Grace and Tigger Bank Robbery

Characters: Klavdiya Vasiliev (Okhotnik), Grace Choi
Rated: PG-13 for comic book violence
Summary: Grace happens upon a bank robbery hostage situation, and decides to help. A giant tiger shows up to help too.
OOC Date: 2017-11-19
IC Date: 2017-11-19
Where: Harlem, NYC

The streets of New York City are neither peaceful, nor idyllic, but they are not a constant cesspool of violent activity. One can usually be assured of walking safely from one location to another in broad daylight without much in the way of trouble. True, drive-bys and other threats become more common in the depressed neighborhoods, but even then they are the exception rather than the rule.
When one is one of the disenfranchised, it is important to recognize safe from less so, because one is automatically more likely to be a target than others. This can be especially true for the homeless. It's a level of intelligent, capable paranoia. This is exacerbated by the hypervigilance and the hypersenses of a military vet with extensive combat experience and PTSD who also happens to be a weretigress.
It's not a thing Diya talks about. She doesn't talk with many people, and certainly never about that. Or her origins. Or her less than entirely human nature. But she sometimes has to head out of the city in order to deal with the needs of her dual nature. A homeless woman cannot obtain enough food to sate the needs of a healing weretigress in the city; she hasn't the money, and if she presented it, it would be assumed she had stolen it. (OK, OK. Chances are that's exactly what she would have done. But they have no proof of that!) Her solution is heading out of the city, into the wooded regions to the northwest, and hunting for food, then returning.
Which is what Diya is doing now, wandering through Harlem, head down, trying not to make eye contact or start any trouble. Just another homeless vet on the streets. Nothing to see here.
Or so she hopes.
Grace is neither homeless, or a veteran. But, having lived on the streets for more than a few years as an adolescent, she's certainly not unfamiliar to what goes on, and how to blend in. Or, at least, how to not rile folk up for the most part. It had, in fact, been Grace's off-day at Cheney's, and she'd spent a few hours of her time helping to hand out dishes at the local Soup Kitchen. Having come from a life as hard as that and being able to pull herself up from her bootstraps to a fairly comforable life - hardly rich, but enough money to never really want for what she needs or wants on a practical level is - well, it's really nice. And there's not a day go by she doesn't appreciate that. Money makes the world go 'round. That's a lesson she learned one of the hardest ways possible.
Grace doesn't talk about her past, either.
She's also very, very hard to miss. And probably the tallest, most athletic looking woman that most anyone in Harlem has seen for a damn long while. Those two features are, in among themselves, enough to give many people pause to not only give her space and not question her what she's doing there as well as keep the riff-raff away from trying anything stupid. for the most part.
Most tend to avoid Diya, as well, though for less obvious, less conscious reasons. There's just something about her presence that unnerves people; civilians and the more dangerous elements alike. But those more dangerous elements consider themselves territorial predators; they see the presence of such a perceived threat as something to be eliminated, rather than simply avoided.
Diya spots the tall, massively thewed young woman well down the block on the sidewalk. She has not frequented soup kitchens this far north on Manhattan, so she has not encountered Grace before in any specific fashion. But she recognizes the movements of an accomplished fighter, the confidence of a woman who is unafraid in her own skin, even here. That is something she respects.
Yet even that pales in comparison when her hypersensitive hearing picks out a sound she knows all too well: the racking of the bolts on submachine guns.
Instantly, the greasy, unkempt woman turns her head sharply towards that sound, zeroing in as she spots the bank, her entire being focused such that she loses track a bit of those now moving around her, grumpily, as she stops stock still in the sidewalk, staring; she cannot smell cordite, so they have not fired yet. But at least two of those weapons are now readied to fire inside the bank, and she can now pick up the stink of fear on the air, and the soft sounds of whimpering, mostly obscured by the soundproofing of the bank.
Grace, however, is oblivious to what's going on in the bank. Distraction, perhaps, coupled with a complete lack of hyper-sensitive awareness. She knows she's big enough, and 'don't fuck with me' enough that she really doesn't need to carry a fear on herself. That's why, as she passes the bank, she pauses, as if reminded of something, frowning a bit as she jams a hand into a zippered pocket on her cargos to fish out a small billfold - that seems to be empty except for a card or two. She shrugs to herself, and starts to head towards the bank, while loosening the ATM card from her billfold, moving towards the machine on the outside of the bank near the lobby entrance.
Behind Grace, Diya ducks low for a moment, between two parked cars, as she considers what she knows to be happening. At least two gunmen in the bank, with submachine guns. Likely more. And they're readying to fire, which implies that, paired with people already whimpering, they're getting ready to charge out into the streets to make their getaway. And they're probably grabbing hostages.
And then, in the far distance, she picks out the sounds of sirens. Damnit. Cops. The last thing she needs is law enforcement officers.
But in spite of herself, Diya's awareness that innocent civilians are endangered grinds against her soul. She is a soldier; she takes on danger to keep those who cannot protect themselves safe.
The stress is not enough to compel her change, though Diya can feel her tiger much more strongly than usual, arising to the seeming need of the situation. So far, she's still in control, and she's choosing not to let the tiger out. That tends to make everything messy.
But can this be solved without being messy? Probably not.
"Get down!" Diya shouts, voice loud, commanding, a bite of an order so clear that half the civilians duck without ever checking to see who said that or why.
And that's the moment before the bank's front doors bang wide open, and here come gunmen with hostages strapped to their bodies, held in place by web harnesses as human shields …
Grace has one word, for tims like these. "Shit." She frowns, too. Grace? Grace isn't a hero. She'll never, ever have a silly codename. Or wear latex. Or, whatever it is they wear. But, she's well aware of bullies. Of those who abuse power they have. Or try to strongarm others. And, it grates her to no end. But to use hostages as literal body armor? That's a new one on her, and it gives her rather severe pause.

She is too big to hide, and hope the gunmen don't see her. And her mind races with the possibilities of what, if anything, she could do in the moment to save not only the hostages … but also knock the teeth out of these jerks who just ruined her day off.
Guns burp and bullets spray thither and yon around the street, slamming into cars, masonry and more. Only one, perhaps two manage to find any flesh, and neither of those fatal.
One of them finds the middle of Diya's back, as she knocks down and covers a child too busy gawping in confusion to duck and cover as he should have. Then she pushes the kid towards those that should be taking care of him, unable to quite contain the basso rumble pulsing from her chest, vibrating through the ground all around.
"Go, go!" the gunmen shout, as they start yanking around their hostage shields, making their way towards a van that pulled up to idle just seconds before the doors blasted open. It definitely looks like they planned this frighteningly well.
About fifteen more seconds, and those without weretigger hearing should be able to faintly pick out incoming sirens.
Damn. This is one thing that punching simply will not solve. Still. They're going to have a hell of a time climbing into the van with the people strapped to them like that, especially the driver? If one of them is indeed the driver. Grace considers her options. Looks around. And, perhaps, perhaps, finds salvation in a manhole cover. Most people need special tools to lift them. But those are also people that can't bench-lift cars.
Grace, falling into the latter category, picks up the manhole cover, and waits until she has a clear line of sight to the obvious van they're running towards. Then? She discus-throws the heavy steel manhole cover straight into the mostly aluminium-sided van.
That's something, likely, they didn't plan for. Grace hopes it's enough to deter, and not enough for someone to lose their life over, though.
As to the shots, she's unaware, lost in her own mind presently, that anyone has been shot. So far, she figures, it's been all flare for the show, a threat to cower.
The driver is in the van, the reason it just pulled up seconds ago. Which means when the manhole cover is suddenly thrown through the van, the driver is the one screaming his head off, struck with bits of flying glass and aluminium in the back and side.
The gunmen coming out of the bank with their hostages open fire again, two of them deciding to fire on Grace while the others spray more indiscriminately everywhere, thither and yon, again.
The gunmen continue towards the van, but they quickly realize that they'll never be able to make their getaway that way. One of them lifts a sidearm up and presses it to the temple of the woman strapped to his body.
"You back the fk off, b*tch! Or this one buys it! We're gettin' out a' here! And you're leavin' us alone if you don't wanna wear their blood!"
And then something happens. It's not the sirens getting closer; none of the police responders have arrived just yet. No, it's something else. Something much older. A primal, primordial fear that sets in amongst the lizardlike hindbrain and causes paralysis.
A tiger's angry, furious roar, magnified to a degree few could imagine possible. Hooray for the acoustics of a modern city street. And a tiger of ginormous proportions.
Okay. That is -definitely- not a 'sound of the city'. Grace has no idea what's coming, but the bullets are spraying and she's moving behind a car as quickly as she can. For the moment, she's done what she can do to slow them down, force them to regroup so the real authorities can help. She's given the hostages a chance. And, today, maybe that's all she -can- do, with how things are going.
"You're the boss," agrees Grace, for the moment, sounding sincere because she is. She played her one gambit. Nobody died. She can breathe easy. For at least, the next few moments. Until more bullets come. And, whatever made that ferocious roar can come.
At the far end of a couple city blocks, the first police cars around the corner and their sirens become much more immediate, funneled down the streets and across the front of the bank. This provokes an additional spate of bullets, and the cop cars pull up short and swing to block off the street, as the cops inside disembark to take cover and start reporting in what they're seeing.
"Find another ride, fast!" the leader shouts, and the driver wrenches open his door, comes out and sweeps the area with his own submachine gun. Then he goes looking for another van, smashing open a window and wrenching open that door much more easily, as he works to hotwire the vehicle.
Given that Grace has backed off and retreated, the leader seems to decide that things are shaky but under control; he keeps his handgun on the woman's temple, but he does not fire, and he does not levy new threats. All of them, however, are looking all around to find the source of that sound. That terrible, terrifying sound.
The first clue any of them get, however, is another roar, and then the scream of their compatriot closest to the bank's open doors, as a tiger - a huge example of the breed, over twelve feet long from rump to shoulders, and weighing over a thousand pounds - falls from goodness knows where down, claws shredding the harness across his back while also shredding his body armor and some of his flesh.
The hostage screams and nearly faints, stumbling away now that she is freed and then falling ot the cement as her terror overcomes her. The tigress, however, has eyes only for the gunman, as she summarily bites into the back of his neck and wrenches, snapping his neck instantly.
As should be expected, the gunmen whirl towards this threat, babbling and shouting, guns raising as they start spraying the cat and anything nearby with bullets.
"Jesus," mutters Grace to herself. But, the tiger -is- a distraction. A very, very good distraction. And Grace is no sneak, she's no stealth — but even a 7 foot tall Amazon can crouch down, and walk the span along the innersidewalk near the vehicles to encroach upon where the gang is furiously unloading a hell of a lot of artillery onto a -goddamn tiger-. "Note to self. Remind to thank whatever drug lord has a tiger that got free for saving that hostage," Grace sourly mutters to herself.
Grace moves quickly, and compartively quietly considering all the gunfire, tiger roars, and screams around her. Nobody is going to hear a few footfalls. And, probably, nobody is going to hear the driver scream as Grace grabs him by the back of the neck and punches him hard, in the face, to cleanly knock him out. She then drops the body back where she found it, and moves behind it quickly. "Alright, Grace. Play it cool. Play it cool," she tells herself.
The tiger is most definitely a huge distraction, and the police are not above using that to their advantage, as several of them move in closer, holding their fire so as not to draw more attention as they look for ways to intervene and get hostages to safety. Of course, they also want to maintain containment here. Including that … creature. More than one of them is fighting watery feelings in their guts at the sight of that tiger.
The tiger is fast, and agile, as well as huge. But it stays right where it is, roaring its defiance, as the first bursts of gunfire are unleashed in its direction. The shots don't miss, not all of them, and the cat cries out very angrily. Of benefit is the fact that it does not leap to attack those hurting it. Instead, it leaps over the fallen hostage … noticeably putting its own body in the way of the bullets.
No one spots Grace taking out the driver, including the driver himself; he had his head buried under the console of a van, working on hotwiring, and now he's just lying through the open door of the van, not moving.
Let's go!" the leader shouts, and the gunmen start backing up unevenly, precariously, still firing bursts at or near the cat, while they try to back up, dragging their meat shield hostages with them, towards the van the driver is still working on.
The shots impact the tiger. Blood splatters. The animal stands her ground, covering the hostage, as still more bullets slam home. But what might be most disturbing is that as the cat stands there, bullets fall to the ground, covered in the cat's blood, eventually expelled by her body's tissues.
And there's no collar on this cat.
Grace continues to keep a lower profile than she usually does. She'd usually solve such problems with her fists. But now? Well. Now she's thining on her feet. Keep them distracted, keep giving them obstacles.
Of course, through it all in the back of her mind is: Where they hell did that tiger come from, and what's going to go after next?'
The thought the tiger could be a sentient creature hasn't even entered the furthest thoughts of her mind, just yet. And, she's too busy listening, watching for footsteps as they near the van behind it to prepare herself for a quick takedown, or to simply overturn the van - with everyone in it, however things may go.
The highly distressed kidnapping bankrobber scumbags are paying more attention to the cops - they have started shooting towards them, now - and the tiger; they've lost all track of the giantess who was tossing manhole covers.
The tiger lies still, barely breathing, swaddling the fallen hostage entirely beneath her body. She is quite literally lying in a pool of her own blood, and she is in a great deal of pain. But as she is no longer moving or crying out, they're not wasting bullets on her.
But as the goons start to reload, they open themselves up for counter-attacks. The cops rush in, trying to get clearer shots on the robbers, but they are brought up short by the leader, still holding his handgun to the woman's temple.
"Back the f
k off or they DIE!"
This does mean none of them are looking behind the van, and none have seen Grace, which means she has an opening, if she chooses to take it.
Grace comes around the van when she sees that all the toes of the men are pointed away from her, as quickly as she can. Her long reach enables her to grab the furthest man on the back of the head, and she grips his skull as if it were a ball, and then pulls him back, and down. Hard. His skull will connect to the pavement. And, the hostage? Well. They'll be cushioned by the body. Batman, however, she is not … that is, not even a million miles close to his ability. She's effective, sure. Just … rather blatant about it.
The other two guys nearest her get their skulls knocked together - and, the poor hostages? Well, they might be suseciptible to a bit of head-knocking also, but when they come to they'll be (probably) grateful. And they won't be dead.
The last two guys are the most unfortunate.

They both get Grace's hand around the back of their necks, are hoisted up like ragdolls into the air, and Grace snarls, "I hear one more gunshot, I'm snapping both of your necks. I'm sure the police will write it off as - self defense. Drop the guns. Your buddies already have."
When they see some of the gunmen dropping, the cops rush forward, hoping to secure them and free the hostages as quickly as possible.
Hoisted, the gunman struggle - there was no way they were just going to give it up simply - until finally Grace proves her point, giving them a good shake to let them feel their feet no longer on the ground. Then they finally surrender and drop their guns.
The leader does comment, bitterly, "Fking capes! Almost got away. Your fking tiger's dead, at least. Stupid b*tch."
After releasing the harnesses and freeing the hostages, one of the cops takes a moment to put his fist through the leader's jaw. "That's enough out of you." They only then proceed to read the gunmen their rights.
As the scene is being secured, the most disturbing event is when the blood-soaked - completely coated in the stuff - hostage comes stumbling forward. "Oh God, help me. It's going to eat me!" she cries.
Sure enough, the tiger has actually moved up off of the woman, and is lying on the concrete, still bleeding, but rumbling a growl still, angry and in pain.
The cops are pretty flummoxed and terrified of the thing, swinging around and taking aim, clearly prepared to finish what the robbers started.
"I ain't wearing no damn cape. I just wanted to get money out of the ATM, you assholes. You ruined my day off. Jackasses." Grace pulls the straps free, after setting each man down to free the hostages, and then lets the cops clean up the mess.
Curiously, she wanders over towards the very bloody tiger, frowning, "Lady, if you think it's going to eat you, you probably should move, yeah?" Points out Grace, rather reasonably. "But, considering as it could've done that this entire time and it hasn't, don't think you need to worry about that. Thing probably saved all our lives by coming when it did. Yours included. Bastards would've shot all of you, otherwise."
She exhales, and then crouches down, looking back at the cops, "You take care of those guys, yeah? I can pick up fuzzy here, and get him - or her - to the nearest vet." It's about as good as idea as any, right now. Tigger won't fit on her bike, afterall.
When Grace puts herself into the line of fire so reasonably, looking over the tiger and pronouncing her a heroic help for having intervened as she did, the cops decide better of shooting at her, and with the robbers secured they put away their weapons.
More cops show up, and start checking on civilians and taking statements from bystanders. EMTs arrive, and start treating the wounded. The criminals will be getting their checkups at the jail's medical wing.
The cops call for animal control, but no one argues when Grace wants to carry the tiger. The scene commander offers, "Well, if it helped you, it's all yours."
It's subtle, but while Grace is crouched down, taking stock of the tiger, she might notice a couple more slugs slowly worming their way out of the cat's hide and falling away. Big emerald green eyes with golden backlight taken in Grace, still rumbling. She inches back a bit when Grace mentions picking her up, but she's not moving very fast or very much, so it's not as if she can really get away.
"Alright, Fuzzy." Grace didn't grow up on Winnie the Pooh. She grew up on Hera. And Aphrodite. And Hippolyta. Among others. "It's either come with me, or go with them." She frowns, as she sees the bullets working their way out. She's seen that before. On herself. "Okay. So, you're a meta. Interesting. Still."
Grace holds out her hand, "I'm not going to get my face clawed off for trying to help. And I figure somewhere with me, is somewhere better than the wagon, yeah?" She jerks her thumb over at the police wagon.
"And, I have no idea why I'm talking to a tiger. C'mon." She makes a 'come here' gesture, unwilling, perhaps, to frighten the animal more. More for fear of getting a bit taken out of her, or clawed, than anything else. It might not kill her, but it'd sure as hell hurt. And the tiger, she believes now, isn't exactly the sort of tiger you read about.
The cat does not lash out or attack Grace, nor does it make further protests. No, it does not want to go in a police wagon, or be scooped up by animal control. So when the big Amazon moves in again to scoop her up, the tiger relents, if with little sounds of protest that are likely as much to do with being put out as pain, of which there has to be plenty.
Poor kitty.
And she is definitely no tiny cat. Over a thousand pounds of heavily muscled, powerful predator. But given a chance to stabilize herself in Grace's grip, she wriggles in closer and wraps her paws - claws in - around the woman's neck and shoulders.
When Grace takes such an interest in the cat, and scoops her up, the cops call of animal control, and go about their business. Apparently they have decided that it's more importnat Grace get the deadly predator out of here than that she answer their nitpicky questions about what happened here. There are other witnesses for that.
"Alright." Nevermind that Grace is carrying a well-full-grown tiger, blood-soaked, and bullet-ridden, down the street. "You're a good girl," she tells the tiger, finding no protest from the animal. "At least something's going right today. C'mon."
And, she carries the tiger down a few blocks, nevermind the stares, and then she shoulder knocks on the door. "Hal. Hal, it's Grace. Let me in. No questions. Just need some privacy."
Hal is an old man. Likely in his 70's, or so. And Hal seems to - well, depending on how well the tiger is attuned to such things, run perhaps a not-so-legal establishment of betting. One can see the various betting pools, tickets, horse-races, and other such thing set up in the back room, of which Grace is knocking.
Hal starts to protest, but you really can't argue with a 7 foot Amazon with a 12 foot tiger in her arms. "I'll be gone in a couple hours. So will the tiger. Relax. Nobody will know. Thanks, Hal. I owe you." Hal seems to protest again, or want to, but mutters something in Greek which sounds like it's a curse word, gives Grace a rather rude hand gesture but then conceeds, and points down the hall. "You got 2 hours, that's it. And make sure that thing is out of here then, too. Whatever you're doing with it."
The tiger does her best to continue to be a 'good girl'. The walking lurches this way and that, and that hurts; she makes little sounds of protest at the pangs of pain. But she is apparently intelligent enough to know not to take out her pain and frustration on the Amazon carrying her. And however aware she may be of Hal's circumstances and sidelines, she can't exactly make any sign of that, so she finds herself carried along to whatever back room he has made available.
Thankfully, it does seem the tiger's blood flow is stemming, slowing and almost stopping, given enough time. A few of the bullet wounds - those with a bullet still in place - continue to weep blood. But once she is put down and allowed to relax and concentrate, these work their way out, one at a time, with a bit more blood and then stop entirely.
The cat clearly heals very quickly. But her rumbling tummy - a very different, more gurgling sound than the angry rumble she was giving at the scene - makes it pretty clear there are consequences to that metabolism.
"Jesus," complains Grace, wryly. "Well. You did a number on that jackass. So. Whatever. Stay here, yeah?"
Grace, having deposited the tigress onto the floor walks out of the room, closing the door behind herself. She's gone - maybe 15-20 minutes? Hard to say. Especially if tigers can't keep time. Or when they're in pain.
But, Grace comes back, and with her, she has two plates. One of the plates has three raw steaks, the other has a 'people hamburger'.
"You don't have a collar. So. What do I do with you after you're all healed up? And don't ask for anymore. Spent my last dollar I got on that right now. Rest of my money is back at the bank."
The tiger lifts her head, looking over Grace as she enters. She draws in breath, and her tongue rolls out like a carpet, panting. Oh yes, the smell of raw steak makes her all kinds of happy. She actually looks at Grace and bobs her head up and down, acknowledging the Amazon's point. OK. No asking for more. But she waits with bated tigger breath until the plate of steaks is put down in front of her.
Oddest thing? Ever seen a cat eat all dainty-like, taking tiny bites and being all fastidious and careful? Well, translate that into the acts of a thousand pound tiger. But the cat is very careful, and quite thorough. There's nothing left of those steaks. She even lavs the plate clean with her tongue to be sure.
By the time Grace returned, the last of the bullets was out, lying on the floor. And while the cat eats, resting there, all of the wounds close up. If not for the blood in her fur coat, the tiger would look perfectly healthy.
"Alright. So, you're well. Hal isn't a threat, he won't say anything. He's grumpy. Doesn't like attention. But he's a sweetheart. At least, as long as you don't owe him money. But he's still a good guy, even then. I figure, I walk you to Central Park. And. You. Stay there. Or. Find your way home. Or. Something. Whatever - non-feral tigers do in New York. It's quiet there, though. So. You know." Grace waves a hand, as if to make innumerable suggestions as to what the tiger could do.
The tiger looks at Grace pretty impassively, considering the suggestion. Central Park isn't bad. The humans will probably panic, though, or drag her to the zoo, which is not far away at all. In the meantime, while she thinks about it, the tiger starts grooming herself. If she keeps this up long enough, she'll eventually no longer be a blood-soaked version of herself.
"Right. You just do that," Grace agrees, "Imma eat this hamburger, and when I'm done, we're out of heere, before Hal gets grumpy."
Afterwards, Grace is true to her word, leading the tiger out of the room, rather than carrying. And, out the exit much to Hal's relief. And, into Central Park where Grace tries to be as - well, as quiet a possible.
That's not how she got there though, she walked down NYC streets like a badass Amazon who had a pet tiger. And, no. Nobody messed with either of them.
The tiger doesn't immediately seem to want to get up and move. But after Grace cajoles a bit, the giant cat finally gets up to her feet, walking over to headbutt Grace's thigh, and then strop all the way across her side, very intentionally marking the Amazon with her scent. Then she is finally willing to follow, out the doors, and down the sidewalks, all the way to Central Park. She does seem to like that, purring happily as she rolls around in the grass.
Isn't she cute?

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