Disclaim or Die: Read Or Die (R.O.D) is copyrighted by and the property of Hideyuki Kurata, Akitaro Yamada, Studio Deen/SME, Sony, and currently licensed to Manga Entertainment.

Ripped From the Pages
Prologue

Read or Die.

It is a simple choice: the quest for knowledge or pursuit of death.

The choices aren't all that different in origin.  They stem from power, more specifically, the want of it.

To read is to obtain knowledge.  Wisdom, intelligence, genius - they are the same.  But to become filled with a divine understanding of everything; true enlightenment, by the spiritual, the physical, the mental, it is complete harmony that can be found out of chaos.  To know brings the power to create... or to destroy.  To utilize it for the benefit of the entire world... or reap bitter waste upon all.

To die is to make life forfeit.  Maybe even transcend to another plane, higher than what could ever be physically comprehended.  But for the physical, it is complete loss.  Void, null, nothing.  Especially when you hold that ability.  Cut down what is in your way.  Trim the obstacles and make room for your destiny to grow.  There is the power to hold a life, or many lives, in your hand... elevate them, or crush them.

But both are driven by power - to search for it, to obtain it, to harness it.  It is an all-consuming passion that would refine one and raise them to their destiny... or bring them to perish within the flames of ambition.

What will your choice be: read or die?

"Die."

Why is it so?

"Because they are unworthy of their existence."

Who is not worthy?

"Everyone on the Earth.  They are wasteful of their gifts and seek to only corrupt and destroy."

What will you do?

"Take hold of my destiny."

Then open your eyes, and embrace it.

Two sky blue eyes opened to new surroundings, a voluptuous body bathed in a sickly radioactive green.  Nothing but cylinders of her brethren, ready to be born.

"Yomiko Readman, The Paper, reporting to the I-jin."


Something wasn't right.  She held it right there in her hand, but it wasn't perfect.  Well, it was, but not exactly... If only she could grasp it tight, make it stay that way.  Her hands fumbled on the smooth and level seat for just a piece.  She had done it before...

"Yomiko-chan!  Why did you stop?"

Still groping around the bench, she finally grabbed onto it and held it up.  With a mere thought, the ribbon snaked around the finished end and twisted itself taut.

"Ah... I think I'm finished, Nancy-chan!"  Yomiko looked down at her hand.  She held the finished pigtail and tickled it against her friend's pale cheek.

"You've finished one side!  Now please, do the other!" Nancy chided between girlish giggles.

"Hai!  Hai!  I'll get to the right one."  Yomiko set to tearing another paper ribbon for a hair tie.  Her hands gently clutched at another bundle of locks and lifted them up, ready to part them for further braiding.

Yomiko sighed.  This girl sitting with her wasn't the same.  She wasn't her Nancy-san, but for her sake, she would take care of her friend's "little sister."  That's why she visited her every chance she could get.  They would always go outside and sit on the same faded green, wooden bench, overlooking the sea.  And every time, they'd talk of nonsense things, fold origami, or read books together.  Almost always, they'd do everything in one day.

She set them into three locks.  It was these very minute and diligent things that pleased Yomiko when she spent time with Nancy-chan, as she had so christened the clone.  This very incarnation was something of her friend that she could hold on to.  Almost like getting to know the woman that she could be.  The physical similarities were stunning every time; the same, right down to every detail.

Just by the look of the deep blue hair alone, Yomiko's mind regressed to the similar memory of this moment.  Comparing every stored detail of the original to the copy.

The plastic brush made its way to order delicate silken strands of deep blue.  Deep blue, like the water seen before them.  Flowing past everything.  The brush, it was made of solid matter, and look how easily it passed through every individual strand.  Down, down, every strand so tangible.

Yomiko hummed lightly, remembering a wonderful time like this.  Someone she loved dearly was doing this with her, but she was too absorbed in her book to really notice.  No, she did notice, but she couldn't express the sensations she felt at that time.  The words on the page did for her... her first love would always be the written word.

"I want to be loved, yesterday and today... I don't know how many times I've admired you... You, my life, keep on loving me..." Yomiko recited, just like she did before.

A dreamy sigh was heard.  "That's very beautiful, Yomiko-chan.  Did you read that from one of your books?"

"Hai, it was my favourite book.  But I gave it away to your onee-san.  She was very fond of it too."

"Onee-san..."  Nancy-chan's shoulders sagged slightly.  "A kind and wonderful person who saved the world..."

In Yomiko's hands, she held another bundle of locks, ready to be plaited.  And they still weren't finished.  Crisscrossing lines dropped down from between her fingers.

"Your hair is so fine, Nancy-chan..." Yomiko murmured.  "It must probably run in the family."

She gently ran her fingers again through her hair, catching the errant strands, and putting them back in their place.  She looked down again.  How odd that these hairs were of a shorter length than the rest.  She lifted them up, and she looked down the lines, down to the scalp.  It was much paler than the rest of Nancy-chan's skin... and where these shorter hairs grew, they grew unevenly with the rest.  They came from a small recovering bald patch.

Yomiko plaited the hair, letting her mind wander over the discrepancy.  How did it get there?  With her mind roving through thoughts, they strayed into memories.

"You... traitor!" Ikkyu gurgled out past the blood in his mouth.  His hand reached up and roughly ran itself through her hair, clutching at her scalp.

"Don't we match?" Mata Hari said plainly, holding him close, her hand doing the very same thing to his heart.

"You... you..."  He futilely rasped.  With all his strength, his death grip slipped away, taking a lock with it.

Nancy didn't even flinch at the physical pain.  A sad look crossed her face as she felt her former lover die and his body go limp in her arms.  She watched his arm drop to his side, every last bit of hair fluttering to the ground.

Her eyes turned, fixated on Yomiko.  There was a grave matter at hand.

"The Paper."

"Yomiko-chan?  You stopped again.  Are you really done this time?" Nancy-chan asked.

"Ah..."  She looked down again.  A perfect braided pigtail, finished with a strip of paper ribbon.  "Hai.  I am."

Nancy turned around and clapped her hands happily.  "Sugoi!  Let me braid yours now!"

"Ie... Gomen.  I'm afraid I must go now.  I remembered I had to do something very important."  Yomiko hurriedly got up from the bench and took her travois with her.

When she reached the stone path that would take her back to the brick building, she bowed respectfully to the saddened young woman.  "I'll come back again, I promise."

"But- Ie..."  The amnesiac unsurely bowed in return.  A slender hand raised itself to wave weakly good-bye.  "H-hai.  Ja ne, Yomiko-chan."

With a heavy heart, Yomiko turned around, heading out to The Royal British Library's Division of Special Operations.

To be continued...

Author's Notes:
This will turn into a crossover, but I will say that this is a more Read Or Die oriented crossover.  Noir will be their back-up, so to say, so I don't really know if this should be counted as a real Anime Crossover.  This will be a very short series, but each chapter will be relatively dense, especially the last one, since I want to give this a short and crisp OAV feel; don't worry, there will be tons of action (especially in the last chapter) and sprinklings of shoujo-ai romance.  Mainly between The Paper and Miss Deep.  Now, I will move onto my spiel.
Read Or Die is the wonderful 3 episode OAV!  It's been called a cult classic, what with its strange "James Bond with a library card" theme.  It's got great music, and I'm aware that there's manga and novels out there of it.  I was able to get a hold of 7 chapters of the first volume of manga here: mangaproject.cjb.net/
There's also the TV series Read Or Dream, but I'm strictly taking most of my references within the frame of the OAV anime.  I'm sure there will be many slight references and throwbacks to the manga (specifically what little I have read of it), but they'll be sparse and not so important.  But I will give any information necessary about them at the end of future chapters.
For anyone who is curious about Read Or Die or is unfamiliar to this series, here are two informative sites:
Read Or Die.Org - www.readordie.org
Yomiko's Library - cupped-expressions.net/rod/