The Scheme of Mathias Køhler XII - Temporal Shenanigans

The taxi stopped just outside the library, and I got out with Tino once again on my back. I thanked Natalia and Yekaterina; Yekaterina smiled, and the taxi drove off.

...That's a thought. That time when Eirikur and I took a taxi to that other city where he showed me the Celestials? I have a sneaky feeling Yekaterina might have been driving then, too. It'd explain how he can summon these taxis so easily and quickly.

I wasn't carrying Tino for too long before Berwald, who'd been stood outside the library waiting, noticed me and came over. Before I could say anything, he greeted me with a simple ''s good that he's fine'.

I set Tino down on a nearby bench, with Berwald and myself then sitting either side of him. There was an expression of concern as he noticed the injury on Tino's forehead, but it was there for only a moment.

'You heard about what happened?' I asked.

Berwald nodded.

'From Eirikur?' Come on, it had to be Eirikur. He knew what was going on, surely he'd-

Nope. Berwald shook his head, before stretching out one hand. That hand was holding an envelope with a number on it. #5, in fact.

'From Tino's temporal clone,' Berwald elaborated, handing over the envelope. 'Here about an hour ago.'

...Future-Tino. Faen i helvete, I'm an idiot. There was me thinking the fifth letter had been lost in the timey-wimey post, not even considering that it could have gone to someone else.

'Oh.' I sighed. 'Did he say anything?'

'Asked for a favour,' Berwald replied. And with that, he stretched out a finger and placed it on Tino's forehead. The blood around the forehead slash cleared up, leaving only a scar identical to Future-Tino's, and, well...

'...mmnh... Mm! What... what happened..?' Tino awoke, any trace of that anaesthetic completely dispelled by the magical finger. 'Uh... there was the turtle, and the fez-wearing boy, and then... a van?'

And then wild kidnappers appeared and did their kidnap-y thing. I explained what went on to Tino, whose face cycled through a variety of expressions, before settling on a smile.

'Eheh, I see... So that's why I was sent back, to protect myself. I guess I was useful after all...'

What on earth do you mean? You're plenty useful.

But ja, he has a point. No Simo means they would have gone after the Tino with Mathias, which means angry Mathias and an Eirikur that can't do anything without blowing his cover. Still, this attempted kidnapping went rather badly, so hopefully they will have learnt their lesson. Just don't bother.

And I didn't even have to rely on Berwald. Sweet. Although that would have been a scene and a half, those kidnappers versus Berwald. They wouldn't have stood a chance, but it would have been fun to watch anyway.

'Ah, another letter?' Tino asked, noticing the envelope in my hand. 'When did that get here?'

'Not long ago,' I replied. 'It was sent to Berwald.'

'Berwald?' Tino looked confused. 'How... who sent it?'

'Can't tell you,' Berwald stated. 'Y'll see soon enough.'

An awkward silence ensued. I felt pretty uncomfortable, so I opened letter #5. The letter read as follows:

'Everything is over now. Tino Väinämöinen may return to his allocated time period. You are free to decide the exact destination time and place.'

Free to decide, huh..? That's odd. I don't know why, but it strikes me as odd. In any case, I handed the letter to Tino, who quickly read it and nodded.

'So this mission is over. Hm... Of course, without your instruction it's an indirect order, so... Well, anyway.' Tino smiled. 'You know, one day I won't be the useless one. One day I'll be the one saving the Brigade! It... might take a while, but I will!'

Yep. One day. Just don't be a total douche like Future-Tino, ok? Please?

Now, a destination time and place... hmmmmm. When this Tino first showed up, he said he'd come from eight days from then at 4.15pm, if my memory is correct. So... after that, I guess? Oh, I don't know.

Fuck it, let's make it a minute later.

'Two days from now is when you came from, isn't it?' I asked. Tino nodded. 'In that case, how about 4.16pm? Same place.'

'Ok, sounds like a good idea,' Tino agreed. 'Oh, but I'll need my uniform, won't I? Ahh...'

Ah. Dammit. I thought for a moment. 'Uh... well, I can probably figure a way to get your uniform back to you from Gilbert's place, so... ja, you can just go straight there if you want.'

'Could you? That would be great, kiitos!' Tino laughed. 'Well then, it's up to you! Oh, and... um...'

'What?' I asked.

'I-it's nothing. I'll tell you when I get back.' Tino averted his eyes. 'It can wait.'

Hm. Fair enough. Two days is nothing, really.

Seeing Tino's TPDD in action would probably be the most classified of classified things, no matter how cool it would be to see him just vanish in front of us, so we found a secluded spot around the side of the library. Tino gave Berwald a long hug, before settling down ready for time travel.

'Norge, I'm thankful for your help in all this. Ah, and Eirikur and Gilbert too. Could you pass that on?' Tino asked.

Now, come on, that's silly. You can thank Eirikur whenever once you're back, and I reckon Gilbert would probably understand even if you said nothing. Besides, he thinks you're a different person, remember? Well. Ok. I don't know what Gilbert thinks. But that's not the point.

Eh, I'll pass it on anyway.

'Ok. Berwald, Norge... moi moi!'

Berwald and I took that as our cue to leave Tino to his own devices. We'd barely turned the corner when Berwald announced that Tino had left the time period.

Sigh... It was all over, huh? Well, until two days later. But whatever.

I'm sure I'll think of some excuse to explain the sudden scarring on Tino's forehead. I'm going to need to. I'm not sure he even knew it was there... bleh, skitt, I'm an idiot.

'Hei... Berwald?' I began. 'These last two days, I've come across time travellers that are different to Tino, and an organisation opposed to Eirikur's.'


'Ja. So... I dunno, I was just thinking that maybe those aliens you mentioned before have appeared somewhere out there.'

'You 'fraid?' Berwald asked. I paused for a moment, but he gave his own response before I could give mine. 'I'm not.'

Nah... you're right. Sure, we're five people, but we are so much more than that. One entity. One SOS Brigade.

And god help anyone who gets in our way.

We arrived back at the station as planned. Mathias waved enthusiastically as soon as he spotted us, but then that was to be expected. Tino and Eirikur were there too, of course.

'Well, you two've sure been enjoying yourselves!' Mathias laughed. 'What took ya so long? Having some special time in the library? I sure hope you weren't having too much fun without us!'

'Yep. Lots of fun,' I replied. 'And we found lots of mysterious stuff, too.'

'Really?' Mathias looked sceptical. 'Nah, you can't have done, or you would have brought it with you, right?'

'You idiot, of course we found nothing.'

No books that, if written correctly, provide a link to another world. No books that characters burst out of, either. Though, I'm pretty sure there are books about those things happening. Or maybe videogames. Not in the library, but yeah. Pick up a Myst game some time and see that exact first thing happen.

Mathias led on at full speed without telling us where we were going. We didn't really have much choice but to follow, but asking where we were going would be like telling a stone to stop rolling down a steep hill. He'd just keep going and then stop suddenly and say 'Here we are!'. If we were at sea and Mathias was our captain, we'd probably end up in Bermuda. Then sink.

But nope, we were just going back to that Italian restaurant. Of course. Food. I'd been so wrapped up in that whole business with the other Tino that I'd completely forgotten about food, though all that had left me quite hungry anyway.

I kept glancing over at Tino during our meal. Really, it didn't seem right to know that he was about to go through all that and have him not know about it, but the other Tino didn't really know much about what was going to happen anyway. Gah. I don't like this one bit. Can't I at least tell him 'Hey Tino you're going to go back in time and you're going to be super-useful to yourself'?

'Nooooor!' Mathias whacked the side of my plate repeatedly with his fork. 'Why are you daydreaming? Problems go to the Chief!'

I was in the middle of formulating an incredibly witty response, when he folded his arms in annoyance.

'Oh yeah, that phone call earlier, what the hell was that?'

Oh. Whoops.

'That... was really stupid of me and I shouldn't have done it,' I responded. 'If I'd have known it wouldn't work I wouldn't have done it. Sorry.'

I looked over at Tino, who tilted his head in confusion.

'Hah, not that it matters,' Mathias said, grinning. 'Next time, make it more imaginative! You get extra points if the joke is funny! Maybe I should keep track of points and then they can be redeemed for a little prize! Oh, and if the joke's not funny you get a massive deduction! Remember that!'

...Is he asking for a prank call or something?

Mathias called it a day after lunch was over. Sure, it was really weird seeing him do that, but I guess two solid days of this was taking its toll. I don't know. He seemed as energetic as usual, but...

Well, whatever. We went our separate ways after just a few hours of 'searching'. I hung back for a moment, before heading after Eirikur.

'Hm?' Eirikur glanced over at me.

'About earlier... takk.'

'That? Don't mention it, it's fine.' Eirikur sighed. 'It's not like I had much to do with it anyway.'

'Were those two in the police car actually Sadik and Herakles?' I asked.

'Yeah, that was them. They're... colleagues.'

'Are they even related?'

Eirikur kept looking straight ahead. '...Let's just say they're two people who sometimes pretend to be cousins with a remote island mansion, and sometimes pretend to be policemen. Will that do?'

'Yeah. Very informative, takk. What about Natalia and Yekaterina?'

'What about them?'

'They're involved in this big game of pretend too, are they..?'

Eirikur snorted. 'What do you think?'

Now you're just being obtuse. I expected no less.

'Ok, fine, Sir Unhelpful, Tino's and Berwald's bosses. Are you allied with them, or..?'

Eirikur paused for a moment. 'We're... not allied as such. We just seem to have formed some kind of mutual understanding. Not that everyone in the Agency is happy about that. I mean, some of the Agency believe that people like Tino or Berwald are delusional and merely think they're time travellers or aliens.'

'Oh, that's just ridiculous,' I said. 'Have you considered making sure these people come with a stubbornness warning?'

'Well, I'm sure they'd argue that Mathias just triggered things that made them think they were superpowered aliens or time travellers from the future... What do you think?'

I sighed, frustrated. 'I think they should have one of these 'delusional alien' people come after them with a pipe, see how they like it. If they can say that, what can't they deny?'

'Who knows? Perhaps... the one with the omnipotence isn't Mathias at all, but someone else.' Eirikur's face was as impassive as ever. 'The eye of the storm's calm enough, but it's surrounded by chaos. Maybe someone put themselves on the sidelines to watch things unfold. And you, you've certainly been kept busy, haven't you? I'm not sure any scriptwriter would play such an exhausting character themselves.'

I narrowed my eyes. 'What are you trying to say..?'

'Nothing. It's just a theory.' Eirikur shrugged. 'To be honest, I'm kinda feeling left out. I'd probably say I belong more with the SOS Brigade now than with the Agency. Should anything put them in opposition, well, wouldn't that be a dilemma?'

Just as I was preparing myself for another long-winded speech, Eirikur waved goodbye and headed in another direction.

My arrival at home was greeted with Hanatamago's fur spread all over my bedroom floor. Which is, you know, exactly what I need. Why on earth can't my brother find somewhere else to play with the poor dog?

Ahem. Anyway.

The work with 'Simo' was done, but there was still stuff to be done with the Tino from this time. Well, not from this time, but you know. The one that wasn't involved with the kidnapping thing. Not to mention, there was still the matter of letter #6.

'Meet me at the bench where we met that Midsummer once everything is over. I'll be waiting.'

Once everything is over... was it really over? Certainly didn't feel like it. But that didn't matter. This was a chance to meet with Future-Tino and tell him exactly what I thought of his little games.

Well... ok, I probably wouldn't, but that's not the point. But still...

I re-read all of Future-Tino's notes, but they were all so confusing I couldn't see what the point was to any of them. Any except... #2. 'Scale the mountain. There is an oddly-shaped rock which you must move approximately three metres west and leave. Tino Väinämöinen knows what to do. It is advised that you do this before nightfall.' That was the only one associated with Mathias, and at a guess, there was something buried under the rock's original position that the future people didn't want him finding.

But that's just a guess.

Before I could think about it any more, my little brother came upstairs and announced that dinner was ready. So I dragged myself downstairs and ate. Once I'd escaped my family for a short while, I went back upstairs and took a bath.

Or at least I thought I'd escaped them; my brother soon burst in, waving my phone at me, shouting something like 'It's Mathi! It's for you!' Naturally, I took the phone and shoo'd my brother out.

'Couldn't you have waited a little while?' I asked.

'Nope!' Mathias replied. 'But it's not like I'm demanding you come out right now this instant, so no biggie. I'm just telling you that we're meeting by the station tomorrow. Got it?'

'And you couldn't have told us earlier, because..?'

'Hey, shut up! I was... sort of busy myself.'

'Right. Of course. Because you're always incredibly considerate of other people's free time, right?'

Mathias laughed. 'But of course, Nor! Anyway, tomorrow, station, um... two o'clock. And you get the biggest penalty of your life if you're late! Oh yeah, you can come empty-handed.'

'And you? What's this for, anyway?'

'Wait and see! Ok, see ya tomorrow!'

Beep. He'd hung up.

Siiiiiiigh... What's he up to this time? Treasure hunting, two consecutive days of searching, and now this? Whatever this is. I just hope it isn't too chaotic. And how come I never heard anything about this from Simo? Either he has nothing to do with it, he's been keeping things from me, or... this never happened.

I'm desperately hoping it's not that this part of history never existed.

A/N: Salutations. Apologising for irregular updates seems to be [ironically] a regular thing now, but oh well.

Also, longest story arc? Longest story arc. Yeah.

Next chapter, Future-Tino finally shows his face.

Until next time, bye~