Chiharu Sidestory Pt.3: Kenbu (Conclusion)

Chiharu Sidestory Pt.3: Kenbu (Conclusion)
Originally Posted: 6Aug03 – 0107 EST
Final Edit and posting: 18Aug03 – 1349 EST

Act 1: The Note

Jon kept an eye on the Chi-clone as he sat with a cat-calling Kevin as the Elysian girl started toying with her top. The woman was intriguing to Jon, there was something off about her but the simple fact that she bore the same face as Chi.. His thoughts drifted and he started tuning out Kevin entirely, focusing on the woman behind him. He almost didn’t notice when a little civilian Neko waitress meandered over to him in a red tube top and a little leather miniskirt.

“Excuse me sir, but the lady would like to talk to you in private.” Her voice was soft as she handed Ishida a folded up slip of paper, indicating the Chi look-alike for a moment and wandering off again.

Jon nodded to the neko and watched her saunter off for a moment before he opened up the slip of paper and read the message. It was hand scribed, the handwriting was surprizingly similar to Chiharu’s but it lacked the control and fluidity of Chi’s hand. “Meet me in the back private dance room, D. – Shoki.” He looked back and found the the woman, Shoki, had disappeared already, probably to the meeting place. He looked to Kevin, the man was too busy oogling the dancer to notice what was going on around him.

“Hey Jones, I just got myself a private dance. Don’t wait up for me, if you leave before I get done, thanks for being my guide.” Jon couldn’t help but smile at the man’s behavior, it was like he hadn’t seen a naked woman before but then again.. this dancer was an Elysian, she almost represented their enemy. So it was almost understandable that seeing this woman naked would drive this solider batty, the coming battle was so close that everyone could taste it.

Jones cast Jon a passing glance, “Have fun man! Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do!” He slapped Ishida on his back and winked at him as the man walked away towards the private dance area.

Act 2: Meeting Shoki

The door to the D room was painted a dull red color that held an almost metallic shimmer to it, like blood that had long sullied the silvery blade of an old sword. The door had no visible means to open it save a small black panel on the right wall beside it that glowed with an eerie crimson light. Ishida hesitated for a moment and looked around the back hallway, with the scattered slivers of white light pouring down through paper lanterns of red and green that hung about the ceiling to hide unsightly and light fixtures that almost the length of the ceiling. But there were no other guests or employees present in this back area, he could faintly hear voices and soft moans from behind the other doors but from this door that he stood dumbfounded before.. there was only the very faint whir of the door mechanizism as it creaked open to reveal the dimly lit room within.

“Please come in sir. I won’t bite.” The woman’s voice was soft and distant, like a breeze rustling across the top of a grassy field. Ishida couldn’t see her but he knew that she was to his left and that.. she was alone. He silently walked into the room as the door creaked shut behind him again.

“Now what would you like to discuss with me, Miss.. Shoki?” Jon approached the woman and stopped dead in his tracks as his jaw dropped.

The woman smiled brightly as her eyes sparkled in the dim light at the man’s reaction. Shoki stood up, not caring to adjust the see-through black negliee that she was wearing now, she folded her arms across her chest. “You act like you’ve never seen a woman in her lingerie before.” She offered Jon a seat across a small, but sturdy little table from hers.

“This was not what I was expecting Miss.” Jon gulped as he sat down, rather collapsed into the chair, still staring in awe at this strange woman standing there in black lingerie.

“Oh. I don’t dare ask what you were expecting then, but my name is Shoki. This may see like an odd way to make an introduction to a man such as you but, I’ve found that it makes quite an impression.” Shoki smiled that gorgeous smile of hers as she leaned over to touch Jon’s face with her hand. Jon gulped again.. she was so close…

For a moment, there was a pregnant pause and their eyes met. The woman’s eyes were penentrating and he wondered if she was a succubus trying to steal his soul with a kiss. Jon shook his head and woke himself from the spell.

Act 3: The Proposal

“Ok. What exactly are you after Miss Shoki?” Jon was perplexed by this woman who wore Chiharu’s face. He tried to keep his focus on her face because.. it was too ackward otherwise.

“My, you are a shy one. I thought right- you are an innocent man, a rarity in this world.” Shoki smiled again and slipped on a black robe to make Jon more comfortable to talk to her as the man continued to blush a dark, almost unnatural shade of red. “But, I guess I should get to the point. I saw you in the last club and you kinda blew me off, so I decided to follow you and your friend to this one to make my introduction and to offer you a proposal.”

Jon sighed with relief once Shoki covered herself and ran his right hand over his crew cut for a moment. “A proposal, and what that might be? I do have a bit of a time constraint on this planet so hopefully if I decide to take your offer, I’ll be able to return to my ship before they decide to leave me behind.”

Shoki smile never seemed to fade as she sat down in the chair across from Jon. “Well, first things first, what is your name Mr.Soldier?”

“Jon Ishida.” Jon decided to keep his answer short, there was no need for a long drawn out introduction to this person.

“Such a nice calm name.. ok, Mr. Ishida, I would like your assistance. You see, I have a bit of an issue that needs to be handled tonight and I don’t feel safe enough to go on my own. I have a delivery to make and.. the neighborhood isn’t the best of places for anyone to be wandering around without an escort. So could you please.. consider… escorting me there?” Shoki’s voice became softer and her eyes pleaded with him to say yes.

Jon stared at this woman, knowing that this indeed was TROUBLE but.. could he let someone with Chiharu’s face get killed knowing that he could’ve saved her? Perhaps, this is what the dream had meant? This was the destiny he was to make for himself, this is what he was to create with his own hands? But for whatever reason an old saying from his research came to mind, ~One good turn deserves another.~ He shook his head knowing that this might be the death of him, but he could not let this woman die. He could feel that there was something special about her that he could not put his finger on. “I’ll help you. I’ll wait outside the room while you get dressed… can’t have you walking around town in only that little number.” He stood up and started towards the door when Shoki stopped him.

“Thank you Jon. But please.. let me pay you back now before don’t ever get the chance again.” Shoki held onto his arm as she pulled him into a deep kiss. Jon’s eyes almost popped out of his head, this just.. felt.. wierd. But he pulled away before she could progress further than just a kiss, grabbing her by the shoulders and holding her away from him.

“Miss Shoki.. please, don’t do this. Let’s just get you to where you need to be. I swear that I won’t let anything happen to you… you do not need to pay me back.” Jon caught his breathe again, the kiss almost gave him a proverbal heart attack.

Shoki looked disappointed that he turned her down but, she smiled softly, slipping out of his grasp and hugging him. “Thank you…”

Act 4: Kenbu (Finale)

Jon and Shoki left the Foxhole through a back exit and walked arm and arm down narrow alleyway after narrow alleyway towards the delivery point. Jon watched Shoki’s movements, the gentle rise and fall of her chest beneath the thin fabric of her tunic with each breathe she took; the way she gracefully carried herself with all the dignity of a queen despite the heavily soled dress boots she wore; and the way she lightly tilted her head to one side, causing a single lock of hair to fall across her face as she looked from side to side. He smiled inwardly to himself as he shyly watched Shoki as he watched the alleyways for any unsuspected surprises. Jon was quite relieved that Shoki had changed into a pair of black dress slacks and a long Deep blue Chinese style long sleeved-tunic that fell to her thighs- before they had left the club, she was less conspicuous this way.

Jon was really unsure of what it was exactly that Shoki had to deliver, but he felt it was best that he didn’t know until he needed to know. As far as he could tell, Shoki carried no extra weight on her person and there were no buldges or malformities beneath her clothing. This only led him to believe that Shoki had to deliver either herself or something that she carried within her body that he could not sense. He prayed that he could keep his promise to keep her safe.

“Jon.. we’re here.” Shoki spoke for the first time since they had left the Foxhole when they reached a grim looking building in a horrendous looking part of town. Every building, every street, everything seemed stained with a sorrowful presense to Jon.. it was like the community was crying out in anguish about what evils had been committed here and left unavenged. Shoki seemed to shutter for a moment as she pressed against Jon’s arm, leaning into him for a moment.

“Are you sure you want to be in here Shoki?” Jon almost whispered back for fear of disturbing the souls crying for rememberence in this still night air. He protectively wrapped his arms around her, holding her close and shielding her from the world if only for a moment.

“Yes.. I have to. Come on.. let’s go in..” Shoki whispered back as she tool a deep breathe and gathered her courage and resolve to end this like she told herself she would. She looked at Jon’s worried face as he reluctantly let her go and smiled again because this man, this stranger cared about her even though he did not know who she was nor did he seem to care.

Jon walked beside Shoki, taking her hand into his own as they walked towards the door that led into the building. The door didn’t seem to fit in with the building was attached to.. it seemed like it was brand new and unstained by what has gone on in this neighborhood.

The door seemed to sense their approach and opened without a sound. Light slipped out of the doorway, slicing the remaining darkness into slender tendrils that snaked their way back towards them, becokening them forward. Jon looked down at Shoki for a moment, feeling her body tense as she slowly made her way forward. He did not like this at all but he walked with her into the light and into the hallway beyond it.

The door slowly creaked shut behind them, Jon could see the mechanisim that operated the door now that he was inside the building and he could feel the various power currents flowing through the air of the building around him and he could hear the high pitched squeal of the electricity as well as the dull chatter of men in some part of the building. Shoki said nothing as she led, walked Jon down the winding hallways towards a back room. The door to this room was closed as well but he could see the glimmer of a camera lens above the doorway. He watched it zoom in on him and then pan out again.

“Please enter, we’ve been expecting you Miss Shoki.” An intercom crackled and Shoki turned the doorknob, letting go of Jon’s hand as she pushed the door open. Jon followed and was almost blinded by the surplus of light in this room. It ws like he had been in total darkness before and now he stood in this cold, uncaring blinding light.

Once Jon’s eyes managed to adjust to the light he saw the room was rather open and there were about 10 men scattered about the room, sitting in chairs, couches, watching monitors and some were playing some sort of halographic card game. The men all seemed to be dressed rather normally, and were in their early twenties. One man in particular with bright red hair in a short spiked cut caught Jon’s attention. The man was watching him like a hawk and seemed to be carrying some sort of weapon on his person.

“Shoki! What took you so long? You were supposed to be here hours ago!” The red headed man walked up to Shoki and hugged her affectionately. This caught Jon completely by surprise, there was an expected tenderness in the man’s voice and eyes.

Shoki returned the hug and smiled brightly. “I got a little bit distracted. But I have what you asked me to bring.. I know that you’ve been looking for it for a while now.” Jon got that sinking feeling he was not going to like what it was that Shoki had to say and prepared to make for the door if things turned sour.

“That’s good. Does HE know what’s going on at all?” The man indicated Jon, starting to stare now. Shoki simply shook her head.

“He agreed to escort me here to make the delivery. He didn’t ask me what I was delivering, so it’d be safe to let him leave now.” Shoki looked to Jon as well, trying to give him a comforting smile before she looked back towards the other man.

“Nah.. he’s here, might as well let him know what all this fuss is about. I’m Ben, mister. If you would, please follow the lovely Shoki to the other room and you’ll see what’s going on here.” Ben grinned a bit, nodding towards the other room. Shoki sighed softly as she took Jon’s hand again, leading him towards the other room now.

The other room was sparsely furnished and reminded Jon of a dojo with the decor.

“What exactly is going on here?” Jon finally spoke, looking around at the room and the men now gathering about.

Shoki left Jon and walked into the center of the room, looking towards him with a sad smile on her face. Ben simply grinned at Jon as he joined Shoki. “Well you see.. what did she say your name was? Oh yes, Jon. Anyways, you see Jon, my darling little Shoki isn’t really human. You see, she’s just an empty shell made of flesh and blood. She’s meant for a purpose bigger than you and me or anything on this planet for that matter.” Ben spoke with a flourish as he grabbed Shoki’s arm and pulled her towards him.

“What do you mean she isn’t human?” Jon felt helpless as he stood there, just confused by all of this.

“There is an old myth talking about a woman who was given a box by the Gods and told not to open it. But the Gods had also given this woman an abnormal sense of curiousity. When she was told not top open the box, the Gods knew that she was bound to open it.. and when the box was opened all the evil that now exists in this world escaped and filled the world with death, faminine, disease, etc. And when she managed to close the box, something was trapped inside… Shoki can be written several ways in the Japanese symbol language, Kanji. The way that this Shoki is written means Hope. And hope is what is believed to have been trapped in that box. NOW, knowing this, what do you think this means?” Ben simply held Shoki for a moment, looking to Jon for an answer.

“You are trying to tell me that Shoki is the embodiment of the spiritual hope of all mankind?” Jon remembered the myth well but he didn’t quite understand what it had to do with anything really.

“Very good guess! But no, not really.” Ben chuckled for a moment before he continued. “It is believed that the box was really a powerful weapon that nearly destroyed the world. And.. ” Ben’s grip tightened on Shoki’s arms, he muttered something softly in Shoki’s ears and a light appeared from within Shoki and enveloped them both.

When the light faded, only Ben remained holding a giantic sword and a pile of clothing lay crumpled on the floor. “You see, this is Shoki’s true form.”

Jon just stared at Ben and the sword in amazement for a moment before he found his voice. “You want to know something? You are fucking nuts if you believe that Shoki, that sword is the Pandora’s box. I don’t get it, why did I have to bring her?”

“That’s simple, it’s because once every 10 years or so the weapon finds itself a new wielder and a new victim. You see, the blade is like a phoenix, it kills itself and is reborn from the ashes.. when it is reborn, it has to taste blood of a chosen. Sorry to break the news to you, but you are not the wielder..” Ben grinned as he pointed the sword’s tip towards Jon.

“Shit. So now you try to kill me?” Jon winced a bit. “tell you what, give me a weapon and I’ll fight you. If I win, I get to leave here alive. If I lose, I surrender my life to you.”

Ben laughed a bit, “Sounds fair enough to me, you won’t make it out of here alive though.” He whistled shrilly and one of the other men in the room tossed Jon a sword. “Let’s dance then!”

Act 5: The Road Home (Epilogue)

Ishida walked down the back alleyways, grumbling to himself at the mess he had gotten himself into this time. He didn’t look back as he heard the patter of feet behind him.

“Mr. Ishida! Wait for me!” A woman’s voice called and a chill went down Jon’s spine. He did not to hear that voice again so soon after what had just went down.

“Go to hell and leave me alone. I don’t want a damn thing to do with ya.” Jon didn’t stop as he made his way back towards the docks.. it was a long walk from that accursed building but it was better than having to explain his shabby condition. He was splattered with blood and his clothes were torn although he carried no wounds.

“But you are the chosen one now. You have no choice but to take me with you!” Shoki caught up to him and hugged him from behind.

Jon stopped and cringed. “God damn it. Why didn’t i listen to myself.. women are nothing but trouble.”

“But, I knew you’d win that fight Jon. Ben was no match for you, you truly were the better man!” Shoki was running around barefoot now but she had put her clothes back on again.

“What part of, ‘Go to hell and leave me alone’ did you now understand? I don’t have time for this. You’re free to do whatever you want now so stop following me. Your damn cult is dead now.” Jon did not to remember the sword dance, nor the blood spilt in that little dojo over this damn sword.

“Don’t be angry Jon! I had to fulfill my destin..” Shoki’s words were cut short with a responding slap from Jon.

“Don’t give me that crap. I’m sorry you have lived your entire live enslaved to some damn destiny or some damn swordsman but I am not the person you are looking for. Go pretend you are not a sword and lead a life like a normal human being. You cannot come where I am going.” Jon glared at Shoki as she gently touched her face where she had been struck.

“I’m sorry.. I just don’t know what to do. This is all I have ever known.” Shoki sighed softly, her appearence had changed once she had regained human form. Her face was her own, as it were, she no longer looked like Chiharu and even had blonde hair and blue eyes.

“Just go off and join the military or something. Get married to some man and have kids, I don’t know. You just can’t stay with me. I am not part of your destiny.” Jon sighed a bit. “I’m sorry I hit you. Look, I just have to get myself home somehow.”

A small beat-up jeep rolled up beside them. It was caked with mud but it was diffently a military vehicle. The driver honked his horn at them and stopped, rolling down his window. “There you are Johnny! I’ve been wondering were you’d had gotten to! And you found yourself yet another sexy girl you lucky dog!” Jones grinned at him and opened the passenger door. “Hop in, I’ll take ya home. Are you taking home a suvenior?” He indicated Shoki with a curious glance.

Jon helped Shoki into the Jeep before climbing in beside her. “No.. not really. She was saying that she wanted to join the GSA. She’s being recruited.”

“Oh really? Shit, have her join my battalion, we could do to have another pretty lady fighting along side us. And with how things go, she’d probably kick more ass than we ever could!” Jones grinned again as Ishida pulled the jeep’s door shut.

Shoki looked at Ishida for a moment, dazzled by the idea and saddened by the fact she was being abandoned. “But.. I want to go with you Mr. Ishida…”

“Sorry Shoki, it can’t happen that way.” Jon sighed a bit, this was getting depressing.

“Why not Johnny boy? The girl obviously has the hots for ya, why not let her join your crew? Isn’t the GSA Spacey always looking for fresh blood?” Kevin glanced at Jon for a moment out of the corner of his eye as he drove the jeep down the road, back towards the docks.

“Because, she is a ground fighter. Her being on ship would be counter-productive and harmful to her abilities. Besides, there would very little chance that she would ever be able to function at her fullest.” Jon slid his hand over his crew cut for a moment before continuing. “Shoki needs a better partner than me to fight alongside. I think you would be better suited for Shoki, Kevin.”

Kevin and Shoki looked at each other oddly for a moment. “What do you mean Johnny?”

“I think she got her paths crossed. Her destiny demands a better man than I could ever be. And I think Kevin is that man. But none is this really matters, I need to get back to the Yui immediately. I’ve been gone for way too long.” Jon looked out the window, figuring they were about 5 minutes away from the Docks now.

“Why are so you anxious man? I thought you were on leave too?” Kevin sounded concerned.

“I’ve had a time constaint on the amount of time I was to be on shore. And it’s run over. And from this sinking feeling, all hell broke loose already. Take Shoki, have her explain everything to you and get her settled into the military. I cannot take her with me.” Jon’s voice was solemn, he knew that everyone was waiting on her but she’d been away for too long. He needed to be back on the ship now.

“I don’t understand….” Shoki sounded like she was about to cry.

Jon shook his head and let himself change back to the way he was supposed to be..

Shoki watched amazed as the man she had met melted away and a neko woman appeared bearing the face that she had just wore.

The jeep shreched to a hault. Kevin stared dumbfounded at the being he knew as Jon Ishida. “Taisho.. Ketsurui?!”

“Kevin please.. you are not in trouble. Just please, hurry back.” Chiharu sighed, this whole thing had gotten out of hand.

Kevin nodded grimly and pressed the gas to the floor and within less than 2 minutes the little jeep skidded to a stop in the docks.

“Good luck you two. Pray for victory so that this war will end soon.” Chiharu hurried off to rejoin her ship, stopping only to wave her thanks to them.

End: Ishida sidestory

Chiharu Sidestory Pt. 2: Like a Fine Wine

Chiharu Sidestory Pt. 2: Like a Fine Wine
Originally Posted: 26Jul03 – 2406 EST
Final Editing: 1Aug03 – 0122 am

Jon sat in a Enlisted Club at the bar counter, trying to listen to his drunken companion, Kevin prattle on about something- it was very difficult for him to make out Kevin’s words through the roar and bustle of the crowd around them.

Jon had been having a fun time with this other enlisted man as they went from club to club, drinking the speciality drink at each bar, flirting with some woman and moving on to the next. This was “what living is all about Johnny!” as Kevin had repeated several times throughout the night, it had become their mantra and Jon had somewhat accepted it.

“Hey Johnny! That lady at the end of the bar has bought you a drink! Hey Johnny, are you listenin’?” Kevin shouted to be heard over the crowd and Jon simply looked at the new drink by his half full glass and then to the indicated lady and then to Kevin.

Jon shrugged. “What do think I should do?! She looks kinda hot! But don’t we have a few more clubs to hit tonight?!” He shouted back, watching Kevin shake his head, laughing.

“You got to be shittin’ me, Johnny! I mean, booze is booze but no woman is somethin’ to be missed. None of ’em are ever alike, even them.. Nekowalkeries! They are like a fine wine that must be lightly tasted until you can find the right vintage to keep in your glass! ” Jones raised his glass in the air as if to make a toast and instead, downed the liquor inside.

Jon laughed a bit at the analogy but shook his head no. “You make a good point but them women are nothing but trouble! Let’s hit the next club, the night is still young but we’re getting older by the minute.”

Kevin laughed again with a wink. “Aye, you’re right there Johnny. I’d drink to that if I hadn’t emptied my glass already.. So the Foxhole it is then. ” Jon nodded, finishing off his old glass before wading through the crowd after Kevin towards the exit.

Once they were on the quieter street, Jones took a deep breathe and spoke, “Ah yes… the sweet smell of vomit and booze in the evening air… oh how I’ve missed it!”

Ishida chuckled as he walked along side the buzzed Jones. “So how long has it been since your last visit here Kev?” His eyes scanned the darkened streets, he noticed a few soldiers depositing their last meal on the pavement and he heard the soft rhythm of a woman’s footsteps behind them. The woman was close.. he could smell her perfume.. it was a gentle scent that reminded him of forget-me-nots.

Kevin continued along, not seeming to notice the woman following them. He ran his hand through his tussled short dark blonde hair as he spoke. “I think it’s been a couple of years at least.. but I know this place like thee back of me hand. You’ll like the Foxhole, they have the best live show on the planet!”

Jon partially kept his focus on the movement of the strange woman behind him as he looked at Kevin. “The best live show? What, is it a girly show or somethin’? ” Kevin simply laughed as he made his way into the club with Jon a couple steps behind him.

The Foxhole was fairly well lit for what it was.. a strip club. All of the girls were dressed in some sort of military-isk garb as they performed on their various stages. The girls were Nekos, Geshrin, human and surprisingly enough.. there were a few Elysians with small wings that were probably incapable of flight.

Kevin insisted that they sit in the front row beside one of the Elysian girls, as she swirled herself around a pole. The girl had chin length light blonde hair with red highlights.. under a camoflauge cap and the brightest blue eyes that Jon had ever seen. She was down to a woodland camoflauge bikini with what appeared to be a knife strapped to her left thigh. The woman had followed them into the club and sat down a couple of table behind them . Jon had gotten a chance to appraise the woman and her appearence bothered him..

The woman looked like Chiharu except that she was definately not a neko of any sort. She could’ve passed for Chi’s twin sister, as she sat there in her short black dress and black pumps. Her movements were smooth and graceful, but there was something more unsettling about her than the resemblence.. Jon just could not put his finger on what it was though…

Chiharu Sidestory Pt. 1: Mr. Ishida

Chiharu Sidestory Pt. 1: Mr. Ishida
Originally Posted: 26Jul03 – 2406 EST

Chiharu left the Yui quickly and silently as the crates were loaded onto the ship. The security Nekos nodded their acknowledgements as the Taisho passed by, walking out into the downpour, not too horribly bothered by the rain- she just pulled up the collar on her jacket to keep the water from rolling down her neck.She saw that there were no open seats on the current transports to town so she just decided to go into the depot and look around for a bit before the next one came.. the depot sheltered a wide variety of people, all bustling about trying to stay dry. No one really paid her any mind, to them she was just another soldier that would probably get herself into trouble while she was in town on liberty. She just was just content to listen to all the conversations going on around her, she liked mingling with these people because rank didn’t matter here- all were equal under this leaking roof as the water dripped down into strategically placed buckets around the pavilion.

“Hey buddy, where place are you aiming to go to tonight?” A human man dressed in soaked black bdus and muddy combat boots sat down beside Chi, a friendly smile wide across his face and his blue eyes shining even in the dim light.

Chi returned this man’s smile, from the way he carried himself she figured him to be a ground soldier, probably assigned to a Spacey regiment… the ground troops always had this strange swagger to them when they returned to the surface, like their equilibrium was permanently thrown off but they had too much pride to fall over. “I’m just doing some sight seeing- it’s not often that I get to go to shore. Are you familiar with this planet?”

The man smiled again, pulling his stool over beside Chi and sitting down beside her. “Well, I grew up on this planet and then I decided to go for guts and glory so I joined up with the Army. The name’s Kevin Jones.” Kevin offered Chi his hand.

Chi took his hand and shook it. “Nice to meet you Jones, I’m Jon Ishida.” Her emerald eyes sparkled, as she ran her free hand across her crew cut. She liked this body she was in, it was an Mixed Asian human male but it worked well for her purposes- to mingle with other military personnel and not attract attention towards herself. If no one knew who she was, they couldn’t try to kidnap her or disect her. She already knew that being a neko with brown hair was strange enough but the simple fact that she didn’t have the normal oddities that a NH-7 was supposed to have made her stand out. It would be only a matter of time before the NH-X body that she had would be common place but until then, it was best if no one knew that she was one.