The Phoenix Chronicles Episode 9: Closer to a Lie.
Beginning Theme: Illusion
Ranma heard a knock at his door while he slept. He was glad that Ranko had moved out, since she would’ve been yelling for him to get the door, or simply just point out that someone was at the door. He didn’t mind that, though. It made him feel like she thought of him as her peer. He heard the knock get even louder. He poked his head out of the covers, and looked at his digital alarm clock. He sat up, and went to the door.
Ryoga stood there, his eyes shifting in their sockets as if they were trapped. He was wearing his UN uniform, and had his hands to his sides. He even held one of his bandanas clenched in his fist. He was looking around, and then he looked to Ranma, surprised to see that Ranma had opened the door.
"Ryoga…It’s two o’clock in the morning."
"Yes, I know…Can I come in?" Ryoga started looking around again.
"Sure, why not?" Ranma shrugged.
Ryoga walked in, and took off his shoes. He left them at the foyer, closing the door behind him. He removed a revolver from one of the lower pockets on his coat.
Ranma started backing away, and whispered, "Wait, Ryoga…If you’re still upset about Akane, I’m sorry…"
Ryoga ignored him, and turned all the locks. He looked out the peephole in the door, and backed away. Then he turned to Ranma, lowering the gun. "It’s not for you, Ranma." Ryoga said lifelessly.
He dug into his jacket, and removed a tape. He turned to point his gun at the door again. He kept it trained there for a while longer, and finally lowered it. He went to sit down on Ranma’s couch.
"Ranma, do you remember that you told me about wanting to find out the truth to Second Impact?"
"Well, I know about Adam and all that, and I think I may have seen what you have on that tape, already."
"Well, Ranma, that’s not all I have…Do you have some earphones?"
"My daughter would have some, but she moved out. Ryoga, what’s this all about?"
Ryoga put his finger to his lips, and hissed for Ranma to be quiet. He finally took out a portable tape player, and began to explain. "I had an informant who was there the day Second Impact occurred. He had sent me this two days before it happened. He had been among the several scientists who were investigating the sphere in Antarctica. We both know that Ikari-"
"Rokubungi…Gendou Rokubungi. I hate to think of that bastard carrying around Yui’s name like some sort of cross to protect himself." Ranma bit out.
"Can I go on?" Ryoga whispered harshly, making Ranma nod uneasily.
"At any rate, Gendou is not only involved. He is directly responsible for it. My informant caught this conversation. I think you may find this interesting, considering that friend of your daughter’s is mentioned, though briefly.
He handed Ranma his own earphones, and when he got the signal that Ranma was ready, he played the tape.
"That Super Selenoid Theory Professor Katsuragi had proposed, Dr. Kaneda?" one of the long-dead scientists said.
"It’s a bit much, Kaneda-kun." Another added.
"And it’s just a theory, right Kaneda?"
"Still, Kei, Ichirou, the S2 theory is the only way to explain the source of that giant’s power."
Ranma looked up at Ryoga, and mouthed, "the giant of light? Is that what they’re talking about?" Ryoga just maintained an intense look at the door.
The voices went on, "Kei, It’s already proven, even if by accident."
"Right, Ichiro. The facts are staring us right in the face. We have no choice but to accept them, and work from there."
"Well, Kaneda, I think we should conduct another test. If the result is a constant, then I’ll be willing to accept that theory as fact."
"Kaneda, what about the Lance of Longinus?"
"Well, it’s still where it was brought ashore. It arrived at the Dead Sea last week."
"Shouldn’t it be processed before it’s taken underground?" Ichirou had asked worriedly. "Will it be all right?"
"The Physical Contact Experiment is scheduled for the thirteenth of next month." Kaneda told them confidently. "There’s plenty of time for any adjustments."
Ranma looked at Ryoga, who nodded in acknowledgement, his eyes still on the door.
"I heard Ikari’s team was leaving on the eleventh." Another voice said. That was when Ryoga stopped the tape, and fast-forwarded it some. He looked at the counter and watched it intensely, and stopped it when it read one-four-zero. He looked at Ranma, and whispered. "You’ll have to strain to hear this, but it’s them, alright. Kihl, and Gendou."
"Scientists." Ranma heard Kihl snorted. "They believe too much in their own ideas."
"Self-flattery, perhaps." Gendou offered.
"Also, they argue too much." Kihl’s disgust could be heard in the way he spoke, "Pettily so…Endless criticism, and speculation. What a mockery this is. Surely, Gabiel’s use would’ve ended all this long ago."
"Ironically, it is people like they who are given the responsibility of maintaining truth." Gendou bit out, and then his voice became questioning, though subtle, "Gabriel?"
"The first of our efforts to bring this about. It was a waste, lost." Kihl replied flatly, "Though some refer to it as such, ‘God’ is not a lofty issue. Discovery is all well and fine, but it is wasted on those who do not understand what they have found. All they seek is some accomplishment to satisfy those monstrous egos."
"If Gabriel had not been lost, what then?" Gendou asked.
"There would be no more ego, nor science, nor even speculation. All would know the truth." Kihl had finished. His voice was low, and intense.
"Which means that Kihl knew he was still alive." Ranma bit out, "and didn’t tell Gendou, or didn’t want to tell him."
"Wait…I’ve got something else you might want to see. It’s not really clear, and there’s some static, and such." Ryoga said, putting the videotape, which he had on his coat’s inside pocket, into Ranma’s machine, and hesitating to press the "play" button. He looked to the door, again. Once he was sure that he heard no one by the door, he pressed play.
Ryoga paused it, and adjusted the TV so that the screen wasn’t flashing too brightly. Then, he proceeded to let it play.
Ranma heard the voices of the scientists from the other tape. Only they seemed to be in panic this time.
The Klaxons of resounded, just as they did on the Day of Second Impact. The events of September thirteenth played on Ranma’s machine. He could hear the PA blaring, "Emergency! Emergency! All personnel to your stations! All non-combatant persons proceed to your emergency shelters at once!"
The scientists were yelling out, "It’s exceeding the expected value limit!"
"Ichiro, Pull back the lance!"
"I can’t, Kaneda! It’s sinking!"
"Damn it! Do whatever possible to minimize the damage!"
Techs could be heard from nearby consoles, yelling, "The genes implanted into Adam have achieved physical merging!"
"The AT field is expanding!"
"It’s no good! We can’t maintain distance!" another tech yelled.
"Kaneda, The Lance! It’s sinking!"
That was when Ranma saw the giant of light that he had heard so much about. He reached to stop the tape, though his whole body just seemed numb. He looked to Ryoga, who returned his troubled glance. He looked to the door, again.
"So, now we know." Ryoga told him.
"So, we’ll have to stay close that Gendou until the proper time. So that this can be prevented from happening again."
"Do you know what Kihl was talking about, Ranma?"
"Yes, Ryoga, I do…He was Yui’s ward."
"Then if he is what Kihl says he is, you know what we have to do."
"What would that be, Ryoga?"
"Ranma, We have to kill him, once and for all."
"Ryoga, no. Listen, I can’t. Yui wouldn’t allow it."
"Ranma, Yui’s dead. She died because of Gendou, and Kihl. In a way, Hikaru is responsible for Yui’s death as well."
"No. Anyway, he’s out of my reach now. We wouldn’t be able to do anything to him. Even if we could, we’d be considered crazy, and put away for a long time."
"At least, it would be better than letting him complete Kihl’s purpose. We can’t let that tragedy happen again, Ranma. We’ve already seen too much to just let it go."
"It is because we have seen so much that we can’t act, Ryoga. Yui said that we have to wait until we become vital to them, and then we stand a chance of bringing them down. You saw what happened to that Isamu kid. The jock decides to give Mousse a pounding and he ‘disappears, ‘ just like that."
"I thought that kid transferred out of Clamp."
"That’s what they want everyone to believe, Ryoga."
"Speaking of Clamp, Ranma. I talked to the detectives about Hikaru. You know what I found out?"
"I found out that their computers had been tampered with. Lucky for them, they had a back up for every program, and file. However, the information they had on Hikaru, and his mother, Achika, was no longer there, not even the back up."
"So, what’s that mean to us?"
"I’m not finished, yet. Apparently, his mother, Achika Masaki had filled out a missing person’s report for one ‘Hikaru Masaki.’ I started to investigate her, because they say that she may have changed her address in the months between January of 1995, and September of 1999. That’s about the time that Hikaru was claimed to have been missing."
"Well, they told me that they arrived at the home of Hikaru’s parents’ in Tokyo, only to find it burned to the ground, due to a gas leak or something."
"Well, shoddy construction can be blamed, that’s not uncommon."
"It is when one of Hikaru’s parents was an architect."
"I guess he hadn’t been very good."
"I checked their old address too. I checked the local department of Water and power, as well as the Gas Company."
"They were not given any notice to cut service. In fact, everything is still running, and when I asked them about whether they had heard about a move, they asked me who I was. It seems that someone else was asking around as well. I told them I was with the State department, and asked for the Masaki house’s number. I checked that number against the phone records of twenty years ago. They matched."
"I also checked Hikaru’s, or as you like to call him, Mousse’s, medical records for the time when he was born. I checked every hospital’s registry in Japan. They all say that none of them received such a person in their maternity wards. Again, someone had gotten there before I did."
"What would that mean?"
"It means that someone must have really wanted Mousse’s mother, Ranma, and still does."
"Well, I checked her medical records as well. It says that she was attended to by an old associate of ours, in fact."
"No, I found that she was attended to by one Doctor Katsuragi. His signature was on her medical report. The form, itself, has the UN stamp on it, which proves his involvement."
"You’re not kidding. Now think about this, Katsuragi was the one who proposed Project Gabriel."
"Which gave life to the little spawn. Go on."
"I checked the files on all that said the good doctor was going to inject Lilith DNA into Mousse’s father. Then, he would carry the DNA and impregnate her with it. Despite all this, I have reason to believe that the good doctor may have forced himself upon the young girl."
"Why would you think that?"
"Because I had Mr. Masaki examined fully by one of my friends in the medical field."
"You mean his parents are still alive?"
"Yes. Alive and well, I’ll tell you about that later. We found no trace of Lilith anywhere in Masaki’s system. He’s completely clean."
"And you think that Katsuragi may have injected himself with Lilith’s DNA and perhaps raped her so that she could have Mousse?"
"Not think, Ranma…We both know that Katsuragi was not exactly a family man. We also know that Mousse was born in 1989, one year after he made the proposal. Also, Mousse’s actual DNA is a mix of Achika’s, and doctor Katsuragi’s."
"Does Mousse know any of this?"
"He might only know about the inconsistencies of the address change, and such. I don’t think he knows much else, though."
" Just like Yui’s accident. No one knows what really happened, except for all of us who were there. You were there, Ryoga. Don’t tell me that you forgot about it."
Ryoga did remember. He had been supervising the technicians, standing over them, while Ranma was up in the command box. The boy, that Ranma mockingly called Mousse, was also up there, looking rather nervous. It was almost as if he were the test pilot.
Ryoga couldn’t help feel slightly annoyed with Ranma at that point, always comparing himself in one way or another to Mousse. Ranma was always trying to make himself appear as the better man, and Ryoga kept having to restrain himself from reminding Ranma that Mousse was just a kid. Ranma seemed petty in those moments, like when they were still in high school. He was hoping that Akane’s death would make him grow up, but for some reason, Ranma kept insisting that he had to prove himself.
Moments later, a tech shouted, "We’re losing her! Her synch ratio has reached over four hundred percent!"
"Eject the entry plug!" Ranma yelled.
"It’s not responding!" the tech yelled back.
"The Eva! It’s ejecting the entry plug!" another tech added.
Mousse could only see the plug suit, which Yui had been showing off to him only moments earlier. It floated emptily on a cascade of the LCL, which filled the plug.
He ran out of the command room, and ran into the test cage. He saw her suit. He thought it had been empty at first, but as he got closer to it, he could see a few strands of her hair, and her face, which only seem to flop lifelessly. She had been robbed of her skeleton, and her body, or the shell, which had been her body, seemed to wade and fold with the suit.
Mousse sat up from the couch, breathing deeply. He tried not to talk because he knew that he would hear the fear in his own voice, and that would make him cry. He started to count from one to ten, and finally calmed down enough to talk again.
"Okay, it was just a dream…nothing more." He put his hands to his face, and breathed into them.
He looked at the alarm clock, and saw that it was four o’clock in the morning. So, deciding he couldn’t sleep anymore, he went swung his legs over the side, and leaned back on the couch. He sat there for a few minutes, and finally turned on the TV. He flipped through the channels, able to laugh at some of the silliness of the programs he saw.
Then, it stopped at a soap opera. Mousse clicked on the control, but it wouldn’t respond. He got up to change the channel himself, and he saw a girl with short hair on the screen. He sat down, and whispered to himself a name he tried not to think about too much in these past few months. It came to him now, though, and he whispered it softly.
Mousse had been waiting for Maya, sitting on the stone steps of the theatre. He was wearing a thick jacket, and some gloves. He hated the winter, the way the cold seemed to bite on his skin as the wind blew, the way the cold air seemed to ring in his ears as it whistled into it. He used to be able to feel that inner-warmth, but nowadays, he just couldn’t feel anything anymore. He felt so alone sometimes. Yui was gone, Ritsuko too. His mother was dead. No! She’s not. You know she has to be alive, somehow. Then, he heard another part of him say, Why? Because that’s what you want to believe, even though you see your parents’ house burned to the ground? Even though you could smell the burning flesh of what used to be them?
He felt his hand reach for his forehead, and almost groaned. He held it back, though. He could still smell the smoke from that day. It had been putrid, and the wind blew just as it did, today. Biting, and whipping at his face, and tossed his hair, digging into his scalp.
Maya was running toward him, and yelling, "I’m sorry I’m late."
He smiled as she came toward him. She came up to him, and held onto him.
He felt warm, now. His loneliness wasn’t as strong, anymore. It still haunted his dreams, and even haunted him when he was awake. He would see Yui smile at him, and laughing. Then, she would fade away, and he’d almost sob. He’d clench his fists, and let some of the anger take over. He thought about the one who took her away, and soon.
After a while, he didn’t want to think about that anymore.
He felt himself almost growling, now. He could hear that deep moan vibrate in his ears.
Maya looked up at him, and frowned, "Why are you so sad?"
"I’m not. In fact, I’m glad you’re here…Maya, did I ever tell you that I lost my parents?"
"Yes, you did, and every time I think about it, I cry. I want to share your tears, Hikaru. I don’t want you to feel like you’re the only one who feels this."
"I know. You don’t want my pain, though, Maya. It’s something I wouldn’t wish on anyone, no matter how much I hate them."
"Do you hate me?"
"Of course, not. I wouldn’t be telling you any of this if I hated you. There are only a few people I’ve ever hated in my life, and I hope I never have to feel that again. I just…oh, nevermind."
"I’m just torturing myself, again. I try not to do it too much, because I don’t think you’d want to only hear my problems. I can be really selfish, sometimes."
"You’re not. You’re angry, and that’s understandable. I won’t blame you if you’re angry, Hikaru. No one would."
"Thank you, Maya."
"I love you, so you don’t need to thank me."
"Maya, what’d you say?" Mousse said, looking at her in the eye.
"I said that I love you."
"I don’t know what to say."
"You could say that you love me, too, Hikaru."
"I can’t really tell you anything, Maya." He muttered, looking down.
"What?" her eyes widened, and began to well up with water.
"Maya, listen…I’m not even sure I like myself. I know that I want to be with you, though. I want to be there for you, because you did the same for me, and" He reached his hand to her face, and put his thumb, and his index finger under her eyes. "I want to be the one who dries those tears off."
"They why don’t you love me?"
"How can I answer that, Maya?"
"You can say that you love me."
He looked at her, and he realized that he did love her. He couldn’t hurt her. He had only been able to talk to her about his dreams, his hopes. He was glad that she was the last person that he wanted to talk to before he went to sleep. He was glad that she listened to him, and that she did understand him.
"I love you, Maya."
If you loved her so much, why didn’t you go with her? He thought angrily. He kept thinking that he had been selfish with her for not going with her. You didn’t want to go because you blamed yourself for Yui, and you didn’t want to see Gendou, either.
"So what? What’s the use in staying with a person who hates you? A person you hate?"
"Niisan, is something wrong?" Shinji asked sleepily as walked over to Mousse, who looked at Shinji, and smiled.
"I’m fine, Shinji. I’m sorry I woke you up."
"It’s ok…Are we going to the park, tomorrow?"
"I promised, didn’t I?"
"Are we going with Rei-san?"
"Yes, she’ll be joining us for the day, and then we’ll go to a movie."
"Cool. She’s real nice. You should marry her."
"Shinji…" Mousse said, his voice was almost a high falsetto.
"You like her, don’t you?" Shinji laughed.
Mousse laughed slightly to himself, and put his hand on Shinji’s shoulder, "Look, Rei and I are just friends."
"You should, though. She reminds me of someone."
"I can’t remember. I know the face, I just can’t remember who she is, but I can always see her face."
"Get some sleep Shinji. We have a big day, tomorrow."
Mousse watched Shinji as he went back to the single bed, and covered up. He looked at Shinji, and thought about how alike they were. We both lost her, kid…I’m so sorry I couldn’t protect her. She deserved so much better.
He realized he was breathing hard, and that his eyes were starting to itch. He breathed deeply, and relaxed. Then, he went to the couch, and sat there until morning, not wanting to sleep. He only thought of that dream, and he his eyes shot open.
"Good night, Yui-san…I’m sorry."
He thought about the calls he had made days earlier. Each one disproved his parents’ death. There had been no change of address reported, no change of phone number. It seemed that the information blackout centered in Tokyo 2.
They’re alive. My parents are alive. I can’t wait to see them, again. I wonder what mother will be like. It’s been over 10 years. I wonder if she’ll recognize me.
"Hikaru," Nokoru said, "Here’s the your train ticket. Don’t worry about Shinji, we’ll take care of him while you’re gone."
"Can you get another one, Nokoru?"
"Why is that?"
"Right now, I’m the only family Shinji has. His uncle and aunt went to the states for a year. They won’t be back for some time, either. Anyway, I want him to meet my mother. She’s such a nice person, Nokoru."
"Yeah, I know. Well, we’ll go with you, then."
"We promised that we’d bring you home to your parents, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do."
Nokoru heard steps behind him, and went quiet. He turned around, and saw Rei coming toward them. She was walking with Shinji, who was smiling up at her. She smiled down at him lightly, and for a moment, Mousse saw himself. He was a kid again, with Ritsuko on those days when they went shopping with Yui.
He shook his head, slightly, to clear it, and went over to them. Ranko saw Mousse from a bench she was sitting on. She stood up, and decided to go to him. That was until she saw Rei come up to him. She was smiling, but it didn’t even seem like a friendly one to Ranko. It seemed somewhat cruel, almost condescending.
Nokoru looked at Rei as she walked passed him. She didn’t say one word, not even a glance. She reminds me of Yui-san, somehow, even the way she ignores me.
Rei had her head looking down at Shinji and smiling at him. Mousse took him to the ice cream cart that was rolling toward them.
"Rei-san, do you want some ice-cream?"
"I’ll be right there, Shinji." She said softly. Then, she watched him go with Mousse, who was smiling at him, as Shinji yelling at him to hurry along. Her eyes quickly narrowed, and looked sharply to Nokoru. "Why are you here?"
"Why the sudden change, Rei?"
"Hikaru is better off without you, you know that."
"If it weren’t for us, he wouldn’t be anywhere. He’s our friend, and we intend to help him. He’s been through hell, and we intend to see him through."
"You do know he’s being watched."
"Yeah, right. Listen, if you’re concerned for him, help us."
"I’ll come on that trip with you…to his parents’ house."
"I don’t think you should."
"I’m sure Shinji would love my company."
Ranko took the initiative at that moment, and went up to Nokoru.
"Nokoru, honey. What’s this I hear about a trip?" Ranko purred.
She pulled on his arm so that she could whisper into his ear, "Play along."
"Oh, yeah. Well, our friend is going home, and he invited us to come along."
Rei snorted at Ranko, "Not that it’s any of your business." With that, she went to join Mousse and Shinji, who handed her an ice cream cone, which she took, with a smile, and then turned her back on Nokoru, and Ranko.
Nokoru looked down at Ranko, who was releasing his arm. "May I ask who you are?"
"I’m Ranko Saotome. I’m a friend of Hikaru’s."
"He didn’t say anything about you."
"I’m not surprised." Ranko muttered, then she grabbed Nokoru’s arm, "Listen, I need you to get me a ticket, too."
"Because I don’t trust that blue haired bitch."
"Do you know each other?"
"We just met the other day…Hikaru just stood there while she insulted me."
"That’s not like him." Nokoru mused.
"But then he defended me. So, he does care for me. I know it." Ranko started to blush.
"Damn, you got it bad, don’t you?"
"Sorry, sorry, sorry." Nokoru said, quickly.
"Can you get me a ticket to ride with you guys?"
"Now, let me get this straight. You want me to get you a ticket so you can protect him from Rei."
She nodded eagerly, and smiled.
Nokoru almost laughed at that, but decided not to. Something told him that Ranko didn’t take something like that very lightly.
"Okay…We’ll be at the train station on Monday morning. Akira will be out front, and he’ll bring you to where we are, all right?"
"That’s good enough for me." Then she pulled on Nokoru’s arm, and whispered into his ear. "Just make sure I get a seat next to Hikaru, ok?"
"I’ll see what I can do."
With that, Ranko ran off, happily. Nokoru looked after her, and smiled. Damn, Hikaru…You really don’t know how many people care for you? That made him look to Mousse, still playing with Shinji. Damn it! You’re not alone.
Rei had told Mousse and Shinji that she would meet up with them at his apartment, since she had to do something at her own. She went into a dark, empty theatre, and walked up the steps off of stage right, and looked out at an invisible audience.
"Gabriel has found his family."
"Well, then. We must take drastic measures." Kihl boomed as the monolith marked Seele 01 appeared.
"We should let him be…at least for now. Perhaps, letting him meet his mother after so many years will give him some incentive to remain loyal to us." Gendou said.
"Ikari, you do realize that Gabriel’s contact with his family could jeopardize our ultimate goal." Seele 02 protested.
"Not necessarily," Gendou replied calmly, his hands folded in front of this mouth, "Perhaps, even they could be of use to us."
"Utilizing Gabriel’s biological parents is not on our agenda. Gabriel is one of the many priorities on our list."
"That is true. However, if Gabriel knew that there was a possibility of danger to his family, I have no doubt that he will agree to whatever conditions and demands we could put on him. I’m sure that he would be willing to do whatever this council asks in order to ensure their safety."
"Shall we enact our plan now?" Seele 03 asked.
"Let him settle in a little first." Gendou replied, "Then we can wait for him. Rei?"
"You are going to follow him, and watch him closely do you understand?"
"Yes, Commander Ikari."
Ending theme: Fly Me to the Moon.
Mousse: This is it! I’m home.
Achika: I can’t believe it’s you….after all these years.
Mousse: Wait! What’s that, up there?
Tenchi: I’d say it looks like a space ship…
Tenchi: I’m your little brother…I never thought I’d actually get to meet you.
Ryoko: And I never thought I’d meet someone like you.
Tenchi: Ah! Get off of me!
Achika: Next, on the Phoenix Chronicles is "No Need for Homecomings."