Make your own free website on Tripod.com

**Disclaimer:  I do not have any right to be using the names and anything else that is part of the anime series Ranma ½.  I also have absolutely no right in playing around with the anything to do with one of the coolest movies out there, The Matrix.  I am an independent writer and I am writing this story using the names and ideas for fun.  I do not have permission from the creators of Ranma or The Matrix.  I am a poor college student so don’t try suing me; you won’t be able to get anything.  In other words, I owe my soul to the university (at the moment and for a few years beyond).

 

** Story notes concerning the timeline: Timeline jumps around a bit.  For Ranma, we start at the very beginning when Ranma arrives.  The matrix is already involved, but we do not intend to meet until 6 months after the movie ended. 

 

**General warning: I am still new at this thing people call 'writing.'  Please take this into consideration since me no English major.  This means if grammar is out of whack, tell where and I will look at it and fix it ASAP.

 

**Thoughts will be expressed in Italics and speech will have quotes.  Different language will be denoted by, but the speech will mostly in English unless denoted otherwise <>

 

System Interface

Chapter 1

 

                Date: December 1999, about 6 months after the movie ended

                Location: Sentient Program Headquarters, in the Matrix

 

The clicking of shoes was the only noise heard as a man dressed in a gray business suit walked down a simplistic designed hallway.  Bare walls were the only things to look at as they were shined to near perfection, giving a mirror like surface to them.  Without a pause the man opened a door and walked in a saw another man dressed exactly like him standing next to the full-length window that went from floor to ceiling and to both walls.

"They're gone," the man said as he closed the door he came in.  "It seems that they knew some of what we were planning.  Morpheus was distraction as Mr. Anderson pulled them out."

"It seems that they have gotten better at extracting people over the past 7 years.  Their tactics have changed while ours haven't."  The man next to the window then turned and walked to the desk.  While still standing, he opened one of the files on his desk and seemed to be reading what was inside.  "What of the project then?"

"Reports have indicated that we were able to complete the program ahead of schedule.  As a result data collection was started early.  We were able to get a 61% analysis of the first subject and a 36% analysis of the second subject before they disappeared from the system.  We can expect results in about a month time."

"Why only 36% on the second subject?"

"Result of not being able to find him.  We still have not been able to identify to the cause of his ability to transport himself to another location in a human eye blink.  Even after nearly replacing all of his interface equipment and connections, we have yet to determine the reasons."

"Let it rest.  Put as many resources as we can afford to analyze the data.  The sooner the better."

"I'll already in the process."  With that said, the gentleman left the room without so much as a nod.

The other person closed the manila folder and went back to the window to watch the humans in their everyday lives.  The folders was labeled in red, "Sentient Program Update SR 13.4"

 

Location: Somewhere deep in the Earth's mostly dead core, outside the Matrix

 

The steady hum of the hovercraft lifters filtered all the way to the bridge of the ship and played a simple tempo to the multiple indicator lights that seemed to randomly blink or stay constant to a harmony that God only knew.  The lights were indicating various things from the fusion reactor's condition to the condition of the interface chairs to the condition of the only weapon on the ship, the EMP.  Staring out from the bridge, the scenery of what used to be a major tunnel system flashed by as the ship piloted on autopilot.  The tunnel walls flashing by were, if bothered to notice, were becoming more stone than concrete as the ship went farther into Earth's crust with a final destination near the planet's core.

Inside the bridge, a person was sitting behind the captain's chair staring outside, ignoring the man-made "concert."  The person has short brown hair that tends to cover the brown eyes.  Nonchalantly, the person brushes the offending hairs out of the way.  The person is dressed in a gray shirt that is a size too big and black pants that fit better than the shirt.  Even with the clothes, it is still quite obvious that this is a “she.”  Footsteps can be heard coming down the walkway, but she apparently doesn't hear them.

"Hey Magis.  What 're you doin'?"

The person known as Magis, turned to see another woman leaning on the doorframe.  "Haruka, how many times have I told you that you not to call that?” Magis replied in near perfect English with an accent.

“Every time so far,” Haruka responded in perfect English.  Haruka is about 5’9’’ with black hair cut to the shoulders and hazel eyes.  Her clothes could pass for street beggar clothes as the brown shirt is torn in a few places and her pants have some holes in the knees.  “Besides, it’s one of the few things that seems to annoy you.”  A sly grin plastered her face.

“Very funny.  Don’t tell me that you came up here to annoy me?”

“Me?  Nah, it’s just that it’s looked like you need someone to talk to since we started heading for Zion.”

“It’s that obvious, hugh?”

“Yeah, it is.  Your students and myself have noticed it, maybe a few others as well.”  Haruka turned the captain’s chair around and sat down facing her, “Care to talk about it?”  Magis turned her head and continued to stare outside.  “Damn it, Nabiki!  Tell me what’s bothering you or it will break you at the worst possible time.”

Having her real name being used caught her attention immediately.  Nabiki looked at her friend and could see the worry in her eyes.  “It’s a combination of things Haruka; of being pulled from the matrix, the past seven years, and what I was told by the oracle a month after that.

“The second one is easy to explain, these past seven years have been real tough and I’m beginning to wonder if we can finally pull the plug on the machines.”

“I hear the same thing from others all the time Nabiki and I’ll tell you what I tell them.  Don’t ever think what you’re thinking now.  It will only blow the situation out of proportion.  We will win, it might take a few generations, but I’m expecting a real boost to our efforts now.  Some is due to your planning and the rest, if what Morpheus says is true, is because the one has been found.”

“Thanks for the compliment and hopefully other’s can start doing what I’ve been doing.  You’re right though, now that the one is out, we do stand a better chance and hopefully it will end with this generation.”

“That’s a better attitude.  Now what about the other things?”

“How much did you know about me before you guys had me unplugged?”

“Well, we did know about all your activities and how you operate.  Besides not believing what you were seeing, it was one of the reasons why we pulled you, even if your were a bit of a mercenary.”

“Thanks.  What about my family?”

“Well, your family had lost its mother some time ago, you had two sisters, one older, Kasumi, and one younger, Akane I think it was.  Kasumi took over the house keeping and caring for the family and Akane has one hell of a temper problem and a decent martial artist.  Finally, about two years before we pulled you, your sister Akane was engaged to your father’s friend’s son.  Why?”  Haruka stated calmly as she tried to remember what she read from the reports before grabbing Nabiki.  She was very curious what this has to do with her depression.  Finally it dawned on her, “You liked him didn’t you.”

“Me?!  I was known as the “Ice Queen.  No one could faze me, especially not some clueless, no brained jock who is completely insensitive.  Haruka just smirked at Nabiki knowingly.

Seeing her friend’s disbelief, Nabiki hung her head in surrender, “Yeah, I did.  When he and his father came to our house, I really wanted to be engaged to him since my little sister was getting a lot of attention at school.  But when I learned to truth, I gave him to Akane.”

“Why did you do a stupid thing like that?”  Haruka was really surprised that Nabiki would do something like that.

“It was out of fear because of his curse.  But it was that curse that really had me begin to disbelieve what I was seeing.”  Nabiki caught the questioning glance and said before it could be asked, “I better tell you the entire story so you understand.”  And so, Nabiki spent telling her friend all the adventure that followed one, Ranma Saotome.

-- An hour later --

“That’s is basically all.  I my part in causing those problems, but I had to keep the family solvent or we would declare bankruptcy.”

“Wow!  I don’t think I would believe any of it if it was told by someone else,” Haruka said.  After a moment of thought, something didn’t seem right to her, “Nabiki, why were you the only one to not believe what you were seeing.  There should have been a whole bunch of people that we could have unplugged because of what went on.”

“Don’t know, might be because the things that have been happening there became normal and people accepted it.  That is weird though.  Maybe I can find someone who could get me some data on that.  Perhaps there is a connection.”

“I’ll ask around and see what I can find for you.  Now on to the more interesting stuff.”  Nabiki looked at her questioningly, “When did you start to fall for him?”  A smile from Haruka’s younger days when she and her friends would talk about boys crossed her face.  Nabiki only responded with a blush.  “Come on, you told me the background, but I still haven’t heard what you saw in him.”

“It became more brotherly love when I was temporarily engaged to him.  Even with all that I put him through, he stayed with me.  Heck, he stayed even with the abuse that he received from my sister.  Bt it was different being on the other end.  Anyone else would have left after what I put him through in a day.  He stayed though, probably because of honor and our fathers, but I always wondered if he stayed engaged to me for another reason.  There I saw the devotion that he had.

It was about a month after the wedding disaster that I came across him again.  This time it was after another fight between him and Akane and the other 3 women that were engaged to him resulting in another fight, a mallet, a spatula, a bon bori, and a paralysis flower hitting him on the head sending him flying where I eventually found him on my way home from a meeting I had.  He was a she and was just climbing out of the river looking miserable, a real shock to the confident carefree person that I have gotten to know.  So, asked him if he wanted to talk about it, free of charge.  So, next thing I know is I’m sitting on the riverbed under one of the bridges waiting for him to talk.  It took a little prodding, but he eventually started to talk.”

--Flashback—

Ranma was sitting down in a partly secluded booth with a cup of tea cupped in his hands, looking into the glass wondering if it could solve his problems.  Across from him, Nabiki watched him, observing his movements.  “Come on Ranma, I don’t usually listen to people without a fee.  I’m doing this since you’re almost family.  Now, what’s wrong?”  Ranma looked up briefly and seemed like he was about to say something, then quickly looked back to the tea.

Fed up with his silent attitude, Nabiki rose to leave.  “Ok Ranma, I have other things that need to be done.  Come see me when you’re ready.”

Just as she was about to pass him, a silent voice stopped her in her tracks, “I’m tired Nabiki.”  Slowly, Nabiki turned and sat back down in front of Ranma and waited for him to continue.

“I’m tired of fighting.  I’m tired of my honor being used against those I care for and myself.  I’m tired of my life being planned without my consent and molding myself to an image that originates from a father’s own self image,” Ranma said, looking at Nabiki.

Nabiki prided herself on being able to read people and was a little disturbed that she could tell that Ranma was telling the truth.  “You’re a martial artist Ranma and have devoted your life to the art.  You can’t quite now.”

“I’m not tired of that.  It’s the fighting with Akane and the fiancées.  I’m tired of being treated like a slab of meat that goes to the highest bidder.  They don’t seem to care about me.  Let alone know me.”

“That’s not true, Akane cares about you.”

Ranma looked like he was about to laugh at that, “Oh really.  Then why is it that whenever I try to be nice I’m branded a pervert?  I can’t even try to explain myself before getting free flying lessons from Mallet-sama.  Then there is our father’s.  They’ve totally destroyed any chance of me or Akane getting together with all the pushing that they have done.”  Nabiki too amazed at what he was saying couldn’t respond to his last comment before he continued.

“Then there are the other things.  Fiancées that I didn’t even ask for or want.  I don’t mean disrespect, but I never got to know Akane before being engaged.  I thought Ukyo was a boy and was my best friend.  Shampoo was an accident and Kodachi was her own daydream.

“My honor is being used against me to keep all of them except Kodachi.  She won’t take no for an answer.  Then there is Ryoga using my honor against me just to satisfy his dreams of happiness.  Then to top it off, I need to be a ‘man among men’ or I have to commit seppuku because of a five year old put his palm print on a piece of paper that he didn’t understand what he was doing.  The only image of what a man is I get from Oyaji, and I am not going to be like him ever.

“So, where does that leave me?  My honor is the only thing that I seem to have left, what little there is.  I have three women chasing me and I fight with the fourth so much you can almost tell time with them,” Ranma finally said, finishing off his tea in a gulp.

“I don’t know Ranma.  For once, I really don’t know,” Nabiki, said after finally gathering her wits from Ranma’s talk.

“Thanks anyway Nabiki, for listening.  Don’t worry though.  I keep wondering if I’m really living in a dream world and currently having a nightmare.  Besides, you have enough to worry about trying to keep the dojo solvent.”  Nabiki stared at Ranma shocked.  “Don’t be too surprised.  I know more about what is really going on than I let on.  It all stems back to being forced to live the image of my father.  See ya back at the house.”  Nabiki continued to sit for another ten minutes in shock after Ranma left.

--End Flashback--

“When I came to, Ranma was gone and it was almost time for supper.  I never was able to ask him what he meant, knowing more than it seemed.  For the first time, I saw a man under the front he puts up for everyone.  For another month his words bugged me and I couldn’t confront him since there were people around.  I finally got to talk with him after a month, when I ran into a bit of trouble with a transfer student.  I had just sold him a photo of Ranma’s female side.”

--Flashback--

“I want my money back bitch!” Mike growled as he pushed Nabiki into the school wall.

School was over and Nabiki was just about to leave when a student that purchased a picture from her stopped her.  Nabiki kept her fear held barely in check as she was shoved around, I knew I should have looked into hiring someone for protection.  “All sales are final.  I told you that when you purchased the picture,” Nabiki finally recognized him.  He was a new student to the school, a transfer student that played football in the states, and heard about the pictures of a gorgeous redhead and wanted to purchase a picture.  Apparently he didn’t like the idea when he found out who it was.

“I guess I’m going to have to make you pay up,” he said, bringing up his hand for a strong backhand.  Nabiki’s eyes widened in fear, unsure for the first time on how to handle the situation.  She shut her eyes when Makoto looked like he was ready to strike and waited for the blow; it never came.

Opening her eyes she saw that Makoto was just as surprised to find his hand immobile.  Nabiki looked behind him and her eyes widened while he turned his head and looked shocked.  “Let go of my hand Ranma.  This one needs to be taught proper business conduct, ‘the customer is always right.”

“No girl deserves to be battered around.  No matter what she did,” Ranma replied coolly.

Turning around to face Ranma, Mike reached into his pack and pulled out a picture, “Look what she sold me!  It’s a picture of your girl side and it’s sick that she is selling pictures of your girl side to people.  She needs to be taught a lesson.”  Mike turned around to face Nabiki again when Ranma stopped him.

“For one, the people here don’t care that it is me.  You saw what it was like in the lockers after gym.  They think it’s great,” Ranma paused as his expression became more serious.  “Secondly, don’t you think I knew what was going on?  You’ve seen and heard about my skill.  Do you think that I would let someone sneak up on me with out my knowing?  I know that she takes pictures of me, as well as her sister.  But the money she makes off them goes to keeping her family afloat, not to her.”  Nabiki watched them banter and nearly dropped her mask when she heard Ranma’s comment; HE KNEW?

“Now I suggest you stop what you’re doing and leave it as it is.  Or do you want to see me in action first hand?” Ranma suggested while standing, seemingly unprepared for a fight.

“No.  This one needs to be taught a lesson now, or she pays me back,” Mike stated as he turned around again to face Nabiki.  Just as he was about to resume where he left off, he felt a finger poke his back then everything went black as he crumpled to the ground.

Ranma calmly crouched to Mike’s fallen body, pulled out his wallet.  Taking 20000 yen, Ranma put back the wallet that stood up to face Nabiki.  Nabiki just stood there, speechless, as Ranma approached her.  She still couldn’t figure out what to say to him when he spoke, “Here, consider this my charge to him for a free lesson, and never turn your back on an opponent.”  Nabiki timidly took the money from his hand.

“By the way,” Ranma said as he grabbed the photo of his girl side, “what did you charge for this picture?”  Nabiki took a glance at the picture and recognized it as one of the more, exotic one’s.  Ranma-chan was sleeping in her muscle shirt.  One of her arms was stretched lazily about while the other was in a position that nearly pulled the shirt off, but still wasn’t considered indecent.

“5… 5000 yen,” she stammered.  Nabiki watched Ranma trying to read his expressions.  She was surprised to see him smirking her.

“I never thought you would sell this one at such a discount Nabiki.  This one should be going for at least 15000.  I would even take it up to 20000, since it is a little more daring on my part and there is a limited supply of these.

“You better leave while sleeping beauty is still sleeping.  Don’t worry about him, he’ll be after me know instead of you if you don’t sell anything to him again.  See you back at the house, I need to drop Mike here at the nurses station.”  With that, Ranma picked up Mike’s sleeping form and jumped over the wall and disappeared.  Nabiki stood there for a full 5 minutes before she moved again and left for home by the quickest way she knew through the streets.

--End Flashback--

“When I got home, I went over my files going over the income I used for the dojo and was shocked what I found.”

“Oh?  The great Nabiki, also known as Magis, was shocked.  What was it, your figures were wrong?” Haruka said mockingly.

“Yes, I was shocked.  I figures weren’t wrong for your information.  I was just wrong in where the money was coming from.  I had Ranma in debt a lot during his time there at the dojo, and he did pay off the debt, but usually made another right after.  I crossed checked his income with the debts and found out that Ranma rarely kept any money for himself,” Nabiki caught Haruka’s confused look.  “I kept an eye on his purchases as part of normal procedure, that way I know if those in debt to me are lying or not.  Ranma was giving me most of the money that he had to me for debt payments.

“I tried to confront him about it, but people kept getting in the way.  More specifically, his other fiancée's kept popping out of the woodwork and latched onto him and was then batted into LEO by my sister.  I was about to confront him when you decided to introduce yourself to me.”

“So, when did ‘it’ happen?” Haruka asked, wanting to get a more direct answer from Nabiki.

“It was that night when I found out the truth of what Ranma was really paying me.  He knew that I photographed him.  He even knew about the financial situation with the dojo, he knew everything and was able to lead everyone on, including me, with his daily clueless attitude.  After that, every time I took pictures of his girl side, I noticed that some of the moves he was making weren’t quite normal for someone that would be asleep, like he was intentionally giving me better pictures.  Then with the debt, I saw that he intentionally got himself back in debt after paying it off.

“I then saw him for who he really was.  Instead of a dumb jock was a person that really had a head on his shoulders, and knew so much more than he let on.  He was caring enough to help us out with our money problem, especially with the lazy father of his eating us nearly out of house and home.  He was no longer a brother, but someone I wanted to know more of, maybe even, love,” Nabiki said as her voice dropped off.

Haruka, knowing some of what she was going through, having lost her loved ones already, put a supporting hand on her friends shoulder.  Nabiki looked up into her friends supporting eyes, “I know, I know.  I can’t go back and I have to let them go if I am ever going to survive in this world.  But sometimes it really hurts.  Especially after visiting the Oracle.”

“What did she say?  You never did tell us after you met her.  You usually skirted it.”

--Flashback--

“Hello Nabiki,” said a smiling face.  The woman appeared in her 40’s but from what Haruka told her, she was very much older than that.  Nabiki was currently standing in a kitchen that looked like it was from the early 80’s in Japan.  It has been almost 6 months since Nabiki was pulled from the matrix and began to learn the truth of her world.  Since then, Nabiki has made it a personal goal to help using her planning skills to help her new family have a better chance at finding and pulling out potentials.

“I would ask you to relax a bit, but I know you won’t.  You need to keep your business face on, even now.”  Nabiki had the decency to blush in embarrassment.  “It’s alright child, but for once you can relax.  No one will find us and everything is going to turn out for the better.”

Nabiki took the kind woman’s words of advice and decided to relax, dropping her mask and smiled a little in relief, but something what she said brought a question.  Before she could ask, she was interrupted, “In fact, you child will be there when things start to fall into place that will mark the fall of the machines.  So, I’ll tell you a little secret.  In about 6 ½ and 7 years, you will meet ‘the one.’”

“What do you mean?  What do you mean I’ll meet ‘the one’?” Nabiki said, finally being able to say a few words without being interrupted.

“Why, the one that will mean the destruction of the machine’s wonderland, and the one that will answer your dreams.  The other question, you need to find for yourself.  It was nice to meet you Nabiki.  You have a great mind, use it to it’s full potential.  You will know what to do when the time comes.”

--End Flashback--

“I’ve discovered my place here.  There are some other things that I still wonder about though.”

“What did she mean, “the one that will answer your dreams?” Haruka asked.  I wonder what the Oracle was getting at?  No, she couldn’t have known who would have been pulled that far ahead, could she?

“I really don’t know, Haruka.  At that time, there were a lot of things going through my dreams at that time.  I barely remember the good ones since they always ended in nightmares.”  Nabiki then saw Haruka staring silently, thinking inquisitively.  “What’s wrong Haruka?”

“Hugh, oh nothing Nabs.  Just thinking about things.  Come on.  You look like you could use a rest or two.  You’ve had a long week with your teaching schedule and helping out in the matrix.  That’s not including the amount of programming that you did for training,” Haruka said as she grabbed her friend and started to drag Nabiki out of the chair towards the entryway to head for the rooms.  “Besides, we’ll be arriving in a few hours and you need to look somewhat descent when we arrive.”

Nabiki didn’t argue as she was dragged off.  Her mind though still troubled her over the Oracle’s words.  What did she mean when I would meet the one that would answer my dreams?  She said I would meet the one that would answer my dreams and start us down the path towards the end of the war.  But what did she mean by…  No, it couldn’t be.  He hasn’t been unplugged has he?  A smile started to form at the possibilities as she was still being partially dragged to her quarters.  Ranma…

Haruka glanced back when she noticed that her load was more willing and saw Nabiki smiling, knowing what she was thinking.  I hope you find him Nabiki.  You deserve something good for what you’ve done for us.

--On the Intrepid--

A medium height girl, with dark skin and long black hair was walking around the ship looking for one of the newest crewmembers.  Being partially new, she felt it was necessary to help him along adapting to the real world and what he will be doing.  One of the hardest things the newcomer has had to deal with is that he will have to kill, and being a martial artist it is the hardest thing for them to do.  Besides, he’s kinda cute with that embarrassed expression of his.  There he is.

The man that the woman was hunting for was currently sitting in one of the hook-up chairs for getting plugged in, staring at the ceiling seemingly unaware of his surroundings.  He was surprised when someone blocked his view of the ceiling, “Ahh!  Don’t scare me like that Akira.”

Akira backed up a little as her target sat up, “I tried calling you a few times Ryoga, but you never responded.  You feeling ok?”  As she said this, she turned up the cuteness levels a little bit.  Not too much, especially since when she caused him to faint when she turned it up too quickly.  The poor boy just didn’t know how to deal with women.

Ryoga’s mind slowly began to lock up as the girl started to smile cutely and opened her eyes a little wider than normal, “Um… Not really.”  Ryoga started fiddling with his fingers, “I was just thinking about the life back there and what will happen to those I care about.”

Akira turned off the cuteness and smiled warmly to him, “Oh Ryoga, I know you care about them but you need to let them go.  You don’t need forget about them; just remember what you’re going to do and what you will do for them when the day comes.  You need to start with your own life here.”

Ryoga looked down in thought as Akira watched him.  “Come on, I came to find you and bring you forward.  Pipeline says we are about to come into view of base,” she said as she pulled him out of the seat

 Ryoga reluctant relented but he had to admit, ever since he was ‘unplugged’ his curse and misdirection were cured.  When the person named Neo started to explain the truth to him, Ryoga accepted as a chance to help shut down the machines for doing such a dishonorable thing to everyone.  He also found out that his body was next to nothing like it was in the matrix.  So he vowed to retrain, since martial arts was all that he really knew, besides trying to destroy Ranma.

--On the Nebuchadnezzar--

“Tank, how long has he been in there?” A tall, bald black man asked.  The person in the chair facing about 15 different monitor’s typing away didn’t turn to answer, “About 6 hours so far.  Ever since he refused to get the quick training, he’s been learning under an AI teacher.  Where did you pick this one up Morpheus?”

Morpheus continued watching the screen gauging the person’s progress with the ‘teacher.’  “Why, what’s up?”

“If you haven’t noticed, even though he has been learning the slower way, the speed at which he is learning the techniques is nearly equivalent to the standard way.”  Tank caught Morpheus’s reflected expression of shock and smirked.  It wasn’t everyday that you could surprise, let alone shock Morpheus.

“What?!”

“Yeah, this boy has gone through about 8 different forms.  He keeps saying that he will master the moves later and asks for more.  What is really amazing is that he only needs to see the maneuver once or twice and he can mimic it to near perfection.  I tell you, where did you find this kid?”

Morpheus didn’t respond as he thought over what he was just told.  Neo said this kid would be a great asset to us but I didn’t think he would be this good.  “Ask Neo Tank, he found him and another that was picked up by the Intrepid.”

“I’ll do that.  Maybe he can tell me how the kid picks things up so easily as well,” Tank was interrupted from saying anything more when a beeping started.  “Make that 9 forms.  He just finished another one,” he said as he pulled out the disk labeled “Kendo.”

“Good, we are nearing Zion and we need to prepare,” Morpheus said as he moved over to a boy sitting in a barber’s chair laid back with his eye’s closed.  The monitor next to him beeped in rhythm with the image of his heart pulsed.

“Operator, yeah I know that I haven’t put another program in, but the big man says it’s time to stop.”  Tank pulled off his headset quickly as shouting could be heard.  Morpheus turned around when he heard the shouting and looked at Tank questioningly.  “He isn’t too happy to quit just now,” Tank replied to the unasked question sheepishly, before putting on the headset again.  “I know that but we need your help here since we are arriving home.”  Tank then nodded to Morpheus who tapped the screen.  As soon as he did that the boy opened his eyes and stared at the man next to him.

“Morpheus, I know you need my help.  But what can I do?  I’m still trying to filter through all the data you had Tank there fill my head with over the Matrix, the ship and what not.  I still have a small headache.”

“Morpheus unplugged the boy in the chair and looked down in the questioning deep blue eyes.  “That would explain your desire to have a ‘teacher’ with the fighting skills.”  Getting an affirmative nod he continued, “Don’t worry about that Ranma.  We will help you if need be.  But as I said, we are nearing base and work needs to be done.  Come on.”

Ranma quietly got out of the chair, “Alright.  As long as it gives me something to do to take my mind off of…” His mood dropped quickly.

Morpheus put a supportive hand on Ranma’s shoulder, “I know how you feel Ranma, Trinity and Neo included.  The three of us also know how you hurt from your divorce back then when you see Neo and Trinity together and all I can say is I’m sorry Ranma.  Sometime those things just don’t work out.  Plus, you have good heart.  Don’t worry, it will take a little time but someone will come around that you can start over with.”  Ranma’s expression improved a little as he, Morpheus, and Tank left the interface room and went looking for the others to start the preparations.

--Zion--

Nabiki stretched her aching muscles as she gazed up to the earth ceiling that was several thousand feet up.  She was standing in front of a several story building, a sign next to the door labeled the building, Hovercraft Operations.  As she stood there, she never noticed a person walk up behind her, “You get used to it after a while.”

Nabiki turned to face a man that she noticed in the meeting she attended.  “Excuse me?”

“Excuse me, people call me Mole,” Mole said extending a hand, which Nabiki shook.  “The ceiling, you get used to looking at earth instead of stars after a while,” Mole stated looking up.

“People call me Magis.  I wasn’t thinking about that, but thanks.  I was trying to figure out how what’s his name could drone on for so long.”

Magis laughed at that comment, “That’s another thing you get used to after listening him talk after a while.  He doesn’t usually talk that long unless something big is happening.  This is the first time that we are going to actively try to stop the machines by pulling a large number of people.”

“That’s what I’ve gathered.  I guess that’s why I was asked to show up, so I have an idea what is going on.”

“Yep.  I’ve heard of what you’ve done Magis, and it is a great accomplishment.  So are you assigned to a ship yet?  I’m on the Belle.”

“Nebuchadnezzar.  I’m supposed to show up sometime near evening.”

“I know that ship and her captain, Morpheus.  That is going to be the flagship of the operation with a couple new recruits and Neo.  I’ll be one of the picket ships, watching for sentinels.”  Mole turned nodded to Nabiki, “I’ll see you around Magis.  Captain wants me back at the ship to make sure we are ready to leave.”

Nabiki waved back, “I’ll see you in the system probably.”  She stood there and watched Mole disappear before leaving the steps herself.  She had some time to kill, so she decided to explore Zion, human’s last major city, a little.

Nabiki looked around her as she stood in the main center of the city.  The building have seen better days, being made out of dirty metal and the outside seemed to be made out of patchwork metal sheets.  As she watched a little more, she saw a few people doing outside repairs on the buildings, trying to keep things together for another day.  As she was about to leave when a voice that she never expected to here again, “Where am I now?”

Turning around, Nabiki saw a young man, in early twenties with a cloth tied around his head, and a simple shirt that was too big for him and pants that fit a little better.  She noticed that his hair was still in the crew cut design, a sign that he was unplugged recently.  “Ryoga?”

Ryoga was in a situation that he was second nature to; he was lost.  After the crew checked in, Ryoga was taken to another room were he was debriefed, asking what his skills were, would he be willing to go back and fight the machines, etc.  Giving all the answers they wanted, he was handed a slip of paper with some lettering, a time and a name, “Nebuchadnezzar,” and told him to report at the dock where the ship would be at that time.

After all that, Akira latched onto his arm and took it upon herself to give him a tour of human’s last civilization, personally.  For the next two hours, Ryoga was half dragged around Zion as Akira pointed out different areas and gave him a basic layout of Zion, showing him how to get to the docks from the living their living quarters and where food can be acquired while on break.  He still was trying to figure out why she kept telling him how to get to her place from his place, the docks, etc.

Now, by himself, Ryoga tried to walk around for himself and you guessed, got lost.  “Where am I now?” Ryoga called out to no one in particular.  When he was, unplugged they called it, Ryoga found that his direction sense was restored.  Now, it seems to have found him again.  Ryoga jumped when he heard a female voice answer his plea, “Ryoga?”

Ryoga tuned whipped around in a defensive posture expecting it to be female Ranma.  What he saw was not Ranma, but a woman that was about his height with brown hair cut short and her eyes where brown, not blue.  Slowly, Ryoga recognized who was in front of him, “Nabiki?  What are you doing here?”

--An hour later--

“Ok Ryoga, I’ll trust you on that fact, but you still should not have slept in her bed while a pig,” Nabiki said flatly, leveling her gaze at Ryoga who was sitting across from her, a metal cup in his hand.  For the past hour, she and Ryoga have been exchanging stories on how they were pulled out until Ryoga mentioned that a benefit would be a cure to his curses.  Nabiki caught the plural usage and solved the P-Chan riddle, there after she berated him for his improperness.

“I know and I’m ashamed that I never did.  I’m sorry,” Ryoga replied humbly.

“It alright Ryoga.  Now I know why Ranma acted the way he did around you or P-Chan.  By the way, do you know if he and Akane ever got married?”

Ryoga shook his head negatively; “I haven’t been to the dojo since you left.  I’ve been looking for Akira’s farm since then.  Then I was pulled.”

--Meanwhile--

“Hey Ranma, where you going?” Neo called out to the latest addition to their team.  They were just finishing checking in and Ranma just finished receiving his information, including his assignment to the Nebuchadnezzar.  Ranma was currently leaving headquarters and was about to head for the ship before Neo called him.

“Going back to the ship.  Don’t feel like going to the space they assigned me,” Ranma said as he turned to face Neo.  “Besides, I still have some training to do.”

“Ranma, as a friend once told me, “Man you need to unplug, get some R&R.”  So, why don’t you join us?  We only need to be back at the ship for meeting the rest of the crew and then we have a couple days while they finish repairs.”  Neo said, indicating Trinity, Morpheus, and Tank as they were leaving the building.  “We were thinking of going and getting something to drink.”

Ranma looked at Neo, then the others.  He lost his family since being unplugged, which had been hard on him.  But Nebuchadnezzar and her crew became his new family of brother’s and sisters.  “Why not,” Ranma said as a smile crossed his face, which was returned by everyone as Ranma joined the group and started heading for the center of town.

Trinity watched Ranma carefully as he joined the group and walked besides Neo, talking about fighting tactics.  When Ranma was unplugged, she never knew of someone that had as much as he did, bottled up inside of him.  He broke down after learning the full truth and was the only one that held him.  The others offered their support, but that wasn’t what he needed, just a shoulder to cry on.  Ever since then, she has been a sister to him, while Neo and Tank became his brothers and Morpheus, became the father or older brother.

Ever since then, it has been touch and go with him.  Some days he would be carefree and generally happy and others just are totally depressed.  Everyone took it in stride when they heard his story and tried to help him as much as possible.  The only dependent part was Ranma’s martial arts.  Being unplugged only affected his strength and speed, but not the skill.  The skill he showed caused her to have him teach his martial arts to her.  Combined with the training programs Ranma was making something of himself, a teacher.  Now, the depressed days are nearly non-existent.

As they entered the central area, Ranma suddenly tensed up and stood still.  Tank, nearly didn’t stop in time from running into him when he stopped, “Hey Ranma, watch where… what’s wrong?  Something going to happen?”  Trinity, Neo, and Morpheus were already looking around the area for possible threats.  Ranma mentioned that one of the reasons that he survived for so long was his danger sense, later being able to sense other’s ki.

Ranma never heard Tanks question.  As soon as they walked into the commons, a familiar ki signature became present.  It wasn’t one that he felt in a long time.  Even though his body wasn’t in shape like it was in the matrix, his skills were still available, including ki abilities.  Ranma continued to concentrate on the signature trying to locate its direction from him.  Hoping that if he found the source, he’ll find out why it is a familiar feeling.  Suddenly the source grew in power, like a beacon and Ranma responded in kind.

Trinity, Neo, and Morpheus having not found anything turned to Ranma waiting for an explanation.  They watched in amazement as Ranma started to glow a golden color.  “It’s not an enemy, just a familiar presence from home,” Ranma responded calmly while his eyes stayed closed.  Suddenly his head popped up and turned to the left, looking into the group of people ignoring the wide-eyed stares that he was receiving.  It’s not every day that a human can glow golden like a night light, “It’s over in that direction.”  Before anyone could move, Ranma spoke again, “Well I’ll be.”

Nabiki was having the time of the life.  She never figured Ryoga to be as clueless as Ranma was when it came to women.  She had to practically point him from A to B to C for him to understand the reasoning behind a certain shipmate that Ryoga met when he was picked up.  She was about to prod for more details about this mystery girl, when Ryoga closed his eyes and went silent.   “What’s wrong Ryoga?”

“Nothing Nabiki.  Someone with a familiar presence is nearby.”

“What do you mean?” Nabiki asked but was met with silence as Ryoga was apparently in deep concentration.  She nearly jumped when she noticed that he was starting to glow green.  This caused a few people to stare wide-eyed, again they haven’t seen a human nightlight before.  She did jump when Ryoga shot out of his chair and turned a quick 180 facing in the crowd.  “The person is over there,” he said as he opened his eyes.  As Nabiki stood to get a better look, Ryoga said, “Well I’ll be.”

Nabiki then saw who he was talking about, he was a tall man, about 6’1’’ crew cut black hair.  He was standing with 3 others, a couple men a little older, one about 10 years older, and a young woman in near age to the other men.  But it was the eyes of the man in front that caught her attention; they were blue.  “Ranma?!”

 

 

**Author's Note's**