I-No - Chitarra di Signorina

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Description: Rose's recovery from her recent stint as a Shadaloo Fetish Prisoner(TM) is interrupted by I-No visiting her home. While I-No may technically have been invited, it's still terrible timing. I-No steals Rose's gimmick by delivering some ominous and vague objectives, but Rose somehow enjoys the experience anyway. It's all about the magic touch.


Rose's house has no grand or exalted name, at least that can be seen. The hidden name of the place, which I-No might have reason to I-Know, is "Lunam-et-Stellas", Moon-and-stars. It is, from the street, not hugely distinctive from the other houses of the upwardly luxurious bourgeoise who probably inherited their plots or bought them with old money: except for the fence, which resembles the battlements of an old castle done in concrete with small spaces at the base, beneath a faux arch - wide enough to admit a dog or a cat, or a particularly determined infant.

There is no lawn, just a stone plaza turning off from the cobblestoned road. There does not seem to be a front door, either. Strange. But there is what was probably a carriage door or perhaps a garage, which has been turned into an open square access route into a vaulted dome. (The sides of this aperture have sunflowers, wind chimes, and Lord save us, a bird feeder.)

Inside it is painted in rich deep-blue with stars and moons and lattice-screened window. A violet curtain, currently closed, is decorated with fat pieces of decorative copper-and-bronze stars and suns and moons - presumably, beyond that curtain, the magic and the mystery happens. The air is rich with the scent of the Mediterranean and sandalwood with galangal.

There is also a spiral staircase with a velvet rope blocking it off, which, duh, obviously, is where you go.

Up that staircase leads to a momentarily prosaic hallway and a double-door, no windows. It is labelled (in Italian): "Enter Freely and Unafraid" with an additional placard in light burn-marked wood, "Except J"-- the rest has cracked off, or been broken off.

The door is not locked, but it is creaky.

And in THERE it is like a spa. There are more decorative plants and ferns. The air is slightly humid. There are several scented candles: lavender, sage, the same sandalwood/galangal blend from downstairs. The floor is loosely polished granite tiles. There is dark draping cloth on almost everything except the breakfast nook. There is a breakfast nook; there is wine there.

"Are you coming to murder me?" says Rose, from the couch.

Rose is laying there in a thin white silk robe. The couch itself is low, leather-upholstered and L-shaped. Rose is in the long end of the L, her ankles on the arm rest and her feet slightly elevated. She is faintly peppered with bruises and her eyes have dark rings round them. Her hair has been washed and smoothed out but is something of a mess.

"I doubt I would object. Please, help yourself - if you need knives, you'll find them in the kitchen..."

Rose made a terrible mistake.

The mistake that Rose made is that she invited I-No to her home. Many would stop here and say that this constituted alarm enough, but the folly grew further: She did not specify a time other than 'the end of the month.' I-No being I-No, this is hardly a schedule at all, and it gives her a great and terrible power over the House of Rose.

Lunam-et-Stellas, those precious Moon-and-Stars, does not find its visitor when she arrives. It is not for lack of visibility. The red witch is not very red today, but she is still recognizable because she is a distinct woman with a flair for dramatic outfits: the statement is a black silk-and-suede dress with an elaborate crosses-and-flowers relief in the material, decorated with a chunky lace-up in the back of silver metal eyes and heavy red thread. A pair of black under-the-knee gladiator heels and gold-rim aviator sunglasses round things out, with the minor addition of a pale blue guitar that she's very unprofessionally balancing on her shoulder like an axe.

I-No's shades-hidden gaze travels all along the stone plaza, to the carriage door, up toward the vaulted dome, where it lingers. She is singing under her breath, a wordless little rhythmic beat that means nothing sensible to most anyone. She is hidden from this place because the song, like her, is magical. It makes her a non-entity to certain metaphysical kinds of detection. It would be a challenging thing to do with such a casual touch, but I-No has experience. Specific experience.

Her arcane senses roam, touching but not disturbing the shape of the home's gentle aura. Still a cute trick, I-No thinks. Rose must get great sleep.

Satisfied (for the ever-elusive moment), I-No strolls across the plaza and into the archway. She makes a casual twirl as she walks, taking in the lay of things -- flowers, chimes, bird feeder -- and finds nothing sufficiently unusual to interest her. The red witch pauses in front of the stanchions blocking her way. With a firm but unhurried movement of her foot, she slides one stanchion toward the other and therefore both of them out of her way.

Her footsteps are near-silent, even with the stiletto heels. I-No stops her advance only to consider the sign, which is a novelty. She purses her lips, her mind roaming over memories. Fuck, she hates that timeline branch. Way too much content.

The door is not locked, but it is creaky. This doesn't matter because it opens with a bang as I-No kicks it open. She steps forward in the same motion as lowering her kicking leg, leaving her standing in the threshold, sunglasses gleaming, guitar balanced, Rose spread out before her on a leather couch.

Rose quips. I-No, as if having waited to hear her case before deciding to feel an emotion, splits her face in a toothy smile.

"Knives? And you've already got the wax burning. Good girl."

I-No steps inside, tossing her guitar to her left. It flips end over end and lands somewhere out of sight, but bizarrely doesn't make a sound. The door slams shut on its own accord as I-No reaches up to remove her sunglasses and shake her hair out from the wind having tousled it.

"Who fucked you up?"

Bang! The shock of every moment where you continue to be alive. Also the sound of a door.

Rose turns her head slightly, eyes not really focusing. The guitar goes flying, silent as its strings flow with peace and ease through the sultry, leisurely air of the house. It lands in the bedroom, whose door was ajar, and the neck ends up resting against violet satin sheets.

But that's a problem for another day. "Why thank you," Rose murmurs. She sounds, despite everything, like she's smiling.

She is asked a question.

Rose takes in a deep breath, sufficient to make her chest rise, and she shifts her arm to rest it over her eyes. "Oh-h-h-h, you have opened up the gates. Don't complain that I'm boring you, because you asked. Let me go down the list."

Rose curls and uncurls her fingers. There are the dying remains of bruises on her forearm, visible through the robe's material if you get up close and certainly visible where it ends, an inch or two shy of the wrist. She lets herself sag backwards from that moment of uplift, and she begins to speak.

"A number of children with some connection to my gift are missing. Were missing; they were taken in Mexico. I pursued, of course, because ultimately I have little else to occupy me and because 'that man' is no doubt behind this entire operation." There is irony here but it is, for once, something beyond the sight of Rose.

"I went to a small town - I cannot remember its name now, because I expect my brain was injured. I encountered an intoxicated lout of a woman with an ox-horn hairstyle who smelled like vinegar that had been left in the sun... despite this, or perhaps because of it, she commanded Psycho Power."

Rose shifts her arm to reveal her left eye, which turns to focus at I-no, or at least towards her. "She beat sixteen shades of piss out of me," Rose reports, "and THAT was not the end of it. If I keep going you'll regret it. I don't want to discourage you from breaking the faces of the minions of Shadoloo."

"Please, though, have a seat, make yourself comfortable. I anticipated I would not be here earlier because I was their prisoner, you see, for several weeks..."

As Rose takes in a deep breath -- sufficient to make her chest rise, mind you -- and then rests her arm over her eyes, I-No looks down at where the older woman's robe opens. It is the kind of well-coordinated choreography that can only come from pure chance. I-No is entertained by this gift of synchronicity while the story goes on.

No boredom. None.

Maybe a little. I-No has seen plenty of tits in her time(s), and, no matter what kind of bi superstar you are, a tiny bit of the forbidden allure is lost when you've got them on demand.

Not that Rose would know any of this. I-No is a frustrating blank in the psychic realm -- which, to be fair, happens with some people and is hardly a sign of the apocalypse -- and the only sound tell that she gets during her speech is a 'heh!' when she talks about 'that man.'

But there is a time to cease the melodrama and look once more upon this sinful world. When Rose does so, I-No is close, bent at the hips to lean down and look directly at her arm. When the arm isn't quite in the way anymore, that means I-No is looking directly at Rose. The witch smiles thinly but widely, with half-lidded eyes to show off her eyeliner.

"Ox horns and psycho power, huh. I heard she's a teenager this time. That's pretty fucked, don't you think?"

I-No lingers for a silent moment longer, and then straightens her posture with fluid grace. As she turns away to walk toward the kitchen -- it doesn't matter that Rose hasn't told her where the kitchen is -- she tosses her sunglasses over her shoulder so that they land in Rose's lap.

"So you ran afoul Major Buttchin's fetish force." Her voice keeps growing louder as she moves further away, because operable conversational distance is only a matter of politeness. "Several weeks, though? Shit! Surprised you didn't walk out of there in a leotard. Did you blow up anything important on your way out, or was this an unmitigated disaster of citizen heroism?"

Ominous sounds of rifling through refrigerator and pantry emanate from the kitchen.

The relative absence of I-no was an i-Known factor and Rose has much bigger things on her mind right now, such as the sixteen thousand, four hundred and fifteen bruised spots on her body. Rose has a poignantly washed out cast to her face, of course: she didn't put on liner to lay around the house.

Rose opens her mouth - and pauses.

Her lips purse together. 'A teenager this time.'

Rose weighs that before speaking. It's a habit that delays the question as I-No throws her sunglasses onto Rose's lap. Rose reaches down to put a hand over them on reflex, the motion quick but painful enough that she grimaces. Either way, she claims them; they have been given to her, and she unfolds them, looking through the shades towards the ceiling. (In this room the ceiling has nothing fancy on it. There's a ceiling fan. That's it.)

"Heh," she half-laughs. She raises her voice a little, though there's a peculiar carrier-wave sort of effect - probably an effort at telepathy, which may be easier for her than hollering. "No, actually, he wrapped me in a nice rubber cat suit. I can show you it if you like. It's probably saved my life. My best supposition is that they were keeping me under anesthetic for transfer to the home office, but presumably some other factors kept them from pulling the - how do you put it - pulling the trigger before Chun-Li was able to make her escape. Really," and now Rose puts on the sunglasses, "I just followed behind her."

"As for what I blew up... well, Chun-li and her old master killed a lot of people. I think that I did alright for myself, considering they used heavy machine guns and some sort of crushing octopus creature made of wires behind them."

FLASHBACK: Rose, wrapped into the wires and cabling of some kind of scientific chaingun she'd brought to a dark parody of quasi-life by blasting it into flinders with Soul Power, knocks a fire extinguisher in between her legs, which hurts, and squeezes it open, which also hurts but in a different way.

"Step back a bit," Rose says. "That woman. Do you mean that she is a clone?"

The pantry has little fresh stuff but there is an abundance of snack-friendly thin crackers, as well as about thirty different wine glasses. There's also a stove top coffee pot and some cheese. Further examination would reveal the canned tomatoes and the pasta machine.

They're just shades. Maybe they help with light being too bright. If it's too bright, anyway.

I-No rummages. She actually finishes rummaging very quickly but, in a fit of denial that reality is being how it is, she rummages again in hopes that she missed some trove of secret food. No such luck. She ends up holding a container of fancy cheese and a sleeve of thin crackers, frowning.

"I'm a fancy lady," she mutters, out of normal earshot. "I don't even have salami. Fuck, how am I supposed to get congestive heart failure now?"

I-No steps out of the kitchen with her begrudged prizes, one in each hand. She beelines for one of the chairs that's near a coffee table, falling backward into it with a lack of grace that definitely does not play nice with the abbreviated and constricting cut of her dress. She gives very few and possibly no fucks as she settles in. They're red, by the way.

The witch leans forward, prying open the containers to get at the goods. She has not yet answered the clone question, and she continues to not answer as she is presented with the problem of a solid block of cheese with no knife. They're in the kitchen, of course. I-No wrinkles her nose, and then flicks her fingers toward the disagreeable dairy. After a tense moment, it falls apart in perfect chunks. I-No casually makes with the whole cheese-on-crackers arrangement that is preferred by both children and rich people and, one theorizes, rich children.

"Nah," says I-No, who is only about seventy percent done with chewing. "Not her. I mean, sometimes, but don't worry about that. You close to Xiang much? Run around fighting crime?"

I-No finally swallows. She loads up the next cracker.

Rose lets her head roll to the side as I-no approaches, which she can mostly manage. Her legs shift, crossing at the ankles, as she says mildly, "I would have shopped, but I didn't want to," possibly regarding the salame.

She is exposed to red. Her eyes turn upwards as the cheese is given a peremptory processing, Rose's lips pursing in surprise as she reaches out with one hand, guided by her eyes, now looking out through the dimming mirrorshades.

She doesn't reach far. With a little petulant sigh, she narrows her eyes, or furrows her brow at least. One of the loaded-up crackers twinkles - quite visible, if still subtle, in the dark - and sails gently through the air, landing in the crook of Rose's hand. She raises it to her mouth and takes a discreet bite, a single crumb on her lower lip cleaned with a subtle pursing.

She chews in silence. It lets I-no's question hang in the air even as she goes back for seconds before the first is fully down her throat.

"No," Rose replies. Her head shifts, tilting forwards.

"Should I?" she murmurs.

"I did encourage her," she continues, "but she was reeling, and she was perhaps eight yards from me. It was rather foolish of them to assume I would be helpless, though, of course, it did take me over a week."

I-No doesn't seem to mind the arguably evil power of telekinetic snacking. Rose will find no judgment here.

"Yeah, why the fuck not," says I-No, leaning back into her chair with, in her hand, the gross decadence of two pieces of cheese wedged between two crackers.

"You're both rah rah kill Shadaloo types. She's way the fuck easier to work with than Ryu. That asshole's like Sasquatch with a protagonist aura, just comes loping out of the treeline to hit someone in the face and wander off again. You can't count on that shit! Fuck me, he's not the only one either. At least Xiang's got enough self-loathing to show up to work on time."

I-No pops her creation into her mouth. In contrast to the earlier cracker, she devours it almost immediately. The witch gestures toward Rose with a free hand.

"You gotta get your shit in order. Do you know what Shadaloo has? A bunch of cocks who signed up to get paid in giant statues of themselves and uniforms with visible panty lines. You've got an apprentice who's into maid cosplay and calling you master every other sentence, which, admittedly, is pretty fuckin' choice."

I-No leans forward again, putting her hands on her knees. She widens her eyes for drama as she continues driving toward the point. Her irises shift through red, to powder blue, to midnight purple.

"Where is it, Rose? I know you've got it in you. Where's your posse?"

It's solid cheese. Not literally solid, but it was probably something that cost more than ten euros. Maybe not much more, but more than that. Rose finishes her own bite and she narrows her eyes at I-No again as she speaks. Her words are slangy and swift but the intention behind them -

It's clear, but it's like the dazzle paint on one of those old ships, Rose thinks as she takes her stolen shades off, folding the arms over and resting one back on her lower lip. "... You're not wrong," Rose begins, but then she is momentarily aghast at all of the horror of I-No cramming three euros' worth of queso straight into her mouth.

She gets gestured at then; with force, with emphasis. I-No is fitting the local scene perfectly.

Rose takes a deep breath.

"When you say that," Rose begins, "Which of them do you mean?"

Her eyes meet I-no's - and the color change surprises her. Her focus tightens. It is a thing that is subtly palpable - peering into the other woman's eyes, she asks, half-rhetorically, "And who are you to ask...?"

"Though," she concludes, letting her head roll back and breaking the spell of a witch's eyes to go back to staring at a familiar ceiling, "I cannot question you. I had thought, to all appearances correctly, that Vega was slain."

She pauses, as if to see if I-No will fill in a gap.

"Of course," she says, "I was wrong."

The no judgment clause also means that I-No seems incapable of judging herself. Rose's aghastery holds no power over the musician in red. (Still technically qualifies.)

Rose asks a question. I-No doesn't answer. The two look at each other, Rose peering with tight focus, I-No slipping with contemptuous ease from wide-eyed mania into languorous smugness.

Who is she?


Rose moves on. I-No, perhaps to celebrate her victory, loads up another three-euro cracker sandwich. She's chewing on it thoughtfully, sprawled once more back into the leather upholstered sectional, while Rose hunts for some illumination on her preconceptions.

"So," I-No says, pausing only to reach up and wipe at her mouth. "How about you flex your conspiracy theorist powers for me and guess. Go ahead, show me what you've got. Who am I and what do I want? I swear on my irresponsible fashion sense I'll be honest with you if you get it right."

I-No's face softens, but not kindly. Her voice swaps to that luxurious purr she sometimes uses. "Or we could up the ante with another kind of wager, if you wanted...?"

Rose considers. She taps the ear-piece of the shades on her lips several times as I-No's words slide into her ear and reach her mind, even as her eyes drink in the comfortable monotony of the ceiling.

Monotony, she thinks.

That's what most of it has been, hasn't it? Dealing cards, watching the world decline, kicking the ball back up the field once in a great while...

Maybe I'm being entranced, Rose thinks further.

Her head turns to look back towards I-No, tugging her lip lightly as she says, "And what do you propose for that wager?" Her eyes narrow.

Conspiracy theorist powers, Rose thinks: And I can barely read her presence. This is foolish. Am I so bored? Well, she reasons with an interior shrug, it could hardly be worse than that laboratory.

In the time it takes Rose to look back at I-No, the younger woman has composed herself. She sits prettily diagonally across from Rose, legs crossed at the knee, hands balanced atop, posed such that there is a clear line of sight running along her exposed thigh up to the boldly-cut hemline of her dress. Her head tilted just so, enough to send her hair caressing one of her proudly-angled cheeks. She watches Rose with irises split between sunset orange and moss green.

"You don't have any ideas?" she says, feigning innocence in such an obvious way that it must be a game. "I don't have much to pay you with."

She reaches up to brush absently at her cheek, but of course the absentness is itself a trick that reveals itself in the drifting of her fingers down the side of her neck, toward her collarbones.

"I've already offered you information. What else could a powerful woman like you want?"

Rose looks back, and she wraps her lips round the slim earpiece of the glasses. She takes a deep breath as I-No reclines in such an artfully perfect way. I-No can tell her eyes aren't meeting hers exactly, instead watching the curve of red vinyl, the motion of fingers -

I've already decided, Rose realizes.

Inwardly she laughs.

"I could use a massage," Rose admits, eyes almost but not entirely closing, eyelashes lacing together. "I suppose I will have to hope I do not lose the wager..."

She takes another breath and settles herself back into the couch, eyes shutting all of the way.

"I base this on very little information, and so I must speak in high concepts and generalities," Rose says. "The impression I receive from you is an artificial being - created by I-do-not-know who. You are tremendously comfortable in your own skin, suggesting you were never a child, and you have an alert innocence suggesting that your psyche formed in an unusual way. I would hedge myself here - no bet - and say that you might have been amnesiac, perhaps due to an action of Psycho Power, or a similar agent. If that is so, however, you are not eager to remember."

Rose uncrosses her legs and adjusts the lower reaches of her robe slightly, as it was threatening to slide down.

"You oppose someone; it is not Shadoloo, but Shadoloo is not your ally, nor your maker. You turn to me because of one of two factors; the more likely, Soul Power, suggests that your problem is not one of sheer strength. Given where we have met before, I suspect in turn that it connects to the horror of 'Mortal Kombat'."

She turns her head and opens her eyes again.

"How close am I?"

"A massage?" I-No interjects, her voice losing its melodious quality as her red-lipped smile splits her face anew. "That's some real softcore, honey. Okay, you're on."

I-No shifts her posture and crosses her arms, listening to Rose's theorizing. Despite the older woman's nearly-closed eyes, I-No remains as without tell as if she were being closely scrutinized. Pursing her lips and looking thoughtful are about as much as the guess gets out of her.

Rose opens her eyes and looks. How close is she?

The red witch puts on a grimace and waggles her hand noncommittally.

"Judges say... nah."

She sits up and leans forward, showing an open hand to Rose, palm up as if to offer it to her if she were not too far away for such things.

"That's good, though. You're gonna need to think about shit like this if you're gonna start figuring shit out. You gotta go a little insane. That's the secret. But, nah -- I'm human as can be, and if anything I remember too /much./"

The witch pauses, her smile becoming sly. She reaches upward, crossing her arms behind her head so that she may stretch her back. The melody returns.

"Too much woman to imagine me as a kid, huh? I don't blame you~"

And then she drops the act all at once, pushing up off the couch onto her feet. She paces around the table, disappearing out of Rose's current line of sight as she crosses around the couch and presumably toward one of the windows.

"You keep saying Shadoloo instead of Shadaloo. Which one do you remember? Never mind. I don't really give a psycho fuck about them, they're just huge and grabby and that means they usually get in my way. That Mortal Kombat bullshit is annoying because it just won't fuckin' quit, but at least it's over for now. No..."

I-No returns to the couch, though on the rear side, where she puts her hands on the back and leans forward to look at Rose. Her irises mingle pastel pink, smokey gray, and electric yellow.

"I'm like you, zigzag. Like, being the operative word, and not am. I solve problems that need solving so everyone else can go back to pretending like the world just sorts its own shit out. Vega is your problem, right?"

The witch is briefly and tensely silent, the tension carried by a subtle but evocative narrowing of her eyes. The colors of her irises rotate fractionally, red creeping in at the edges.

"I know plenty of problems like Vega. Problems the world could do without."

There's enough pieces now. I-No doesn't seem inclined to immediately put them together for Rose, but they are there.

"If you could feel how I feel," Rose murmurs, "you'd understand. You have to walk before you can..."

And she loses out.

At this point, Rose begins to sit up. This is an operation. She moves with a deliberate delicacy that is not simply the aftermath of soft tissue damage; the hem of her robe rides as she slides over first her left leg, then her right, so that her feet will be on the ground, or nearer to them.

This motion is gradual. The part where she pushes herself upright, which comes around when I-No reaches the window, comes along with Rose being momentarily troubled. Something about what she said - Which one does she remember? It's a slightly different way of -

She remembers, obscurely, a reading she gave in Southtown, several years ago.

It does not take occult sensitivity to see the shadow that passes over Rose's face, a face that has of course seen its share of shadows. Setting her teeth for a moment, Rose, having reached an erect posture, leans back against the couch cushion and lets herself slump backwards. Her head tilts.

It means she looks at I-No upside down. It's a vulnerable sort of pose and leaves her lips slightly parted.

"Your eyes," she says. "Do you feel it when they change?"

It's an irrelevancy, but perhaps she wants to regain a little poise.

"You know me so well, and I know you hardly at all. Still," Rose concludes, closing her eyes with another sigh, "I suppose I have lost a bet, haven't I? But I gave it my best. It's difficult to read someone as cold as you, you know."

"Is there any particular sort of person you have your eyes on?"

By the time Rose finishes her arduous ascent to a sitting position, and then has her grim foreshadowing moment, and finally decides to tilt her head back, I-No has placed herself at the back of the couch. The purple psychic's view of the red witch's face is briefly blocked by natural circumstances until I-No pushes back and leans forward to look down without herself getting in her way.

At this angle, a shadow is cast across her face. Her eyes -- the very ones that Rose asks about -- are weirdly bright as if they carry their own light. Her irises sample shades of sunset and ocean.

She doesn't answer at first. None of Rose's questions. It gives Rose time to ask them all, of course, but there's still no answers. Her fiercely red lips arch in a sly little smile.

"Cold?" she says, affecting a fatale murmur. "What a thing to say to someone."

I-No curls her hand toward Rose's throat. Her fingertips brush lightly, gently, exploringly, until her palm comes down and she has her hand -- no matter how softly and kindly her touch -- around Rose's neck.

"Especially when you don't know just how warm I can be."

An aching moment drifts through.

Then, with an abrupt cessation of drama, I-No drops her hand and walks off. Rose will find her back on the right side of the couch soon enough.

"People who can end the world. Your bulkier half would only end up doing that through sheer stupidity, which, don't get me wrong, he's definitely capable of. I'm not done being mysterious just yet because I wanna see you hustle your milfy ass and get a team together."

I-No stops near the entranceway, holding out her hand toward Rose's bedroom. Her guitar comes flying out as if someone had thrown it to her from offstage. She catches it (by the neck, of course) with practiced ease, only then turning around to consider Rose anew.

"Maybe, if you're feeling confident, you can even ask a certain hot guitarist you know to help out with a few other problems in your life. I gotta warn you though, she likes to be compensated."

I-No tilts her head toward her sunglasses, which still rest near Rose from earlier. "All yours until you rest up. Something to remember me by."

She turns, pulling open the door and stepping one foot outside the threshold before pausing a final time.

"Oh... the eyes? They're the secret to everything. You know how it is."

With only a brief time to hear Rose's response, I-No heads out into the hall and the stairway beyond. Should Rose inspect the sunglasses left to her, she will find a phone number written on the lenses in red dry erase marker.

Those eyes hold the world, or at least an aesthetic sampler of it. The view of a beach at sunset. But that view has perils, the augury of the oncoming night (or so Rose thinks) and the violet-and-blood streaks along the highways of history.

The hand comes towards her throat.

There aren't any bruises there, and perhaps that is why Rose doesn't object or flinch. Her head turns towards the left. Her eyes half lid. When the fingertips come to rest, she shudders - it's palpable. Her pulse is strong, a little slow. Her jaw tightens, lips pursing up. A flush hints its way up her cheeks -

And then she moves.

Rose slouches, feeling obscure disappointment.

She does not stay unfocused long. It feels to her to be quite long, but she is fully in sympatico with what I-no is saying once more by the time she is at 'can'. "Hmf," Rose says, tightening the sash of her robe while her eyes shut. "A team." She weighs whether she should rise, but does not trust her legs, even if the motion would be good - but plummeting in front of this woman now seems an ill decision.

So she is looking over her shoulder when I-No calls her axe. She quirks one eyebrow. Some part of her wants to say something tart in response. Another part swallows greedily of this vinyl-and-eyeliner apparition. It's sweet and already stinging on the tongue, like cheap wine.

Even so old habits die hard. "I'll see," she says, "what I can do. Ciao."

I-No leaves. She is not interrupted.

Rose waits to hear footsteps going down the stairs before she flops back onto the couch with a heavy sound. Rolling onto her back, she addresses the ceiling as she raises up one leg, feeling the bruised tendon and abused muscle complain as she hooks her knee over the back of the couch. "Giving me a mission, laden with portent, speaking so cruelly."

Rose touches her throat and lets her fingers trail down to her collarbone, and a little lower. "So that's how it feels from the other end..."

The sunset comes, eventually.

At that point Rose gets up and staggers around. It is not a scenic thing but even Soul Power needs more than one flirtatious bite of cheese and crackers. It needs water. And wine. And gnocchi. Eventually when set at her tasteful little desk, Rose puts down the glasses she had been holding - and sees the number.


She can't even be mad.

A new entry goes into a small black book that cannot be seen if you aren't touching it, thanks to interlaced psionic prismatics laid over it. There are secrets in here, though most of them are prosaic ones. But there is an address book with names or aliases, and contact information.

Rose adds a new one: 'chitarra di signorina'

After adding the number, she adds another note in a particular column: 100%.

She circles it, with emphasis.

Log created on 19:49:45 10/31/2018 by I-No, and last modified on 18:52:46 11/07/2018.