"A New Life"

by Furor Scribendi

2008 Scribendi Productions

June 17th

Mahoro stood in the cavernous Main Assembly Hall in Vesper Headquarters. This was a meeting of the Full Council and everyone was there. Don Vesper was talking about giving her a chance at a life away from Vesper. She was at attention, hanging on every word he spoke.

"I have received a report explaining that if your armaments are removed, you will continue to function for another 398 days. Mahoro, you have done more for Vesper than we could have imagined. We would like to give you the opportunity to choose how you would like to spend your remaining days."

Mahoro was at a loss, as she did not really expect this to be happening. It was something she had given little thought about, as most, if not all, of her attention was focused on stopping the forces of Saint on the battlefield. With the conflict at a standstill, and no real indication of it resuming any time soon, she was uncertain as to what to do with herself and the rest of her days.

"Uh…ah? Um…?! Eh…?! Err…..?" She fumbled about. The greatest android in Vesper and she was at a loss as to make a decision where the remainder of her operational life should go.

"Now then, Mahoro, what do you wish to do?"

It then became crystal clear to her. "My wish…..my wish is…to give back. Give back something to those who need it most."

The board stared at her for a moment, a bit perplexed at her statement. She continued. "It has been nearly four years since…since that horrible day. Commander Misato gave much to Vesper, eventually giving all for this cause.

"He left behind a son. I wish to repay the debt I own Commander Misato by taking care of that son as his maid. I feel a life in domestic servitude can be just as exciting as being an interstellar warrior. I request a transfer."

A murmur of consent could be heard throughout the room. Don Vesper spoke. "Commander Daimon…"

Daimon stood up. "Yes, sir."

"Can we accommodate her wishes?"

"Yes, that can be done. She can easily be transferred over to the Vesper Housekeeping Services division for the week of training she will need to become a fully accredited maid. The necessary paperwork can be run through in a couple of hours. "

"Professor Hokaze?"

He stood up. "Yes, sir?"

"How long would it take to remove everything from her?"

He thought for a moment. "No longer than half a day, even with diagnostic tests that need to be run…provided I could start as soon as possible."

"Ms. Shiina?"

She stood up. The only woman on the board, she was more than a mere secretary, but the go-to person to get things done and done properly. "Yes, sir?"

"Can we enroll Mahoro in the next class?"

"Yes. I would need to check when they start, but, if we are lucky, she could conceivable start classes tomorrow."

"Everyone…" barked Don Vesper. They all came to attention, saluting. "This is Priority One. I want to make certain that we can get Mahoro moving as fast as she can in her new life. Today, nothing else is as important. Is this understood?"

They all responded in unison. "Yes, sir!"

"Then let's get to it." Everyone filed out in orderly, but rapid, fashion. Hokaze went right up to Mahoro. "So, I will be taking you down to the laboratory for some…" Hokaze stopped for a moment, rubbed his hands maniacally, hunched his shoulder to his ears and cackled, "…experiments! Hahahahahaha!" Hokaze then realized that Mahoro was not laughing. Couldn't we have given her a sense of humor, he thought.

Clearing his throat, he stood upright and took her by the hand. "Come with me, please," and they headed out of the hall and towards an elevator. He pushed the button and it opened. Getting in, he took out a key and placed it in a special slot on the button panel. Once turned, he could access P2 and they took the ride down to his laboratory.

Mahoro stood in silence, a bit uncertain as to what would be done to her.

When they got to the level, the doors opened out onto a rather capacious room. She had been here before, undergoing numerous diagnostic examinations. She immediately went over to the Imaging Panel. Once there, she began to disrobe.

"Whoa! Whoa! Whoa!" called out Hokaze. "You will need this on!" and he frantically handed her a medical gown. Then he turned his back to offer her some privacy. As she changed out, Hokaze thought. This is odd. She is an android. She has no real concept about modesty or nudity, yet, I afford her privacy to change out. I guess I never really thought of her as anything else than a real person.

"I am ready, Professor Hokaze," Mahoro called out. He turned to see her standing in the panel. He turned it on and examined her basic structure, making notes to himself. "What is going to happen with me?" she asked. Hokaze was scribbling notes to himself as he poured over the data.

"Certain aspects of you are going to be removed. Keeping you functioning at this level takes a great deal of energy. If we take off or shut down those parts that are no longer required, the energy need drops and you can operate longer.

"These will include your body armor and most of your weaponry. If we could remove it all, you could conceivably last forever, but one part cannot be disconnected, as it a key element. It is so ingrained into your basic structure, it must remain."

Mahoro nodded as the testing was completed. "As always," commented Hokaze, "everything is where it should be." He hooked up a series of probes to her. "I am getting a base line of your activity so I can have a master record, as it were, so we can see how things operate on you. This will take a few minutes. I need this record, as you will be monitored as to how things are coming along. You would have to come by every month or so, just so we can keep apace of things."

The machinery hummed and whirred and Hokaze got a full indication of Mahoro and her operating systems. "OK, now it is on to the next phase," he commented. He disconnected the probes and helped her from the panel, then took her over to a table. "Please lay down," he asked, getting a variety of devices and wheeling them over in their carts.

Where her heart would be, he placed a monitoring device. A TV came to life. "Look over to that screen," he said, pointing to a TV to her left. It showed a line of bars that filled up the uppermost part of the screen, and then the start of another line beneath it.

"As components are removed, you should see an increase in the amount of bars. I hope to see another 12 or 13 lines on that screen."

"What is going to happen to me?" asked Mahoro.

The doctor held up a long-needled probe and attached it to a mechanical arm. "We are going to disconnect those areas in your basic structure. The goal is to leave you with about 30 of your capabilities. Like I said, if we could remove Shining Darkness, we could really extend you, but that cannot be done, so this is the compromise. Now, look to the monitor."

The doctor sat down at a keyboard and began to direct the mechanical arm. He programmed in the procedure and let the probe do its job. "This is going to deactivate the body armor." Hokaze followed every step, slowly and methodically.

Mahoro felt something and her head made a little snap. She looked over to the monitor and saw it now had four full lines of bars. She kept her eyes on the screen and the probe continued to work. She felt odd. "I feel something strange happening to me," she said.

Hokaze still poured over the screen. "As well you should. Every time a system is shut off, there will be an increase in energy. It may feel like a warm sensation or even a bit of a jolt, as more power becomes available.

"Now, you will still be able to enter Warrior Mode, but this should be done sparingly, as it will dramatically cut into your reserves. You can't really use Shining Darkness, but I will discuss this a bit later." Hokaze fiddled with some knobs and made more notes.

Mahoro watched as the screen filled with power bar indicators. 10 lines, 11 lines, 12 lines. She felt elation as more and more bars completed more and more lines. Hokaze was making sure everything went smoothly. It was a slow process, but there were no problems.

"OK, that appears to be the last of it, but I have to run a few more tests," said Hokaze.

Mahoro looked over to the screen, not quite 13 full lines. She felt a bit disappointed, as she wanted more. Hokaze commented.

"Hmm. Hmm. Missed a couple of things," he said and the probe was sent back in. A few more bars were added to her total and it was brought over 13 full lines. Hokaze went to Mahoro. "Here is where it gets slow, as I have to check and recheck and recheck the rechecks. I want to make certain that I didn't miss anything, so please bear with me."

Hokaze began to scamper about the lab, going from one machine to another, checking totals here and total there, fiddling with knobs and tapping in on endless keyboards. Mahoro was surprised at the amount of energy that Professor Hokaze still had, especially with all the running about he was doing.

Finally, he slowed down and settled in on one terminal. He tapped in a few more things, and then pushed away from the monitor. He stood up and went over to Mahoro, freeing her from all the devices. "Now, this is important: how do you feel. I want you to think before you answer."

Mahoro held for a moment and thought about the events. "I feel more energetic." Hokaze nodded. She looked over to the screen to see it nearly filled with energy bars.

"I am going to help you up, as I do not know if you may fall over," said Hokaze. She was helped to a sitting position, and then slowly allowed to stand. Hokaze held for a moment, just to see what would happen and prepared to catch her, should she tumble.

"So far, so good," he mumbled, bringing her over to the Imaging Panel. "One last time, please?" She stepped in and it was turned on. Hokaze looked at his notes from the previous test and examined the printout for this one. "OK, it's perfect! Everything is right where it belongs. Mahoro, go ahead and get dressed."

Hokaze finished up some paperwork as Mahoro got back into her clothes. With the exception of a slight hot flush sensation, she really didn't feel any different.

The doctor got up and went to her. "Please come with me, as I need to explain a few points." They went over to a table where the doctor got very serious and sober. "In 38 days, you will reach the point of no return. That means from…" he looked at a calendar. "…July 24th on, you cannot use Shining Darkness, except as a very, very, VERY last resort."

Mahoro was sufficiently concerned. "What will happen if I do?"

"It ends; it's over. Shining Darkness consumes huge amounts of energy. If you use it, it will destroy your enemy, but you are destroyed in the process. That is why it must be employed when there is no other option, when civilian lives are at stake." Hokaze held for a moment, closing his eyes. Mahoro thought for a moment she saw tears forming, but he changed his demeanor quickly.

"If you ever find yourself in a situation like that, I want you to contact Vesper HQ. I mean, we can discuss some of these ramifications later, but you need to know this: you are 30 of what you once were. You have to think and not merely react. I do not wish to scare or alarm you, but I want you fully informed."

Mahoro nodded. "I understand."

Hokaze brightened up immediately. "Good. Well, you are all done here, so it is time to take you back up." They both rose and went to the elevator. As they awaited the arrival of the car, Hokaze's cell phone rang. "Hokaze here. Yes, Don!" He immediately snapped to attention. Mahoro knew he was talking to Don Vesper. "We just finished up everything and we were coming back up and…" Hokaze made a face as he listened.

The elevator arrived and Mahoro held it open. Hokaze continued to listen, but did not get on the elevator. "I understand, one moment." He held the phone away and partially stepped in to the elevator. He pushed the button to the third floor, and then stepped back out. Mahoro was perplexed.

Hokaze held up a finger and pointed to the phone. "Don needs to talk to me, so you go up to the third floor where Sub-Commander Gunji will meet you. I will follow in a few minutes." Mahoro let go of the door, but just before it closed, she heard Hokaze say "Special project?"

When the doors opened on her floor, both Shiina and Gunji were there. "We have some good news and some better news," Gunji said, as Shiina led her to a table. "First, you need to sign these forms." A veritable hillock of paper was before her.

"What are these?" asked Mahoro.

"The paperwork part of your new life," said Shiina. "This first one is requesting permission to be transferred to the Vesper Housekeeping Services. The second is releasing all pertinent data to VHS for them to examine. The third is an agreement you have with VHS to abide by their rules and to attend class everyday. Now, we have already gotten all the necessary counter-signatures. All you need do is sign off."

Mahoro was given a pen and she signed off on the documents. "When she finished the paperwork, Shiina shook her hand. "Congratulations! You are now officially enrolled in the Vesper Housekeeping Services School. The better news is that there was a cancellation, so you can start class tomorrow! Now, it is a five-day class, so we have contacted the teacher you give you a special Saturday make-up lesson to complete their requirements for graduation."

"Who will be teaching this session?" asked Gunji.

"That would be Haru Totoke," replied Shiina.

Gunji looked about for a moment, and then gazed on at Mahoro. "She is the toughest teacher there. If you can impress her, Mahoro, that would be a major feat." Shiina pushed over some more paperwork.

"This is the materials for the class. Familiarize yourself with them. Class starts promptly at 8:30. There is the morning session and the afternoon session with a 45-minute lunch break. They meet on the fourth floor of this building."

Just then, a short, balding man came into the room, holding a pile of paperwork. "I understand that I am to fit someone for a maid uniform?"

"Excellent timing, sir. Mahoro, this is one of our best tailors, 'Needles' Ikaruga. We are going to give you the best maid uniform ever." Ikaruga pulled out a tape measure and approached Mahoro.

"I need to take some basic measurements. I also have brought along a couple of catalogs so you can decided which one looks best for you." Dropping a pad on the table, he quickly measured Mahoro all over: her height, her shoulder span, her arm length, her bust, her waist, her hips, her neck and her head circumference, scribbling down his results.

"Now, I can get most of this knocked out in three days, but I would need you to make a decision as to which style you would prefer." He placed the catalogs in her hands. "I am going to assume you want something basic, but I can accommodate if you want a kind of hybrid." He pulled out a business card. "Call me when you have decided and we can get it done for you." With that, he left.

Mahoro looked at Gunji and Shiina. "I…I don't know what to say."

Gunji spoke first. "At this point, we only want you to concentrate on your classes. Let US worry about the rest." Commander Daimon came into the room.

"How is the paperwork coming along?"

Shiina gathered it all up, fully organized. "Everything is signed for and ready to go." She held up a series of folders. "The first goes to the Vesper Personnel Office. The second goes to Housekeeping. The third goes to…you, Daimon, as you are assigned to be contact liaison between Mahoro and Vesper. The fourth goes to Gunji, as your back up. The fifth goes to the Archives Division and the sixth goes to Don Vesper. Actually, I'll take care of Don's." Shiina took that one back.

"Thank you. I will take those and get them distributed. I am on my way!" And Gunji left the room. As Daimon turned back to Mahoro, he saw tears in her eyes.

"Mahoro? Are you…feeling fine?"

"It's just all of this effort on my behalf. I am so touched by this," she whispered.

Daimon spoke. "I don't think you really understand how much you mean to all of us. I consider you one of my daughters, and I would do anything for them."

Shiina stepped in. "It's like you said: you want to give back. We are giving back to you, to help you in your wish. Don was right; today, nothing else matters but you. It's not the least we can do; it is the best we can do. It is what we want to do. For you." Shiina then gave her a big hug.

Daimon smiled, and then looked at his watch. "Oh, look at the time. There is still a lot to do and the day is just running away from us. Tempus Fuget." He tapped his watch.

Shiina looked up to Daimon. "Cave canum." She smiled, and then looked to Mahoro. "I want you to sit here and read up on what you need for the class. Your day is really over. It's now time for us to work." Daimon and Shiina left the room. Now finally quiet, Mahoro sat down and began reading the course material.

"Being a domestic is a noble profession…"

MAHORO'S SYSTEMS WILL CEASE TO FUNCTION IN 398 DAYS

End Notes

So, where to begin?

When I finally came up with the concept of these "In-Between Days", I was in a bit of a pickle. I kept debating where would be the best place to start.

I do not know the posting system here well enough to keep changing the chapter order, pushing back what is the genuine Chapter One for me. It might be easier just to write the REAL Chapter One and not have to worry about drop-ins until later.

The funny thing about this story is that it just came to me. That is the scary part of writing. I initially intended to write about 50 stories or chapters for this massive opus of mine, the over-all titled "In-Between Days". Eventually, the absolute first Mahoro story I wrote, "A Sprig of Hope" will be the Omega to this series, as this one represents the Alpha.

And since this is a "further story", I'm not giving up anything in the time area. But there are a lot of questions. It seems every time I start writing, I generate questions, questions that the original writers either never considered or didn't bother to address.

I mean, we "lose" six of those first eight days. She starts out on Day 398 in Vesper HQ, and then she is on the bus in Hiryu on Day 391. What happened in between? I deduced that Day 398 is spent removing everything they have to, in order to prolong her systems, and that Day 391 is partially seen with her on the bus, stopping the bullets.

The rest of it? She certainly needs a Housekeeping Education, so she goes to school for a week, to at least grasp the fundamentals of it, as well as some debriefing and instructions as to what will be expected of her in the civilian world.

Also, how did they "remove her armaments"? I always assumed there was no real armor, as like what Ryuga wore, but it was sheer energy that protected her. I also have no idea what her weaponry was, beyond Shining Darkness. The gun she used was just a gun and does not use any real power (as mentioned in Season One, Episode Five, when Vesper does the 'autopsy' of the Crab Robot).

I am taking the approach that they merely shut it off, so she does not have access to it. Without the energy drain or need, she lasts longer. As to what constitutes the remaining 30 (beyond Shining Darkness), I assume heightened agility, speed, super strength and her aiming capabilities, but that is merely a guess. Then, we have the idea of her understanding as to how humans live.

Does she need to comprehend money? Rather than classes, could they program the information into her a la "The Matrix"? Pop her in a chair, hook her up and download it all? ("I know Kung Fu!")

My other problem is how my muse stops by for a visit. Although this is the first story in the series, it was actually the sixteenth written, and so it might be "better" that those that are posted later, benefiting by me really getting into the rhythm of the story arc.

The scary thing is this: in two weeks, I'll be writing another story that isn't even an idea as we speak, much like this story was. It's just that I do not want to sacrifice ANY days. Here is a good example of what I speak of and that is the Dance of the Dead Festival.

That really is a four-day arc, starting on July 23rd (when the City Councilman comes by the house to ask Mahoro if she would please dance) and ending on July 26th (the actually festival and the viewing of the fireworks show). HOWEVER, we glide over the 24th and the 25th, as well as most of the 26th, so there are potentially three days that something else could be happening.

I really do not wish to give up those days and, possibly, I may not have to, but I haven't a real clue as to what went down on those days or what might go down on those days.

I am also assured that an organization like Vesper can get things done NOW, so that is why they were able to mainstream Mahoro so quickly into her new life. Get signed up for class! Fill out that paperwork! Cut through the bureaucratic layers! Obtain the proper signatures! Slap those forms into the right hands! Process! Process! Process some more!

I am also pondering if I wish to do tales on Mahoro at the Housekeeping Services school, but that is something that can easily await another day. I mean, how do you make it interesting?

For those unfamiliar with the Latin phrases at the end, "Tempus Fuget" means "Time Flies" and "Cave Canum" means "Beware of the Dog."