It was a surreal trip back to the Music Temple.
Mayhem surrounded him. People crowded the walkways, trying to get a glimpse of the still-smoking bar, while emergency workers pushed past to get to the blast site. Dome Security personnel were everywhere, stopping people to ask questions, and Genjo stayed well clear of them. While he walked, the alarms echoed in his head, and the acrid, smoke-filled air that permeated the area. He made his way to one of the Temple's side gates, and he couldn't help holding his breath while he walked under the gate and past the scanning station.
The Music Library rose from the center of the Temple grounds, a tower of gleaming, polished white granite that stood out from the the dull gray of the other Temple buildings. Genjo went inside, and after passing yet another silent scanning station, he took a lift tube down to the Reference Department.
Like a book library, Dome Music libraries had scores that were not permitted to be removed from the premises, or a Composer might wish to examine an old score that was stored in the Central Archive. The Reference department was designed to accommodate both needs, with a warren of soundproofed study cubicles that took up over half of the bottom-most floor of the Library. Genjo had a favorite cubicle there, in the far back of the department; he liked it because most students didn't like walking back that far, so he was seldom interrupted.
He closed the door and flipped the 'Do Not Disturb' switch. He sat down at the spartan white table and was about to switch on the Helpdesk panel on the wall when he heard a faint jingling of bells, similar to what he'd heard earlier when the Triumvirate had appeared in Koumyou's office. A woman materialized in the room, and perched on the edge of his desk.
"Kanzeon?" Genjo rolled his chair back in surprise, and then he jerked a thumb at the Helpdesk screen. "Don't you normally live in there? I'm not used to seeing… this much of you." Too much, in Genjo's opinion; even in hologram form, her sheer gown left nothing to the imagination.
The Goddess of Music smirked at him. "Even a hologram is entitled to stretch her legs now and then. And what do you care? Whenever I've peeked in here I haven't seen you making out with girls." She waved off his sputtering response, and then her expression turned serious. "I heard about what happened, and I've received a brief message from Koumyou. It's a very good thing you forgot your score, Sanzo Genjo."
Genjo nodded. If he and Koumyou had arrived at Under the Sakura together, all five of them would probably be dead. "Sharak said we won't have enough power without Goudai and Tenkai."
"Probably not," Kanzeon replied. "I think Koumyou had counted on you being a replacement for Ukoku, who had no interest in leaving."
Genjo recalled his father's earlier words about birds who liked their cages. "So it's hopeless, then?"
"I didn't say that. Let's see your score."
Genjo removed the score from its case and rolled it out on the table. He touched the preview button on the edge of the scroll, and the ghost-city rose from the musical notation.
Kanzeon nodded in approval. "I only got a thumbnail view of this, so it's nice to see it in person, so to speak. You did a fantastic job, kiddo, I can see why Koumyou got so excited." She rose from the table and glided to the side opposite where Genjo sat. "One of the things that's good about your score is the city is on the smaller side, size-wise; it doesn't take up the whole valley."
"I thought it made sense to allow for plenty of expansion, given the ultimate space limits of the valley itself," Genjo said. ""How many Musicians are going, do you know?"
The Goddess paused to calculate the answer before replying. "Three hundred ninety-one," she said, and then she smiled at Genjo. "Correction; three hundred ninety-two."
"So few," Genjo said, frowning. "The town I designed will be too big for that amount of people."
"We can make some adjustments," Kanzeon said. She pointed to a number of locations on the scroll. "This whole area can wait, and so can this section, and this one as well. Since your design is expansion friendly, it also makes it easier to take elements away." She studied the score for another minute before continuing, "I'm afraid you're still probably going to need more than three Sanzos' worth of power to build this baby. We're going to have to get creative."
Genjo eyed her warily. "Creative… how?"
"You could take the GOKU Locus with you."
Genjo stared at her flickering form. "You're crazy," he said. "How are we supposed to take a goddamn Locus with us?"
A translucent, bare shoulder lifted in a shrug. "You'd have to, ahem, borrow it from the Central Core."
"Steal it, you mean."
"You said that, not me. As a Tenkai Systems Network entity I would never suggest such a thing." Kanzeon winked at him.
"You're still crazy," Genjo said.
Another shrug. "Look, even if you had enough power between the three of you, creating this would drain you all, and Koumyou confirmed on one of his trips that your receptors will not recharge that far away from the Locus. Without access to a Temple's concert power grid—which again, must have access to the GOKU Locus, your music will only create illusions for the rest of your lives. Why not take the Locus with you? It will accomplish two things; it will power your project and all of your music, and it will cripple NiiCom, since without Goku, all the music in all the temples will produce nothing."
Genjo eyed her with new respect. "I've never met a hologram that wanted to take down a corporation. Niicom is one of Togenkyo Domes major partners."
Kanzeon's eyes narrowed. "I'm still sentient, darling, and I've wanted to do something like this to NiiCom for the last couple of centuries. They took Goku's sacrifice—and every Musician's gift—and turned it into a moneymaking machine for the rich and bored. I would rather see Goku's energy used to help you achieve your freedom."
It was strange discussing the GOKU Locus like this, with someone who had actually known the young man who had joined himself to the Tenkai network over five centuries before. Genjo knew that when Kanzeon spoke the Locus' name, she was referring to that young man, and not the equipment that housed his physical remains and harnessed the magical energy they produced.
"So, how would I go about 'borrowing' this Locus?" Genjo asked. He rolled the score back up and returned it to its case.
Kanzeon looked ridiculously pleased. "I thought you'd never ask," she said. "Koumyou's message said that your barcode is not scanning, is this correct?"
"Perfect. Our systems in the Central Core are self-checking, and everything is automated, so we seldom have to have a physical technician present. Since your status is not updated yet—for which we can thank my nephew Konzen—you should be able to get into the Data Center and bypass all of the scanner stations. Once you're in the Core, we don't have to worry about cameras, because there is too much interference. Now, I imagine that Goku will have been installed in a panel similar to ours—"
"Wait," Genjo said, frowning, "you 'imagine?' Don't you know?"
Kanzeon's dark curls rippled as she shook her head. "We can't see inside the Central Core. The same interference that makes cameras useless also prevents us from manifesting there. Also, I've always thought it would be unnerving to come face to face with the panel that contains what's left of my physical body."
She pointed at the helpdesk screen and a blurred image appeared of a tall, cylindrical column, its center section ringed with five rectangular panels. "This is a very old image, from before we were installed; I managed to keep it in my personal archive all these years. NATAKU was built into the column, so I'm not sure where they put Goku." She gestured at the picture. "I'm sure some bits are going to look different from this—after all, this image is over five hundred years old. But it will give you an idea of what to look for when you get inside the Central Core. Put out your hand, I'll put the coordinates in your wristcom."
Genjo extended his arm, and watched the wristcom display spin with the information that Kanzeon downloaded to it.
"Once you get the Locus unit out, come to the Central Music Archive, using access corridors only; I've put the navigation for that in your wristcom as well. I'm going to contact your Concertmaster and have him meet us there, and between now and then I'll work on what will be needed to get you both Outside and to the site." A small pack materialized on the table. "These tools should be sufficient to remove the Locus unit from any generation of mounting bracket, your wristcom has instructions. There's also a couple of anti-gravity discs you can apply to the unit to make it easier to transport."
Genjo blinked at the black canvas pack that hadn't been there seconds before. "I hope your instructions are good, because I'm a Composer, not a mechanic. What about Koumyou?" he asked. "And Sharak? Aren't I traveling with them?"
"Too much of a risk," the Goddess said. "In light of what happened today, you all need to split up and take different paths to your destination. So Koumyou and Sharak will bring the people, and you, my darling, will bring the party."