Rebecca vanished from sight. Then there was movement as something all but hopped from the seat to grab onto the climate control vent, and she pulled herself up to the dash.

Rebecca McMillen was no bigger than a mouse. Sitting on the dashboard, casual as a cup of tea. "Now, mind you, once speed demon starts going, I'm not going to be sitting anywhere this casual, but for the moment, might as well enjoy the spacious accommodations and ALL. THIS. LEGROOM." She kicked her feet back and forth as she sat. Her voice was softer, a little higher in pitch, but unmistakably Rebecca. Just, miniature. Travel size, if you would.

"That would be correct, I've kept the same luggage since I was in the service, makes it easy to move around if needed." This was a true fact, for the last year since his medical discharge from the Royal Army, he had been living out of the same luggage he had after he left the military, even while living at home briefly before moving to Manchester.

Andrew's Storage trunk held his Recurve Hunting Bow, which was in its own protective case, his Hapkido gi, hapkido medals and trophies, as well as several sets of clothing to include two suits and his dress uniform, and the set of tonfa's which his sifu had given him upon reaching the 1st Dan. He picked up the trunk with the duffel on top. Both Rebecca and Alastair would notice he didn't even strain when he picked them up. "Alright, so where do I put this stuff?"

He blinked a few times as he watched Rebecca shrink, now that was something new. But, then he supposed that this was all part of being around other mutants. "Neat trick, Rebecca."

"Trunk goes in the trunk," Al rhymed, even as he quickly jogged past Andrew to open Omen's boot. It wasn't a big car, more like an 85% scale version of an American muscle car of the 60s, something the original Japanese designers obviously took a lot of inspiration from. "That should fit, I think. Then your duffel can go on the back seat," as he also opened the passenger side door of the two-door coupe, folding the seat forward to give Andrew access. "And the backpack, just throw it in there as well. Should fit."

Rebecca supervised the stowing away of the trunks and bags, sitting on the dash and just generally looking cute. Tail swish, legs kick, she watched the two. While she felt a little bad that she wasn't actively helping move this man's belongings to speed up the process, she also wasn't a hundred percent sure she wouldn't just be in the way. Those bags looked heavier than she was used to carrying, and Al seemed to have a mental picture of where everything was going to fit. Like blocks falling into place.

"You're doing great!" she called, in good humor.

Andrew was tempted to crack a joke at the tiny Rebecca, he was going to ask the mousey one to hold his backpack while he loaded everything. The trunk weighed around 50 lbs., his duffel around 30 lbs. and the backpack around 10 pounds. There was something just cute about Rebecca in her tiny mousey form. Overall, the items he was carrying weighed under 100 pounds, which was a fifth of his carrying capacity, so this wasn't even a strain for him.

Taking Alastair's directions, he placed the trunk in the trunk of the car before pulling it shut, slinging both the duffel and backpack over each shoulder. He then placed the duffel in the backseat and tossed the backpack on top of it, before pulling the seat back up. "Alright, well everything is loaded now." He slipped into the passenger seat and belted himself in, he had heard how loud this car was and kind of figured that Alastair had a lead foot. "Rebecca, if it's safer, you may sit on my shoulder." He closed his eyes and took a few calming breaths. "How long of a drive is it?"

"You know, I think I'll take you up on that offer. Just, just the shoulder. No pockets." she warned. "My sisters used to tease me by putting me in pockets." she advised, "I'd rather not miss the jump, still getting used to landing on things that aren't shelves. So, hand up, and we can handle this 'magic carpet' style."

A simple transit over put Rebecca on Andrew's shoulder. She was practically weightless, just about the mass of a small mouse as well as the height. "As for the drive, it's not far with how fast this car goes. Better get all your questions out now, because once the trip starts, I'm going to have to yell to get over the motor."

And had Alastair been younger, less mature, they would've had to. He would've shown off. But today was not a day for showing off. Especially since one of his passengers wasn't in a proper seat and wasn't wearing a seatbelt. As such Al drove calmly, politely, shifting early, keeping the revs down, taking corners calmly. "So, tell us about yourself, Andrew?"

It was easy enough to help Rebecca onto his shoulder. It would seem that Rebecca hadn't had an easy life after her powers showed. "Sounds like your sisters were right awful people." He helped Rebecca so that she was at least partially under the seat belt over his shoulder, to at least offer her better protection.

He knew these questions would come eventually, and he had to work towards talking more then was common for him. "Well, I was raised in Salford, graduated from Manchester Metropolitan with an English Degree. Then joined the Royal Army, specifically the Royal Military Police Special Investigation Branch." He took a calming breath. "I hold the rank of 4th Dan in Hapkido, as well as training with archery, staff and tonfa."

He looked out the window to watch the countryside as they drove from New Cresthill to the Institute. He had done plenty of traveling over the years, but most of it had been in service to the Military and not for pleasure. Prior to that he had traveled as far as London for Hapkido tournaments.

"Ah, yes, Hapkido," Al replied, as if he knew what that was other than a martial art. "The gentle art of folding clothes while people are still wearing them," he added with a bit of humor. "What'll you be doing at the institute? I'm the music teacher, Rebecca's the art teacher. And you?"

Rebecca held onto the comically large seat belt strap as best she could, which actually wasn't that bad at all considering. Tiny vestigial little claws helped her grip fabric so this was surprisingly optimal. "And before you ask, yeah, I do have a tiny little setup for mouse painting." a pause, "Not actually painting mice, or painting on mi.. you know what, you know what I mean."

"Right, something like that." That was right what had Claire told him. "I believe Claire said something about physical education, I assume with my training and skills, I will also be teaching self-defense to those who wish to learn." He chuckled imagining Rebecca in a dollhouse office with paint smears on her tiny face as she painted on a tiny easel.

"You know, I might take you up on self-defense lessons." Rebecca chimed in. "I've been meaning to do, well, something in case I get in trouble or stuck somewhere. I'd like to be able to better defend myself, or if nothing else not be afraid of needing to." she piped up, resolved.

"I've been meaning to talk to Claire about seeing if there's a chance for fencing lessons. I don't suppose you learned how to fence in the service?" she asked, half joking.

Al was content to just listen, remaining quiet, as he drove Omen towards Avalon. Still just taking his time, being the gentleman driver.

"No, prior to joining the military, I was taught archery through hunting and then Hapkido, Tonfa and Staff. In the military, I was taught how to handle a knife and basic marksmanship with rifles and pistols." He half-shrugged, trying not to jostle the mouse girl on his shoulder. "So, sadly no fencing."

"Eh, I'm sure I can find someone in the academy. I mean, maybe." she paused, "I'm not a fan of guns, so... you'll understand if I don't ask for gun training or anything. They're very, very loud."

He nodded. "I have no plans to teach firearms to any students nor offering classes in their use. If anything, I will teach self-defense and probably meditation, utilizing both Hapkido and Tai Chi. Being the Phys Ed teacher, I will likely include Archery in the curriculum."

"I might sign up for some of that," Alastair's warm baritone rumbled, as he glanced over at his two passengers. The drive through the countryside was nice and peaceful, with only a mild rasp from the engine bay hinting that this was a tuned performance machine rather than just a simple early 70s tourer. "Been wanting to get back in shape. Haven't done anything towards that for like two years."

The adorable mini-Rebecca chimed in, "Yeah, I might join in too. Not because I need the help to stay in shape. Not just the whole If I don't like what the scale says I just be tiny... but if I want to go for a run I can run around my room. A good obstacle course of just vaulting over shoes, laundry, carpet..." she explained with a giggle.

"i'm pretty athletic, thanks to.. well, being me." she avoided the usual terms. Gift. Talent. Tricks.

He was listening and watching the landscape as the three of them continued the drive towards the Institute and Andrew new job and life.

The trio drove along in silence for a while, the only sounds being the six cylinders chugging along as the radio was also powered off. Alastair had expected conversation. And, sometimes, that meant making it yourself. "So, what brings you to Avalon? How'd you hear about us?" Us. He'd only barely been here a few months himself. "What made you decide to sign on?"

And one of the questions that he had expected to come up, the real question was what all would he tell these people he had just met. "Well, I had heard whispers while I was in the military. Then, there were the news articles and segments on the TV about the recent happenings surrounding the school." Now, came the part where he talked about what made him sign up. "Well, Claire and Phoebe, well I think those were their names, caught me partaking in some vigilantism. They brought up how MI-13, were watching me and that to keep from being incarcerated, they offered me a job." He said this last bit rather nonchalantly, as though he were simply reading a report. The facts of his life were simply the facts of his life.

"Vigilantalism, huh?" Al smirked, glancing over. The castle was slowly becoming visible in the distance as they were nearing. "Sounds like there's a story there," the music teacher's baritone added. For the rest the story was similar enough to his own. Learning about the school through news items in papers and on TV.

"I didn't think it went that high, but I'm not surprised." Rebecca giggled. "Rebecca McMillen, Squeakret Agent. I like the sound of that." She held onto the belt as the caged fury of Alastair's car made one of the final turns. "That's it there. Avalon."

"It's been said that everyone has a dark portion of their life, so while I was figuring out the next part of my life. I decided to put the hurt on criminals from the shadows." He shrugged, "there's not much to tell, honestly." He chuckled at Rebecca's comment. "So, the incredible shrinking agent." When she brought up the institute, he watched out the window as they drove closer and closer.

Rebecca held onto the belt as he shrugged, laughing through the motion to know she was fine. "I mean, I can respect that, and I'll reserve judgement until I'm slightly taller." she joked. There was no judgement coming. "And as for that last part, I think that was a movie." she giggled.

The bridge negotiated with the deft hand of an experienced driver, one who could make his machine dance on command, or be gentle as the sleeping night. Soon enough Omen pulled into her regular parking spot among the other faculty cars - one spot that stood sadly empty, where Charlie would've normally sat.

"Well, this is you then," Al spoke to Andrew, turning the engine off, and affectionately patting the center console. A little ritual he liked to do whenever Omen had performed without complaint. She was an aging lady, after all. "We'll get your stuff unloaded and figure out which room you'll be staying."

Rebecca took a short run off Andrew's shoulder and jumped across the distance from the seated figure to the dashboard. She landed, taking a few steps to ablate her momentum. "I'll handle the lighter stuff." she offered to at least take some of the baggage. Certainly not as she currently was, though. She sat on the edge of the dashboard, feet kicking. Tons of legroom still.

"I believe the movie was The Incredible Shrinking Woman, 1960-something I believe." He chuckled and unbuckled himself once Rebecca was situated on the dashboard. "Well, if you could grab my backpack, I can get everything else." Getting out of the car Andrew first got the trunk out of the boot and then pushed the seat forward to grab the duffel and backpack, setting them both on the trunk. "Or you could get the door." He put the seat back in its proper position and waited for Rebecca to get out of the car, before closing the door lightly.

Picking his items up he followed Rebecca and Al into the Avalon Institute and was preparing to start the next chapter of his life.


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