Author: CeeDee
Pairing: 1x2, 4+3 (eventually)
Rating: NC-17 (eventually)
Warnings: Angst, Language, Lemon, and Violence, sort of Sci-Fi
Spoilers: this takes place after EW
Feedback: yes, please, any comments welcome.
Disclaimer: Don't own them, used characters are borrowed, only. Promise to give them back. For fun purposes, only; no profit made.

Notes: Several years after the wars, the pilots have grown apart. When they meet again under unusual circumstances and an impending new war, will they be able to fight again, together?

Many thanks for Ellimaru for most helpful, throughout and work intensive betaing. Also to May Chang and Sakusha for useful hints and tips, as well as content and flow check, and, of course, to all of them for providing assistance in my helpless twist of words.

Future of the Past - # 1

[ sacred being/a guardian angel of all those who fight for just causes. He is especially protective towards people who defend the rights of those who cannot defend themselves, such as animals and children. ]


"Last chance... you sure, kid?"

"Yeah, Howie." Zipping up my spacesuit and strapping on the harness in the pilot seat, I smiled gently at the vid screen. "Y'know, I'll miss ya, old man."

Howard grimaced. "I still think this isn't a good idea, Duo. Out there all by yourself." He shook his head. "Deep space without company. With an untested drive."

"We've had this discussion, Howie." I forced a grin while I programmed my course with swift keystrokes. "Several times. I'd just rather not endanger other people. Besides, everything else I cooked up so far tested out just fine. This one will work out fine, too."

"Right," The screen showed Howard scowling. "You and your devil's luck. The hell with you."

"Love ya too, Howie," I blew him a raspberry. "Ya now, Ezgadi 'n me, we'll be just fine. Don't worry old man. Come on; let's get this baby on the road. I have a date with Luna control." Pulling up the screens, I keyed in the commands for activating the AI. "Ezgadi, baby, you with me?"

"All systems green, Duo. We are clear to go," the ship's AI responded.

"See, Howie, I'm not all alone. See ya in a few, or earlier," I glance back at the vid screen. "Besides, we won't be out of communication range until I'm beyond Saturn." I paused to gnaw at my lip. "I think."

"You think?" Howard's shoulders tightened. "Duo, you..."

"It was a joke... okay?" I swiftly interrupted the rant I knew was coming. "Jesus, Howie, don't get all cocked up. Everything's under control. Let's see how fast this baby really is. We'll make a u-turn at Uranus; I promise." I winked at him. "See, if the drive is as good as I think it is we'll be back way earlier than you believe."

"I know, brat. But..." Howard frowned. "It's hard to believe. Our fastest space shuttle to Mars needs three months for these 0,3 Astronomic Units. Uranus is 21 AU's away, 12 years one way. It's kinda hard to believe you cooked up a drive making it in a third of the time. Even when..." He looked a little more than worried. He looked like... he would start to cry.

"I know, old man, I know. A little trust here." I sighed. "I've done my math, and besides, Ezgadi is on my side here. You'll see, I won't be away 8 years." Looking at him now, it seemed unfair to leave him in the dark, in such a worry. "You'll see me again. And take care of Hilde and our Invent Techs for me, okay?"

"Yeah, kid. I believe in you and your AI." Howard sniffed as he keyed in commands on his side. "Docking clamps opened. Ready when you are, brat. Be safe, you hear me?"

"Bye Howie." I made a decision. "See ya in, say, ten months or so." I chuckled softly as I saw the flabbergasted look on Howard's face while shutting down the vid screen, queuing up music and firing up the main engine. Time to plot trajectory and get ready for the ascent. I did it in my head, then verified it with the AI. "Ezgadi, bring us out of here, girl. Speed 30 percent engine drive capacity until Luna control or engine problems." I grimaced. "I hope I haven't jinxed our mission, now, babe. Go is on zero. Roger?"

"Acknowledged, Duo." Ezgadi's AI replied.

"Three... two... one... zero." I felt the vibration of the boosters kicking in, as the ship made its launch from our satellite factory towards the moon. The old satellite was Howard's investment in our company. I relaxed in my seat after a last check, ready for things to come.

I had needed a out-of-the-way place for my inventions. At first I had - nave as I was - trooped to Quatre's and asked. He had looked at me like a parent looks at a small child with an incredulous idea, smiled softly and ruefully and mentioned that if I wanted to 'play with things' I could work for him in one of his labs. I had been disappointed over his lack in trust and turned on my heel. Next stop was at Howie's door, and now we were partners at Invent Techs on an old ex-sweepers satellite. A very successful company, by the way. I had built this ship on a whim, driven by these strange dreams I had for the last three years, which had forced me to create all that other shit, too, and now I was eager to test the new drive. The lab tests had been overwhelming, and no one, not even Howard, knew the exact results. I needed to test it live. And, I have to do it on my own. Because... because there was no one else I could ask to go with me.

My ship was a small, lean shuttle design, cockpit, three cabins, a bathroom and the galley besides the freight area. One of the cabins I had redone as a gym for my hopefully not so long stay in space. I was fairly proud of it. I had built it for speed; we meant to sell it to emergency units on the colonies and moon, enabling them to react faster to accidents in space maybe even for fast courier trips to and from Mars. I checked the time. One hour and a half had passed. So far, everything was going smoothly.

"Ezgadi, status."

"All systems are green and stable, Duo. Energy level is one hundred ercent. No malfunction. Estimated time passing Luna station based on yet covered distance four hours and sixteen minutes."

"Whoa." I pulled up the screens. "You sure we're on thirty percent? We estimated fifteen hours."

"Affirmative. Live data proves an unpredicted effect as in potential increasing speed by constant drive. Do you wish me to adjust the drive to keep the estimate?"

I was surprised. Normal shuttles would need two and a half days to Luna station. Howie still was skeptical about the output of ours, but so far, Ezgadi outdid my wildest expectations. What would that mean to my trip to Uranus? "No, Ezgadi. Monitor and record live speed by thirty percent for analysis. Notify me five minutes before Luna control docking procedure."

"Copy, Duo."

With a grunt, I opened my harness and got up to fetch a soda from the galley. I had to grin as I stood in front of the replicator and keyed in my request; soda, cold. That, too, was one of my cooked up things I was especially proud of. I had, by accident, put in an apple and replicated it. We had sent the apples to eight different labs for analysis. From the shine of the skin, down to the core, vitamins included, no one could tell the difference between one of the replicated apples from one picked right off a tree.

Now, each orphanage and church on L2 had one of our replicators. They produced food and clothing; hell, if you had the programming unit and feed them a part of a Gundam, they could replicate it. But, the single existing programming unit was securely stored away. Call me paranoid, I knew what this machine could create and was well aware that, someone, somewhere, would misuse it for military or terrorist causes. That's not a chance I would take.

So far, no one but Howard and I knew about the true capabilities of them. I trusted he would keep it that way. There had been quite a few unfriendly confrontations with some delegations form the industries, which supplied the colonies so far, but we had made it clear that the replicators would be used for space travel or bases only. They would not be available to the general public except in areas where people were starving and in need. We pointed out to the delegations that, if they didn't want more profit cutting replicators around, they would have to find another way to prevent people from starving. Kind of blackmail, I know, but in this case, I didn't care. It produced quite an uproar among them. They came up with astronomical sums to get the patents away from us, but to help people in need was important to me, and for once, I was able to do something to help. No orphaned child would have to starve anymore if I had a say in it.

At first, the orphanages we propositioned were quite skeptical. But after a few live demonstrations, and as I peeled a replicated juicy orange and devoured it in front of them, they became more than interested. Who cares if the goods to feed and clad the children came from a tree on Earth or a machine in the colonies? Especially, when it came in a much cheaper way, for costs on energy only?

I was ripped from my thoughts as a chime over the ship wide speakers announced the approach to Luna control, and found I had emptied my soda while deep in thought and spent the remaining hours daydreaming. I wandered back to the cockpit, strapped down in my harness and opened a channel. "Luna control, this is Captain Maxwell in spaceship Ezgadi IT-001-A. Do you copy?"

A male voice answered, "Proceed, Ezgadi."

"Request permission for docking at Luna control in five."

A chocking laugh was heard. "You a newbie, Ezgadi? You don't need to request permission five hours in advance. Distance indicates..." He squeaked and sputtered, "...what the hell?"

"Right, buddy. Five minutes until docking procedure. I really, really need the data, now."

"Umm ...right." There was a tale-telling pause. "Um,... Hangar three. Sending data."

"Thanks, man. Please get someone down to unload my craft. Your food supply is coming in." My fingers flew over the controls, programming the provided data to follow docking procedure.

"You... oh, okay. Your ship... is, um... awful fast." He sounded breathless.

"Yeah, man. That she is."

I grinned while typing in commands. No shit. I imagined his yaw hanging on the floor as he monitored his screen. And that with the speed at only thirty percent. Knowing he would record the approach and the docking, I knew that I had to warn Howie about incoming inquiries as soon as I turned my back and the personnel identified our Company's signature on the hull. Shove it, Quatre. I don't need your handouts.

The Ezgadi had a sleek form and I found her beautiful. Okay, so I designed her myself. Of course I found her beautiful. The outer hull was painted black and gundanium covered to prevent it from being damaged and pierced by impact with the particles or very small meteoroids drifting through space. I had to reevaluate the impact drives with this newly discovered speed. It could be critical.

"Three minutes until touchdown. Engage breaking thrusters. Three, two, one, zero," the voice of my ship announced, and I winced. Every time someone said 'zero' I was reminded of Wing Zero. And Wing Zero reminded me of Heero.

I looked up at the outboard screens. There was, except visual, no noticeable change in movement by the brutal maneuver of the ship, but I could feel the massive vibrations as the thrusters worked.

"Don't break down on me, Ezgadi," I called out.

"Sensors indicate structure stress within optimal parameters. Descending to hangar," Ezgadi announced.

"Good girl." I shook my head and observed the approach of the hangar. Ezgadi could dock perfectly on her own. Provided that the programmed data was correct, of course. She would proceed, until a human hand touched the control stick and took over. I leaned back and crossed my arms over my chest to prevent my twitching fingers from reaching for the stick. We needed life data, and this was a part of it. As I felt the clang of the docking clamps, I relaxed my shoulders forcefully. Okay, so I had been a little worried. So? It was her first live solo maneuver outside testing parameters. And with me on board. So sue me.

As I opened the loading ramp, I was instantly taken aback at the flock of people surrounding us. The hangar was packed. The guy in control must have made a little announcement over the record speed. Shit. I instantly was glad I locked the hatch between the freight area and the rest of the ship to protect us from spying eyes, and forced a grin on my face as I sauntered down the ramp. Immediately I was bombarded with questions.

"... what make ..."

"How fast ..."

"... how much ..."

"... material ..."

"... engine technology ..."

I opened my mouth, but it was impossible to interrupt the wild chatter. So I stood, stubbornly mute, at the end of the ramp with my feet shoulder width apart, arms crossed over my chest, daring anyone to approach my ship. I tilted my head and looked, relieved, at the commanding officer, who came flying around the corner of the hangar doors. He stopped abruptly at the sight of so many people and released a shrill, sharp whistle. Instantly the noise ebbed down.

"Everybody back to work, now," he bellowed. The sound resonated through the
hanger. My, the guy had a set of lungs.

There were mumbles of protest, but the crowd thinned noticeably. I stepped down from the ramp as three workers with lifting devices came my way, apparently for unloading my freight. The commander came up to stand beside me. "Sorry about that, but you are early. I had instructed the next shift."

"Yeah, what can I say," I scowled to myself as I stared at my feet, "I had back winds?" We had made an agreement that the ship was to stay secret as I had cleared the delivery beforehand. Apparently, in my excitement I had missed informing him of my early arrival. I shrugged. "Busted. Can't be changed now."

He stepped back and sized up my baby. "Nice design."

"Thanks." I observed the workers in the belly of the freight room and plucked my com unit out of the pocket of my flight suit. After arranging it on my left ear, I waited until they had made their exit with their load, and then quietly instructed the AI to lock down and secure the ship.

"Still someone in there?" The commander asked as the ramp descended and the hatch closed.

"Voice controlled."

He whistled quietly. As we stepped through the hangar doors, the ship's voice announced in a sharp tone over the outside speaker, "Please step back. You will be paralyzed if you touch my body."

I burst out in laughter as the commander beside me jolted and whirled around. Looking over my shoulder, I saw a worker in the distance jumping away from the ship.

"Anti theft device," I said proudly. "If anyone touches her despite the warning, they will be shocked. Works almost like a stun gun. She kind of doesn't like her personal space invaded."

"Ah," he said slowly, while turning back and walking again.

I fell in step with him. "So," I sighed, "where's my playground?"

He looked surprised as he led the way. "You install the replicators yourself?"

"Yep," I nodded. "It's no big deal. They're practically ready to go. Just mount and connect. Did you clear the space in the canteen? I'm hungry and haven't had dinner, yet." I grinned at him as he nodded. "Can I invite you? My treat."

"You eat this... food yourself?" He looked skeptical.

"Of course," I chuckled.

"What...," he looked sheepish as he cleared his throat, "what kind of... food is it?"

"Oh, you see," I shrugged. "We've programmed three complete cookbooks each from seven different countries. Then there are all known sorts of fruits and vegetables, beverages, coffees, teas, beers and hard liqueurs. The menu is quite long."

He gaped.

I smirked.

The rest of the walk to the canteen was silent, and then, while I installed the three replicators, the canteen began to crowd. Putting away the tools, I stood and turned.

"Okay, people. This is how it works," I tapped the button marked 'menu' and a side screen lit up and displayed the country to select. "Touch the screen, see? Oh, and you can study the manual, of course."

I selected 'American', 'dinner', 'meatloaf', 'potatoes', 'carrots', opened the latch and picked the filled plate from the machine. Then I selected 'beverages', 'soda' and took out a cup of fizzing caffeine. "That's it." I turned to find a table and found the crew gaping as if I had created a miracle. They moved to let me pass. Grinning, I sat down and stared at my plate. "Damn. Silverware," I muttered, as a hand held the missed tools in front of my face. I looked up and stared at the commander, standing unsure, with a food-filled plate in his other hand. I then noticed amused that the gawking crowd had shifted around my table. Apparently the crew was unsure about the safety of synthesized food.

"Oh, good lord," I muttered as I dug in, "a little confidence here, please?"

[part 2] [back to Singles a - k]