Description: A dangerous darkstalker is on the loose within Southtown, and First Lieutenant Yao of the NOL's Shanghai branch has been deployed to track him down. But first, she's been scheduled for a meeting with the Japanese Commanding Officer. Some truths are a bitter pill to swallow.
There was a small commotion when Lieutenant Yao first strode into the Librarium's Command Center. Eyes turned towards her. Shoulders were tapped. Fingers were pointed in failed attempts at discreetness. Murmurs were started.
Meifeng continued to walk from the front door with a sense of purpose. She knew where she needed to go -- first and foremost, the front desk. And she had no reason to dawdle or ask questions.
But that didn't stop her ears from twitching at the conversations that were meant to be quiet. The tigress' senses are sharp; her sense of discretion, perhaps moreso.
She stops by the front desk. A pair of yellow tinted lenses hangs from one of the clasps of her cloak, swinging slightly. She holds up an ID card with both hands, before sliding it across the desk for examination.
"Lieutenant Yao Meifeng of the Shanghai branch. I have a 1500 appointment with Colonel Mutsuki." The tigress smiles faintly, bowing at the waist, knowing the importance of politeness in making a good first impression.
The time is currently 1458.
Gossiping kicks into overdrive. And Meifeng is really good at not paying it any mind.
She continues, to the desk officer, "You have such a beautiful branch here. All the lovely trees!"
The desk officer blankly stares at Meifeng for the briefest of moments, before turning his gaze to the screen before him. "Uh, yes. One moment." There's a brief few clicks on the keyboard before him only to return his gaze to the Tiger Woman. A brief glance is given towards the ID card, before once more looking at the screen before him.
"Lieutenant Yao Meifeng. Colonel Mutsuki is expecting you." The desk officer turns around for the briefest of moments, only to grimace as he turns back around, sighing loudly as he slides the ID card back towards the woman. "Good luck Lieutenant. I'd suggest you not keep him waiting. Down the hall, the large door at the end of the hallway. You can't miss it. Trust me, you'll know you're there when you reach it. Today is paperwork day...."
There's a slight snicker from passerbys who hear that comment, as most of the Southtown branch fully understand just what that means. Especially as the slightly acrid scent of burning paper starts to flow down the hall.
Meifeng waits patiently while the desk officer confirms her identity, and she is quick to tuck the ID card back into the small sleeve in her half-cloak. Though, one ear quirks at the notion of... luck. Her jaw hangs open for a moment -- only to hear even more casual disrespect -- and is that -condescension?- -- for the Colonel.
The lieutenant bristles, closing her mouth and standing up stock upright, her tail swishing back and forth with urgency. The -urge- to say something is strong, despite being out of her element.
And then her nose twitches. Confirming what the local officers and staff already know to be the case.
She swallows her pride, chirping out in good cheer. "Understood. Thank you very much!" She places a hand on her shoulder bag, and begins a fast trot towards the Colonel's office. Good luck, indeed?!
Moments later, there is quick rap of knuckles upon the entrance to Colonel Mutsuki's office. And the tigress holds up very well under the assault on her incredibly sensitive nose, setting her jaw and keeping her eyes narrowed so as to keep them from watering excessively. She snaps a quick salute, standing at attention while waiting for her invitation.
Her voice shows... some duress. Her tail hangs lower than usual, swinging back and forth with trepidation.
"Lieutenant Yao Meifeng of the Shanghai branch, reporting in!"
There is no invitation to enter, but yet as the Lieutenant knocks on the entrance, the scene before her is one that harkens to some dystopian novel. Dancing around the desk, the illustrious leader of the Japanese branch of the Novus Orbis Librarium is tossing even more papers into what looks to be a burning wastebasket in the center of the desk.
"Hibiki, you absolute monster! When I get my hands on you, there will be no stopping me this time! Oh, you think that it's funny to triple my work load just because I had a casual dinner with someone?! THERE IS NO WAY THIS MANY REQUESTS HAVE COME IN HIBIKI? WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME?!"
The ranting, and casual tossing of papers into the burning wastebasket continues for the briefest of moments, as he finally notices the newcomer at his office entrance. A full minute passes before Kagura casually runs his right hand through his hair, and then reaches forward, grabbing the burning wastebasket, and setting it next to his desk as if this were not anything new. Reaching down, he places a lid over the burning basket, instantly cutting off the smoke and flames, leaving his office smelling of burning paper.
"You must be Lieutenant Yao Meifeng. I'm sorry you had to see that, the start of a new month always means extra paperwork to file, and my sorting process is a bit unorthodox."
Meifeng stares in abject horror at the scene unfolding. If Hibiki -has- done what the Colonel accuses him of, then it's rank insubordination. But if he hasn't, then perhaps the Colonel is just a horribly disorganized mess. Either way, Shanghai runs a -much- tighter ship than this. From what she's seen of it, if the Southtown office -were- a ship, it would have sunk within a klick of leaving drydock.
Suffice to say, her concerns about wearing her fashionable eyeglasses indoors are, well, moot. She takes the time to pluck them off her cloak, tuck them onto her nose, and adjust the fit. At least with the glasses in place, her eyes won't be drying out as quickly.
She stares back at Kagura, remaining at full attention. She might be confused for a statue, if it weren't for the frequent blinking she's having to do to keep her eyes clear of ash.
He's sorry she had to -see- that? The lieutenant's ears perk up at the apology. Her tail resumes a lazy side-to-side swish. "Sir, yes sir." she chirps back. She speaks in crisp, formal Japanese -- though it's clear she has a slight Mandarin accent. "That is understandable, sir."
She steps inside, her feline gait slender and elegant. She pulls open the shoulder bag at her side, withdrawing a set of orders. "Colonel Mutsuki, thank you for receiving my presence today. As you know, I am here on detachment in search of a target of interest by the name of Gao Tengfei. I..." She wrinkles her nose; the smoke is still bothering her, apparently.
"Please forgive me, sir. Gao Tengfei is currently rated as a 'Class D' target, however my superiors have reason to believe his classification may be in need of an upgrade. And he is, unfortunately, within your jurisdiction, Colonel."
Her lips press together. It could be considered a smile. But she had heard that the Japanese... frown on smiling in official matters.
Her nose twitches again. She barely gets her sleeve in front of her mouth before a sneeze erupts.
"Ex-excuse me, sir."
It doesn't take long for the smoke and smell of burning paper to clear from the office. Apparently the NOL have spared absolutely no expense with the air filtration at least for the Mutsuki scion's office. Yet, while Meifeng may get the impression that the Japanese branch for the Librarium is rather disorganized, what Kagura does next is a complete one-eighty from the scene just moments before.
Sitting down now at his desk, he slides open a drawer, and retrieves a folder marked 'URGENT' upon it. Taking a few moments now to review the contents, the Colonel motions for the woman before him to sit. Without skipping a beat, and in precise Mandarin, Kagura slowly starts to read aloud from the file.
"Gao Tengfei. Wanted for suspected Darkstalker associations, as well as suspected to be an unregistered Darkstalker. Currently wanted for assault of a Novus Orbis Librarium officer, and even went as far to take their Ars Magus..."
If Meifeng were to look closely at the file, it looks to be the original file from Shanghai itself, as it's completely in Mandarin, instead of the common english like most filed reports tend to be. The Colonel softly mutters to himself as he continues to read through the papers, flipping through them. Once he decides to speak, he continues to speak in Mandarin, seemingly taking it easy on the officer before him.
"Something like this would warrant being assigned at least a B ranking. Especially as there is very little else to go on."
Raising his gaze now back up to Meifeng, Kagura smiles warmly at the Lieutenant. While the Japanese may frown upon smiling in official duties, Kagura does not. Those who truly know him know just how little he honestly cares for the pompus puffing up it all seems to come with.
Meifeng's nose wrinkles once more -- though, yes, it doesn't take her long to notice that the air is much more breathable now. She bows her head in silent thanks to no one in particular.
She's still looking forward to a shower. And laundering her uniform. Because that scent just won't die otherwise.
She remains standing and alert until she's told to sit. And even then, as she rests her shoulder bag upon her lap, and folds her slender hands upon that, it becomes clear that her posture is... rigid. Formal.
The tigress' eyes widen, though, as she hears Kagura speak in Mandarin. Her mouth parts, as if she's about to pass comment on that, but as far as she's seen, Kagura has gotten down to Business(tm), and it would behoove her to remain formal until told otherwise.
Especially as he's gone to such lengths to accomodate her.
"The Shanghai office agrees with you," she responds in Mandarin. "And has sent me here, as my knowledge of the suspect and his methods may prove useful."
Kagura smiles. And Meifang... lets herself smile a slight degree more.
"Pardon me for saying so, sir, but your Mandarin is flawless. Truly, you are one to live up to your shining reputation."
The lieutenant's tail curls up, its fluffy tip daring to peek over the top of her lap, before languidly dipping back below. She wrinkles her nose again, but this time, does not sneeze. "... I was requested to ask for your assistance. The target has peculiar tastes, so we should be able to find him based on restaurants and on his interest in underground fighting. Would you have any personnel in mind who could aid me in narrowing the search?"
"I also speak Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, English, French, Porteguese, and German. My Spanish is rather rusty." Kagura's reply may be impressive, but there is no sense of pride behind it. It's pretty much something that has been expected of him. His gaze returns to the folder before him as he now takes his time flipping through the pages. Eventually however, he reaches a page that is entirely in english, including the original request for Classification Upgrade.
Sliding away from his desk, Kagura opens the middle most drawer, and pulls out a pen, and a rather unique looking stamp case. Sliding forward once more, he starts writing with the pen, filling out the empty blocks with the new information discovered. As he reaches the bottom, he signs his name in English.
When he opens the stamp case, a faint scent of lavender rises forth as it's obvious he's using a special ink to prevent forgeries of his families crest, which he then stamps upon the paper. Placing the stamper back in its case, he returns the pen and stamp case to his desk.
"Excuse me a moment."
Rising now from his desk, he takes the folder with him, moving out of his office and back down the hall. It doesn't take long for him to return to the office, and sit back down at his desk. "As for providing you with man power..." The Colonel takes a few moments to consider this, only to smile endearingly towards the young lieutenant. "I'll be more than pleased to aid you myself with this mission, so long as afterwards you wouldn't object to having dinner with me."
Meifeng's eyes open so wide that her glasses slip down a centimeter. Both her hands snap to the sides of the frames, elevating them back up to their proper place.
"That is -amazing-," she states, clearly impressed, despite his apparent humility. "Truly, it speaks well of your attention to detail!" Much like the air circulation system installed to... take care of a routine paperwork process.
The lieutenant continues to sit patiently, aside from that momentary lapse, keeping her hands folded upon her shoulderbag as Kagura fills out paperwork. She seems... pleased that the Colonel turned out to be a quite respectable person, despite initial appearances to the contrary. And she seems even more pleased when the scent of lavender wafts past her sensitive nose, causing her to dip her chin -- and smile. She seems like she's just about to make a comment on that, when the Colonel rises. Meifeng nods as Kagura excuses himself.
... She's got her mobile phone out when he returns though. And as he enters the room again, her ears fold back sharply; chastened, she swipes her thumb across the screen, dismissing the dialog, and slides the device back into her shoulderbag.
She keeps her chin lowered as Kagura seats himself back at his desk, offering a half-smile in keeping with their earlier exchange. Which means she's half-smiling when he turns his own charming smile on full blast.
Meifeng was not ready for an invitation of -that- caliber, if her petrified, caught-in-the-headlights look is any indication.
"C-Colonel," she stammers, after a good five seconds trying to summon the courage to speak. "S-surely, I... a-appreciate any help you can offer me--" Flustered, she turns the words over in her mind. And she meshes the new suggestion together with what she knows of the Colonel.
Clearing her throat, she shakes her head, dispelling the previous thought. "I -do- appreciate the help, sir." She pauses, once more, to re-seat the glasses upon her nose. And she offers a more relaxed smile. "And it would be good to share dinner with a local."
Her hands settle once more upon her shoulderbag. Though her thumbs are fidgeting. And her tail is -not-.
"Think nothing of it Lieutenant Yao. I generally don't have the chance to go out on excursions such as this very often, and it will allow me to see what some of Shanghai's up and comers has to offer the Novus Orbus Librarium."
The words themselves are true enough, yet as is always the case with the Mutsuki scion, they remain open to interpretation. With the persona he has built within the Librarium, it's quite easy for him to easily deduce which interpretation young Meifeng has possibly garnered, so he easily presses on with it.
"I can promise you this. No matter how long this mission takes, I'll remain available for you to rely on. Day or night." Reaching into his own coat, he pulls out a small card which he then slides forward on the desk. "This is my personal number, as well as my private address here in Southtown. Feel free to use them however you want."
The endearing smile slowly changes to one of his most charming, yet flattering, smiles he's physically capable of delivering. Even the likes of Izanami herself has difficulties dealing with it.
"Now. Why don't you brief me further on the target. There is a good chance I'll know of a few places to start, or some people to point you towards to speak with."
The more the Colonel speaks, the more Meifeng is able to truly relax and see what he's about. Her ears slowly lift to their normal position, her tail slinking back into a more casual sweep from side to side. Perhaps he is pressing for a nice dinner out, and that -might- be unprofessional back where she's from, but... he is nonetheless proposing to offer information that might be more difficult coming from other Southtown branch staff. She doesn't know -- and at the moment, the best source for such information is seated across the desk from her.
"I am glad that my request comes during a moment of your availability. You must be terribly busy with all that's happened here. I... read Lieutenant Shimotsuki's reports, it sounded quite intense."
Meifeng does, however, bite her lower lip as Kagura offers a more personal invitation to bother him at any time. This is... highly irregular. She accepts the card with both hands, bowing her head in thanks. "I... will keep this treasured information safe, sir." She offers her full smile for a moment.
And, thankfully -- he's gone back to business mode -- which puts Meifeng -much- more at ease. She breathes a sigh of relief. "Yes, right away." The tigress withdraws a folder from her shoulderbag, flipping through its contents quickly. "First off, physical features resemble those of a bat. Gao is sensitive to light and excels in avoiding us through the shadows. Loud noises bother him, yet our agents have had the most success seeking him out within bars and nightclubs with a rather distinct presence. Particularly those part of the 'trap' and 'drum and bass' variety of music."
She flips to another sheet of paper, squinting through her glasses. "One operative reported that he also enjoys quiet restaurants. Ones out of the way, ones people will not be likely to find him. However this operative did not report success in predicting his locations, only in documenting near misses."
Meifeng sets the papers down, folding her slender fingers atop them. "And... his primary source of income is underground fighting tournaments. I predict he will seek to establish a local reputation as an underdog, build 'clout' as a perennial loser while scouting the opposition, and then cash out with an upset victory."
She lets out a light sigh. "So we may have our work cut out for us, if all leads were to be pursued."
This is actually something the Mutsuki scion is completely unaware existed. Of course, he knows all about EDM and Eurobeat, and in a place like Southtown, there's a good number of underground clubs that cater to the high bass and drum scene. Yet, Trap music?
The Colonel takes a few moments to pull out a small tablet from his left desk drawer, tapping the screen a few times. Even as he learns about this new style of music that's eluded him, he's still just as confused by it as before. "There's a good number of underground clubs here in Southtown that by music alone would fit this profile. There's even more that host fight nights. As a matter of fact..."
Kagura swipes at the screen, and brings up a small map of Southtown. Enlarging it, he focuses in on the Chinatown district and then moves over towards the industrial district. "I believe that deploying some undercover officers to these locations to get a better feel for things while working on a list of possible informants who would be willing to do /me/ a favor, and not the Librarium... Yeah. That would net some better results in seeing this case get closed in a faster matter. Not everyone, especially Darkstalkers, are willing to do any favors for the Librarium."
"Yes, trap music." Meifeng responds with an almost clinical air about her, helped by her need to reach up and adjust her tinted lenses. "I don't really listen to it, myself, but I coul say I know it when I hear it?" Her ears fold down, partway, echoing the thought.
The lieutenant opts to let Kagura find out the story for himself, her hands falling back to rest upon her shoulderbag. Even if, well, he doesn't seem to be too enlightened by that. It's only when Kagura pulls up the map of Southtown that she shimmies her chair further, craning her neck so that she can get a better look.
"... Oh. The Librarium is not well-received here?" she asks, matter-of-factly. "... Excuse me, I am... unfamiliar with the local rules, but would it be inappropriate for me to dress down, in an undercover fashion, while on duty?"
She thinks on that for a moment, and then recalls the undercurrent of gossip that occurred upon her arrival to the headquarters. Her tail sweeps back and forth, close to the floor. "... I suppose I should also ask how well demi-humans such as myself are received here. Can you foresee any complications?"
"It's a rather... touchy subject. Within Japan as a whole, our presence is merely tolerated. Ikuraga, Mount Fuji.. There have been multiple disasters that have been connected to us so, suffice it to say, the actual stance is one of mutual.. tolerance."
As Kagura explains the current state of the NOL forces within Japan, it may actually strike a definete counterstance with what the Main Headquarters puts out.
"We're not as loved as everyone seems to think we are. It also doesn't help that the Demi-Humans and Darkstalkers alike have extreme distrust of us due to the fact that as a whole, they've all been branded as vicious blood sucking monsters that must be branded or put down. Which is a stance I heavily disagree with. There's already factions within the Japanese branch who actively work to countermand my orders to only apprehend if we have proof of wrong doing."
The Colonel lowers his head and places it on his desk, clasping both hands now behind his neck. It's obvious that he's had plenty of practice doing this, and it's even more obvious that he'll keep getting more practice as well.
"Dressing down is actually a good idea, however, keep your badge and ID with you at all times. Especially since you're a new face here. If /anyone/ tries to detain you, or question you in any way.. You're to tell them that you report directly to Captain Kohaku or myself and you will reveal no further information about your mission until they have done so."
Meifeng sits back in her seat, though she adopts a more neutral expression as the colonel explains how the NOL fits in with Japan. "... I see." Her ears pop up so that she can listen to the full breadth of the report -- the subtleties of human voice that illuminate thoughts merely suggested by the words.
Her nose wrinkles when Kagura paints the picture of a people terrified by those like her. Even the ones who are honestly and ardently working on their behalf. She's frustrated not with the Colonel, but with the situation itself.
And then he... puts his head on the table. Which is a sign that she needs to examine his words a little more carefully. Meifeng considers that for a moment -- but decides to table the thought for the moment.
"Understood. I will do my best to play the part. The information-gathering phase of the mission is paramount for now." She nods quietly in affirmation. "I am very glad to have your support, Colonel."
Though, she then clasps her hands together, bowing her head. "... If I may, though, a question?"
She draws in her breath, her ears folding down in obeisance. "Is insubordination not punishable here? It was my understanding that Japanese culture is rigorous and disciplined, and yet I am seeing you treated most rudely, perhaps even with casual disrespect. When you so... -clearly- deserve to be treated better, in my opinion." She looks down at the table, adding, "Sir."
"It's not insubordination when that's the official line. Darkstalkers, Demi-Humans, anything that does not fit within the normal status quo of humanity is officially the enemy. The Novus Orbis Librarium exists to protect /humanity/. No matter what Lieutenant Yao, that is the /primary/ purpose of the Librarium. Do not /ever/ forget that."
The words leave Kagura's mouth with far more bitterness and loathing then anything he's shown so far. There are times where even he struggles to keep up the act, and unfortunately, the young transferee is getting a real peak at the man behind the curtain.
"That said, I will never outright speak ill of any who serve under me. Every single man and woman, be they human, Darkstalker, Demi-Human, Tentacle Beast from Dimension Y... They are the best there are, and when push comes to shove, they will prove that to anyone who comes trying to say otherwise."
The Mutsuki scion slowly raises his head, his eyes burning with an intensity that seldom ever is shown. The tales of Kagura Mutsuki are that of a lazy yet effective man who has no real drive or ambition, and just uses his station as the Head of the Duodecim to coast along. By all rights, he should be one of the Three Admirals, yet....
"There is a lot more for you to learn, and by being here.. I'm certain you'll come out a far better officer because of it."
Meifeng's tail stops sweeping, her ears sweeping directly towards the sound of Kagura's voice. Her pupils narrow to slits. Fur rises, on the back of her neck. And yet, her facial features do not change in the slightest as she listens. The words challenge her very existence -- she, who is called a "darkstalker" by some, a "demi-human" by others, working as a vehicle for the very organization sworn to defend humanity.
"I understand, sir." Her voice betrays a slight tremor.
The temptation is strong to ask Kagura what -he- thinks. But he's shown it, in how he makes a distinction from the party line, and what he actually -thinks- of... people like her.
She may be keeping her expression calm, even as she flattens her hands once more upon the shoulderbag upon her lap. But her heart is still racing fast, and it shows, in the stacatto breaths that escape as she expels a sigh, forcing calm upon herself.
"... Thank you, sir." Kagura's relation of the official nature of the NOL troubles her -- but he didn't have to add the last part. And he did -- which she clearly appreciates, slitted pupils widening somewhat as he speaks.
Her nature, though, exhibits itself in other ways -- as she rises to her feet. Only then does her tail - a necessary component for her balance -- swish into motion once more.
The shoulderbag is pressed firmly into her right side. She bows, at the waist. "I am eager to get started, Colonel -- if I may?"
"It was a pleasure to finally meet you Lieutenant Yao. Remember, if there is anything you need, do not hesitate to call upon me. Do let me know when you're free for us to have dinner." The Colonel rises from his desk, and moves to stand infront of the far younger woman. Casually, he extends his right hand to her, not in a salute, but in the obvious gesture of a hand shake. By all means, he will defy everything he can, in his own little ways.
Even if she refuses the gesture, she will be sent off with a warm and honest smile from the Japanese Commanding Officer of the Novus Orbis Librarium. Once the young officer is gone however, Kagura will make his way back to his desk.
A few moments pass as the Mutsuki scion glances about suspiciously, ensuring that no one is watching, and reaches between his legs under the desk, and retrieves a party size bottle of tequila. With a deft flick of his hand, the cap is easily twisted off, and the bottle nimbly brought to his lips. It doesn't take long for him to have a nice little dent made in the bottle.
"Yep. Today is really a Jose kind of day..."
Log created on 21:12:43 05/03/2021 by Meifeng, and last modified on 12:31:28 05/07/2021.