Project IV: Crystal Tokyo R

Chapter 04: Truth and Lies

"It all comes to this, huh?" the Oracle asked the boy in front of her. She sighed. "It's been too long for us. Crystal Tokyo had been almost untouched for years by the resistance. The 'Freeminds' need 'her'."

"You are talking about Naia, right?" Ranma asked. "My girl side, right?" The Oracle nodded. "Then please tell me, how do we release her?"

The Oracle sadly smiled, and ignored Ranma's question. Standing up from her seating position, she looked outside the window. Ranma followed her gaze, and looked towards the light blue sky.

"Do you really want to know, Ranma?" the Oracle asked.

"What do you mean?" Ranma asked, looking back at her.

Turning around to face the boy, the Oracle didn't have that sad smile in her face. Instead, she had a burning aura in her eyes, and a very cold mask that Ranma has never seen. Even Soun's demon head would have sweated. It made Nabiki look like a baby in comparisson! "I mean, do you want to know what I am going to say to you? Are you even ready to hear what I am going to tell you?"

"Tell me what?" Ranma asked, a bit nervous about the Oracle's expression now.

"The truth," the Oracle replied. Pausing a bit, the woman took a stroll to one of the cabinets, opened it, and took out a bottle of alcoholic drink. Pouring herself a glass, and then poured another. She gave the second glass to Ranma. "Drink this up."

Ranma shook his head. "Sorry, I don't drink."

"You will once I tell you this," the Oracle replied, and then drank deeply in the glass. After taking her drink, Ranma noticed a flushed expression in her face. Whatever she drank, it was strong. "As much as Beryl explained to you, Naia was a Chaos Wielder, able to change the coding inside Crystal Tokyo, making her, for the lack of term, a 'god'. Five years, the Senshis in Crystal Tokyo tried to fight her off, but they couldn't. It wasn't until one time where Naia, out of her overconfidence, slipped and fell into the Queen's trap."

"Jusenkyo," Ranma replied.

"Right, Jusenkyo, or for it's proper name: the Recycling Bin," the Oracle replied.

"Why is it called..."

"Why is it called the Recycling Bin?" the Oracle asked, cutting Ranma off. She shrugged her shoulders. "I don't know." Ranma fell off his seat.

"What do you mean you don't know?" Ranma asked sarcastically, unbelieving.

"Well, I didn't name it," the Oracle replied calmly. "All I know that Jusenkyo stores data which were 'thrown' away, and the only thing which can release the data is for another program to easily merge with it."

"Merge?" Ranma asked.

"Yes, merge. Like when you are half girl, and half boy," the Oracle continued. "Inside of you lies a coding for a female and a male. Of course, since the rules in Crystal Tokyo try to make every rule inside it logical, a male and a female can never be merged. So, it did the next best thing."

"What?" Ranma asked.

"Nature has always been divided by opposites. Male:Females, Hot:Cold, and others, right?" the Oracle asked. Ranma nodded. "Well, to at least compensate for the extra data you have, Crystal Tokyo made a loop hole. Once dabbed in water, your male code emerges, and when dabbed with cold water, your female code emerges. But unlike true merges, the memories of the girl are not shown to you. Tell me if I'm wrong, but until now, you never really knew the girl who drowned in the pool, am I right?"

Ranma frowned as he thought about it. What the Oracle had said hit true. He never really knew who the girl was. Even the guide was a bit vague on his explanations. Then, it hit him. "I heard Musks use the Spring of the Drowned Young Girl to make animals into female humans. After dumping many in that pool, how are you all sure that Naia is in me?"

"Ah, good question," the Oracle replied. "Well, no one can tell exactly, except for one thing. Before being freed, your life was filled with Chaos. Rivals, challenges, the works, right?"

"Yes..." Ranma replied.

"Well, Beryl ignored it. After all, some of your rivals can manipulate KI already, right? But then, here comes the clincher. Of all the Chaotic Energy wielded, only one was strong enough to defeat a strong program named..." the Oracle paused, and seem to wait an answer from Ranma.

"Saffron?" Ranma replied, unsure.

"Correct!" the Oracle answered, smiling. "Yes, of all the non-freed minds which can wield KI, only one was able to beat a program like Saffron. From then, Beryl was sure you were the one hey were looking for. You had Naia's data deep inside you, that during your desperate time, you were able to use her CHI to defeat Saffron."

"So... it wasn't exactly me, huh?" Ranma said sadly. "When I beat Saffron. It wasn't of my own doing, huh?"

"Hey, don't give me that face!" the Oracle said. "Don't say it wasn't your own effort! Trying to access her CHI is hard enough, but using it? If you weren't powerful enough, her CHI would have ripped you apart when you used it."

"Really?" Ranma asked, surprised. "Is CHI really that powerful?"

"Yes, that powerful," the Oracle replied. "And for you, a non-freed mind during that time, was able to access it, even only at the fraction of the power, it took all you had inside to harness the power safely."

Ranma pondered on what the Oracle said. Yes, it was true. When he used his KI reserves, he felt another type of power linger in is KI. It roared through his veins at that time, and he felt like he was going to burn up. Ranma sighed at the memory. "Yes... I felt her CHI too, at that time... That is what Beryl wants right?"

"Yes, unfortunately. No matter how well you perceive her to be, she's obsessed in reviving Naia," the Oracle sighed. "She believes that Naia would come back. She believes it so blindly that she would be willing to sacrifice anyone, including herself, in order to do so." She took another swig. "Like your third question, on how to release your girl side... well..."

Ranma stared at the Oracle. Her green hair was moving softly in the air. Her red eyes were sad, and her hand wouldn't stop making circles in the table. Whatever was inside her mind, she didn't seem to want to express it. "Oracle, what is it? Tell me."

"There is only one way to get the data out of you," the Oracle replied finally. "You have to die..."

"... WHAT?!"

+++++++++

"They certainly have been taking their time," Rahme said to no one in particular. Standing guard in the entrance of the building can do wonders to a bored mind. For once, Rahme started thinking about her family she had left in Crystal Tokyo.

She was the only daughter of a powerful computer business tycoon. She received her personal computer at the age of 6, and since then, her life revolved around computers.

Rahme sighed. When she was ten, she stumbled upon Beryl, who offered her to show her the truth. After 3 years, she accepted, and here she was ever since.

ZIP!

Rahme froze as a laser sound whipped up behind her. Sitting up from her position, she walked towards the other room where Tama was resting... she wasn't resting anymore.

"COME HERE!" Tama shouted as she threw another small KI laser towards a crawling cockroach. "HAH! GOTCHA!" and she missed again. "OH MAN!"

"TAMA BAKAA!" Rahme shouted angrily. "STOP USING YOUR KI! THE SENSHIS CAN EASILY FIND US!"

"Oh, don't be a dud, Rahme," Tama replied, still taking shots at the moving cockroach. "They would most likely ignore this small bursts!"

+++++++++

"Are you sure?" Rei asked Ami as the blue head lead them towards one of the darkest parts of Juuban. Behind them were Makoto, Minako, Usagi and the two cats.

"I'm very sure," Ami said. Her computer picked up another dark energy spike. It was small, almost a pinprick of the weakest enemy. But even though it was small, it was still worth an investigation since it always appears on one part of Juuban. Now the trouble was finding it.

"Eh... could we please hurry?" Usagi asked nervously. "This place gives me the creeps..."

Makoto and Minako looked at each other, and began to grin evilly behind Usagi's back. Whistling disarmingly, they tried not to look suspicious. When Usagi finally looked nervous enough, they moved...

"EEEEEEEEEEKKKKKKKKKKKKK!!!!!!!!!" a very girly shout was heard all over Japan.

+++++++++

"I have to die?" Ranma asked, shocked. The Oracle nodded sadly and took another swig of her drink, finishing it. Ranma looked frozen white as his brain still tried to get the words to sink in. After a few minutes, he took a swig from his own glass, and the drink was so hard enough to make him cough as he swallowed.

"Told you, you would need a swig," the Oracle said, laughing as she refilled her own glass. "I know a lot of things, and can predict the future. That's why they call me the Oracle." And she laughed again.

"I don't think this is the time to laugh," Ranma said bitterly. "I want to help Beryl as much as I can, but I have to die in order to do so? Why?"

"It's is the order of things. The merge was so closely tied, that for Naia to be released, you have to die," the Oracle said sadly. "It's a sad truth, that even the truth can sometimes be worse than lies."

"There is no other alternative?" Ranma asked. The Oracle shook her head. "So... there is no hope? Is this my destiny?"

Silence reigned the room for a minute. Outside, birds were chirping, cars were passing through the streets each second. Truth was hidden in the world, and sometimes, Ranma would realize that it was better left unsaid, as he stared at the floor sadly.

TING!

"Ah! It's done!" the Oracle said happily as she stood up from her position. Walking towards the oven, she opened it slowly, letting the aroma flow through. Ranma's nose and stomach reacted wonderfully as he suddenly stared at the Oracle's back like she was some kind of savior. The woman turned towards Ranma with a tray on her hand, her green hair flowing back behind her. "Cookie?"

Ranma was about to unleash his Amaguriken, but then remembered the conversation he had a while ago with her. He frowned. He did something he never usually did in life. "N... no thanks. I don't feel like it."

"You promised me you'll take one!" the Oracle suddenly looked indignant.

"I... I did not!" Ranma sputtered a reply. It was the truth. He didn't exactly 'promise', although he did say he'll have some. Actually, even if his stomach wanted so, the heavy burden in his mind made him... unsatisfied with food. "I... I'm sorry. I don't feel like it."

The Oracle sighed. "I knew I shouldn't have told you... but think of this," she took a cookie and extended it towards Ranma. "Take one, and eat it. After you're done with it, you'll start to feel better." She smiled. "You'll remember that you don't believe in this 'fate' crap. You live your own life, right?"

Ranma looked at her, and at the cookie she was offering. He took it, and found himself walking away...

Ranma found himself mysteriously beside Beryl who was sleeping in a couch. He was still inside the Oracle's residence, and he just stared at Beryl's beautiful dark red hair falling nicely in her shoulders. His mind was blank as he took his hand and shook her shoulder. "Beryl-san..."

The woman mumbled something, and began to flutter her eyes open. Looking at Ranma, she suddenly jumped, and for a second, Ranma thought she was going to scream, when her face suddenly went back to its neutral look.

"Ranma... don't scare me like that..." she said in deep breaths. Staring back at him, she smiled. "So, you finished your talk with her?"

"Yes... she..."

"Well?" Beryl asked, looking a bit excited. "Did the Oracle tell you how to get Naia back?"

Ranma nodded. "Yes... she said that it was up to me to free Naia..."

"Oh, that is good..." Beryl breathed a sigh of relief. It seems Beryl had a fear that Naia might never come back, and her relief showed how much importance Naia was to her. Ranma sighed dejectedly.

Taking a last look at his cookie, he bit it in half. Chewing it slowly, he found it delicious. He ate the other half.

Beryl watched Ranma eat his cookie. She frowned. The way Ranma was eating slowly was scaring her a bit. Usually, he would as fast as the Roadrunner, but something seems to be troubling him. "Ranma, are you okay?" Beryl asked, concerned.

"Hmm?" Ranma looked at her. "Oh, I'm fine, Beryl-san."

Beryl nodded. "Okay... Anyway, let's go. The others might be waiting sick for us." Ranma nodded and taking a last look at his surroundings, he followed Beryl out.

=Hideout=

Rahme's cellphone rang shrilly, and vibrated at her breast pocket strongly. With a quick swipe at her hand, she grabbed her phone from her pocket, and pressed 'Yes' and put it in her hear. "Rahme here," she said.

"They are coming back," Rei's voice replied from the other side. "Keep your eyes open. I can see some small bursts of KI in the place."

"Damnit! I already told Tama to stop killing the damn cockroach that way!" Rahme closed her phone and ran towards where she had left Tama. Running blindly towards the room, Rahme kicked the door down, shouted, "TAMA!" and surprised the girl inside. She jumped higher than a rabbit with spring shoes.

"R-Rahme!" Tama had muttered once her feet were, a bit wobbly, on the ground. "What are you doing here?"

"What have I TOLD you about USING KI?!" Rahme practically shouted her complaints on the girl's ears. "You have got to STOP killing the damn COCKROACH and start your job! Beryl is coming back, and Reiko has been detecting your small KI blasts!" Rahme's head enlarged the size of a swollen tumor, and continued to throw her flames towards Tama. "What if THE SAILOR SENSHIS arrive WHEN BERYL arrives, do YOU KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN?!"

Tama didn't seem to be affected. As the matter of fact, it seems she didn't even notice Rahme's outburst. "Oh, Rahme, come on. It's not like the Senshis can detect one little..."

Somewhere in the building, there a small but sharp sound of glass shattering. Rahme and Tama listened to the surroundings, their ears moving. "What were you saying?" Rahme asked.

Tama shrugged. "Hey, it doesn't mean it's the Senshis!"

=Juuban Streets=

"So, tell me Ranma," Beryl began, "what did the Oracle tell you?"

Right now, by the time Tama had shrugged her shoulders, Ranma and the others were on another Taxi, going back to their hideout. Beryl was, by this time, very demanding, hoping to get the information out of Ranma as soon as possible.

Ranma, his thoughts still heavy on what the Oracle had said, just stayed strangely silent. He tried to block everything. Unfortunately, Beryl was as stubborn as flypaper, and she began to ask him more and more. Finally, after having one question too many, he slowly breathed out a sigh.

"I am trying to understand it myself, Beryl-san... please... just be a bit patient with me. The Oracle seem to like speaking in riddles..." Ranma didn't exactly lie, but he didn't exactly tell the truth either. But it seems Beryl was convinced of Ranma's explanation, and quieted down.

"Yes, the Oracle can be a bit of a riddler," Beryl nodded. "Right, Mai?"

Mai shrugged her shoulders. Ranma looked at her curiously. "You visited the Oracle?" he asked.

Mai nodded. "Yes."

"What did she tell you?" Ranma asked, curious. Mai stared at him, scrutinizing his eyes like the girl from the apartment. Ranma swallowed nervously. He was about to avert his eyes when Mai replied in a steady, and a bit cold voice.

"Nothing..." she said. "Like you, I couldn't understand it myself."

"Oh..." was all Ranma could say, and silence reigned the whole trip.

+++++++++

It took almost half an hour on the return trip. The cause? It seems an accident occurred in one of the buildings in Juuban. Fire had started because of electrical fault, and too many wiring. It took 5 firetrucks to be deployed as the fire quickly spread to the neighboring houses.

Once the bottleneck of traffic was cleared, it was a very easy way back.

When they stopped, Beryl stepped of first, and moved to give space for Ranma to exit as well. Mai stayed in for a few minutes to pay for their fare, and too, followed them out.

Ranma bowed his head a bit. The Oracle seemed to be wrong about him forgetting. The very thought was lodged in his mind that it was almost impossible to take away. Heavy in thought, Ranma didn't notice Beryl stopped walking, and ended up getting his nose on her back.

"Ow..." Ranma muttered, rubbing his nose. "Hey, why did you stop..."

"SH!" Beryl suddenly exclaimed, and took out her cellphone. Dialing Rei's operational number, she only waited a ring before Rei answered. "Rei. Something's off."

"Yes, I can see that," Rei's voice replied. "I don't know what it was, Beryl-san. I was watching you guys instead of the hideout. I'm sorry."

"It's okay. What is it?" Beryl asked.

"The coding of the building changed. It's now much more complex," Rei's voice replied.

"Senshis?" Beryl asked.

"I am not sure," Rei's voice replied. "Be careful."

"Okay," Beryl replied. "Keep me posted," and she pressed 'End Call'.

"Beryl?" Ranma began. "How'd you know something was off?"

"Look at the building," Beryl said.

Ranma did, and looked at it curiously. Nothing seemed to be wrong... except that the abandoned building looked much whiter than usual... "It's whiter than usual?" Ranma asked.

"Yes. When surroundings suddenly become cleaner, even with the smallest degree, it means Crystal Tokyo had changed its coding, albeit even in a small way," Beryl replied. She began to dial another number. Mai looked around her with concentration. Fear seem to be in the air, and Ranma began to look around as well.

Then, a movement caught his eye. Turning towards where he saw movement, he gasped as he saw two cats. Black and white, staring at them. Instinct almost took over, as Ranma prepared to run, when he suddenly remembered that cat's don't affect him now.

When Ranma started training, or for a better term, downloading fighting styles, Rei was able to fix the problems the stupid training he had with Genma. The fear of cats, as Rei had put it, was a very complex coding inside Ranma's head. With a few decoding, deleting and debugging, Rei was able to fix the fear he had. For that, Ranma thanked her a thousand times.

Looking back, Ranma laughed at the predicament he got, all thanks to some coding he got from his stupid old man. Everything was so stupid. His life was all stupid.

Beryl and Mai looked at Ranma with apprehension. With their eyes at him, Ranma stopped laughing, and settled with nervous scratch in the back of his head. "Sorry, I was reminiscing. About my life, were I was scared of cats when I saw those two cats over..." Ranma pointed out where the last two cats were seen, but then, they were gone by the time he tried to point them. "Huh? They're gone? Well, those two cats were weird. Black and white."

Beryl and Mai seem to freeze upon hearing that. Ranma noticed the tension rise, and the temperature drop. "D-did they have a weird mark on their foreheads?" Mai asked.

"Weird marks?" Ranma asked.

"Yes, like crescent moons," Beryl asked.

Ranma closed his eyes as he tried to remember the details of the cats. White, black, with some weird glowing part in their heads... "Yes..." he said slowly. "They did have some weird symbols in the head. I'm not really sure what shape though."

"Damnit!" Beryl took out her cellphone, and began to dial Rei's number. Once again, after just one ring, the operator replied. "Rei?"

"What's wrong?" Ranma asked Mai.

"Cats with crescent moons on their heads are Moon Cat Programs. They are like guides, beacons, and scramblers. They are the like the operators in Crystal Tokyo," Mai replied, her hands already forming fists. She was getting tense.

"We think they might be a few Moon Cat Programs here," Beryl said to her phone. "Ranma saw them."

"If they are, that explains the coding in the building," Rei's voice replied. "What do you think?"

"If the Senshis are here, we have no choice but to move out. Where are Rahme and Tama?" Beryl asked.

"Last time I checked, inside," Rei's voice replied. "The coding won't allow me to see, and Rahme and Tama seem to be separated from their phones. I'll try to decipher the new codes."

"Do so," Beryl replied. "When you are done, guide us through. We are going in." and she closed her phone.

Mai and Ranma looked at Beryl questioningly, waiting for her next orders. "Beryl-san, what are we going to do?"

Beryl seem to glow a bit with KI. "We are going in."

To Be Continued...

Author's Notes: Sorry for the delay! MERRY XMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR!