2019-12-09 - It's Like a Disney Movie or Something!


Poor May, nearly kidnapped for Show and Tell! Thank god there's a Jackal to assist. Ambrose brings the lost cat back to Cover Story in a surprising show of decency.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Mon Dec 9 04:44:03 2019
Location: East Village

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As much of a relief as it had been for understanding visitors to drop by Keiko's house and NOT accost her, May doesn't normally have that kind of luck. Most days start with the noise and chaos of the family going through their morning routines — which don't include caffeine for felines, damnit — going through an entire day of being treated like a lab rat in the WAND offices, and then then ending with the chaos of dealing with the family's small child, dinner, and evening routines. More often than not, she finds herself ready to just curl up somewhere and sleep, and last night that's exactly what she did.

After the tests she'd been subjected to and then being cajoled into yet ANOTHER tea party, she retreated to the security of her jacket-turned-blanket (which had annoyingly been emptied of all of its metal weaponry to protect the child) still wadded up inside the backpack that she is forced to travel to and from WAND in.

Waking up to being VERY soundly jostled about is NEVER a good sensation, but old and hard-earned habits don't die easily, and she is awake in a matter of seconds. And … those are not adult voices. She hears a cacophany of CHILDREN. Oh HELL no. She is NOT going to be part of a Show and Tell.

Having already figured out how to extricate herself from the backpack on one of her first trips passenging inside it, she waits until the painful screeching of school bus brakes come to a stop and further jostling means her six year old kidnapper is disembarking. Not wasting any more time, she claws the zipper up enough to stick her nose through, and the instant she sees sidewalk she leaps clear and flees at a sprint, leaving the dismayed child's shouts behind.

It takes her at most two blocks of sprinting to slow to a stop next to a brownstone's stoop and realize that she has NO idea where she is. Everything looks so different from this considerably lower viewpoint, and she's not where she can see any street signs.

Why should he worry? Why should he care —

Wait, wrong movie — catchy song though.

Around the nearest street corner slinks a small pale canine. No bigger than a Shiba Inu at most, dressed in a black dog-sweater against the cold, and sporting a diamond-studded leather slip-collar with a tag on it (front: MY NAME IS NOT ROSEBUD, back: I AM NOT LOST.), here comes Ambrose in jackal guise. His steps are confident and his air self-assured; the bit of blood staining his muzzle means he's very certain to have rid that entire alleyway one block down of rats.

At his speed of trot, he actually passes May before her scent-trail, still airbourne, tags his nose. It's sharp and fresh and…feline coated in treated leather and fabric softener? About a dozen feet away, he pauses and turns to look dead at Tortie-May.

Large, darkly-tipped ears perk even as he turns, his nose already twitching to gather more information. Well well…what have we here…? Equal parts curiosity and canine intrigue blaze in his body language even as he turns to take cautious steps towards her. You wear a pretty bell, kitty-kitty.

Yes, even the crisp British accent shines through.

The overwhelming sounds and SMELLS of the sidewalk, even on a fairly quiet residential-ish block, is still disconcerting to her. Pedestrians passing by get stared at until they're out of eyeshot, the big-eared sweater-wearing dog does as well until he turns back to her, and his ADDRESSING her earns him a look shocked surprise. A very unintentional look of surprise.

Her surprise lasts about a half-second before she recovers and hisses at the canid, the bell tinkling and somehow making an oddly synthesized voice from the sounds. « Go away. »

His head having gone low and inquisitory via his sniffing, Ambrose lifts it up abruptly — his ears and expression are transparent in surprise. Oh good gods: the cat talked back!

…I don't believe I shall. He stays where he is for now, out of the immediate pathway of pedestrians, very used to the cityscape at this level and with his current guise's senses. Tuning certain things out is second-nature after over a century of practice. You appear more than a little overwhelmed, milady. You don't belong here, do you? Tortie-May gets a very focused look now from the wild-looking dog.

Staying pressed against the concrete retaining wall of the brownstone's stoop, she growls and mrowrs lowly at the canid who is TALKING TO HER. How in the world turtle is she understanding him? « Just tell me what street this is. » If she knows where she is, she can hopefully get somewhere familiar and safe.

Based on how long that damned school bus traveled, she could be as far away as the Triskelion from Keiko's home, or perhaps hopefully somewhere close to that bookstore… which, damnit, she never got the name or the address for that store.

Without her realizing, her tail is tucked close indicating how uneasy she is along with the tip twitching spasmodically and telegraphing her annoyance at the situation.

Again, Ambrose's head drops as he takes another silent step or two closer. His nose is working overtime again and there's a pointed interest to be seen in his off-blue eyes now, still laser-focused upon Tortie-May.

You are in the East Village, not far from 3rd street. The subway entrance is not but two blocks to the south. It is clear you do not wish to be here, milady…and you are new to your state, are you not? His head tilts in transparent interest. You do not know how to veil your thoughts. Your body speaks novels of your discontent. Have you a name or did the ruddy sorcerer take that from you as well?

Near 3rd and the subway entrance, which with the amount of pedestrian traffic public transit gets would be a complete nightmare to navigate. But at least that gives her a landmark to start from. She growls again as the strangely curious canid steps still closer, raising one paw and revealing dagger-like claws. « Don't get any closer. »

Again with asking names. Strangely, she's fairly certain that's not something normal animals tend to do… not that she's been around any normal animals lately. Besas does NOT count. At least this time she can answer more readily, having already thought up a fake name to give to the other people recently met who were actually able to understand her and ask.

« Shanzha, » she replies readily enough. The name is Mandarin, and translates to Hawthorn or Maybush plant.

Ambrose's bright eyes narrow in an approximation of human suspicion.

Shanzha then. It might be a pleasant surprise for Tortie-May to hear the name pronounced absolutely correctly, with not a single element of American or British nuance in it — if anything, his accent is…archaic. I shall refer to you as such. Atherton, he grants in turn. A paw is lifted from the sidewalk and press to his chest and he inclines his head — a bow to the cat, polite even as she shows her claws.

Do you need to be escorted anywhere, Shanzha? Is someone aware of your state? His tone continues to showcase unfailing manners. Kent must be influencing him after all.

Okay, someone who actually pronounces things correctl— wait. This is a DOG. Or is he? She's becoming increasingly confused, which is making her increasingly irritable, causing her ears to flatten to the sides and a bit more of her admittedly nearly overlong tail to lash a bit in consternation.

And then he introduces himself. Atherton? May's ears stand up then flick back in surprise, her tail stilling for a moment. She's never heard of a pet with THAT sort of name. « Are you stuck this way too? » she mrreps before she can stop herself. « I need to get back to SHIELD, they don't know I'm out here. »

No, I have chosen to be as such for the moment. It's with a prudent tone that Ambrose replies, his own ears now broadcasting continued suspicion towards the cat. SHIELD — drat it all, not SHIELD — they all but skip hand-in-hand with Interpol. He looks both ways up and down the street and May will note the experienced manner in which he does this: particular in his speed, marking anything out of the ordinary and weighing it before dismissing it as ordinary enough.

His attention returns to her. You…must be referring to the building on the island in the river, yes? You are affiliated with them…?

May's slitted eyes take in more details about Ambrose, her own nose starting to take in information. Not that she really knows how to interpret it. But, small, nearly puppy-sized with paws that don't indicate he's going to get any bigger, EARS like a… oh. He's a fox of some sort. That explains the faintly sandy impression she gets from his smell.

Wait, is that blood?

Then he asks about SHIELD, or more accurately, the Triskelion. « Yes, » she Meezer-mehs. « I work there. Or, there's a bookstore with people that know me and can get me back to SHIELD. » It's a long shot, but considering the strange inconsistencies she's picking up about this little fox-like person, is there a chance he'll know some of the other unusual people in Manhattan?

By the slide of the jackal's tongue unthinking to clean his lips, it was indeed blood. The stain is no longer present and he swipes at his mouth again just to be certain, glancing aside in diverted, brief embarrassment at the slip before a lady.

That, and he's sure as hell not trotting anywhere near the entry ramp to the bridge leading to the Triskelion, not when Interpol still manages to have that damned incomplete record of him.

A taxi honking has him turning in place to glare at it in a shine of human pique. He looks back to May after snorting at the distant vehicle. This bookstore you mention… It's a long shot, but given this is a magical incident, the master-thief continues. …is it owned by someone who has a penchant for tricks…? Black hair, striking green eyes?

May's ears perk up immediately, nearly as overlarge on her head as Ambrose's are on his as she cranes her neck toward him and the originally flared paw is promptly dropped back to the sidewalk. « Yes. And his wife, a gentle blonde lady who makes excellent roast and tea. »

Ohthankgod. Her relief at his recognition of the bookstore and its owner is palpable as she leans further against the concrete stoop and actually ends up sitting. « How far from there are we? »

Whoops. She just revealed that while she knows the store and its owners, she has no idea where the place is in relation to the street they're on.

It's with a canine grin that Ambrose takes his first step back, head lifted high. Infuriating? Maybe a little. Charming? In its way.

You have gone and gotten yourself mixed up with the Trickster God and his ilk? Oh, milady Shanzha. He chuffs once, canine amusement, and looks off in the direction of the Lower East Side. You may need assistance beyond even what I could hazard to provide for you, should this be the case. Truly? You wish to be escorted to this bookstore in question? I should be blunt: if you wish to return to your SHIELD headquarters, I will not escort you to its front door. This much he makes abundantly clear with a firm tone and a little lip curl of dislike for the place as a whole. It flashes a canine tooth that glints in the dying sun of day. Sentiment fades and he returns to the watchful stance again.

« What? No, » May mrrehs in protest. « My current state has nothing to do with the bookseller or his wife. They actually offered to try and help. » She follows his gaze to the west. How far in that direction? Likely far too far for her to travel on her own in her current furry little body. She's already starting to feel the fact that she missed breakfast.

« If you can't take me to SHIELD, can you help me get to the bookseller and his wife? They can contact SHIELD for me. » That's a fair compromise, right? Maybe? Her tail shivers, partly at the thought of NOT getting back to someplace she knows is safe, partly because it's COLD out here. Her ears are cold.

Were Ambrose to have eyebrows, one might be lofted arrogantly at the idea of 'help' coming from who he knows to be the dark-haired, green-eyed bookseller at the store in question. Not once has he had what he would construe to be a positive interaction — time may change things. As such, he merely lays his ears back for a second before simply sighing.

Yes, I will escort you to the bookstore. I did warn you. He looks the cat over before hazarding a step closer, his dark nose twitching again. You do not smell of food and your coat is not suited to this weather. Her little quiver he interprets as discomfort.

I can offer you a rat if you would stomach it. Otherwise, I can retrieve something else you may prefer. Movement will warm you quickly beneath your fur.

May visibly recoils at the offer of rat, though can't help but think it's at least a change from being offered fish. Again. « Let's get moving, » she suggests, finally stepping away from the stoop and shaking out her sleek fur and refusing to admit that she is indeed cold and starting to feel rather hungry. And thirsty. Especially remembering the smell of Elena's lunch in another pocket of the backpack she'd been in.

« Retrieve, hm? You don't look like the sort. »

I am rarely the sort to retrieve for anyone but myself, but the manners instilled in me as a child do linger most irritatingly, the Jackal replies with smooth amusement to her musing. There's another canine grin to flash his teeth and tip of tongue even as he turns to begin to pad away. He takes up a restrained walk at first, not the smooth trot he might use to cover long distances, and his ear leads his glance back towards Tortie-May.

It will take time to reach this destination. Should you be truly hungry, do inform me. I have walked these streets long enough to know their secrets well…and to have made some friends along the way. He's thinking of the butcher shop they'll pass on the way and how a scritch-scratch at the back door along with a wistful little whine has earned him sausages with burst casings before — can't sell them, might as well let someone enjoy them!

And how did you come to be in this state, milady Shanzha? Did you insinuate something terrible over tea and a mage thought this form might suit you better?

May fairly promptly sets her pace to match Atherton's, her own stature, while considerably slimmer, giving her legs about as long as his so she is able to keep up easily. Even so, she stays at his side and about half a stride back so she can keep an eye (and an ear) on him.

« Good manners are so rare anymore, » she muses seemingly idly when there are no humans around to hear the sounds from her collar bell.

At their next moment of no-humans, she gives him a non-answer to the question about how she ended up a cat. « Wrong place, wrong time. My colleagues are working to figure it out. I just have to be patient. » Which is a challenge when there's a six year old wanting her to have a tea party with the stuffed toy animals every evening.

It's a couple more blocks before she finally admits aloud, « I am hungry. And thirsty. » Atherton has been polite and helpful enough thus far. Let's see if he continues.

Perhaps it was Fate that you might have been where you were when your incident occurred. Have you considered this? Ambrose spares her another idle glance as they skirt across the asphalt of the side street as quickly as can be managed between spates of cars. After all, luck is but a pattern undetected. Ambrose continues to stick to the lesser-traveled street and its fairly open sidewalk.

Boy, do they get attention when people realize that it is indeed a cat and a dog walking alongside one another and there's no Disney film crew present. Ambrose picks up a more brisk pace after one teenager pauses outright to stare and appears to be reaching for a phone.

There is a butcher's shop not a block from here. We must be quick, we are attracting attention. Here, do remain close to me, I know a shortcut.

He darts into an alleyway and towards a collection of box-crates tucked against a wooden fence. Up-up-up he leaps and he sails over the fence to land on the far side — on a dumpster's closed lid. He pauses, awaiting Tortie-May's appearance.

Attracting attention. That's NEVER a good thing in May's mind. She keeps pace with Atherton easily enough, but pauses when he works his way up and over the fence, watching the path he takes. Once he's clear she follows his path, doing so lightly and cautiously and inwardly thanking the fact that she learned very quickly how to trust her cat body's instincts on jumping and landing. Thus, she lands lightly on the dumpster lid next to Atherton as if born to this furry little black and orange body.

« You said something about a butcher's shop? I was told I should avoid onions and garlic. » And caffeine. Boy was THAT an unhappy moment.

And there she is with a light-footed bip-bop of a landing. Ambrose is impressed despite himself — there was a hint of a test in the quick change of pace and decision to scale the fence.

I have not died yet of eating both onions and garlic, though you do possess a smaller frame than I. If the butcher will spare a sausage, you might eat only enough to assuage your immediate hunger and no more. There might also be a pan of dry food out if they are feeling magnanimous. Amusement again wends through his tone as he hops down from the dumpster and to the top of a rusted metal barrel. He lands on the alley floor and shakes himself out before continuing on. Here there, about this corner.

The alley takes a hard right-corner of a turn and there's a white-painted door tucked into the brick. Alas, no dry food. Wait in sight if you wish. Fearlessly, the Jackal then approaches and scratches at the door loudly with blunt nails. A sit and quick kick at his neck flips his collar around and out of immediate sight. The door opens and whomever's on the far side makes a sound of recognition — Ambrose rewards this with a fully-body wriggle better suited for a golden retriever than a Pariah hound-like creature.

Regardless, it earns him what appears to be a sausage with a broken casing. He licks the hand offering it first before delicately taking the meal in his teeth. Trotting off towards Tortie-May, he then drops the meat at her paws. His pink tongue curls around his lips as he scans the alley both left and right.

Do hurry and take your few bites before any others consider contention over it. I will eat what remains. He briefly leaves Tortie-May to pad over to what appears to be a spigot on the butcher shop's side wall. It's dripping due to a rusty closure and he licks at the drops as they fall.

Pausing across from the door and sitting primly with her overlong tail curled around her paws, May watches the exchange with up-pricked ears and unblinking eyes. She'll have to make a point of finding this place again when she's back to being bipedal and buy some of their most expensive cuts. Generosity with no expectation of return is increasingly rare anymore.

When the sausage is dropped at her feet, she looks at it then at Atherton for a second. It dawns on her that this isn't cut-small morsels of the sort she's become used to being able to hook off of a plate at the dinner table, much to the six year old's unending delight. Resigning herself, she crouches down, plants a paw on the sausage, then gnaws a couple of bites from the split area.

It's only a couple of bites before she stops, something in the sausage disagreeing with her tongue as evidenced by her licking and licking as if trying to get peanut butter off the roof of her mouth. « I don't think I should eat any more, » she informs the fox-like canid, giving him a chance to return to the food before going to the spigot herself and catching drops after a few misses and a few splatters to her face.

You know yourself well enough, he agrees. The sausage remains on the ground until Ambrose is certain that the cat intends to drink rather than continue to eat. Then, turning back to it, the meat disappears in a few quick snaps. He doesn't chew overmuch, but that's never been a problem; carnassials scissor it up into bite-sized pieces easily enough. It is absolutely delicious to him.

When you've had your fill of water, follow me. It is another five blocks yet if not more. The Jackal pads to the alleyway exit and lingers in the shadow cast by the building next door, scanning the sidewalk and its occupants. Now we must be fleet of foot. Stay close to me again, he asks of Tortie-May before he slips out to the sidewalk.

Now comes the most harrowing section of the borough, where it blends into the Lower East Side. The crowds are thicker and the traffic to boot. Ambrose pauses and darts between gaps in traffic, always warning the cat before he goes.

One block down, two blocks down, three blocks down — dratted dog-walker, they'll need to dart into an alley to avoid this — from the tuck into shade, Ambrose still wrinkles his nose and curls his lips up to reveal a mouthful of ivory teeth at the small yappy white fluffy thing — they remain undiscovered before he slinks on.

Four blocks down, five blocks — and oh, there, thank god, there's the hanging sign of the bookstore midway down the block. Ambrose stops at the corner of the block and tucks himself against another stoop, out of immediate sight due to a shaped hedge. And there we are. I might consider this my good Karma for the day, the pale creature comments, giving Tortie-May a look suffused with self-contentment. Read as: smug.

May drinks her fill of the water, then turns to once again neatly keep pace with Ambrose, even if it takes up that that ground-covering trot. The heavier foot and car traffic is a bit terrifying to her little cat-body's instincts, but May forcibly keeps her wits about her and uses her human mind and experience in concert with the cat's instincts and reflexes to dart after the canid.

The sudden detour into an alley has May momentarily confused, until she sees and smells the dog-walker and their charges. The fluffy white thing gets a hiss to accompany Atherton's bared teeth, the bell translating it to a VERY rude dismissal in modern Cantonese.

Finally, they sees the bookstore sign and May ducks into the hedge alongside the now smug looking canid. « You have earned the good Karma, » she says with a slight bow of her head. « I owe you a good turn in exchange. » She's not at all sure how the little fox-like being would find her again, but she's willing to help him if he ever does… within reason.

Ambrose eyes the cat. Then, with a hint of good-natured impudence, he leans his nose in to sniff more closely at her. Whether or not his nose brushes against her fur will depend on reaction time.

Given you claim to work for SHIELD, I shall expect this good turn if the time ever comes that we cross paths in a more…human manner. Gods willing, you will never need to repay me, milady Shanzha. Slowly, his tail sways back and forth, his eyes heavily lidded now in some form of mirth.

Flawless Shanghainese follows. «But do know I will claim my boon if it comes to it. I accept your promise.» Where are his other eight tails? Or is this one not related to the kitsune in the end? Ambrose shamelessly plays on any belief in the Fae fox-god-spirits.

Keeping her instinctual cat responses tightly controlled, she tolerates Atherton taking a close sniff at her, though her ears flatten sideways if he lingers a second more than she thinks is polite. She really would rather NOT swat him after he's helped her.

« Yes, gods willing, you'll never need to call upon my assistance. » She doesn't elaborate, but considering her skill set, that's not something she hopes he will ever need.

Her ears perk toward him at the Shanghainese, but she doesn't otherwise comment on it. « Safe travels, Atherton, » she offers him, before turning her attention to the bookstore's entrance. She waits for customers to reach for the door, then dashes out and slips in through the door after them before it closes.

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