[Chapter 3] Arizona Skies

The story of magic in North America.
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Straken
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[Chapter 3] Arizona Skies

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Lovell sat in his truck. More specifically he had been sitting in his truck for some time now. Approximately thirty minutes, give or take. It was a chilly April afternoon, but the sun kept the cab of the truck at a comfortable temperature. Looking out the window towards Lake Superior, he grumbled about the chunks of ice still clinging to the shoreline. It had almost finished melting away the week before, but a snowstorm had blown in over the weekend; postponing the melt as well as dumping an unwelcome ten extra inches of snow onto the North Star state. The snow had melted down to a couple of inches left at this point, with a few large drifts left in shaded nooks of the small town that were mostly sand and torn up asphalt by this point. Springtime in Minnesota.

“Gotta love it,” growled Lovell. With a sigh he sat back in the driver’s seat and left his head bounce off of the headrest. He was dwelling, he knew he was dwelling, and had called himself out on dwelling a number of times already. He hated dwelling. He reached for the door handle, but withdrew for probably the eighth time.

“No,” he said, practically biting the air as he did. He reached for the handle for the ninth time. This time a satisfying clunk sounded as he swung open the door of the old Chevrolet. He had parked in one of the small parking lots on the inland side of Highway 61, and growled anew. This time it was as he looked across the road. A number of the properties along the shoreline had been bought out last season, and with the arrival of Spring construction was starting on a string of high end lakeside homes. Prime real estate once owned by the mom and pop shops were being turned into cookie cutter vacation homes for rich folk who wouldn’t even be in the town most of the year. They even were planning to install a private tennis court where the old bait shop was. Hell, even the best, or rather only, diner in town had been bought out and turned into some pretentious restaurant; the kind that has grill spelled with an e. Thankfully Hacksaw Sporting Goods wasn’t along the shore, so the young werewolf still had a place to sell the game he caught.

Complaining about encroaching civilization was not the point of his trip into town today, however. Shoving his keys into his jacket pocket, Lovell began to walk up the hill to the streets where most of the normalish people in Tofte lived. He could have parked closer, but he liked the walk; and he didn’t necessarily want to have been seen sitting in his truck brooding. A short while later he arrived at a quaint little house at the top of the hill that was nestled into the trees. A handcrafted sign by the mailbox read “Vaughan”. Quelling a sigh and refusing to slow down as it would suggest hesitation to anyone that might be watching him, he walked up to the door and knocked.
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Kai
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Re: [Chapter 3] Arizona Skies

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As soon as Lovell knocked, there was a sudden scuffling sound followed by a sudden thud, followed by yet more scuffling sounds and then what sounded like a large, heavy object being dragged across a wooden surface. Next was what sounded like a set of doors being hastily slammed, then a few more thuds followed by the click of a door latching. Finally, the soft padding of tennis shoes on that same wooden surface could be heard, coming up to the door. Lovell would hear some chittering going on from behind the door, with hushed whispers in what sounded like Gaelic followed by a tiny thud and the pitter patter of tiny feet moving away from the door.

The wooden door finally opened, revealing a thin redhead in jeans and a T-shirt promoting some obscure Canadian punk band, wearing a pair of well-worn all-stars and a somewhat confused look on her face. "Can I help you, Lovell?" she asked, not certain why he was here, although not surprised as the two often helped one another with this or that. It was a bit of a partnership that had often worked out for the pair, although the last couple years hadn't been quite as 'adventurous' as a few encounters from their early days of working together. The last thing he had helped her with was, of course, finally moving out of her mum's house, and into her own space here a little closer to town, but still a bit out of the way.
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Straken
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Re: [Chapter 3] Arizona Skies

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Lovell seemed to growl a bit, but Keelin would recognize it as one of Lovell's tics that he does when he's thinking. To punctuate this, he reached up and scratched the short beard he wore. "Uh, hey Keelin. Sorry about just dropping by. Dad wanted me to see if you'd be interested in joining us on a road trip. It's for a training mission, and I guess there will be some druids involved since they contacted him to help tracking something. He asked if he could bring us along with for experience," Lovell seemed to be relieved to have finally said the invitation as he stood up a bit straighter after the fact.
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Re: [Chapter 3] Arizona Skies

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Keelin grinned a bit at Lovell; partially due to his awkwardness, but also at the prospect of getting out of Tofte. While they did often go out into the forest and surrounding areas, Keelin had honestly been cooped up for too long and the idea of a 'road trip' sounded nice.
"Where to? And when?" she asked, standing straighter herself and stretching a bit, having been laying on the couch- her only real piece of furniture so far- just before Lovell had arrived. "I can't say I've had much to do lately, with all the new construction nature- especially the magical variety- has been moving farther from town, so it's been quiet."

"Down around Arizona, by the sounds of it," Lovell said back. "It'd be later next week, and obviously it'll be a bit of a trip; so if you can't make it that's alright." The Canadian shifted a bit on his feet. While he had gotten passed his earlier hesitation, it didn't seem to have gone unnoticed which just served to agitate him a bit more.


"Well, since I'm living on my own now, it shouldn't be an issue. Just gotta lock up and ward the house. Arizona sounds good. Later next week gives me plenty of time to prepare!" It wasn't hard to note the rising excitement in Keelin's voice, although she tried to downplay her body language. Still, her tennis-shoed feet rocked back and forth a bit.

"You said there would be other druids there? I haven't really met any other druids since..." She got a bit quieter, remembering when her father had passed, but seemed to bounce back quickly, continuing on "Well, anyway, that'd help me a lot more than just my tome and the few books I've found. Druids haven't exactly embraced the internet as a group yet, so it's hard online... Anyway, yes! What sort of plans have been made so far?" she asked.

Lovell looked a little startled by Keelin's excitement as he subconsciously leaned back slightly. Looking off to the side of the house, he considered the question. "Well, plan as is would be to fly out next week in the De Havilland, stop halfway to rest up, and make the last leg early the next day. From there, make contact with the druids, and help them find whatever it is they are looking for. It might end up taking a few days, so we'll be nabbing a few rooms at a motel. Should be time before and after for you to chat and pick their brains."

"Oooh a Sky-trip, eh?" Keelin commented, well aware of her own private pilot's license and figuring that that factored into the decision to ask her along for the trip. "That sounds great. I'm not sure if I'll be a ton of help tracking something in Arizona, but, learning will definitely happen on my end." Keelin paused at that thinking back on some documentaries she had seen about Arizona, and how, despite not being especially forested, she reckoned it was home to even more magical creatures than Northern Minnesota.

"Great," Lovell said, his tone sounded flat and not very genuine. Lovell would have preferred to drive, but per his father's insistence they would fly if Keelin joined as a copilot. The low growl returned. "That's absolutely perfect. Meet at the airfield next Friday around eight. Oh! And tell your mom; I don't want her getting mad at me me and dad about this."

Keelin could tell that Lovell was entirely less than enthused about all this, but, that just made her keep smiling. why was it that he seemed to be less than excited about flying? she did not know, but would probably find out next Friday.

"Eight AM or PM? as much fun as night flying might be, I doubt I'd be up for a cross country trip that late..." she joked, knowing full well that Lovell meant in the morning. "And don't worry about my mom, I'll let her know. it's not like there's much she can do, and she'll worry anyway."

"As the saying goes, You can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning," the wolfman said with a sigh, but the next bit was just under his breath, "Shame this isn't Canada so that could be an option."

Scratching the back of his head, Lovell looked around at the small house. He wasn't sure what else there was too say, so he kept quiet for a few long beats before turning on his heel and walking back towards the street. "House is looking good."

"Thanks," Keelin responded to the compliment. "You should drop by for a proper visit after the trip, maybe?" she suggested to the young man's retreating form. "It can get a bit lonely..." she said, though this last bit was kept in a hushed tone to herself rather than aloud, even if Lovell's excellent hearing probably caught at least some of it. Since Lovell had begun working more and Keelin was busy with school, her part time job and her other side ventures, on top of trying to be 'The druid' for this region, it had been hard for the two of them to keep in regular contact, anyway. This trip would be good. Keelin could feel it.

Lovell kept walking but raised a parting hand in a relaxed wave goodbye. "I'll see about it. Hank's Hardware isn't too far," he called back without turning, as he didn't want to risk a blush. He made his way back down the hill and decided to stop in and loiter at the hardware store even though he wasn't working today. Looking at tools was just an easy way to clear his head.
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Re: [Chapter 3] Arizona Skies

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The following Friday, Lovell had been at the small airfield outside of town since before dawn to help his dad get the plane prepped for the cross country flight. Unlike Keelin, Lovell still lived with his father. It was a rent free deal so long as he continued to help with the house and the hunting, and giving Lovell the opportunity to dump all of his income into a savings account. Some of that savings he had been strong armed into sinking into commodities for the trip. Snacks and drinks for the trip, as well as covering his and Keelin's food during while down in Arizona; per his dad's insistence. He had loaded up the plane while Papa Bergman double checked the plane systems and handled the remaining preflight checks. While he had been fine early on, the sun rising over Superior started to get his heart racing, and he was feeling warm despite the brisk morning air. The sun was above the horizon, and the time was approaching eight. In the back of Lovell's mind he found himself hoping Keelin decided she wanted to back out of the trip.
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Re: [Chapter 3] Arizona Skies

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Unfortunately for Lovell, the curly redheaded young druid had in fact not had a change of heart and showed up dutifully right on time. She carried a stuffed duffel over one shoulder, was wearing an A1 bomber jacket (Vintage, of course), and had an equally vintage pilot's headset clipped on her opposite shoulder, the spiral cord tucked into one of the jacket's pockets. Her pale, freckled face was partially hidden behind a pair of silver aviators with gold reflective lenses, but otherwise, she was wearing her signature band t-shirt, rough blue jeans, and bright red all-stars.

As she approached closer, the young woman placed a hand on the DeHavilland Beaver's propellor, giving an awed whistle as she noted the fact that Papa Bergman's plane had been heavily modified with a turboprop engine instead of the standard rotary piston engine that these planes had come with from the factory. Likewise, she noted that the floats the plane usually sported had been removed and were stowed in the hangar, a set of wheels having taken their place.

"I see you've been busy this year!" Keelin called out to the pair, waving to them and coming closer so that she could talk without shouting. "Where'd you get the turboprop kit? It must've been a lot of work to install."
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Re: [Chapter 3] Arizona Skies

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"It's good for an old man to keep some kind of hobby," replied a rough voice. A panel closed with a metallic thunk, and Henry Bergman stepped back from the plane to give Keelin an amiable wave. "As for where, I still have some contacts that helped me get a good deal. Glad you could make it Keelin. Toss your bag to the pup and I'll go over the controls with you. Lovell, on your feet, and the both of you take care of anything that needs taking care of; once we take off it'll be a while before we land again."

Lovell meanwhile gave Keelin a stiff smile as he moved to intercept her. "Morning," he said as he took her bag. While he was dreading the flight, he was also looking forward to Keelin coming along; the magic related outings were pretty exciting, he had to admit. "Sorry if dad talks your ear off."
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Re: [Chapter 3] Arizona Skies

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When Lovell took Keelin's bag, the redhead smiled at the gruff teenager and responded "No problem, I love this kind of stuff anyway, it's a nice departure from my 'day job' you know?" While Lovell was off guard, however, she suddenly leaned in and gave him a peck on the cheek, before making her way quickly over to Henry and giving him a hug and a peck on the cheek as well, as a greeting of course. "Next time you need any help with your hobby I'd be happy to help. This thing's way nicer than Ma's Aeronca," she complimented the elder Bergman, climbing inside and taking a look at the controls so she could try to figure out the difference compared to what she was used to, as well as locating the plugin for her headset so she could figure out which adapter she might need to hook up. "There's only one Yoke in here, are we supposed to swap seats for a pilot change?" the young druid asked.
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Re: [Chapter 3] Arizona Skies

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Lovell froze in place as Keelin made her way passed him. With his back to the two, his face visibly shifted as he actively considered what had just happened. It wasn't a terribly uncommon greeting, but it wasn't typical to the Midwest states; not to mention Keelin never greeted him that way before. Hearing Keelin and his dad enter the plane, the younger Bergman turned mechanically on his heel and set about loading the duffle.

Henry smirked as he watched the kids, diverting his attention smoothly back double checking the panels before making his way to the pilot seat. Climbing with practiced ease, he settled into the seat next to Keelin. "Nothing quite that inconvenient," Henry replied his a rumbling chuckle before demonstrating how to adjust the yoke. "Simple as that, and the controls are yours."

Lovell climbed inside as his dad ran through some of the other key differences. Securing Keelin's bag, he double checked everything in the back that he was responsible for as a way to refocus himself. Content that everything was in its place he slumped down into his seat and rested his head against the back. His anxiety was starting to surface again. His dad knew the problem he had, but he wanted to avoid Keelin finding out. Screwing his eyes shut, he crossed his arms and waited for the announcement that they were going to be taking off.
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