Meifeng - Swiss Cheese Buildings

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Description: A teenage criminal has gotten his hands on a magical artifact he doesn't quite understand -- property damage ensues! NOL officers Yao and Terada are trying to get the situation under control, but they've got their hands full! Luckily, a nurse happens to be available to lend a helping hand!

"I know you are scared!"

The tigress' calm, controlled voice is somewhat at odds with the thundering of a bullhorn, and yet her sincerity still manages to carry through.

"But you do not need to run any further. Just set the weapon down, and come out with your hands up, and we can talk things over!"

- - -

Eight minutes ago, the situation was anything but calm. A local boy in a raggedy t-shirt had been running through the street, a curiously -huge- pistol in his hand -- and the 'phwoom! phwoom!' of its firing made it easy to hear that the sidearm was anything -but- typical. The firearm was loaded with rounds etched in magic formulae -- and its handiwork is clear, as the building edifices along his path bear more resemblance to Swiss cheese than their brick-and-mortar origins. The gaps in the building faces glow with an eerie blue light -- the 'holes' now occupied by gelatinous matter. At least two of the buildings have lost their upper floors entirely, due to the proliferation of the supernatural firearm.

- - -

But now the gun is silent, and the youth's finger nowhere near the trigger. The thief has been cornered onto the top floor of a three-story building. The tiger stands in the middle of the street, looking up at the third floor. She gives a quick hand gesture to her partner, a human private in the same blue-and-white NOL uniform as her own, who moves to take a position near the back entrance of the building.

"There you go -- that is a good start! But I need to address the residents of 159 Gedo Street -- I will need you all to come down to street level."

The tiger bites her lip for a moment, sparing a look to the door before turning back to the third floor. "As quickly as possible."

Alice is dressed casually in a light pink t-shirt and mint green skirt. She wasn't planning on coming here, in fact she had never been to this part of Southtown before, but she had taken a wrong turn, or two or three, and gotten herself lost. Challenged to a fight when she asked for directions from a few students of Gedo High, they ganged up on her when she started winning one on one, making one wonder if they ever planned on giving her directions regardless of the outcome. Nevertheless she shifted into her beast form to better defend herself and in the end the students fled the scene, leaving her still lost.

Shortly after that though, her rather large ears picked up what sounded like gunfire from a Sci-Fi movie. Curiosity getting the better of her, she decides to move toward the sound and investigate rather than wandering around and trying to find her way. She comes on the scene in time to see and hear Meifeng calling to someone about not running, and coming down to street level, and her eyes widen at the sight of the swiss cheese building structures, and that some had partially failed already, and despite not being an architect or engineer, she guesses a strong gust of wind could send some of the others toppling.

She offers Meifeng a wave to try to get her attention as she approaches, and calls over. "Hey, couldn't help but overhear, anything I can do to help?"

Meifeng makes another quick gesture, and without another word, the NOL private snaps a crisp salute. He slaps a hand onto the small book strapped to his waist, and dashes into the building.

Meifeng returns her attention to the rooftop. Already she can sense the situation getting tense -- her long, fluffy tail sticks out at a diagonal, a wary antenna to the highly charged atmosphere.

And then in her periphery, an unfamiliar and yet friendly figure waves for her attention. The lieutenant barely registers it, until the voice makes its way to her feline ears. And when they do, one ear swivels towards Alice.

A moment later, the tigress turns to her. "Hi, I -- Oh." She blinks, at the new arrival's ears. Surprise flickers across her face, then relief, followed by slight disappointment. Lowering the bullhorn, she starts, "I appreciate the offer, but..."

Just then, another muffled *FWOOM* can be heard from the upper floor. An instant later, the side of the building flares with light. When the light subsides, one more circular "hole" has appeared on the second-story face of the building. This hole is rather large -- and the gelatinous residue shutters.

Meifeng's attention returned to the building. The tip of her tail droops into a hook, but twitches back and forth nervously. "Ah, just a moment please..."

Just then, a mother and a child make their way out the front door of the building.

And that's when the upper story decides it's had enough, and starts to collapse. A section of roof crumbles loose, breaking apart and tumbling down to the ground below.

Meifeng rapidly draws her sword. The purpose of the gesture becomes clear in a moment -- as a bright blue orb whips out with the gesture, blurring into a blue comet as it hurtles across the space. The orb slams into the underside of the crumbled rebar -- but rather than just pulverizing the concrete, the orb 'sticks' to it, causing it to hover harmlessly overhead, rather than crush the two fleeing citizens below. Meifeng keeps her sword extended, her forehead knit in intense concentration.

Her voice expresses mild distress, but most of the control from before: "I cannot move from this point. I also cannot -ask- you to put yourself into danger. But if you could help these people to safety, it would be appreciated..."

At this point, though, the roof has starts to give way even further. Up above, the teenaged thief finds his foothold giving way beneath him. Panicked, he makes his way to higher ground rather than lower -- and a moment later, the entire roof starts a chain-reaction of collapse! Soon, the teenaged thief finds himself clinging to the front right corner of the rectangular building -- the only place he has left to stand!

"OH MY GOD... I didn't mean it! I didn't mean for any of this to-- I'm so sorry--!"

Meifeng hisses through her teeth, whipping her sword arm to the side. As if tethered, her orbs whip to the side as well, bringing their payload to safety amidst a small storm of crumbling rebar and concrete.

"Just stay where you are -- help is on the way!"

Despite the fact that it appears the tiger lady was not going to accept her offer of help, at least at first, Alice is still watching and listening to what is going on here, both ears now aimed toward the damaged buildings. She looks up as another shot is heard, and then back toward the entrance as the mother and child try to flee the building, eyes widening as the falling piece of roof threatens to crush them. There's no time for her to do much from where they are standing, but thankfully Meifeng seemed to have it covered. She nods to the request for help that left it completely up to her if she wanted to do so.

"I heard the gunfire before I heard your voice on the bullhorn. While I had no idea what was happening until now, if I didn't want to put myself in danger I wouldn't have been moving toward the sound of strange weapon fire." She offers as sort of an answer as she considers what to do. She could probably leap up to the area where the teenager with the gun was much quicker than someone trying to take the stairs, but there was a risk her current appearance would frighten him and she did not want to find out what that gun would do to a living target.

"I'll help get everyone out, and if any are injured, I can help keep them stable till paramedics arrive, especially if I can find some first aid supplies." She calls back as she quickly runs into the building and begins telling any she finds that they need to evacuate, using her enhanced hearing and sense of smell to locate any that might be sleeping or reluctant to respond to her initial calls from the hallway. For those she would firmly knock and ring any bells to try and rouse them, if any still didn't respond she would resort to kicking their door in and continuing to try and get them to leave the building. She really hopes none are so stubborn that she'll have to resort to violence to make them evacuate.

Introducing a random stranger into the complex calculus of a tragic scenario like this is a not-insignificant risk. But the fact that Alice is a demi-human, like herself, reduces the risk considerably -- as it takes a -lot- to survive as someone not entirely human in the world at this point.

Meifeng keeps her sword out, nodding briskly at the mother and child as she motions them away from the building. Even still - it is important to thank the opportune volunteer! "Thank you for your assistance! I will do what I can to keep the building from collapsing!"

Inside, the building is a nightmare. Clouds of dust billow from stress fractures in the drywall. Hallways shudder and groan. The stairways up are intact for now, owing entirely to the reinforced structural elements surrounding the passageways -- but there's no guarantee how long that will last. Luckily, many of the families are already in a position to evacuate, making Alice's job easy on the first floor.

The second floor, though, poses a more difficult challenge. While most of the doors have been pushed open, there is one that is... shuddering. From someone tugging desperately on the door handle from the inside. The collapsing rooftop has crushed down upon the door frame, and the added weight is keeping it from opening safely. Two high-pitched voices shriek from inside -- the panicked voices of trapped children! "Help us! Someone help us!"

Meanwhile, the bullhorn squawks from below. "Private Terada is on his way up!" Sure enough, Terada bursts from the third floor exit. He does not run immediately towards the trapped thief -- but it becomes clear what he -does- grab a moment later. With a few magical sounds, he shouts past the ledge to Meifeng, over din of the crumbling building: "Ars Magus is secured!"

Meifeng sweeps her sword upwards. Her azure orbs deposit their wreckage on the street, flying upward to the half-collapsed roof. With a twist of the sword, the orbs flatten into 'steps' -- which the youth uses to hop back down to rendezvous with Terada! No chance of him getting that gun back now though, as it's dangling from Terada's belt, the ammunition clip safely stowed away in a satchel.

The building shudders again. A tremor works its way throughout; fresh clouds of dust billow from the stress fractures. The tiger speaks once more through the bullhorn -- "Get everyone out as soon as you can...! Use the windows if you have to!" And with the thief safe, she swings her sword -- and the steps of azure qi -- over to the second-story window...

Alice was relieved that most of the people were ready and willing to evacuate. On the first floor she told most of them to use side exits unless the front entrance was closer. She also found a first aid kit in the main office and was now carrying it under one arm as she made her way up to the second floor. After directing most of the residents on that floor to use the stairs and get out through the nearest exit quickly, she soon found the last room on the floor which was still occupied.

She looks to the two children banging on the door and speaks to them calmly, trying to ease the situation. "Don't be scared, I'm here to help. Please stand back and get behind something if possible, I'm going to try and force the door open." Waiting to make sure the children understood and do what she asks, she then rears back and aims a solid kick to the door, aiming just to left of the doorknob. If that manages to get the door to open, she quickly moves inside as the hallway continues to crumble with a new round of creaking. She moves to a window and punches it out by the frame before turning back to the children. "Ok, we're going to have to go out the window. I'll go first, then you both need to climb out onto my back." She then climbs out and hangs off the edge of the window, first aid kit now held by it's handle in her teeth.

The trapped children respond immediately to the reassuring voice outside; it's not hard to hear them backing away. Moments later, *CRACK!* the door warps from the strength of the rabbit kick, dislodging from its stuck position. It wouldn't take much more to bend it open at this point; the frame sags, but it looks like it will hold for a little longer.

As the dust clears, the kids are terrified to see a non-human face looking back at them. The girl, probably nine years or so of age, tugs on her brother's shirt quick once she recognizes the voice. The boy, a bit older, cradles one injured arm close to his stomach, and nods his assent. "Okay. C'mon, Ellie..."

The stairwell proves -why- the window is the safest route -- as the steps give way just moments before arrival. The boy breathes a sigh of relief at knowing they weren't -on- said steps. But even still, he peers over the edge at the glowing blue platform -- no longer individual steps, just one elliptical platform of azure qi... "Hey, this is -weird-, are you sure that's safer?"

Ellie is already showing her trust though, clambering up onto Alice's back and holding on tight. Reluctantly, the boy climbs up afterwards, holding on with his less-injured arm.

From below, Meifeng calls back across the bullhorn: "I have you -- just step carefully onto the platform. I'll do what I can..."

And as soon as Alice is stable, Meifeng will do her best to bring the platform down in a steady descent... flashing a guardedly optimistic smile all the while. Oddly enough, the two children seem to accept the fact that rescuers aren't human, by the simple virtue that they're -helping-...

Alice had expected the kids to be at least somewhat afraid of her, since many of the other people in the building had reacted to seeing her, but they were clearly more afraid of being crushed by tons of concrete and steel than a giant walking talking rabbit. She had tried her best to reassure the kids that she was a 'nice bunny' by speaking calmly and gently, and thankfully it seemed to pay off as before long they were all out of the room and the two kids were hanging onto her as she let go and stepped onto the platform. That was certainly a relief as she was preparing to have to try and hold one of them with each arm while she dropped down to the ground otherwise.

She nods happily as the kids let go of her and stand on the platform with her. "Ok, we're safe now, we'll be on the ground in a moment I'm sure. My name is Alice, what are your names? Were your parents in another room of the building or somewhere else?" She asks while already going through the procedures in her head for getting them reunited with their family. She hopes that someone else got the third floor evacuated before things got bad.

Decision paralysis can be a fatal problem in crisis scenarios. It's true that adding an unusual person to the mix can complicate such a decision. But in the end, what the trapped residents needed most was a calm, reassuring voice telling them to make their escape.

Actually communicating -after- the fact, though? That might take some more effort. Neither of the two children seems to be speaking much -- and indeed, the boy is -shaking- in fear, even as he clings on for dear life to... a bunny.

"... Uh..."

As Meifeng concentrates on lowering the platform to the ground, the girl becomes the one to finally break the silence. "M-my name is Ellie. And... my brother is Eisu." She pauses for a moment before adding, "Dad is... at work." She clings to Alice more tightly. "And Mom is in Yokohama for a meeting."

Eisu speaks up afterwards, tensing up. "He was supposed to call us a little while ago. We're gonna get in big trouble if we don't pick up the phone..."

From below, Meifeng watches the trio expectantly as she lowers them to the ground, her fluffy tail swishing back and forth eagerly. As the platform sinks into the earth, recomposing itself into the form of a sphere, Meifeng passes one more look up to the building above -- still guardedly optimistic about the state of the building. But then her yellow-tinted gaze flicks over to the rear exit of the building, where her partner is leading out three more residents -- and the now-handcuffed delinquent who had started the mess. Meifeng snaps her partner a quick salute.

The tigress then turns her smile back to the trio, stowing her sword as the orb swings back to a position over her right shoulder. She takes a step closer to Alice and the two kids. The tigress' ears flick, as she offers a broad smile. "We will get everything straightened out, don't worry," she says to the boy.

Eisu shrinks slightly at the sight of a nearly six-foot-tall tiger talking to him, but he can't get much -more- apprehensive at the moment.

Meifeng tilts her head to Alice. "You really stepped in at the perfect time! Thank you so much for your help!"

Alice feels empathy for the kids as while she has never been in a building about to collapse before, she has had her own traumatic experiences as a child. Feeling the boy trembling as he clings to her, she gently pats him on the back with a relatively large furry hand.

When his sister speaks up she nods to her and ends up more or less echoing Meifeng's reassuring words. "I'm sure your mom and dad will be happy that you both are safe. Answering the phone is less important." Now turning to Meifeng she nods. "Happy to have been in the wrong place at the right time. I'm Alice Nonomura, formerly a nurse at the hospital." She introduces herself again for Meifeng's benefit, and after a bit of consideration decides not to change back yet, fearing it would just frighten the children further.

Meifeng spreads her arms out to the boy, offering her assistance in getting him down from Alice's back. But that just has him cling even more tightly to Ms Nonomura. And whatever Eisu does, Ellie follows along, not wanting to let go of the one who saved them in their time of need.

"I remember his work number, though," volunteers Eisu after a moment.

And almost immediately, Meifeng reaches to her belt and retrieves a small smartphone, handing it over to him with a smile. -That- offer seems to suit him just fine; and a few beep-boops later, he's chattering away on the phone.

"Ah, it is good to meet you! Lieutenant Yao Meifeng of the Librarium. You worked at Southtown General? That must not have been an easy job..."

Meifeng glances up at the building once more. It shudders, as if in response, but it holds for now. Which is good -- as Terada has managed to get everyone gathered into a small area.

Turning back to Alice, she continues in a quieter voice. "Unregistered magical artifacts can be dangerous. I am glad there were not as many injuries this time."

Alice begins to wonder if the kids were going to cling to her like the Easter Bunny until their parents showed up, though if that's what it was going to take to keep them calm she would happily oblige. She smiles at hearing that Eisu knows their dad's work number and Meifeng offers a smartphone, and is relieved when the boy does apparently get through to someone. She nods while her smile endures as Meifeng responds to her introduction with one of her own. "Nice to meet you also! But yes, spent a lot of my time at Southtown General working with patients coming in from the ER, so it was almost always busy and every day was different. So I guess you could say the bright side is I didn't have time to be bored, and it gave me a lot of experience." She explains before also lowering her voice as they talk about the magical gun and the fortunate lack of serious injuries.

"Likewise, I guess this first aid kit can be returned to whoever manages the building since it doesn't look like we'll be needing to use it." She says as she offers the moderate sized latched metal case with a red cross on top to Meifeng.

It isn't long before Eisu holds a hand up to flag for Meifeng's attention. She holds up a single finger to Alice, then steps around to address the boy -- at which point he hands the cellphone over. "Mm-hmm? That's right... Yes." She smiles back at Alice, gingerly accepting the first aid kit.

"I can certainly do that, sir. We will need to check everyone out for signs of injury and qi infection. Eisu and Ellie have been lovely -- I will be delighted to look after them. Just ask for me at the Southtown NOL. Officer Yao Meifeng. That's right. ... Oh, sure, here they are."

Meifeng hands her phone back to Eisu, smiling back as she swivels around to address Alice. "Ah, my apologies! So you were working with patients in the ER, hmm? How fascinating! You must have gotten your fair share of fighters, hmm..."

She taps her chin thoughtfully, then reaches into her jacket, producing a business card, which she then presents to Alice with both hands. The card provides all the usual data -- name, rank, contact number and whatnot. "You seem like a wonderfully caring person, Ms Nonomura. Can... can I call you Alice? I will be needed to help these residents, though I would -honestly- love to talk with you more at a later date. Particularly about a certain... qi infection that we've been struggling to get a handle on back at the home office. "

A moment later, the cellphone beeps. And then Eisu taps Alice's shoulder as a signal, before summarily hopping off. As Ellie hops down a moment later, Eisu hands the phone back to Meifeng.

"Our Dad says, thank you for saving us, Miss Nonomura...!" says Eisu. "And thank you, Officer Yao...!"

Meifeng bows formally to Eisu, grinning. "All in a day's work, Eisu. And thank -you- for being so cooperative!"

Alice smiles and shakes her head at Meifeng's apology. "I don't mind at all, very happy we were able to reach their father. But yes, saw a lot of fighters that were on the wrong end of a fight or looked like they barely won when they sometimes arrived along with the one they were fighting." She confirms, then takes the business card as she listens to the rest of what Meifeng has to say to her.

"Please, feel free." She responds to the question of calling her Alice, then continues. "I like helping people, it's why I became a nurse in the first place, and I have been looking to do more, whether it's going back to school to become a full doctor, or something else with more immediate and far reaching impact, though I guess there's no reason I can't do both. I'd be more than happy to meet with you and talk about this other problem you're dealing with." She says as she puts the card away, then turns to the children with a smile as they finally let go of her. She hopes she and Meifeng have left a good impression that not all that don't look Human are bad people. "Glad I was around to help. I should be getting home, you both going to be good for Meifeng?"

Eisu and Ellie bow in response. "Yes, ma'am!" When they pop back up, they're all smiles, knowing that they're safe and sound with adults looking after them. Even if they are a little fuzzier than their mom and dad.

Meifeng, for her part, has been dividing her attention between the building, Alice, and the children. Her tail sweeps back and forth slowly, a metronome regulating her attention span. "Well, thank you very much! Excuse me for just one more moment, though, okay?"

She turns back to Alice with a toothy grin. "Ah, I understand completely. Much to do, much to do! Thank you so much for your help." She bows again, in the local Japanese custom. "Do keep in touch, okay? It's so heartwarming knowing there are more of us here in the city." It isn't clear whether she means 'more non-humans,' or 'more helpful people.' "Take care, Alice! It was great meeting you."

And with that, Meifeng gives one more bow, then steps back to help get the residents sorted out!

Alice smiles to the children again, happy to see they were in good spirits and agreeing to behave for Meifeng. She may decide to check in on these two later on, bring them something fun and maybe meet their parents. For now she turns to Meifeng and mirrors her customary bow. "Likewise, I look forward to our next meeting." With that said, she heads off to make a renewed attempt at finding her way home.

She shifts back to human form as she fades into the distance.

Log created on 20:04:11 07/03/2022 by Meifeng, and last modified on 17:01:21 07/05/2022.