Episode 14:
In A Different Light

        The year is After Colony 216. After their original attempts at defeating the World Nation and Martian forces, Venusian governess Nimeesha Pembroke, with the aid of her trusted assistant Kwannon Yokoshima, sets in motion a new plan to destabilize the World Nation from its source, rather than waste precious forces in any more futile attacks.

        While just about everyone else goes out to celebrate the Gundams' first victory in the war and the completion of all but the two later requested suits, Meiran stays behind with her father. Kwannon and Nimeesha are getting ready to put a new plan into action while Ariana and Sidra fine tune their mobile suits in secret from Relena and Heero.

        Meiran sat in a chair by her father's bed. While the others had chosen to go out and celebrate, she had opted to stay behind and visit with Wufei. She hadn't felt any reason to celebrate. Instead, she'd been talking with her father about the things he no longer remembered.
    "So... what did Mom say about me?" Meiran studied the floor.
    "... She said we didn't get along that well."
    "... We didn't." Meiran sighed, "She probably didn't go into detail about it, huh?"
    "Not really. She mentioned we dueled about coming here, that being the most recent event she knew of between us, anyways." Wufei sighed and studied the wall. It was frustrating having all these people who knew him and for him to not know them or himself. An awkward silence filled the room, but was soon interrupted by Meiran.
    "We really stopped getting along when I was ten." She said flatly.
    "How come?" Wufei blinked, wishing he knew why. He should know why after all, right?
    "Mom doesn't know, and neither did you, that I over heard you guys talking once. You wanted to have another child because you didn't have a son." Meiran glanced at her father, "You said that you wanted a son because a daughter was worthless and weak. That daughters had no value. Mom got pissed about that. Really pissed. She even slapped you. It was never brought up again and I never told anybody I'd over heard it. But... after hearing it... It hurt." Meiran stared at the floor, "I guess it just kept hurting... So I was always trying to prove my worth to you. But you'd only ever be 'satisfied' it seemed... Like nothing I could do was good enough." Meiran stopped talking and took great interest in the floor.
    Wufei blinked and studied Meiran in the new awkward silence that flooded the room. He'd obviously hurt this girl, or rather, his daughter a great deal. But I don't remember any of it... He searched his mind for some memory of anything about Meiran and himself, but there was nothing. Not even the faintest of images came to him. Nothing. Wufei clenched the sheets in frustration, trying to think of something, anything, to say. What do I say to her? ... Anything I say would be meaningless without any memories... He couldn't just apologize to her for all the things he must have done because it would just be an empty one. With out knowing what he was apologizing for, there wouldn't be any truth in it at all.

        Kwannon ignored the two young men who had decided to follow her along on her trip. Arthur's snide comments were the last thing she needed to hear. Chayton was being silent, and knew better than to taunt someone for something like this.
    "When'd you convert, Kwannon?" Arthur commented, "I thought you weren't religious."
    "You didn't have to come along. Everyone is religious in their own way." Kwannon snapped, "Even you."
    "I don't believe in God. But if there is a God, he must not like you very much."
    "Knock it off, Arthur." Chayton reprimanded his younger brother. Geeze he acts a lot like Dad did.
    "Fine. It's a waste of time insulting Scar-face anyways."
    Kwannon hurried up the steps into the church.
    "We can just wait out here since you insisted on coming to see what she wanted to do. Nosy idiot." Chayton rolled his eyes and brushed some of his dark red hair out of his face, strategically placing himself between his brother and the door. Arthur just shrugged.

    "Forgive me Father, for I have sinned-"
    "Miss Yokoshima..." The priest looked at the woman from behind the privacy screen. She'd come often since the declaration of war, even though she was not technically Christian or Catholic. He'd come to recognize her voice.
    "... Yes?"
    "You don't have to come, you know, ma'am. You aren't of the faith..."
    "Please, just let me speak." She sounded desperate, "I send the people who trust me to battles that are only for appearance, knowing they'll all die. If not by the enemy, then by Nimeesha. I am responsible for all of them, and the deaths of those who have died fighting, or by remote detonation." Kwannon wiped her good eye.
    "If doing this is causing you so much guilt, why do you keep on working for the war effort and sending those young men and women out to die?"
    "I have to. I owe Nimeesha so much. I owe her my life. It's the least I can do..." Kwannon whispered.
    The priest sighed. It was obvious already to him that Kwannon refused to see the truth and that no matter what he said, she would still faithfully serve Nimeesha.
    "May God have mercy on your soul." The priest whispered, more to himself than to the black haired woman.

        "So why did you pull me out of school, Mother?" Tiana blinked as her mother sat down.
    "You and Kwannon will be going to Earth. I think it will be a good learning experience for you." Nimeesha smiled.
    "But didn't you declare war on Earth? Why would we go there?" Tiana asked, confused.
    "Kwannon will be going as an ambassador from Venus. A peace ambassador. It will be good experience in politics for you. I'm sure you'll be able to learn a lot from people like Relena Peacecraft, or rather, Relena Yuy. I'm sure you'll meet with her among other dignitaries." Nimeesha explained. When I pass on after the war, the people of Venus will need someone much kinder to lead them and it will be only logical for them to look to a Pembroke to lead, just as they did after the death of my husband. I'm sure Tiana will be able to learn the skills she'll need on Earth, and when she comes back to Venus, those skills can be refined.
    "So when are we going?" Tiana looked out the window of her room.
    "I still have to send an announcement to Earth. Your brothers will be going also for other reasons. But you are to do exactly what Kwannon tells you to. Do you understand?"
    "Yes, Mother." The green-eyed girl smiled and nodded, "I look forward to going. I've never been to Earth, and after all, that's where all human life began."
    "Good, then get your things packed." Nimeesha stood up and headed for the door, "I'll be giving my address to the World Nation soon."

        Ariana grinned and waved up at the Tallgeese. "Yer all clear! Let's begin the test!" she shouted.
    Sidra gripped the Tallgeese's controls tightly. This thing got me away from home, I'll be damned if I'll just run away from it now. Besides, what's the worst that can happen? Another heart attack? She flipped on the loudspeaker. "You're folks are gonna absolutely KILL you if they find out you're helping me get the better of the Tallgeese!"
    "They'd kill me if they find out I built a Gundam! But that's not stopping me, so hah!" Ariana climbed up into the completed FalconWing and powered it up. "You get into the air already, I'll be right behind you! You know where the testing area is, right?"
    Sidra nodded even though Ariana couldn't see her. "Yeah. That island nine miles southwest of the southern border, no civilization for miles. Anything happens to either of us out there, and we're screwed."
    The FalconWing sat up, carefully lifting the camouflage net. "Well, then nothing had better happen to either of us then!" Ariana replied over the comm.
    It was the dead of night, and Ariana's parents were halfway around the world at another conference with the New Romafellar foundation, also known as the World Nation Senate. At Ariana's insistence, she and Sidra would take the Tallgeese and FalconWing to a remote region to practice.
    "This is so cool!" Ariana chattered as the Tallgeese took off first, the FalconWing leaping into the air and transforming shortly after. "My own suit! And it's working perfectly! Let's go!" With that, the bird mode FalconWing blasted off ahead, shattering several windows in the supersonic wake.
    "... And we're sneaking away UNDETECTED, like real pros. Just like Uncle Duo!" Sidra commented sarcastically before following suit, cranking the Tallgeese's speed to the safe limit of her endurance. The risky stuff could wait until they got to the island.
    Awhile later, the pair were out over open ocean, Ariana happily flying the FalconWing in daring aerial stunts that rattled the suit violently, much to her delight. "Whee!"
    Sidra, however, stayed more focused to the task at hand, keeping the Tallgeese at a steady pace to keep up with the FalconWing. "Just c'mon! If you get killed doing a stupid stunt, how am I gonna explain it to your parents, let alone your brother?" Sidra muttered. "We've got four days before your parents are due back and we have to be back at your house, let's get to the island and make the most of this training trip, eh?"
    Ariana cackled and swooped down alongside the Tallgeese. "Don't worry! We'll have plenty of time! Besides, Mars seems to be the big target right now."
    "I know. I hope Siduri and the others are all right..." Sidra sighed.
    "I thought you disowned them?" Ariana blinked.
    "I've had time to think. And besides, I can't disown my twin. And let's face it, disowned or not, they ARE my folks... I guess I just needed time to cool down after their stunt." Sidra mumbled.
    "Ah." Ariana idly flipped the FalconWing into a difficult series of barrel rolls and loops, rattling herself around.
    ".. Where the hell did you learn all that stuff anyways, Ari?" Sidra asked.
    "Flight sims!" Ariana gleefully replied.
    If it could have, the Tallgeese would have been sporting a gigantic sweatdrop at that moment.
    "Maybe you just inherited it from Uncle Heero." Sidra muttered. "Psycho girl!"
    "I like the sound of that!" Ariana laughed. Behind the seat, a wire bounced around, and struck the right spot for just a moment.
    Shino was pissed, unbelievably so. He was insane, coming at her with a heavily armed Gundam....
    "Ariana? Hello? Earth to Psycho Girl?" Sidra's voice aroused Ariana from her thoughts.
    "Oh! What? Um..." Ariana blinked. That was weird. Maybe I'm just feeling guilty. Shino'll be ticked off when he finds out I plan to fight in this thing... even though I promised I wouldn't take it into space...
    "We're here. Y'mind landing?" the Tallgeese waved, indicating a safe landing 'pad' made out of a recently cleared patch of jungle. The white suit's twin megacannon was still steaming slightly.
    "Oh, yeah. Let the training begin! Or something like that. Yeah!" Ariana landed, switching the suit back to mobile suit mode, and drawing a beam sabre, the Tallgeese following suit shortly after. "Let's go!"

        Tiffany rubbed her temples and studied the schematics in front of her on her desk. Kiandra had given them to look over when she'd arrived. Hangover or not, she had to focus. Maybe I shouldn't have had so much to drink... Oh well... After all, Milliardo (who was rumored to be recovering from a hangover himself) and Noin (who had called in saying she wouldn't be in because of a hangover) needed those last two suits built and finished. It didn't help her hangover to hear Momoko, Jeanie, and Shannon all Naga laughing about something outside. She was tempted to find a gun a threaten to shoot her co-workers.
    "OOOOOOOOOOOOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOOHOH!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Chorused the three young women. Tiffany was about to open the door and tell them to be quiet when they were abruptly silenced and the chorus of Naga laughter turned to "EEP!", "DA!", and "ORO!"
    Tiffany blinked. Someone had obviously beaten her to the punch. The silence was brief. Jenna broke it quite nicely(?).
    "OOOOOH! HE'S GONNA GO VISIT HER!!!!! " Jenna squealed. An instant later a gun shot rang out and pinged against a far off wall.
    "Get back to work."
    "... hai."
    "SEE IF I REPAIR THAT CLOWN MASK FOR YOU NOW!" Jeanie shrieked, and promptly shut up.
    Tiffany winced at the loud and shrill tone Jeanie used. Clown mask? Oh great... Trowa is actually shooting at my co-workers now.
    "Ya know... I don't think we get paid enough for this." Shannon twitched, "I want hazard pay."
    "I want Wufei!" Kiandra yelled happily. It was followed by the sound of many things falling over.
    "HE'S TAKEN KIANDRA! GET OVER IT!" Stephanie shouted from the other side of the hangar.
    Tiffany grumbled and took a moment to therapeutically bang her head on her desk repeatedly, succeeding only in making her headache worse. She was interrupted from this pleasant diversion by a soft knock on the door. It couldn't be one of the other PMS members, they just barged in.
    "Who is it?" Tiffany grumbled, lifting her face out of the blue prints. The door opened and whoa, lo and behold, Trowa walked in, putting his gun away.
    "... You SHOT at my co-workers?"
    "Actually I shot at the wall to shut them up. I figured you were hung over and didn't want to hear loud noises, let alone that laugh." Trowa had bad memories of that laugh thanks to Momoko, and bad memories of what a hangover was like.
    "Ah. Yes, as a matter of fact I am hung over, but I have to finish checking over Kiandra's blue prints and then there's Jenna's. We're still going to rebuild Altron even though its pilot probably can't use it. So what brings you here? Jeanie will, whether she likes it or not, repair the damned clown mask for Heavyarms. As for the gun, it should be fixed up by the technicians by the end of the day." Tiffany perused the blue prints on her desk, only to have them snatched out from under her nose by Trowa, much to her surprise.
    "Excuse me, I WAS looking at those." Tiffany attempted to glare at Trowa, but failed rather miserably, being too tired and too hung over to make it effective. Hmrph... What's his problem?
    "You should rest."
    "I've got work to do. Those suits need to be completed as soon as possible, and they can't be until I review those blue prints and make any necessary adjustments. Just because I stupidly gave myself a hangover doesn't mean I can skip work." Tiffany grumbled, "Give me back those blue prints and shoo. I've already had to chase Siduri out again, and if I have to chase you out I will. I have a headache, PMS, the PMS, and a hangover to deal with, not to mention actual WORK to do."
    Trowa blinked. That had been more then he needed to know. Tiffany tapped her fingers on the desk impatiently. Trowa didn't hand her back the blue prints.
    "... Well? Why are you here?"
    "I wanted to talk to you."
    "Eh? So... talk." Tiffany blinked, a bit surprised. Not surprisingly, Trowa didn't speak right away. Probably because he really had no idea what to say. Were this your normal story, this would be where the knight in shining armor declares his undying love for the damsel in distress, however, this is not your normal story, Trowa is no knight in shining armor, and the damsel is not in distress, but rather, being cranky. (Authors: We couldn't resist.) And so, there was silence. But that was eventually interrupted (as all silences are).
    "I... came to make sure you'd rest. You aren't fit to go over this stuff right now and could make some mistakes that can't afford to be made." Trowa said, effectively dodging what he really wanted to say or talk about, which basically would have amounted to 'you confuse the hell out of me woman, explain this'.
    ".... Liar." Tiffany stood up, "I'm not so hung over that I can't spot a lie. So I take it you aren't going to give those back until tomorrow, assuming I go and get some rest?"
    "Basically, yes."
    "Bah.... fine. YOU can explain to my co-workers why I'm ditching them today." Tiffany fished her car keys out of her purse, "And then at some point you can tell me what you actually wanted to talk to me about. If you don't, I'll ask Momoko to paint Heavyarms pink. I'm sure Kiandra will help her. They really like that color. I DOUBT you want to pilot a bright pink Gundam against Venus. Good luck explaining to them why I'm gone. I've never skipped a day of work before." With that said, the albino woman slipped out the door and snuck out of the hangar before the rest of the PMS could spot her.
    Trowa set the blue prints back down on the desk. Damnit.

        "I propose we build up our own military force and attack Venus before this insurrection can get out of hand!" one of the Senate members stood up, slamming his fist down on the table. "Otherwise they'll destroy the twenty year peace!"
    "No! Building weapons and attacking them would do that very same thing!" Relena protested. "If we built an army and fought them like that, we would be no better than they are!"
    "But Mrs. Yuy, you said yourself that Nimeesha Pembroke refuses to agree to a discussion to settle the matter! We can't just sit back while they build up a powerful military force!" Another Senate member stood up.
    In the twenty years since the wars ended, Romafellar underwent several changes, and instead of acting as an industrial and military force like it had during the war, it presently serves as the World Nation Senate, and focuses primarily on the economy and quality of life of the citizens. Also, most of the older Romafellar members had passed away, and were replaced by much younger aristocrats, less experienced in dealing with military crisises, and, because of the long peace, unfamiliar with the art of war, and all its implications.
    "It's true that we can't just stand around and do nothing, but building up our own military force would only provoke them. The people of Venus are dissatisfied with the way things have been run! We should take notice of this and try to change to correct the problem! They need emergency funding because of the acid storm disaster. Funding they never fully received because of how slow the Senate is to decide on something!" Relena countered. They're so young.. they don't know what a war would bring. Why do they have to be so eager to repeat past mistakes? She glanced over at her companion. Heero was always there, though he seldom spoke up at these conferences. As if sensing her frustration, Heero nodded slightly, glaring at the gathered Senate.
    "You don't know what you'd be getting yourselves into." Heero suddenly spoke up, silencing the entire hall. Even Relena was surprised. "You don't know what starting a war will do to everyone. You have to recruit soldiers, train them to kill..." Heero glanced down for a moment. "... War is a miserable thing, and if that's the best solution you people can come to, then the human race is in pretty lousy shape." Heero stepped back from the microphone and glared at the Senate, almost daring one of them to tell him otherwise. The gathering was still silent, mostly surprised by the usually silent Heero.
    The silence was interrupted as the large screen at the end of the hall came to life, revealing none other than Nimeesha Pembroke. Heero scowled at the screen.
    "Members of the World Nation, I wish to make a statement." Nimeesha began, "For those of you who do not know, I am Nimeesha Pembroke, governess of the Venus Sphere."
    Several surprised murmurs filled the room.
    "After careful reconsideration, I am proposing a cease fire. I will be sending an ambassador to Earth to meet with you all. Perhaps this can be solved without further bloodshed."
    More murmurs swept the room. Relena stood up.
    "Very well, I'm sure I speak for all of us in saying that we would like to meet with your ambassador and settle this without war."
    Several more murmurs and nods of agreement.
    "Excellent. I look forward to the possibilities these discussions will reveal."

Continued In Gundam Wing: A New Era, Episode 15,
"Hidden Agendas"