The running reaction
“To have a shot at romance, you have to talk to people.”
--Mass Effect 2 loading screen gameplay tip
Chapter 175 – The running reaction
Zhao Sunli was making her way up the pagoda when she heard suspicious sounds from one of the rooms. She frowned when the muffled noises were punctuated by hushed whispers.
The Amazon frowned. Who could be doing clandestine meetings in the official residence of the Administrator of Beihai? She gripped the pommel of her sheathed sword and stealthily approached the door.
“You… you rogue!” a feminine voice gasped, causing Sunli to stop. She drew back and pressed herself to the near wall to eavesdrop.
“Your mouth says no, but your body says otherwise,” a melodious voice chuckled.
Sunli could not help but roll her eyes at the stereotypical dialogue straight out of a lewd novel.
After being acquainted with Lin Hua, her reading list of adult novels had expanded a lot. While she indulged in ‘peaches’, many such novels employ the typical literary device of a shameless young master outraging the modesty of a saucy maiden or stripling youth who would be hiding their enthusiasm with fake reluctance.
Several years ago Sunli would have stormed in with righteous anger, her eyes blazing and her sword raised to rescue the damsel in distress. But after being acquainted with Huang Ming, Qiong Ying and the novels provided by Lin Hua, she was more aware that such denials were only for superficial appearance’s sake.
There was a leaked moan, and it reinforced Sunli’s perception that the earlier hesitance was faked.
“You stop this instant!” the feminine voice exclaimed breathily.
There was the rustling of clothes, and even Sunli was affected. A hot blush rose to her cheeks, and she began to tip-toe backwards to leave the amorous scene.
“Do you really want me to stop? Hmm?” the male voice asked cheekily.
Once more Sunli stopped, because this time she recognized the voice. Her mouth dropped open in astonishment… then she seethed.
“What’s going on here?” she demanded loudly through the door.
There were various sounds of persons being startled and hasty adjustments of clothing.
Then there was slap, and the door burst open. Sunli only had a short glimpse of the voluptuous woman who fled in shame, but saw enough of her dishevelled dress and furiously red face to know full well what had transpired.
“That really stings,” the person remaining in the room hissed as he rubbed his pained cheek.
Sunli glared at him. “Having fun?” she growled.
It was the man in the room to be astonished. “It’s you!” he said, his handsome visage twisted with shock. “When did you arrive?”
“Not soon enough!” Sunli snarled.
Despite her very visible anger, the man chuckled.
“Nice to see you too,” he said. Then he grimaced as he felt the effects of the slap that he had received earlier.
Sunli sighed, for she knew him very well. ‘Him’ as in ‘Quan Lu’, the male disguise of Qiong Ying. She shook her head, unsure of how to react in this situation.
“Don’t look at me like that, it is not what you think!” Qiong Ying pleaded.
“Even a blind person would have known what happened!” Sunli exclaimed.
Qiong Ying shrugged. “Well, I can guess why you would see it that way. But believe me, there was a reason for it!”
“Who was that woman?” Sunli demanded.
“She is actually a spy,” Qiong Ying revealed with all seriousness.
Sunli stared at her. One could almost hear a pin drop in the tense silence.
“Do you take me for a fool?” Sunli asked icily.
“No no no,” Qiong Ying rattled off. “It’s actually like this…”
Sunli continued to glare at her. “All you have is suspicions. Biased suspicions,” she said.
“But you have to see that there is something shady,” Qiong Ying insisted.
“All I saw is a poor woman who was molested because of you acting on some ridiculous conspiracy theory,” Sunli replied.
“She was not molested,” Qiong Ying said defensively. “I was just being very gentle in my interrogation.”
Sunli sneered. “We will see how well your explanation goes with Huang Ming.”
“Ah. He knows,” Qiong Ying said blithely.
“He approved,” Qiong Ying fibbed. ‘Well, he knows, but not how I am doing it…’
Sunli’s face turned a darker shade of red. “You are lying again! Was this your idea, or his?” she said angrily.
“Mostly mine…” Qiong Ying admitted.
“I can’t believe I just listened to some drivel about spying! This is just another ridiculous schemes to get him another bed warmer!” Sunli ranted.
“Nonsense. There is nothing of the sort. Remember: Two is the limit, no more. He already has you and me,” Qiong Ying reminded her.
But Sunli ignored her.
Qiong Ying sighed when she saw the military woman was too angry to be placated. Without warning she reached out with one hand… and groped at Sunli’s breast. As the taller woman was still wearing her military uniform and armour, Qiong Ying couldn’t actually touch anything delicate. Still, the gesture was meaningful enough.
There was silence. Then Sunli angrily swiped the offending hand away from her armour.
“What the hell are you doing!?” she yelled.
“I was trying to get your attention,” Qiong Ying said. “I am serious, that woman really is a spy.”
“If indeed she is a spy, why would she so easily fall to your tricks?” Sunli countered.
“Because I am very good at it,” Qiong Ying said proudly.
Sunli started to scoff when Qiong Ying suddenly stepped into her personal space…
Huang Ming was walking around looking for Sunli when he heard a commotion. He frowned at the yelling and sounds of a struggle… and the voices were worriedly familiar to him. He hurriedly went to the room to investigate.
“What’s going on here?” Huang Ming demanded as he swung open the door.
To his shock he saw Qiong Ying in her Quan Lu disguise being pinned down by Sunli. From the it was obvious that they had wrestled each other angrily to the floor.
They had stopped when Huang Ming opened the door. Qiong Ying was fending Sunli off, while Sunli’s hand was raised seemingly for a slap.
As if ashamed at being caught red handed in mid-violence, Sunli shot to her feet, almost jumping away from Qiong Ying.
“What-” Huang Ming began to ask, only to see a clenched fist come flying at his face. Huang Ming barely ducked out of the way from Sunli’s punch, but could not avoid her shoulder charge. He fell back on his ass, but the pain was overwritten with genuine shock. He looked up at Sunli with his mouth hanging open, but the wrathful woman huffed angrily and stomped away from the room.
Huang Ming was not just startled by the way Sunli had rushed at him, but the moistness of her face as she left…
‘Was she… crying…?’
Still with his mouth open, Huang Ming turned his attentions to Qiong Ying who was fixing up her male clothings and robes.
“This is all your fault for being so slow,” she declared.
“What? What?” Huang Ming repeated stupidly, still sitting on the floor as Qiong Ying clambered back to her feet.
“How was I to know that it was her first kiss?” Qiong Ying grumbled as she walked away.
“What? What? What?”
Caused him to slip.