I-No - Where It Goes[Toggle Names]
Description: Chun-Li, having learned more about I-No from Rose and even picked up a number, decides to try contacting the mysterious witch. Things get weird. Sexy weird. Or maybe creepy weird. It's really a matter of perception.
SOME TIME AGO
"I am going to go and get my little black book. In it I have the number that that woman, I-No, gave me. She has probably cancelled it by now and she will probably mysteriously call you back after you leave a plaintive voicemail. If she should pick up, I have one requirement, Chun-Li! One sincere request. Tell her," Rose says while slowly swaying out of leaning so far forward that her forehead's pressed to the officer's, "that you seduced it out of me, and that I have been thoroughly defiled, a widow before my time, by your cruel actions."
"So, there is the number," Rose says. "See? She left her glasses, even. You might as well call now; someone like that, she won't respect time zones..."
Chun-Li did not call then. Chun-Li stuck around for clean-up and eggs before eventually heading to the airport, because Chun-Li doesn't live in Genoa. She didn't call after landing, because she was tired-- because even after years of fighting around the world, she still /feels/ it on the other side of sacrificing a day to concrete-glass labyrinths and flying metal tubes.
The day afterwards, there was training-- just as there had been most every day since... ... Mexico. Whether at Gen's behest or hers, the woman's made a point of carving out a few hours to better herself for the inevitable. Some days, this means thuds and screams echoing from Genhaten's back rooms; others, trees left cracked and bent to awkward angles in the wilder areas beyond the city.
Four days later, while she's in the middle of registering for a gauntlet exhibition match put on by an energy drink company neither she nor Google have ever heard of, she begins to wonder if, perhaps, she is stalling. Several seconds of lip-chewing deliberation and an inconclusive verdict later, she releases a slow sigh and resumes typing.
Special Requests (100 chars. max):
> NO TRAINS, TRAIN STATIONS, OR OTHER RAIL-RELATED ARENAS, PLEASE
Of /course/ she memorized the number before she left Rose's. Perched cross-legged atop a navy leather sofa, she isn't /confirming/ at the string of digital numbers she's squinting at right now, she's just...
Thinking about them.
About what they portend: frustration and mystery; mockery and motivation; crude summoning and--
-- okay, yes, the rescue was rather crude too, but it is was nice. Kind of. Thoughtful-- /kind/ of.
Mostly, just crude.
Ring... ring... Chun-Li keeps a breath held. When - if - the witch picks up, the officer's already ready to greet her:
"Iiiii-No," she drawls through a taut smile, leaning on what she's hoping is the element of surprise to give herself /some/ measure of equal footing with the mysterious 'Miss X'. "It's been a while, but it turns out we've got a friend in common. How've you been...?"
A slight pause as she takes a short, bracing breath.
"I figured I'd at least rate a 'did you die' e-mail or something," she adds in a tense approximation of casual teasing. "It's on my website; you seem familiar..."
Ring. Ring. Ring.
Ring. Ring. Ring.
The other side of the line doesn't have time to be silent. Chun-Li is already on the offensive. Perhaps her plan of launching straight in with newly-gained information (like POWER WORD: TRUE NAME) is a wise one, because she gets through the breath pause without even a peep of an attempt to steal the tempo.
But eventually the teasing requires reaction, and Chun-Li trails off.
The line hangs up. It was definitely connected to something, but perhaps it was a dead line. A wrong number is possible, but there wasn't even creepy breathing.
Chun-Li is left to ponder her shortcomings for a mere ten seconds, because her phone receives a text after that. It's a text from the number she called -- at least that's some level of confirmation. Ominously, the only content is her phone's automated message asking if she wants to open the image that's been sent to her.
Provided she does (and really, who wouldn't after a mystery like this?), Chun-Li is confronted with an extreme down-angle shot of a woman. 'A woman' is an easy conclusion to make because centered in frame is her hand, which is clutching to her chest a soaking white t-shirt, which is being worn by someone wearing a rainbow bikini top underneath. The soaking makes what's underneath readily apparent, you see.
There is a hint of the woman's face in frame. Just a chin and a mouth. It's enough to see a familiar beauty mark. She appears to be in water... somewhere. It's difficult to tell if she's in the shallow end of a pool with a white bottom, or some kind of social media-ready beach with extremely clear water and white sand.
Nothing else. At least it's her?
She memorized the number, and yet...
It's easier to keep smiling through the awkward silence because there's nobody to see Chun-Li do it. There's a paradox here: with nobody to see (or hear???) her, why force the smile...?
Because if it /is/ just her, she could really use the company on her way down from that leap of faith. So: unpainted lips remain drawn and taut through an emptiness that grows louder by the moment until--
She-- memorized the number, right? Right. Right...?
Narrowing brown eyes roll down as that taut line's pulled together and quirked towards one side. Down past the screen and the finger hovering over a green button; down, over blue lycra and the thinly beaded evidence of a late night distraction rolling down the stone-cut ripples of her belly...
Ten seconds is a long time to fall. It must've been something she said-- right? It must've been her, and Chun-Li must've come on a little too strong in trying to seize some kind of advantage. The witch doesn't strike her as someone who's fond of being hemmed in...
Just that, and not the thing where Chun-Li showed off so hard she fell into a hole and nearly died in front of I-No... right?
Because that part wasn't great, and she knows it--
*chirp!* Her squint rises just enough as her fingers move...
That's-- definitely /her/.
Chun-Li doesn't count, but there's a delay* before she types:
> you look like you're having a good time!
> i won't hold you up. i just want to talk.
tap. tap. tap, goes the musing officer's nail against the glass. Type...
> and thank you, for everything
> it was a wild night.
(* Ed. note: Chun-Li waited about twelve seconds before closing that picture! Now you know! -- Ostentatious Ono)
The response is immediate after the fourth message. Another system message to open an image.
This one focuses on a hand also, but a hand pressed down on the black leather of some couch. It's between two pale thighs that dominate much of the frame in a gentle spread, and positioned so that the wrist and arm obscure the lewder things that would be in this upskirt shot. The lighting is irregular, dimmer to one side and brighter on the other. Maybe a club? She's wearing a huge statement ring of a silver skull on one finger, though thankfully not winged -- instead it's etched in complicated patterns, with eyes inlaid with numerous black gems.
<i.no> no pic no talk
The picture gets plenty of squinting attention in its own right, sure; message aside, the photo's a statement in its own right. A statement with another poised just so, even.
But one of the two was a little more expected than the other-- even if, when Chun-Li really thinks about it, it's hard to escape the fact that she probably /shouldn't/ be surprised. Considering.
So, so crude.
Eventually, the camera extends after a deep breath and some fiddling, and as she centers her face in the frame, she-- thinks about it /again/. A 'pic'. For I-No. Just to /talk/. A toll fit for a loud-mouthed troll with a rainbow bikini and a black-studded ring...
The officer slowly exhales and pinches the bridge of her nose. The smile says 'seriously, xiang??' but there's no-one to hear it--
-- and it's faded in the picture I-No ultimately gets in turn, anyway; just a little line of subdued self-consciousness near the top of the frame. Her eyes are cut off, but otherwise: the witch gets a more natural down angle of a taut shoulder and bicep, a peek of cleavage in dark blue lycra, sweat clinging to intensively toned abs, and a hint of her deadliest assets of all, outlined in the skintight black of workout pants. /Finding/ the right angle without posing for it - it's just a transaction, just quid pro quo-- flatter, sure, but why pose? - took some time.
> there are pictures on the website too, you know
> but fair is fair i guess?
> so i guess this means you are in fact up
The text isn't as quick this time, but neither is it twelve seconds. Seriously, Xiang?
<i.no> ok what do you want
There was a lot to think about in those twelve seconds.
> i cruelly seduced your number out of rose
> she's a defiled widow now
> but she tried really hard to resist my charms so please don't be mad at her
A lot, like whether it was worth keeping her word or not, after the click--
> i promised i would pass along the message! okay. hi.
That last message comes /immediately/ after she's done her duty, but there's a pregnant lull after them...
> i really did want to thank you.
> but also, i heard you hate butt chins
<i.no> you're lying
<i.no> if you fucked rose you'd be embarrassed about it because you try to talk a big game about ladyfucking but you're still inexperienced and you're unsure what it would mean for your public persona
<i.no> but it's alright
<i.no> i know you'll do anything to kill that nazi maid cafe owner
<i.no> won't you?
<chun-li> uh. i what, now
<chun-li> i mean we were both really drunk and we started talking about yo
<chun-li> there was a lot of wine. we went through a thing. she's nice
<chun-li> i don't really know why i am defending this thing to you except that it's a weird line in the san
<chun-li> i don't really know why it has to be a big deal
<chun-li> yes though.
<chun-li> she mentioned a team. she said you have a problem with him too.
<chun-li> i told her i was in but i can't fight him like this. i *can't*.
<chun-li> but when we were at that trainyard, you made me feel
<chun-li> but i thought maybe we could make some kind of arrangement? to help each other.
I-No must have a sixth sense of texting dramatics, because she doesn't respond while Chun-Li is struggling with what exactly to say. Not even during that massive ellipses segment. It's beautiful narrative framing.
Or maybe she's just busy. A full minute passes after Chun-Li sends her last, questioning text. For a conversation as taut as this it's a notable pause from the witch.
Finally: another image request.
If there was any doubt to it being I-No before, it must be gone now. This picture is the woman in almost full, albeit from the back. She's standing in a street, facing away from the camera, which must be set on something. She's dressed the same as during their encounter in the train yard, with the red leather skirt and thigh-high boots and... well, there was a jacket back then. There is no jacket now. Just a bare back, shoulderblades gently shadowed by light from the street lamp, arms akimbo with her hands on her waist, likely to emphasize the dramatic difference between it and the soft curves of her hips and thighs.
Without a top this is public indecency. There doesn't seem to be anyone around, though. It's nighttime wherever she is, in front of some apartment building...
...that's Chun-Li's apartment building. That's Chun-Li's window positioned directly in view over I-No's left shoulder. The light is on, just as it is now.
If Chun-Li goes to the window, of course there is no one in the street below. Of course.
<i.no.> what kind of arrangement, xiang?
At least I-No respects texting dramatics, if perhaps literally nothing else. It's no comfort at all when the witch immediately goes on to indulge in them herself.
The minute's about as long as those first ten seconds. Now it's more of a waiting game, less of a wondering one; at least they've exchanged a few words, now.
Strange, invasive words, which-- did she give some punch-drunk interview and forget about it?
Besides a manager to keep funny-eyed newbies at bay, it's possible that Chun-Li could use a publicist, to have her back when funny-eyed, full-figured newbies try to dig into her personal affairs.
Slightly more than sixty seconds after her last text, the accepts another image request. ... how--
-- where... ... ... that's...
Of course Chun-Li goes to the window. She waits a beat or two after the pieces fall into place to unfold her legs and rise, but of course she goes; how could she not at least check, now?
Of /course/ the street is empty.
The reply's delayed for as long as it takes to let a puff of air out, reclaim her phone, gripe at herself, type, delete, type... a generous handful of seconds, maybe. Interpol and Gen have taught her an awful lot about efficiency.
<chun-li> the kind where we meet up and you teach me things so i can be a better nazi maid fighter.
. . . . .
<chun-li> the trainyard went a lot better than i thought it could.
<chun-li> so i want to see you again. i want to see where
Her finger hovers over the red arrow.
. . . . . . .
<chun-li> so i want to see you again. i want to see where it goes.
<chun-li> aren't you cold?
It's possible that she took the picture on another night. Another night that the light in the window was on. She could have taken all those pictures at different times. But why? Why plan something like this? Or was it all random chance, with the bizarre series of photos used simply because they were already on her phone?
Or... or maybe there is something supernatural about the woman who walked Chun-Li for mere moments through a featureless white void and dumped her into a hospital miles away from where they started.
Chun-Li's finger hovers over the red arrow. It moves away, toward send. Somewhere, I-No's pretty little smirk sharpens to a toothy smile.
Maybe there is something.
<i.no> how can i be cold when you're making me so hot
The next message is another image sharing dialogue, but this one opens -- disappointingly? -- to a screenshot of a map. It's somewhere north of Southtown, in a part of Japan that can officially be called rural. There's a marker on the map: an outline of lips that looks like it was drawn by fingertip using perhaps her phone's basic image editing tools.
<i.no> next week. meet me there. i'll send you the time later.
<i.no> dress to impress. and bring a change of clothes for when you get wet.
<i.no> see you then, xiang. we'll see how much better than your thoughts i am.
<chun-li> where is all this ladyfucking talk i do, i-no
There are a lot of things Chun-Li could've sent-- could send, still-- after those last transmissions. A /lot/; if the key with the red 'X' was really a key, it'd be stressed right now.
(''making' you ho' 'i'll be there with bel' 'uh how wet are we tal' ':wink' ':showe' 'i wasn't THINKING ab'. lots of things.)
An awful lot of options, but Chun-Li had a /purpose/ when she placed that first call, a /mission/. Securing a meeting goes a long way towards fulfilling it, but of all the things Xiang /could/ type... trying to cut back to the heart of her purpose is probably the easiest.
<chun-li> the stuff about how predictable i am?
<chun-li> why do you keep acting like you know me?
Trying to refocus on Knowing I-No is /much/ easier. Rough, but true.
A little more typing.
A lot more hovering.
<chun-li> nice ring btw
<i.no> i'll let you kiss it if you're good
Maybe Chun-Li should have kept on the offensive. At least I-No is probably talking about the ring.
<i.no> no more exposition tonight. i said see you then, and that's what i'm going to do.
Chun-Li doesn't get any more texts after that, no matter how many emoji she uses.
Log created on 17:05:19 01/07/2019 by I-No, and last modified on 20:58:07 01/08/2019.