|Location||Secret Lab - Mutant Town|
|Participants||Richard, Sumit, Rosalie|
|Summary||X-Factor Solutions picks up -- something -- for delivery.|
It is bright and early on Monday early. Well, no. It's dark. It's dark and early, a time at which most sane people are still asleep, or maybe just stirring from their beds. Half of the team has been sent off to acquire a rental, a nondescript SUV, grey, seats seven type of thing. The other half is following Richie, who has an address. The address leads to what looks very much like an abandoned auto shop in the heart of Mutant Town, where as many storefronts are boarded up as are open. There is no particular sign that anyone is actually here. The air is cold, and the sidewalks are a little slick with the faint flurry of snow that fell last night.
Richard seems vaguely uncomfortable to be the one with the information; like somehow it casts him in some sort of leadership role. Favors are favors, though. He eyes the auto shop and its apparent emptiness with his hands stuffed in his pockets and his scarf wound about his neck. "Well," he says. "That's promising."
Sumit is currently awake and alert enough that he might qualify to be one of those most unholy creatures, a morning person. Wrapped up in enough layers that he's just about warm but still mobile he follows close behind Richard, flicking his eyes left and right as they walk more out of habit than any particular sense of threat. Eyeing the garage in front of them for a moment he then looks back to the others and asks, "do we knock?"
Rosalie walks with her head down against the cold air, her wool coat buttoned to her throat, scarf tucked around her chin neatly, hands in her pockets. Every so often her eyes leave the path of her boots in the snow to look up around her with clear curiosity. The little weather witch may seem an odd choice for this job, but she was available. "Perhaps they don't want to advertise they're here," she says.
It seems a good bet, all things considered. /Someone/ seems to be aware of their arrival, though, because after a few seconds, the small door next to the garage doors swings open with an audible click, and a beat later an impatient voice calls, "Are you coming in? It's damned cold out there!"
Richard glances at the others. His jaw muscle twitches, and then he looks back to the open door. Well, all right, then. He moves to go in first. Just in case there's murder inside.
As the door opens, Sumit's right hand drops down to a pocket in his bulky coat and stays there as he lets Richard move in first, then follows almost on his shoulder. "What is it we're after exactly," he mutters low enough that it shouldn't carry too far, then pauses just inside the door to let his eyes adjust to the change in light.
Rosalie lets the men go in first. Because she's bold like that. She follows in their wake, and as she moves, the air around them drops still further in temperature, a fierce, insistent, nagging cold, like they are being trailed by a tiny cloud ready to blizzard.
The door slams shut behind them, clanking a little. Inside, it's much warmer - or it would be, if Rosalie weren't steadily dropping the temperature. It's also bright. That is, as soon as the door closes, lights flick on, illuminating a small lobby area left mostly empty, with a small desk and several chairs with plastic cushions that have long since cracked. Behind that, though, another door stands open, leading into the garage portion of the place, and the voice - clearly older, and male - calls, "In here! Quickly, please, before you end up driving in the middle of rush hour."
Richard snorts quietly, first at Sumit's mutter, then at the call of whoever it is inside. His gaze slides over the lobby with its desks and chairs and plastic cushions and then makes his way towards the door standing open.
Sumit flicks his eyes across to Rosalie and asks "you okay kid?" He keeps his hand firmly in his pocket as he shoots Richard a questioning look, then flicks his eyes around once more before moving towards the office, offering Rosalie a quick, "once more unto the breach eh?"
Rosalie looks around with all the curiosity of someone who's never seen a garage before. Perhaps she hasn't. She's had a sheltered life. She raises an eyebrow at Sumit. "I'm fine," she assures him. The cold lingers, though, clustering around her in defiance of the warmth in the room, and she moves on, keeping close to Richard. Richard will keep her safe! Or, you know, be the first to die in her icy Arctic winds, whichever comes first.
The garage itself is larger that one might guess from the outside. It stretches back to occupy what must be the entire first floor of the building. One corner is cordoned off by a large desk that curls in a U. It is filled to the absolute brim with piles of paper and books and at least seven or eight computer monitors. It's past the era of cords, which is probably for the best, because what looks like several computer servers sit in large racks next to it. There's a large cargo van on one side of the garage, nondescript and white. The other is a workshop, with bits and pieces of just about everything scattered on worktables and amongst machinery.
The man who rises from the desk in the back corner - with a quick glance at one of the monitors, which shows a view of the door they just came through - is seventy if he's a day, a little hunched in his posture, with a tuft of white hair that sprouts in all directions. He waves them in impatiently, blinking rapidly as if to clear something from his Eyes. "Come on, come on," he says, sweeping his gaze across the three of them before fixing on Richard. "You're him, huh?" he says, cocking his head and squinting in dubious interest. "Huh. I would very much like to talk to you, young man." He puts a sly twist on the 'young' as he shuffles forward to greet them more properly. "Robert really should have told me you were here. He really should have."
Richard will keep everyone safe!! It's clearly kind of what he has in mind, barging in places ahead of the others. He takes in the appearance of the garage next before focusing on the older man in front of him. His lips thin. "My interviews were all on record. I'm sure you've got the clearance," he says, his voice somewhat dry. "I don't have anything left to say about it that would help you." His glance towards the other is somewhat surreptitious, a certain feeling of exposure in the slide of his gaze. "Would you throw /your/ brother to the wolves?"
Once into the inner area Sumit drops into his well practiced neutral expression and alert stance. Letting Richard deal with the man, and the talking, he lets his eyes roam, not looking for fine details, but merely to place everything, and ensure there's no one about to jump out from the server racks, or that the old man isn't about to try and over power Richard. The usual 'hired muscle' stuff, although he does keep one ear solidly on Richard and the conversation. Fascinating.
Rosalie slips in after the others, and blinks at the room. Once she is relatively satisfied that Richard has everything well in hand, and nothing is leaping out to eat them, she begins to wander about the room, examining its contents with open curiosity, peering at monitors and papers and workshop. She's not very good at this 'hired muscle' thing.
"There are other things than interviews," the man points out, clucking his tongue at Richard. He glances at the van, then back at Richard. "In a second, for this, son," he answers his question, and he looks completely earnest about it, too. He does not linger on the issue, however, instead turning his gaze to Sumit and Rosalie, skeptical. "Your team is trustworthy?" he asks, just in case Richard is likely to say 'no'. His gaze snaps to Rosalie the moment she begins to wander, and he snaps, "Stay put, young lady!" and moves to shuffle after her at a surprising pace to cut her off.
Sumit's glancing around suggests nothing in particular of threat. The place looks rather like a mad scientist's workshop, if such a thing involved a good deal of grease and expensive mechanical equipment. A few pieces bear an official-looking seal of some sort, but none are close enough to get a good look at.
Richard's expression shutters in an instant. There's a coil of anger bubbling beneath the surface, but all he says is an even: "Guess I'm lucky mine's still got his principles." His brow creases in a deeper frown as the man starts hustling after Rosalie. "Yes. Don't yell at them."
Sumit is now really quite curious as to just what this is all about but he holds his station. Well, he does right up to the point that the old man starts towards Rosalie, then he moves, aiming to put himself between teh pair of them if he can get there in time. "Steady sir," he says calmly, neutrally, lifting his left hand out in a 'stop' motion. "We're short on time, as you said, lets not waste any shall we?"
Rosalie cringes, instinctively, at the raised voice, a small shudder that courses through her slight frame. Her cheeks pinken. The air about her plunges in temperature rapidly, enough so the faintest sheen of frost can be glimpsed on the floor between her feet. "I'm sorry," she apologizes, raising her hands to show they are empty, and then shoves them, determinedly, into her pockets. She takes one small step, setting her foot very precisely on the floor, bringing the other to join it, and then stands perfectly still, shoulders square, hands in pockets, mouth closed.
It's probably a good thing that Sumit does not manage to step between the man and Rosalie, who behaves on order, because several bits of mechanics, nondescript and certainly unthreatening, lift and turn to fix on him as the old man turns his gaze to Sumit. /Now/ they look threatening. "/Steady sir/?" he barks at him. He scowls at Sumit, and then jerks his gaze toward Richard. "Not very well-trained, are they, Rider? Who is paying here? Me! I am paying!" He's very twitchy, and he looks back to Sumit and Rosalie with dark suspicion, then says, "Your job is not to poke around my things. Not /even/ the thing you are taking to Colorado. Is that understood? /Is it/?"
"That's /enough/," Richard snaps, his expression an open glare. "There's no one trained for this anymore. There's no more X-Force to do your courier work. I brought this to Jeremy as a /favor/ for my brother. She was just looking around, for God's sake, but if you don't relax we're all going to end up a lot colder in here. We'll get your box where it needs to go. Unmolested."
Sumit is mentally preparing an 'actually sir' speech when the emphasis on Richard's second word gives the hint that perhaps the wiser course is to drop silent again and let those who actually have a clue about what's going on handle the matter. He does take a step or two protectively towards Rosalie though, not threatening the old man, just moving to hopefully give the lass a reassurance presence nearby.
Rosalie remains very, very still. She doesn't twitch. She doesn't shift her weight from one foot to another. She doesn't move a single foot. Look at how well-trained she is. It is, however, very cold in a tight circle around her. Very cold indeed. "I understand," she says, mildly, although not with a brief, grateful glance at Richard.
The old man grunts, clearly annoyed, but subsides as everyone follows Richard's orders. Mostly. He scowls again, then digs into a pocket to pull out a key, which he extends to Richard. "Well," he says. "Robert seems to think you lot can do the job. If we're lucky, you will be entirely pointless and it will just be a very long drive." He glances around the group, eyes still narrowed at Rosalie and Sumit. "Keep your eyes open," he tells them, not at all ominously. "I do not want this in the wrong hands. And neither do you. Understand?" He inevitably sounds like he is giving them a lecture. Clearly this is a man used to getting his way. And bossing people around.
"Don't worry. I'm a lucky person." Richard's smile is taut and humorless. "Let's just get things packed up to go, shall we?" He steps over on even strides, glance sliding over to Rosalie. He tips his head to her, briefly questioning. Okay?
Sumit barely suppresses an urge to shudder as he remains in proximity of Rosalie and, as Richard approaches to collect the keys he takes advantage of the opportunity to step back and give him a bit more room. The old man gets something thats more akin to a smirk then a smile of acknowledgment but beyond that he gives him no reply, just keeps his watch silently.
Step too close to Rosalie, and you step into earth-shattered cold; a small cone of cold restrained in area. "It's not temperature sensitive, is it?" she inquires of the old man. She takes a deep breath, folds her hands in front of her, and gives Richard a tiny nod.
"It's in the back," the old man tells Richard as he passes over the key. He glances toward Rosalie with a look that is a little bit like terror (his /baby/!) and says, "Good God. What are you planning to do with it?"
"She just doesn't like to turn up the heater in the car," Richard says blandly, taking the keys. "Calm down." He shivers tightly as he passes too close to Rosalie, but doesn't say anything.
"Wastes gas," says Rosalie, poker-faced.
Sumit amuses himself for a moment by considering what answer to that question might be most likely to give the man a massive coronary, before he nods silently to the answer given. Wit the keys now in their possession he turns to Richard and raises a questioning eyebrow. A silent 'shall we leave?'
The man looks between Richard and Rosalie with narrowed eyes, but he does finally supply, "Keep it above -20 or so - Celsius, mind - and it should be fine." And then he steps back, leaving the trio room to load themselves up, adding only, "I'll get the door. Be careful."
"Celsius," Richard repeats, baffled at the usage. (/Scientists/.) He nods rapidly to Sumit, a little like /please/, and strides over to the van to unlock the doors and slide into the driver's seat. He has first shift, apparently. Let's go.
"Celsius," Sumit repeats as well, looking almost happy to be able to use the scale he grew up with once more. Then, with a forced smile to the old man, "a pleasure doing business with you." Then, that said, he moves to the van and hauls himself up into the navigator's seat."
The old man shuffles back to his monitors, and a moment later, the garage door opens, letting them out onto the still-dark streets of New York City. And on they go.
"Celsius," repeats Rosalie, with delight that she /understands/ that temperature. She is left with the back seat, as they head toward the open road.
It's not until they're out of the garage and starting to wind their way through the narrow streets of New York that Richard really seems to exhale. "Wow," he says. "I'm -- sorry about that. Robbie didn't tell me he'd be so /twitchy/." His gaze darts up to Rosalie in the rear view mirror. "You okay?" he asks, aloud this time.
Rosalie exhales. She sits primly, seatbelt fastened, hands folded in her lap, her shoulders tense--but the temperature around her seems to have come down to normal, at least. "Fine," she assures him. She adds, lightly but a little clumsily, "I _didn't_ start a blizzard."
"Who was that di.." Sumit starts, then flicks his eyes to Rosalie and offers instead, "lavander?" with enough inflection to make it fairly obvious that it's not a term he's using politely. Then, eyes back to Richard he asks, "so what -is- it that we're transporting?"
"That you didn't," Richard agrees with the slightest hint of a wry smile. "Which I appreciated." His gaze settles on the road. "To be honest, I don't know exactly what it is," he answers. "Probably yet another thing my brother would try to explain to me that I wouldn't understand. You know. Science."
"It probably wouldn't have gone over well," Rosalie says a little dryly. Her gaze goes to her hands, and then, up to the window, watching the scenery. Such as it is, considering they haven't left Mutant Town yet. "What sort of science?" she wonders. "Are we talking--agricultural technology to help feed the world, or weapons, or something in between?"
"Your brother is a scientist?" Sumit asks, although more for conversation now then serious query. What is serious though is his glance in the mirror towards the back of the van. "Well, so long as it isn't going to explode and kill us, or leak something that'll kill us.." Taking a stunner out of his pocket he slips it into the glove compartment and considers for a moment. "I'd guess something fairly hightech given the rest of the guy's gear, but it's really not my field I'm afraid."
"My security clearance's not exactly what I'd call 'active,'" Richard says dryly. "But no, my brother doesn't develop weapons. Then again, he's not studying agricultural technology, either. More like -- quantum mechanics and robotics. I'm sure he has longer words for what he does."
"Well," says Rosalie, with a trace of clumsy cheer, "at least we can tell ourselves we're probably /not/ transporting the latest weapon capable of destroying the planet." She watches the street through the window, and says, "Although, whatever it is, they also don't have the money or support to transport it in a more secure way than...us."
"Quantum mechanics," Sumit applies appreciatively, "that's pretty high level brainiac stuff right?" Then, in an amused tone, "so maybe we have a killer robot in the back or something then." Rosalie's point about the guy's finances are met with an agreeing nod. "X-Force thats what Carruthers used to work for right, and Boomer? Your brother tie into all that? I mean, tell me to butt out if you want, but is he gifted too?"
"If they were working on weapons, God knows they'd have more government support instead of us," Richard snorts. "Yeah, Robbie's about a billion times smarter than I am. But no, he wasn't -- well." He hesitates. "He was never /in/ X-Force. He's not a mutant. But his connection to me is probably how he ended up -- where he is. I got -- lost in the line of duty for a while. I think more than anything else he was -- looking for me." After another beat, he adds, "Jeremy was X-Men, not X-Force." Too many X's.
"It would be easier to keep them straight if they didn't all start with X," suggests Rosalie, super helpfully. "It would make filing their information very complicated." She falls quiet after giving her categorization advice, watching her hands again.
"MIA," Sumit replies with a slow nod, "harsh. Glad you made it through though." Sensing that Richard isn't likely to be drawn on too many details just now he makes a note to save this line of enquiry until beers have been had. "X-Men, X-Force, and now X-Factor, I almost sense a theme there." Reaching to try and find the wheel to recline his seat a little he makes himself comfortable then asks, "so, music?"
"It's like they figured out this theme and then figured everyone had to slap it in front of anything with a mutant involved," Richard agrees with a snort. "Except for Mutant Affairs, but I guess they're just chasing mutants, not having them in the ranks." After a beat, he adds, "Well. They're not /supposed/ to have them in the ranks." His mouth twitches in a smile. "Have at it. My music taste is stupidly out of date, so whatever you guys want."
"I...don't think you would be terribly impressed with my music," Rosalie says with a pale smile. "Go ahead, whatever you like." She falls back to gazing out the window.
"Do we have any X-X-Xes?" Sumit asks, more rhetorically than anything else, then flicks his eyes between the two of them as they both renounce their rights to the 'tape deck'. "Alright then," he replies with a grin, digging his hand around in his pockets and hauling out a music player. "I hope you all like Bollywood." The music, as it hits the speakers is loud (although he turns it down a bit, Indian, and relentless cheerful.
"Oh my God," Richard says at Sumit's joke. Which is not really a joke because it's TERRIBLE and NOT FUNNY. He doesn't complain about the music once it starts, though. He gave up complaining rights by not having opinions. And maybe it'll be fun. For an hour.Rosalie does not say anything. She closes her eyes. And breathes deeply. And deeply again. Maybe she's meditating.