"Time and Tide"

A 'What If…' Series of Stories

By Furor Scribendi

2008 Scribendi Productions

July 20th

The helicopter stood paralyzed in the middle of the road, as the passengers remained outside, arguing back and forth about Ryuga.

Gunji was adamant. "I don't trust him. He's Saint!"

Suguru stepped forward. "But I do trust him! Let him ON! He can help!"

Gunji remained as icy as Ryuga. "I appreciate your feelings in this matter, Suguru, but I know of him. I saw what he did on the battlefield. Anyone that dangerous has a secret agenda!" Gunji still kept his firearm trained onto the back of Ryuga's head

"But I have seen him OFF the battlefield. If he wanted to destroy us, he could have done it easily by now!" Suguru couldn't tell if he was yelling because he was angry or just to be heard. Both of them turned to Daimon.

Daimon made a hurried shrug and motioned everyone on board. "We can always throw him out of the copter later!" The copter took off.

Everyone put on helmets so they could be heard, Ryuga speaking first. "Despite outward appearances, Mahoro is not fully deactivated…"

"What? What? What is he talking about?" Suguru was hurt and confused.

Hokaze spoke. "Mahoro had a very deep secret…."

"I know all about that. She had to…kill my father. I forgave her for that burden back in March. No one should carry around that level of regret." Suguru fought back the tears.

Hokaze shook his head 'no'. "There was another secret. Her End Time." Suguru looked perplexed. "She had a life span put into her and, on a certain date, she would cease to function. Under optimum conditions, this was to be that last day, Day 398. She made us all take an oath to NEVER tell you, as she didn't want to create more unhappiness in your life."

Ryuga stepped in. "I offered the services of Saint to Vesper to help with this."

Hokaze turned about slowly. "What did you say?" staring intently at Ryuga.

"On March 22nd, I spoke to all three of you about this." Ryuga pointed to them all.

"I…I don't remember that," stammered Hokaze.

"I think the problem was that I didn't ask the right questions and you had already given up hope for Mahoro. I don't think any of us were listening very clearly to one another that day. Not all that surprising, if you think about what had happened."

Gunji spoke up. "We also couldn't trust Saint. I STILL don't trust Saint. What if this is some kind of plan to destroy us? We only have his word of this 'help' and that makes me suspicious."

"I trust Ryuga." Everyone turned to Suguru. "He came to our aid when Dr. Metherius, using me as bait and attacked Mahoro. If Ryuga was not that concerned, why did he come by, why did he perform magnificently, why did he stay around?" Suguru turned to Ryuga. "What can be done?"

"Mahoro is in final power down. She has about an hour before she fully ceases functioning. This is a protection mode. Very minimal power is drawn to maintain the system for that additional power boost. After this Golden Hour has passed, degradation begins and we cannot be sure how well she can be restored from that point. Can this helicopter go any faster?"

Daimon turned to the pilot. "Turbo Mode."

"That is going to really gobble up the fuel and…"

"Turbo mode." The pilot nodded and hit a few buttons. The rotors whined louder as the copter picked up speed.

Gunji looked to Ryuga. "You are not doing this solely out of the goodness of your heart. You want something from us."

Ryuga nodded. "Yes, that is true. I want something from you.

Gunji snorted. "I knew it. I KNEW it. This is all a ploy. And what do we have to do?"

"Ask."

Gunji got irritated. "I already asked you! What do we have to do?"

"Just ask. I need you to ask us to do this. Specifically, I need Don Vesper to ask Matthew."

Gunji was beside himself. "I TOLD you it was a trap, meant to destroy us. Let me throw him out now!"

"I think we have done a fine enough job on our OWN destroying ourselves," snapped Hokaze.

"You're not military, so I don't expect you to know ANYTHING about this!" snarled Gunji. "My duty is clear: keep Vesper safe! This smacks to me of an insidious plan to hurt us even more, by dangling in front of us something that means a great deal to us. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the ONE!"

Daimon was more circumspect. "How quickly could Matthew get down here?"

"As a liaison for Saint and Matthew, almost immediately. But the clock is running. You have about 30 minutes from this point to get it all together, as the scientists will need time to do the procedure. Getting the board to meet is a start, although I know that I have three of its members right here. What is it going to be?"

Daimon pointed his finger at Gunji, who sighed and nodded. Immediately, communications went out to Vesper HQ. Gunji was calling the rest of the board members personally to get them into the Conference Room; Hokaze was sending instructions to his staff as to what to do when Mahoro arrived, which she was just doing; Daimon spoke to Ms. Shiina. Suguru could hear parts of his communication.

"Eimi, this is Daimon. Yes, it is THAT important. Get me to Don. No, you cannot speak to him for me. I have to speak to him. I have an urgent request and time is of the essence. Then…wake him UP…NOW!"

Daimon made faces as he waited. "Don. This is Commander Daimon. You have to listen to this!" He reached over to Ryuga's helmet and turned it to the right channel."

Ryuga spoke. "I am Ryuga, Warrior of Saint and Liaison to Matthew. I have a proposal."

Minutes later, the helicopter alighted on the roof of Vesper Headquarters. The passengers practically leapt from the side doors before it fully landed, and sprinted to the waiting elevator, which took them all to the 10th Floor, where the Council met. The only sound that could be heard was the ding of each passing floor. Suguru was still on edge, but he was putting up a brave front. He felt Daimon's strong hand on his shoulder.

The door opened and it was a flat-out run to the Conference Room. Employees hurled themselves against the walls as all five of them charged down the hallways. The doors to the room were opened wide to accept them all. Daimon, Gunji and Hokaze took their seats on the council dais as Suguru stood near the back of the room with Ryuga. Guards with nasty looking rifles were at attention, ready for almost anything. The doors closed with a smart report.

"Will you please approach me, Ryuga of Saint?" intoned Don. Ryuga came to a spot about 20 feet away from The Radio, where two more guards stood.

"Don Vesper, I am Tou Ryuga. As a liaison to Matthew of Saint, I offer a proposal that will benefit the both of us."

"I am willing to receive Matthew of Saint for this proposal." Ryuga spoke into a comlink on his wrist. He made big, slow moves so everyone could see what he was doing. He knew how edgy and tense everyone was and there would not be any opportunity given for someone to make a snap judgment.

Speaking in a loud voice for all to hear, he called out. "Matthew, they are ready for you." Moments later, a bright light glowed just behind Ryuga. The guards snapped at the ready, but Commander Daimon stood up and waved them back.

The lights stopped to have Matthew of Saint appear. Everyone gasped, as they were not expecting such a beautiful woman to be standing there. Dressed in very flimsy clothes, almost unconcerned for her physical presence, she came up to where Ryuga stood. "Don Vesper of Vesper, I am Matthew of Saint."

"Matthew of Saint, welcome. I have a request of you."

"And what is your request?" Her dulcet tones filled the room. Suguru was getting anxious. What was with all of these protocols? Why couldn't they just get right to the point?

"Would you please restore Mahoro Ando for us?"

"Saint would be honored to do so. Where is Mahoro Ando now?"

Hokaze stood up. "She is in my research room."

Matthew spoke to Hokaze. "Please take Ryuga to your room and we can transport the technicians to that location." Hokaze came down and they both left. Matthew continued to speak.

"Before us lies a great opportunity, to lay aside our mistrust, our animosity and our fears and to work together towards a common goal, one of peace and harmony between our two peoples. Your world already has been made aware of the existence of us, and that of the Keepers. Let us take that awareness and build on it, laying the foundations of a new era."

Don spoke. "For far too long, we have allowed the forces of uncertainty to cloud our better judgment. Mistakes have been made on both sides, but it is not too late to learn from those mistakes and forge a better future. Steps can be taken to ensure that we can learn and grow with our combined knowledge. The way will not be easy, but it is the way for us to go. For both of us to go in."

Meanwhile, down in his lab, Hokaze was amazed at what he saw. He looked at the clock on Mahoro; time was getting more and more slender as the technicians set up their machines. They had materialized just as Matthew did and went right to work.

The taller of the two spoke to Hokaze. "I am Professor Tiricka. I'd love to talk, but time is of the essence, so if you will excuse me, Professor Hokaze." The doctor began to examine Mahoro, who lay inert on the table. He looked about the facility. "Say, is that an imaging scanner?" pointing to a large piece of equipment. Hokaze nodded. "Could you bring it over to me?" Hokaze complied and the machine was placed over Mahoro and turned on.

The shorter of the two was running about, checking all the connections, wheeling over the Saint equipment and setting up all the tools necessary for the operation. The taller doctor spoke.

"Don't take this the wrong way, but your equipment is rather primitive. I can still work with it, but it may take longer to get things done." The monitor showed Mahoro's power unit. The doctor took out a wand that looked like it had a tiny iron on the end of it.

"What will you do first?" asked Hokaze.

"I need to stop the clock and fold it back onto itself." The doctor passed the wand over her.

"A kind of temporal causality loop, so time, in essence, stands still," Hokaze commented as the doctor looked up.

"That's correct. A clock with no time that can be taken off of it. Ahh, that is done. Now, I will permit energy to be transferred into her."

"How are you doing this? I mean, I was completely buffaloed on this area."

We use an ion signature to make adjustments."

Hokaze was stunned. "Ion technology? Of course. The power is of a purer nature and can be generated from nearly any energy source. And this specialized signature allows one to 'open the gas tank', as it were."

The doctor again looked to Hokaze. "You seemed to have figured out a lot of this."

"Just enough to know that my ways wouldn't work. It was much like trying to build a space ship with stones and animals skins. The simple and elegant answer I knew existed but couldn't get to."

The doctor then put a box on her chest and turned it on. "This will allow the unit to self-generate its own power, but I have to reconfigure it."

"A breeder reactor, so whatever excess or spare energy there is gets reconverted back to create more energy." Hokaze made twirling motions with his fingers.

"You have a rather keen mind in all of this. I…I just didn't think anyone would be able to understand so well."

"I spend 400 days trying to crack the energy problem. I found lots of ways not to do it, but the technology hung me up. Is it true that you offered to do this four months ago?"

"I am uncertain about that, but I do know that Tou asked me about three months ago, just around the time of the Yucatan Explosion."

Hokaze blanched. "If only I had known…………"

The doctor fiddled some more with dials and knobs. "OK, I am down to the last two steps. The first is a kind of preliminary energy test. Aside from giving her a small energy boost, to keep her from shutting down, it will also allow me to see that all parts of her are still functioning." Looking at the energy flow through her, he nodded. "Yes, yes. This is all fine. Now, for the scary part."

Hokaze's jaw dropped. "The scary part?"

The doctor turned on the power slowly and explained. "These are very rare circumstances we are in, as we in Saint never allow any power unit to get this low. In fact, we make sure they have all the power they need all the time. In this instance, there may be a shock to the system. Think of it as having been starved for a long time, then you are given food…"

"…the tendency is to stuff as much as you can into your gaping pie hole, oblivious to the fact that your body has been acting in a different way. Too much, too soon. I assume that with the unit so starved for energy, it wants to draw it in too rapidly and potentially damage itself."

The doctor looked to Hokaze. "We have got to sit down and really talk. I am quite impressed with your mind and how it thinks. The scary part is that the unit may override its own protocols and if that happens, it could be beyond anyone's ability to prevent it from happening or correct the situation."

"How many of these procedures have you done?" inquired Hokaze.

"I personally have done two, but have witnessed five more and…" A beeping noise was heard. Both looked to the monitor to see an energy flow problem.

"What's wrong?" Hokaze panicked, as the Golden Hour was almost up.

"The energy is not flowing in! It may be worse than I imagined. Tanani! Get over here." The shorter technician came over, in an almost casual manner. He picked up the wand and went to Mahoro. The end of it was placed over her chest and he clicked it on. It appeared as if he was ironing a shirt.

As the two others looked on, the warning light went off and the monitors showed that energy was flowing into her. "What did you do?" asked the doctor.

"You are too easily distracted. After the preliminary test, you then need to reconfirm the procedure to reactivate. You have to send the 'go' command. I just did that." Tanani smiled broadly. "I've done nine of these myself. So, it should take another 10 minutes to recharge, plus a self-diagnostic, that is an extra five minutes."

Hokaze got the Council Room on the phone. "Get everyone down here. We are almost finished."

Mahoro lay perfectly still; then her eyes slowly opened, as though she was just waking up. "….ul. There is nothing…" she began to comment. She looked about and was surprised to see everyone staring down at her. They all burst into a round of applause as Suguru smothered her with hugs.

"I thought I had lost you!" Mahoro felt his hot tears on her cheek.

Professor Hokaze came up to her. "Mahoro, what do you remember?"

"I was at the cemetery with Suguru. We had just finished cleaning up the marker and…what am I doing here?" She discovered she was in Hokaze's laboratory. "Why am I here?" Everyone looked at each other, uncertain what to say. Suguru came forward.

"You…..you died today. In the cemetery." Suguru felt himself tearing up again. He let go of her to wipe his eyes.

Mahoro looked apprehensive. "Not to sound ungrateful, but if I ceased to function, then how am I talking to you?"

The crowds parted to allow Mahoro to see Matthew. Mahoro gasped. "I know you. I have seen you in my dreams. We have spoken about things."

Matthew responded. "Those were not dreams. We actually spoke. I am Matthew of Saint. You have been given a marvelous gift, a gift that will forge an allegiance between Saint and Earth, creating a foundation so…."

"…so that we will be able to learn from each and coexist, walking together towards the future, hand in hand, to a better world," said Mahoro, completing the thought. Matthew smiled and then turned to Commander Daimon.

"Our work here today is done, but the bigger task lies before us. I hope that the trust between us can grow stronger." She turned back and headed towards Ryuga and the two doctors. They all stood in a small group. "Farewell, but we shall be seeing more of each other." In an instant, they were transported away, gone in a blinding flash of light.

Everyone was duly impressed. Hokaze came to the table, shooing the people out. "If you will excuse me, I need to make some diagnostic examinations of Mahoro and…"

Gunji came up to him. If it is all the same with you, we'd rather stay and watch." There was a murmur of consent from everyone. Shrugging his shoulders, Hokaze began the exam. He pulled up the original computer file, the one he had created in June of last year, prior to reducing her energy.

Rolling back the scanning units, he turned it on and started to work. He felt a bit sweaty as everyone was down there, watching his every move. He kept going back to one monitor, comparing it with his information. He tapped up a few profiles. Something wasn't right, or at least did not make any sense. Then he smiled. It now made perfect sense. He turned everything off.

"I give Mahoro a clean bill of health!" Everyone cheered as Hokaze helped her from the operating table. Mahoro bowed to everyone.

"I thank you all for your efforts. Now, if I may, it is time for Suguru and me to return home." She took Suguru by the hand.

"I'll drive you," offered Gunji.

"I'll bring the helicopter and get you home," trumped Daimon.

"As the contact between Don Vesper, I should take care of this," countered Shiina. As the arguments abounded as to who should take Mahoro home, Hokaze made a call.

"Hello, transportation?"

At the Suguru household, Hamadi and Minawa sat on the couch, talking. Nanami looked at the clock. "It sure is getting late. I hope nothing went wrong." Suddenly, a very loud horn could be heard honking from the street. They all bolted up and flung open the door to see a huge bus outside. Stepping off was Suguru and Mahoro. Then the contents of the bus came out, which was the bulk of Vesper, waving good bye to her. The three looked on in gape-mouthed wonder from the porch.

"I know she makes friends wherever she goes, but this……!" Hamadi was stunned as they came up the walkway.

Mahoro turned and waved. "Thank you for the ride."

In near unison, everyone on the bus called back. "Thank you, Mahoro!" They all got back on the bus and it pulled out, Mahoro continuing to wave at them. When the bus was out of sight, Mahoro and Suguru went inside.

At the table, Hamadi spoke. "What was that all about? No, I changed my mind. I DON'T want to know."

Minawa came up to Mahoro. "Is everything fine, big sister?'

Mahoro made a big smile. "Everything is just fine. It feels good to come home. What do you want for dinner?"

On the bus, the mood was one of elation. Commander Daimon made his way to the back of the bus to Hokaze, who was looking out of the window in silence. He sat next to him and they both watched the scenery soaring past them. Daimon spoke.

"So, what about Mahoro? Will she have to go through this again? Will we have to?"

Still looking out the window, Hokaze smiled. "I'll need to see her one more time, in about a month, to do some final checks on her AND to allow the augmentation request, but there is no need to worry about her. Everything is just fine."

MAHORO'S SYSTEMS WILL NEVER CEASE FUNCTIONING

End Notes

Every so often, you want to leave the strict narrative and explore other areas of the mythology and story line. I still believe in the First Rule of Fan Fiction, but this is a tale that has been brewing on my mind since I first saw the anime.

Like many people here, I was extremely dissatisfied with the endings in both the manga and the anime and anything that was done in regards to that came off more as a sop to the fans. I realize that the ending was more in line as to what could happen in real life, but that doesn't mean I have to like it or even agree with it. I also cannot fully argue with the author's vision, no matter how unhappy it makes me.

This story was my approach to "make it right" and put them on a path together. Personally, I feel it fits in perfectly with not only my story line, but could have easily fit in with the regular storyline. She really didn't have to be destroyed and there was Matthew, always teasing that Mahoro could have been saved.

The other good feature of all this is that if we want to connect it up with their Further Adventures, this clicks in perfectly, and a lot better than whatever happened in Season Two, Episodes 13 and 14.

This was another example of me trying to squeeze things in on one story and failing miserably. I mean, if this was a full-blown book, that would be really different (and certainly nothings stops be from doing something along those lines), but I prefer to keep it segmented better here and to throw in a teaser or cliffhanger to keep you coming back for more. (You ARE coming back for more, right?)

Also, I think it doesn't overwhelm me as well, so I can keep writing, so I have three or four separate small tales than one ginormous offering, scaring off both you and me. (Hey, that word was recently approved by Webster's Dictionary, so it is fine to use).

So, at this point, I now lay down my pen.

For the upcoming year, I am currently working on another Ariel story, as well as preliminary work for Mahoro on what I am referring to as "More In-Between Days", which would be the next series of 26 stories, filling in the gaps that I created when I told this first set of 26, as well as the open days from the original narrative.

Part of the problem with these new stories is the time placement. There is space available on the calendar for them, but I have to be cautious in how I insert them. I have a Super Grand Magnificent Opus that may not be written, as I cannot place it in a proper location, as it is a huge story arc, consuming at least five episodes as it stands now.

I also have given short shrift to Minawa and that needs to be addressed as well. I mean, she was with them for about four months and I need to spin away from the manga-presented stories. It also gives pause to see if I wish to address the time spent at the Shirakiku Academy (in the manga, not in the anime) and if I really want to tell a tale or two of Mahoro at the Vesper Maid School, which would be at the "beginning" of all this.

Lots of ideas are swirling about, but I need a smart way to tether it all together. No jumping the shark here, OK? The way things are going, it might not be until June or so that I would begin to post them for my second go-around, or a Fifth and Sixth Season, so your patience in these matters is always appreciated.