Job Training


ben_icon.gif brian_icon.gif ygraine_icon.gif

Scene Title No Capes, Darling
Synopsis Ygraine and Brian talk courierinationing with Ben.
Date November 18, 2008

Alley Cat Courier Service

What was once a small warehouse now serves a completely different purpose. From before dawn until after dark, bikes pass in and out the open doors, couriers off to pick up and deliver mail, returning to take on another task.

Although the warehouse should be rather spacious, it mostly manages to feel crowded. At the very least, busy. A row of lockers, stacked two high, covers one long wall. Bike racks for those who prefer to keep their bicycles here - or need someplace to leave them while on break - line the opposite side of the building. There are always people moving about - rummaging in their lockers, little knots of chitchat, trading experiences and advice on routes (or just the latest gossip) beneath the shouted calls for messengers to deliver this package there or go pick up something from somewhere else. There are usually two people tasked with coordinating the chaos of the Alley Cats, a receptionist who takes called-in orders and the manager who sees to the fair dispersal of jobs; a corner of the warehouse near the main doors has been partitioned off to create their offices.

It's a chilly, dank, grey day - the sort of one on which even the most dedicated of workers are tempted to remain in their beds, and one that promises anything but a fun time riding through the near-freezing smog of Nuked York. In spite of that, Alley Cat Couriers' headquarters is almost as filled with bustle as is usually the case, with an array of eccentrically-clad riders coming and going, arguing over coffee, or working on their bikes.

Behind the counter, the manager is presently engaged in an argument over billing - his spectacles removed to let him more readily massage the bridge of his nose - while the receptionist is caught up on another call. Helping them out, a young woman more often seen in lycra is just finishing explaining to a newer recruit the merits and dangers of some possible routes through the ruins of Midtown, her fancy monochrome attire confirming that the Briton has not yet returned to work.

Ben is a shiny, fresh new employee. He has a hat and everything. And some bruises and a brace on one wrist. Maybe he got mugged or something; but in any case, he's waved toward Ygraine and the other newbie. He wheels his blue bike over that way, ducks his head a little shyly, and says, "Excuse me? Are you Miss FitzRoy?"

The woman in question flashes a grin to her previous 'customer', then smiles at Ben. "Ygraine, please. And yes, I am." Her accent is distinctly marked by the tones of an educated Briton, probably making her identity easy enough to confirm. "What can I do for you?"

"The Boss," Ben implies a capital B, "Said you'd be good to talk to about the basics." He scratches the back of his head. "The guy who was supposed to train me called in sick. Must be the weather." He glances over his shoulder at the beleaguered manager, then back to her. "You don't look like you're on-duty, though."

Ygraine chuckles softly, glancing around before deftly folding shut the map she was using to help the last person. "Sure, I should be able to spare you a while. Officially, I'm still on medical leave, but I'm happy to help out. I won't be taking you out on the road, however…." As she talks, she moves out from behind the counter, gesturing an invitation towards the old, huge, lurid orange sofa in the break area. "Fancy grabbing a seat?"

Ben nods, glances about for a place to put his bike and leads it over to a pillar to awkwardly lean it there before heading to the couch with her. "Sure. Thanks for the help, Ygraine. Medical leave, huh? What happened, if you don't mind my asking?"

Ygraine chuckles, a little self-consciously. "My girlfriend gave me the courage to go ahead and get some work done, that I'd been dithering over for some time. I should be back on the road again before _too_ much longer. I'm doing some light training now…."

Work? Ben opts not to press that; he just nods. "Good, good. Looks like we could use the help. Or is it always this busy?" He peers across the room at a courier coming in covered with mud and looking cranky.

Ygraine glances towards the door, then shrugs amiably. "You'll tend to find that this time of day can get a bit frantic. A lot of people who promised customers that something'd be delivered today belatedly realizing that they really need to get it out onto the road…. A lot of the time, it's a good deal quieter than this. Certainly here. Many of your contracts'll be picked up out on the road, without needing to come near the office."

"Really? People just… stop you or something?" Ben's eyebrows go up. He sounds quite curious about the whole process, sitting leaned over, elbows on his knees and hands dangling.

Ygraine chuckles, shaking her head. "Get yourself a headset 'phone, and you can have jobs called into you. Client calls here, the guys behind the counter call whoever'll be closest and free soonest."

"Oh. Like a crazyman Bluetooth," Ben remarks. "People talking at nothing always weirded me out."

Ygraine laughs. "Well, the odds are that you'll be getting yourself a breathing mask. The city's never had the most healthy atmosphere, and on days like today… polluted mist is something you don't want to get into your lungs. So conversations with base are likely to be muffled, or brief at best."

"Ah. Yeah, that leads me to my next question - health concerns. Is there anything symptomatic of larger problems?" Ben leans forward a little more now. Medical stuff interests him. "And how's the dental plan here?" Maybe that was a joke.

Ygraine blinks, then laughs quietly and shakes her head. "If you're asking about Midtown - Alley Cat accepts contracts for routes through Midtown, but no one's required to take them. If you don't want to, you don't have to. I did - but I was on Broadway on the day of the Bomb. Any residual danger now is likely to be irrelevant compared to what happened then…. Otherwise - long-term, your worst problems are likely to be with your lungs. Start with the breathing mask before you need it, I'd say. Short-term, you'll discover that far too many people on the road either act as if you're totally invisible, or else they drive as if they're actively trying to kill you. It's exciting out there, at times."

"No, I'll go through Midtown," Ben says, glancing off to the side, brow furrowing slightly. "Defensive biking. Gotcha."

Ygraine shrugs slightly. "A lot of it is simply being aware that almost everyone on the street will be oblivious to you, or fail to realize how fast you're going - assuming you've got the confidence to pick up real speed. You'll have passengers opening car doors without checking, pedestrians wandering out into the road while on the 'phone or fiddling with an iPod…. If you're simply doing this to make some cash, you'll probably wind up leaving before too long. To stick at it long-term, you need to either be a masochist, love the challenge and thrill of riding fast through the city, or be training yourself for something."

Or using it to get a better idea of what's coming and going in the city. Ben doesn't mention that, however. "I like biking," Ben admits. "As a kid. This'll be different." More people trying to kill him! He scratches the back of his head again. "I'll have to keep that in mind. That which doesn't kill me makes me stronger or something like that." He offers a faint smile. He's sitting on a couch with Ygraine; they're talking quietly as the hustle and bustle goes on around them.

Ygraine quirks a wry smile of her own. "It's not so dreadful as I might be making it sound - at least, not if you're prepared. This place is good at providing support. But you'll see couriers out there who clearly don't have a clue. Cheap bikes, poor gear…. There are tactics for riding. And things to avoid. Hitching lifts by hanging onto a passing vehicle, for example - that's illegal. People do it a lot, but never do it around cops, let alone to a black and white. They _probably_ won't care, but why take the risk?"

Ben raises one hand a little. "Wait. Hitching rides on passing cars —- good idea, bad idea? It sounds like a bad idea. A really bad idea."

Joining the bustle of the headquarters, is one Brian Fulk. Gliding in on his own bike, the young man hops off of his mount once 'home' and goes to park the thing in a place where it looks like it won't get in the way, or get smashed upon. Dressed in a blue hoodie with a white cap under the hood, Brian makes his way into the rest area. Speaking of couriers who don't have a clue..

Brian plops on the couch next to Ygraine. Whether there is enough space for him or not he simply takes it. He feels comfortable with the Brit, even if she doesn't feel the same way. The man casts a glance to Ben, who is offered a little nod. Letting out a groan the man seems to sink back into the couch, must've been a hard ride.

Ygraine chuckles. "At times, it can be hugely useful. Say, your shades have just been hit by a bit of gravel spat off the road by something in front of you, and you've got a crazy star-pattern over one eye. Grabbing the side of the pickup next to you while you find your balance and clear your vision - great. But you'll see people coasting along, holding onto motor vehicles for a block or more. Generally, that's a sign of someone being lazy, or struggling badly with the pace."

She finishes what she's saying before turning to _look_ at Brian, running her gaze over him and arching a brow. "Fun day, huh?"

Ben nods to Ygraine; he's at least listening to the advice. When Brian plunks down, he offers a bit of an awkward smile at him. "Hi," he greets. "Uh. You look… tired."

"Awesome, awesome, awesome day." Brian murmurs sleepily as he turns his head. "Brian." He offers with a straightforward hand offered to Ben. Once formalities offered he goes back to slouching in the couch. "I'll be fine.. after a year or two, probably."

Ygraine leans back to let the handshake and introduction happen across her, expression one of wry amusement. "And here, of course", she says to Ben, "we have one of our finest examples of dedication to physical fitness, and a master of the arts of the courier." Winking, she looks back to Brian. "How're you settling in, newbie?"

Ben takes Brian's hand to shake. "Ben," he offers. "You're new, too? I just got hired. Today."

Brian's mannerisms at Ygraine's jib are as a child to a parent. His arms fold and his head jerks away from her as if saying 'I'm not gonna do it anymore!' Though he settles and finally answers. "Fine." It would be easier if he wasn't doing several jobs at once. But being a courier gives him a distinct advantage in being very mobile. He has cheated a few times, switching in duplicates when one Brian gets too tired. And so a few of his new co-workers have noted how his clothes change throughout the day sometimes. Odd. Today though, he has yet to cheat.

"Like two weeks, three weeks?" Brian asks as if Ben will know the answer to how long he has been working there.

Ygraine chuckles again, eyeing Brian for a moment as if assessing whether he's going to take umbrage at her comments, before grinning at Ben once more. "Of course, compared to you he's an old vet", she teases gently. "And he can probably provide you with some tips I can't - I was used to cycling a few dozen hours a week before I became a courier, so some aspects of it weren't new to me…"

"You were?" Ben asks Ygraine. "Huh." He squints an eye, curious, but nods at Brian. "Any help would be appreciated."

"Your legs are gonna get sore. Then gonna feel like they're gonna fall off. And." Brian mutters giving a glance at Ygraine. "I didn't believe her when she said this to me, but seriously, people hate us for some reason. It's like all the rage of New York City is taken out on the Bike Couriers. For Cereal." Brian says. He nods to Ben's question for Ygraine. "She's like Lance Armstrong without the testicle." His eyes go a little wide after he realized what he just said, but they calm down quickly. He's a joker, after all.

Ygraine snorts, covering her mouth to try to hide at least some portion of her mirth, shooting Brian a distinctly amused look before grinning at Ben. "Ha-ha. Ahhh, yeah. I competed seriously, until '06. Been training for most of my life. The good news is that many of your clients'll be quite nice. Others'll treat you like scum - but hey, it's New York."

"Right. I'll stock up on muscle cream," Ben says with a faint smile. "Mean people happen at every job, I suppose. That bad with the killing, though, huh?"

"Seriously dude." Brian starts, and people who know him a little better than Ben might be able to detect that the starting of 'seriously' means the forthcoming comment will be anything but serious. "I saw this guy who hates Bike messengers so much, he gets his own bike and just rides around all day finding us and crashing into us. That's all he does with his life. And then he screams 'You know why!!' as he rides off."

Ygraine lifts one brow at Brian, studying him in silence for a few seconds, before darting a glance at Ben.

Ben blinks several times. "…Really?" He might be just slightly gullible. Or very good at faking it. He leans back some. "Does he have a mask? That sounds like the kind of thing to do with a mask. And a cape."

Brian stares agape at Ben. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard." The young man who just reported there was a rogue messenger attacker on the loose says. After staring at Ben for a moment, his features relax and he laughs a bit, a broad grin on his features. "Welcome Ben. That's my dad's name, by the way."

"Yeah… the cape'd get caught in the spokes. Though there _are_ some couriers who go for the mask and goggles in one, as a mask", Ygraine says with a chuckle.

"No capes, dahling," Ben immediately says, and then looks mildly embarrassed, because he just let his geek flag fly. Great. Social acceptance danger.

"Is that.." His face twists a bit. "Is that from that one movie? The super people one?" Brian asks as he peers at Ben intently, trying to figure out why he just said that.

Ygraine lifts a brow, but looks rather lost, herself.

Ben pinches the bridge of his nose and nods. "Yeah. The Incredibles. Good movie. Funny for grown-ups, too."

Another long stare of awkwardness.. — Then, "I love that movie." Brian says with a cheery smile. His eyes go up for a moment as he tries to think of a quote to prove that he loves it.. But nothing comes. "Yeah, I love it. You seen it?" Brian asks as he turns his head to Ygraine, giving her a little nudge with his elbow.

Ygraine chuckles softly, then nudges Brian back - somewhat more firmly. "Once, yes. That'd be a quote from the scary little fashion designer, right?"

"Right," Ben says, a little warily. "Edna Mode. Where is my super-suit? Why do you want to know? I am your wife, I am the greatest 'good' you will ever know? Yes?"

Glancing down to the elbows, Brian lets out a little chuckle once she hits him back, and he returns the favor once again. Not firmer or harder, gently, just a message that he doesn't give up! "I like that movie. I wish I had superpowers like that." No one in the movie could replicate themselves. That makes his power not as cool. Then he opens his mouth to say something but Ben speaks. A little frown. "I was gonna say that one."

Ygraine chuckles softly. "For once, I feel out-geeked", she observes quietly.

"That scene is classic," Ben says, warming up. Enthusiasm! Ygraine's given a bit of an odd look. "You're a geek? How so?"

Oh God. "We're gonna have this talk again." Brian says, his cheer suddenly dissapating from his tone. When Ben asks his question he rolls his eyes as he flops fully back on the couch. A strong desire to change the subject suddenly fills him. "She knows a buncha stuff about Yoda or something." He says in a flat tone, before brightening up with a, "So! Where you from Ben?"

Ygraine looks somewhat surprised by Ben's query, then a little bewildered by Brian's response. "I enjoy science fiction and fantasy, I've got a couple of degrees, I read historical novels…." She shrugs gently, letting her explanation tail off in favour of Brian's interrogation of Ben.

"Degrees in what?" Ben asks, fascinated. He's just let the idea of superheroes and actual powers just roll on by in favour of geekery. Geekery is a safer subject. "Uh, Boston," he adds to Brian. Another pause. "I don't suppose either of you know Em-Ess-Tee-Three-Kay?"

Brian shakes his head at the question. Though he exhales slowly as geekery starts to dominate the conversation. He slumps down in the couch a little bit, falling silent.

Ygraine chuckles. "Never became a fan, I'm afraid", she says apologetically to Ben. "And my degrees? Linguistics, then international relations…"

"Cool," Ben replies, head bobbing. "So that's a no on MSTK3K for both of you, huh? Oh, well." He sounds vaguely disappointed.

His eyes go down to slits as he moves them to the left and then to the right. Is the nerdery gone yet? He starts to raise back up on the couch. Though he doesn't say anything just yet.

Ygraine offers Ben an apologetic shrug. "Sorry. A couple of people have made some attempts to convert me, but I've never really got into it. Maybe some time in the future…"

"Maybe," Ben says, nodding. "Not everyone likes everything and all that. But you lost some geek cred right there."

Silence.. then.. "SO! When do you start, Ben? Any jobs lined up for you?" Brian asks with a broad smile to the other man.

Ygraine finds her reply pre-empted by Brian's query. With another smile at Ben, she falls silent, to let him deal with the questions put to him.

Ben clears his throat gently and shifts in his seat on the couch. "Not quite yet," he tells Brian. "Just, uh, talk to Ygraine here about the job some. I think I'm supposed to shadow someone for a while."

Shadow! Is he being shadowed! He does… shady.. stuff! He can't be shadowed! A pause. "Who?" Brian asks quickly, jerking his head over to Ygraine as if she will help in this predicament.

Ygraine chuckles, and raises her hands. "Not me. I'm still off on medical leave for a while yet. Only just back into doing some light training work. We should be able to find someone who's not _too_ vicious to newcomers for Ben to tag along with for a day."

Ben cranes his neck, peering about the room. "I think the guy with the dreadlocks. I can't pronounce his name. He might've left already." Pause. "Yeah, I think he did leave. So now I'm not sure."

Frownieface. That increases Brian's chances of being said spirit guide. He gives a sidelong glance at Ygraine, as if he was going to say something, but nothing is said. For now he remains silent.

Ygraine purses her lips, then shrugs pensively. "Hmmmm. We can probably borrow someone to break you in a little, this evening. Even if it's just doing some local mail runs. The postal service deliver to use and other stable businesses, as well as some of the more secure bits of the surrounding area. But Chelsea as a whole's a bit… dodgy as far as post is concerned. So one of the sidelines of Alley Cat is in mail runs. People can pay to have us take their mail for them, and we either let them know it's arrived, or run it out to them. Short, local trips in an area with little traffic."

"Yeah?" Ben asks, blinking. "You sure? You're still on leave, aren't you? I'd appreciate the help, yeah."

Ygraine laughs, raising her hands. "Woah. Not me. Though… I suppose I could head 'round on the bike. Motorcycle, that is. I'm not going to suit up in lycra and head out onto the streets for a while yet, I'm afraid…"

Ben nods to them both. "Aha. Gotcha. Well, I'm sure they'll pair me with someone soon. Unless they've forgotten about me." He cranes his neck again, this time to look for the manager.

"Maybe you should go ask." Brian suggest, poking a little finger towards the manager or at leas the managerial station. "Safer that way." A littl shrug.

Ygraine cracks a grin. "They probably think that you're receiving vital pearls of wisdom from your more experienced colleagues. But if you want to head out now, let them know."

"I probably should," Ben says, hauling himself up off the couch with a faint wince. He does look like he got knocked around some, after all. "No sense slacking on my first day. Take care, you two."

As soon as Ben gets up, Brian jerks his body around to face Ygraine fully. "Hey. I wanted to talk to you." He says, with a little smile.

"Take care of yourself", Ygraine calls to Ben, somewhat worried by his evident discomfort. Brian, however, grabs her attention. "You did?", she asks in surprise.

November 18th: Display

Previously in this storyline…

Next in this storyline…

November 18th: Of Footlongs and Terrorists
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