1964-12-14 - Elflight: Rumble in Chinatown
Summary: It's a bad day when you want to buy the last of a treasured gift.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
tigra tchalla 


08:17. Chinatown. Oriental Import Ltd. Warehouse.

The sun has barely made it over the horizon. Grey skies give way to patches of blue on a balmy December morning, not that the darker alleys of Chinatown know much daylight. Like the twilight zone of the ocean, only a scant percentage penetrates the tangled web of steely fire escapes and blind, high brick walls. Residents are out to greet the day, rolling up the graffiti scarred metal doors over their shopfronts. Chinese grandmother's sweep the sidewalk while their sons and grandsons unload cargo. It's no different at the Oriental Import Ltd. Company warehouse. Though if one speaks Mandarin, it has the far more eloquent "Lucky Seas Eastern Import Company" name. The big name doesn't match up for a low-slung building that looks exactly the same as everything else around here, with one key difference for the shopfront. A host of non-Chinese and Chinese line up impatiently in front of the dingy little doors. Rumour has it there are Elflights for sale.

That toy is perhaps the hardest to find anywhere in the city. Rumour alone is enough to pull out desperate parents unwilling to see their children's faces fall. A few bang on the door. "Come on, your sign says you open at 8!" shouts one tired man in a sweater and overcoat, too hot by far for this nice weather.

Someone who doesn't need much light is Tigra, and she's also someone who enjoys Chinatown. The sights and smells are so different here when compared to the other parts of the city. She sits up on a fire escape railing, balanced with dismissive easy with her legs dangling and tail lightly curled behind her, drinking in the smells of breakfasts, lunchs being prepared for later in the day, unusual cargo being unloaded and more. She heard the rumor about the insanely desired toy and thought she'd watch to see what happened, with a slightly wistful expression. Bill would've moved heaven and earth if they had had a child that wanted one, she's sure. And down there, it sounds like someone's trying to at least move a door. Her head tilts a bit, expression turned considering. Warm enough, guy?

For someone to whom money is no object, Chinatown might be an odd place to find the king of Wakanda. However, certain precious spices aren't to be found anywhere else. He also has enough hearing to be tipped off by the grumbling and desperate conversations of a divide and conquer strategy for some of the parents. Was it the Oriental Trading Company or the Oriental Import Company? Go to both, find out. T'Challa happens to be sipping a cup of tea and considering the spectacle from down the street, walking slowly. If a riot breaks out, guess who gets blamed first.

The banging on the door clearly irritates the Asian gentleman responsible for tiding up the dusty storefront. It's crammed to the gills with samples of merchandise, and the narrow aisles cannot hope to support the gaggle of adults busting to enter. He shakes his finger at Mr. Sweater Coat and then retreats. More complaints from the would-be patrons.

"Margaret," says Mr. Blue Scarf to his wife, "you stay here. I'm going around back to see if I can cut a deal." It's barely more than a whisper and off he goes to see about entering the warehouse. Dirty politics, but desperation applies.

The rest will be waiting another five ornery minutes until the door opens.

A riot? In New York City? Surely you can't be serious. Tigra spots T'Challa walking down the street and decides to join him. From the fire escape she's sitting on, she leans forward and drops down, catching the next railing with her hands, pausing briefly, pushes off and twists, lands on the next one with her feet, crouches, leaps backwards, arcing into the air to land relatively lightly on her feet, not far from the man she doesn't realize is a king. She straightens up and steps over towards him. "Don't tell me you're after one of those toys too," she says by way of greeting.

Riot might be an overstatement, but certainly an unhappy little group feel put upon and that invariably mixes with entitlement to form a toxic gravy. They bang on the door again, those at the back pushing forward, everyone convulsing into a tighter mass. Now just smash through the wall and things ought to get troublesome pretty fast. Which they will, as the door does not open nearly fast enough. As soon as it does, however, the pushing and shoving grows to a peak. One woman gets knocked down. Someone else squashed up against the windows grunts in pain.

T'Challa increases the speed of his approach to a walk from a mosey, his eyes narrowed slightly. His long black coat sweeps around a plainly handsome suit, though that's soon to be transformed just to allow him to handle any risk. He might have trouble hearing that thump through the curses and urgent footfalls as the crowd rips into the shop and comparatively rips it apart. But see her? That's not hard, his dark eyes marking the familiar shape from a shawarma shop. He heads for the back of the building, not the front.

Mr. Blue Scarf is halfway to pulling out a wallet and calling out to the four labourers unloading a truck in the narrow alley. Good reason to do it back there; they'd never fit around the truck in the alley. "I'll be damned if my boy doesn't get Santa providing his Christmas wish," he says defensively, glaring at… a cat. A cat woman. He makes a noise of dislike and turns. "Sir! There's ten dollars in it for each of you to get me an Elflight!"

|ROLL| TChalla +rolls 1d20 for: 6

She wasn't heard by T'Challa, or perhaps he's focused on the situation, which she can see is close to getting out of hand. The noise of dislike that she gts from Mr Blue Scarf, she gives an extremely cheerful "Mrriao." It fades at the sounds from around the front of the shop, though, and she hurries around there, to see how bad it's getting, and fully expecting to have to start pulling at people.

Well, Mr. Blue Scarf assumed the woman was talking to him, and not to that man with no business talking. T'Challa muses over his cup of tea and takes another last sip, the contents not going very far. The steely mug with its thermos cap isn't stylish but there is simply no other way to enjoy the drink without looking very odd.

"Is it common to speak so here?" he asides to Tigra, the question a fairly honest one. Do shape-shifting cats do that? His eyebrows rise and he stares down the man already scurrying to see if the Chinese labourers have a box with a treasured light in it. And it turns out they do not, much to his ranting anger. There is even a stamping of a foot.

Inside the shop, the shouts are louder. Someone apparently did get an Elflight and the covetous "Mine, it's mine!" shouts like Gollum on a ring emerge. Now the fight begins in earnest.

"I do not see why they fuss so," says T'Challa, obviously someone with no kids.

"Not really, no," Tigra admits, flashing T'Challa a quick grin. "Almost never do that, except with four legged felines." Sometimes, though, she just has to press someone's buttons. "Oh Christ," she says softly, the grin melting like snow in sunlight, at the sounds of someone finding a treasured Elflight. "I wish I had an explanation. People do crazy things for their kids, but this is ridiculous. Someone could get hurt, and that's not what Christmas is about."

Good, no meowing on T'Challa's part. He would never live it down if Shuri heard, partly because it might confirm what she already anticipates. "They are cursing and threatening one another in there. Over a toy." His hearing is sharp enough to pick out the melting basso voices and angrier altos, the stinging whine of a woman who simply must have the toy for Charlie or Betty. Unfortunately the Blue Scarf fellow is angrily pushing his way into the stocking area, hoping no doubt for an elusive box. The four labourers converge to toss him out..

There's a soft sobbing when a woman stumbles out from the shop, clutching her arm. Not serious, but enough to hurt. The angry complaints buzz harder, and the other shoppers probably coming to check things out watch from a distance. The protests of a shopkeeper are lost; there's a full fight in there..

"Over a toy," Tigra echoes. "It's stupid. Beyond stupid. Especially since after Christmas, what do you even do with it?" She frowns at the sound of sobbing. "Okay, we're out of hand, now. Let's go try to break it up…" she pauses a moment, looking back to T'Challa, realizing how things might look with him. "Uhm. Maybe I'll do that. You might call the police instead," she says, weakly, and apologetically. Her tail lashes in frustration and annoyance, and she turns to head to the crowd to start trying to pull it apart, almost hoping for a chance to take out some frustration on them.

"Do you think they will take me seriously, the police? They may say it is not their problem." No, he is no fool when it comes to the racial divisions and the fact Chinatown is territory non grata for some of them. He shakes his head slightly, tucking the cup into the pocket of the coat. It sticks out and looks strange, but do you really think he cares? You are correct if you chose he did not, reader.

Fast, steady steps carry him into the throng, at least to the narrow doorway. The shop is packed with little room to move. Porcelain vases and cheap ceramics are smashed on the ground. Boxes are overturned as a few people look for the last of the Elflights, wherever they might be. The shopkeeper has a broom and mans the register, shouting in Mandarin for his staff to get in here and get people out.

"My son needs it! You have to let me have that one!" shouts a mother.

The last Elflight anyone has, at least in sight, is a man in a corner, and he hugs the box possessively, back to the others. It may be paid for, but can he get out when ripped apart?

"Some might," Tigra says, pausing to answer T'Challa. She likes to think her Bill would have listened. She proceeds T'Challa into the store, not concerned about how she may or may not fit in. She's a cat. She belongs anywhere she goes. "Knock it off!" she yells, putting a growl into her voice. "Is this what you want your kids to see?" She puts hands on a shopper menaching another, pulling them apart. "You think Jesus would be proud of you?!"

"You can't come in here late and think you're getting one, lady!"

"Cat… lady!" amends an annoyed shopper who isn't throwing fisticuffs, but the scuffles are pushing back against a rickety metal shelf full of knickknacks, mostly ceramic. They fall to the floor.

Cue a fist thrown and a man punched in the shoulder. A woman screams. Eek, she is being pulled back. "I'm going to turn green! Edmund, help me! I've been infected!"

The shopkeeper swats his broom at the counter. You get out, you crazy people, that gesture says. The Elflight holder waits for a break for it and he squeezes to the end of the counter. Maybe he can get out the front window or jump to the door. Maybe. If T'Challa were not blocking the door, which is how T'Challa and the next person who is not Tigra end up with a man jumping on them.

"He's getting away! Stop him, he stole that! Jesus wouldn't like that!"

No, Jesus isn't present, though.

John 11:35 is appropriate here. "You're smashing this poor man's shop to bits! Knock it off! And I don't want a damned toy!" And as if things weren't confusing enough, now who knows if the man's actually paid for it or not. While trying to keep people apart from each other, Tigra also tries to see if the shopkeeper says anything about if the man paid or not. THough frankly, shoplifting is a lot less of a problem than a bloody riot. "You should all be ashamed!" People not listening to morality lessons from a half-naked cat woman? Who knew?

"Well, it's important to have that. That's what we need," snaps one of the patrons, unable to stop himself from adding an angry, desperate edge. The fighting in the back is a little less fun against four seasoned labourers; they are used to throwing around boxes, what's the difference of two men? They pull the two apart, taking a few bruises. T'Challa manages not to go down under the Elflight man, though that requires back pedalling and his precious cup bouncing on the ground. It's too hard to be stamped flat but the ringing noise goes off like a gong. Bodies press and he pushes forward. A brush of his hands over the man's arm to straighten him up and nudge him out produces a sharp reaction.

"Get your hands off that!" snarls the Elflight owner.

T'Challa jumps back as if stung.

"This isn't right," Tigra says, and she doesn't mean only the fact that people are going nuts over a toy. The anger and desperation get through to her sense of empathy, and she realizes it's more than just shopping. She moves towards T'Challa, trying to get people off of him. "It's like they're addicted!" And now she's getting worried.

It isn't right. The violence nor the signs of desperation. The anger and the fact that Christmas is not meant to be like this, a disfiguring commercialism and jealousy that erupts from the hidden parts of the soul. Meaning to do well doesn't mean doing this; Tigra is spot on.

And yet…

T'Challa brushes off the man who is running out the door with the Elflight, or at least trying to. He drunkenly weaves past disappointed shoppers, bound for the marketplace and probably his car. Angry faces behind them are impotent, the store's clientele in the ruins of disaster. Violence might spring on Tigra and the Wakandan king if they're not careful.

"This is not a good thing for us to be near. They're polluted," he mutters.

Christmas reduced to commercialism and petty nastiness and mean-spiritedness? Why such a thing could never happen in these United States!

"If polluted means 'off their rockers,' then yeah, they are very definitely polluted. C'mon, let's get out of here," she urges, moving towards the door. Whatever is going on, they're not going to be able to help matters, she thinks.

"I cannot validate the wisdom in staying." T'Challa is not a man who backs down from such things, and when someone tries to shove him from the side to sneak past, he pushes out his arm until the unfortunate fellow is held back, rather hard. "You stay there. Go, ma'am, and I will make sure they do not swamp us."

That's the idea, anyways…

There's a presence to T'Challa that suggests that when he says he'll make sure they're not swamped, he bloody well means it. That arm sure doesn't look like it will go anywhere, for one thing. "Let me try something," she says, turning away from him and towards the crowd. She hunches up her shoulders a bit, lets her fur ripple, extends her claws, curls her fingers threatening, takes a breath, and then lets out the most vicious roaring snarl that she can manage, hoping to intimidate them into backing off and giving the heroes room to skedaddle.

T'Challa doesn't do light and hearty or playful much. Just ask Wakanda. They expect a different standard from their kings. "What are…"

This woman roars? Of course. The largest cats do, given they cannot do aught else. His expression sharpens and hardens at the same time, a mask of stately vigor restored. The way the crowd rears back is proof of their intimidation, and that point, T'Challa springs away into the street at a quick clip.

A king who actually does something? There's a foreign concept. Tigra holds the roar for a moment, letting it echo in the confines of the shop. She can feel T'Challa's departure behind her, and quickly turns to follow him, feeling just a little smug. Cats rule, dogs drool. "I don't want to think what would happen if you stayed behind with them in that state."

Amazing, isn't it? But in this republic, the king was never around to see, or know. Therefore he might be an anomaly or part of the historical fabric, simply on the ground. Not something he thinks about here, though, nor much cares about as he takes off in a sprint away from the shop. Speed is ever so much in his favour. "They might be tearing one another apart. It must be called in for the authorities to handle. Injuries are likely enough." Payphone in Chinatown, good luck. A glance to the tea shop he bought his drink at. Goodbye, Thermos. "In there."

Tigra keeps up with T'Challa's sprinting, looking around for a phone as they go. "That's what I hoped to stop, people getting hurt, but it's not natural what's going on there. We were just making it worse, amazingly." Phone, phone, where's a phone? Tea shop? What? Give them tea to calm them down? What will that—oh. Right. Phone. "Good idea," she says, following him in.

"No. They do not wish that sort of peace." T'Challa will grumble over that later, with a cup of tea and a big bay window to sun himself in. He gestures at the shop. "Ladies first. I will follow. Ask for the phone and they will not be upset, I am sure." If they will, money makes people shut up about their worries. Bit crude but sadly the truth of human nature, for the most part. The sound of the riot in the storefront has calmed a little, but not by much, as grumpiness overtakes the immediate need to compete.

"Why thank you," she says as he gestures for her to go in first, which she does, looking around the inside quickly, before approaching the counter. "Excuse me, please," she says to the employee behind the counter. "Can i use your phone? It's extremely urgent." She puts on her best smile, the friendly one that tries not to show off sharp teeth.

T'Challa nods his acceptance of the gratitude, pushing the door open with one long arm. His coat is in good shape, minus the missing cup. He doesn't look to have broken a sweat at all. The little grandmother running the teashop with her spectacled son both get a surprise of a cat and an African running in, not the least because they just saw one of them leave with a cup. A concerned mumble comes out, "The tea was not good?" Were those rancid leaves? Is her grandson going to have his ear pinched? No. He's quite safe as that concern is spread out in detail. An ancient old black round-dial phone is pushed Tigra's way.

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