Episode 15:
Hidden Agendas

        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.

        "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."

        "Stop production at once?!" Mariemaia exclaimed into the phone. "Nimeesha proposed a cease fire?!"
    "Yes, ma'am. The Senate wants to halt military expansion since that could be perceived as an act of war." The representative explained over the phone. "Venus is sending a representative for peace talks, so the Preventers need to halt mobile suit production for the time being."
    "... all right. I'll relay the message. Thank you for telling us." Mariemaia hung up the phone and wheeled around her desk and toward the hastily constructed mobile suit hangar. Lady Une could be heard inside barking orders to technicians. Careful to keep out of the way, the handicapped Mariemaia wheeled inside, and over to the prototype suit that everyone was working on. "Aunt Une! Bad news!... Well, theoretically it's good news, but..."
    Lady Une glanced down from the catwalks above and climbed down. "What is it?"
    "We're to stop suit production at once. Venus is calling a cease fire and sending an ambassador to Earth." Mariemaia explained.
    "... I see." the former OZ colonel crossed her arms for a moment, thoughtful. "I don't like it. It's too convenient. They must be up to something."
    "Maybe they are, but the Senate is willing to trust them." Mariemaia slumped slightly in her wheelchair. "And I doubt the ambassador could actually get away with anything, not with the security..."
    "The same was said about the Gundam pilots, and keep in mind how many times they got around security systems and bodyguards." Lady Une smiled slightly, then frowned again. "The Senate is full of fools, and according to Heero, a lot of them are too trigger-happy for comfort. I hope they're careful."
    "Anyways..." Mariemaia interrupted the short silence that followed. "We should still finish this thing up." She pointed at the mobile suit. "How's it coming, anyways?"
    "It should be ready for its first field tests in a few weeks. They had some trouble calibrating the neurological uplink control unit, and they'll have to keep fine tuning it after testing starts. You're sure you still want to be the test pilot?" Lady Une looked down at Mariemaia worriedly. "Normal suits require an able-bodied pilot because of the foot pedals and the joysticks..."
    "Well, this isn't a normal suit, now is it?" Mariemaia grinned slightly. "Besides, if someone who's been crippled from the waist down can use the uplink and fully control the suit and all its limbs, then an able-bodied pilot should have even less trouble with it, since they're already used to walking and stuff."
    "I suppose." Lady Une. "You just like the idea of being able to walk again, don't you? Even if it's while using a suit like this."
    Mariemaia nodded slightly. "I learned my lesson, and it may take everything we've got to make sure Venus doesn't repeat the performance. Besides, my father piloted mobile suits. I should be able to as well."
    Lady Une paled slightly, but hid it well. And look what happened to your father...

        Tiana peered out the shuttle window and watched as Venus grew smaller and smaller. She glanced over at Kwannon, who was reading silently.
    "Hmm?" The Japanese woman looked up.
    "How do you suppose the people of Earth will treat us when we arrive? We did start a war after all."
    "We mainly attacked Mars. We'll probably be greeted by the media as soon as we land. Don't answer any questions they ask you. Just follow me when we get there." Kwannon returned to her book.
    "Is it even safe to go there?"
    "A cease fire has been called. No one in their right mind would hurt either of us, anyways. They don't want to give Venus a reason to attack. Harming either us would be like begging for the war to start up again. Not to mention it would make the Earth, the World Nation, and so on look quite bad in the eyes of the people. We're perfectly safe." Kwannon didn't even look up from her book. Tiana sighed and resumed staring out the window. Chayton sat down next to her in his crew uniform.
    "Don't worry, sis. Kwannon is right. It'd be a real bad diplomatic move to hurt Kwannon or you."
    "The World Nation isn't quite that stupid." Arthur smirked, "Although it might improve the world if they did get rid of her." He looked over at Kwannon, who ignored him.
    "Arthur!" Tiana looked over at her brother, "Why are you always so mean to her? She's practically a sister! You, Kwannon, and Chayton have all known each other since you were about 11!"
    "Far longer than I would prefer. And she's not like a sister to me. She might be to you, but then, you grew up around her."
    "Arthur... " Chayton's normally cheerful tone was not so and held a bit of 'older brother' warning in it. Kwannon continued to ignore the exchange. Arthur just shrugged. Tiana interrupted the silence that followed.
    "Why are you two here anyways? And dressed up like the shuttle's crew?" She blinked her large emerald eyes. Chayton smiled a bit.
    "We're going to be doing something for Mom, so we'll be leaving as soon as we land. That means we need to avoid the media. Nobody would pay any attention to crew members."
    "Oh... I see. You and Arthur were born on Earth, right?"
    "Yeah. You were born on Venus when the terraforming began. Why?"
    "What's it like?"
    "It-" Chayton was interrupted.
    "It was a pretty boring place overall." Arthur shrugged, "Though Venus was pretty boring at first. Now things are really getting interesting."
    "I doubt that." Tiana smiled, "Kwannon, are you from Earth?" She attempted to bring Kwannon into the conversation.
    "No. I was born on a colony and my family moved to Venus in A.C. 202 to help terraform it."
    "Well that explains it."
    "Explains what?" Tiana looked over at Arthur.
    "Why we still have acid storms on Venus. Cyclops and her family were part the terraforming project. They must have screwed it up. Hmm... That'd make Kwannon's scars her own family's fault."
    Tiana blinked, then glanced over at Kwannon, who closed her book and got up slowly. Arthur blinked as the one-eyed woman walked over in front of him.
    Kwannon hauled back and slapped him.
    "My family died so that I could survive. I put up with almost everything you say or do, but I will NOT allow you to insult my family. Just because you are the governess' son does not mean that you may forget the fact I out rank you." With that said and done, Kwannon sat back down and resuming reading.
    Arthur blinked and held a hand over his now slighly swollen cheek. Chayton turned away to hide a grin. It was good to see Kwannon stick up for herself against Arthur for once. Arthur hardly listened to Chayton when he did usually, despite the fact he was one year older than him. What's Arthur's problem anyways? Sheesh, he's always such a jerk to people. It's gonna be a long trip. Hopefully we can just get what Mom wants done quick and get back to Venus. The less time I have to spend with Arthur, the better. Thinks he's God's gift to the universe or something.

        "Cease fire... what a load of bullsh*t." Duo sat down in the hangar lounge. Milliardo sighed.
    "You're welcome to take your suit home with you. Hilde probably wants to see her 'Duo-kinz'" Milliardo smiled. Duo cringed.
    "Man, I'm NEVER gonna live that down, am I?" Duo grumbled, "Thanks a lot Hilde."
    "We can continue rebuilding Altron and Epyon just in case."
    "Besides, we've already written the book on illegal mobile suit construction." Noin waved a hand at the other end of the hangar where the Gundams were.
    "Meiran, you can take Seiryuu when you take your father home if you want." Milliardo glanced at the short black haired girl.
    "Right." Meiran nodded.
    "It'll be good to go home." Shino leaned against the wall, "But I don't think I'll take Typhoon with me when I go. It really wouldn't look that well." Besides, we already have one Gundam hiding out back home. He added silently to himself and hoped his little sister had stayed out of trouble.
    "We probably could have already started rebuilding Altron if Tiffany hadn't skipped out on us yesterdaaaaaay!" Kiandra made a face.
    "Our great albino leader abandoned us yesterdaaaay! And where is she now??" Jenna looked around.
    "She's in her office, no da! Going over Kiandra's blue prints, probably." Jeanie shared with the group.
    "Then she can go over mine for the redesign of Epyon!" Jenna cheered.
    "So you're rebuilding Epyon, huh? You wanna use somethin' with that psycho system again??" Duo blinked.
    "The redesign will correct the mistakes Treize made." Milliardo smirked. Yes, smirked. "It won't have the ZERO system."
    "What about the lack of ranged weapons?" Trowa inquired.
    "Oh I fixed that up reeeeeaal good! Can you say 'two megacannons'?? Plus it has head vulcans now too! DAHAHAHAHAH!!!" Jenna cackled.
    "Hey! Kiandra!" Tiffany's door opened. She threw the blue prints over to Kiandra. "All done. Get to work."
    "Right!" Kiandra caught them and zipped off into the depths of the hangar. Tiffan glanced around at the other PMS members.
    "Don't you all have SOMETHING you could be doing right now?"
    "We figured we'd skip today!" Shannon made a face, "Why'd you skip out on us?"
    "Yeah! Why!" Stephanie chimmed in. The non-PMS people present listened to the inquiries.
    "You've never skipped before!" Momoko joined in, "Explain. Or I'll start thinking up all sorts of reasons why, and you won't like ANY of the reasons I come up with!"
    "I doubt I would." Tiffany roled her eyes.
    "So tell us whyyyyyyyyyy!" They all whined.
    "I didn't exactly have a say in the matter." Tiffany shrugged, "Ask him." She pointed at Trowa and went back into her office. Everyone present looked over at Trowa.
    "... Don't you all have something else you could be doing right now?" Trowa glanced at the group.
    "Nooooooooo." Duo smirked.
    "Talk to us!" Momoko sat down on the table, "Why'd Tiffany skiiiiip?"
    "Actually," Noin interrupted, "I think all us have something else we should be doing at the moment. For example... Duo should be calling Hilde to tell her he's coming home, the PMS memebers still present should be helping Kiandra-" Abruptly, there were no more PMS members present.
    "You had to remind me, didn't you?" Duo sweatdropped slightly.

        Just as Kwannon had predicted, the media was waiting to greet them. She and Tiana stepped off their shuttle, members of the Venus Military force on either side of them, just in case. They hurried past the news crews to a waiting limo. Really went all out, didn't they? She and Tiana slipped in and closed the door.

        While everyone was making a fuss over Kwannon's arrivial, Chayton and Arthur were quietly slipping away from the shuttle, having shed their crew uniforms in favor of more casual attire. They had another shuttle to catch.
    "Looks like it's worked so far." Chayton glanced around.
    "Now we just hop a shuttle to Mars and take care of things there." Arthur nodded, "You have the fake passports?"
    "Wouldn't have left without them." Chayton handed some papers to Arthur, "These should check through just fine. We'll have nothing to worry about."
    "Once we get there, we can take care of business first chance we get. Our best bet is to enroll in the main academy for the Mars Defense Corps."
    "Right." The two young men made their way through the crowds of people inside the spaceport, unnoticed.

        Kwannon regarded the people across from her in the limo silently for a moment. Well, since that is Relena Yuy, he must be her husband. Heero Yuy.
    Tiana broke the silence, introducing herself.
    "I'm Tiana Pembroke." She smiled.
    "Nimeesha Pembroke's daughter?" Heero raised an eyebrow, paranoid (Authors: As always).
    "And her?" He looked over at Kwannon. Kwannon looked back, her face unreadable.
    "Kwannon Yokoshima. It's a pleasure to meet you both," She looked at Relena, "on my arrivial here. When is the first meeting with the Senate?"
    "It's tomorrow afternoon." Relena replied, "So you'll have time to settle in. It must have been a long flight from Venus for you both."
    "Yes, it is a great distance to travel." The conversation died for awhile, but was started up again by Relena.
    "We're having State dinner tonight. If you're feeling up to it, you're welcome to attend. Some of the Senate members will be there, and I'm sure they'd like to meet with you." She looked over at Tiana, "My daughter will be coming too. You look about her age."
    "I'm fourteen. I'm sure we'll be able to make it. Kwannon?" Tiana looked over at her companion. Kwannon nodded slightly.

        "What??" Sidra blinked.
    "Do I HAVE to???" Ariana complained, "You know I hate dressing up! And those dinners are so BORING. All the old farts talking about all this stuff that I don't get! It's all this stuff... It's BLEH!!" Ariana made a face. Sidra sweatdropped.
    "I don't have a dress, but, I guess I'll go..." The blond sighed.
    "Oh yeah! Shino called! He's coming home soon!" Ariana looked over at Sidra, "You can have my dress!"
    "... It'd be a little small on me, Shorty." Sidra patted Ariana's head, which was made the Yuy daughter fume silently.
    "I really don't wanna go! Can I just be sick please??? I don't feel good! Honest!"
    "You're going." Heero leveled his daughter with a glare.
    "But Daaaaaaaaaadddddyyyyy!" Ariana squealed in protest, voice entering dangerously high pitches.
    "Tiana Pembroke will be there. She's your age. I'm sure you can talk to her. Unlike you, she seemed happy to be invited. I think she'd like to meet you." Relena tried to diplomaticly defuse the situation.
    "AWWWWWW! BUT MOM!!! I don't WANNA! She'll probably be all formal like all the old farts!!" Ariana continued to complain.
    There was the sound of the safety on a gun being released behind her, where her father was now standing. Judging by the look on Relena's face, which was surprise, bordering on fury (yes fury) Ariana decided to turn around. She came nose to muzzle with Heero's pistol.
    "... Yes father...." Ariana squeaked, and fled the room, with about as much grace as an elephant.
    "Heero!" Relena marched over and snatched the gun out of Heero's hands, "I thought I told you already not to point guns at the kids!"
    "I know, but sometimes that's  the only way to get Ariana to listen." Heero shrugged, "Besides, her squealing was starting to give me a headache."
    Sidra sweatdropped, "I'll have to try that on her sometime... Got a spare gun?"
    "Not for you." Heero looked over at his niece.
    "Damn..." Sidra left to go find a dress.

    "OOF!" Duo was promptly dragged into a hug as he opened the front door, "Hi Hilde. Can I breathe?" The God of Death croaked.
    "... What is sitting out in the scrap heap?" Hilde looked over Duo's shoulder at the very large truck in the scrap yard.
    "My old buddy!" Duo beamed, "Since the cease fire was declared, we're scattering a bit and taking our Gundams with us. You wanna see it?? And yer getting fa- OW!" Hilde yanked Duo's braid at the mention of her slighly bulging stomach.
    "And it's all YOUR fault."
    "Sorry?" Duo asked.
    "Yes, you are." Hilde shot back.
    "Aw, come on! I just got home!"
    "... Let's go get dinner."
    "... It's afternoon."
    "I'm hungry now. Let's get an early dinner."
    "Okay... Um..." Duo slowly replied, having a feeling of Much Dread. It was only Hilde's fourth month. Five months of this to go........ Sh*t. Duo recalled what Milliardo had said after he'd called Hilde to tell her he was coming home...

    "Good luck," Milliardo patted Duo on the back, "You'll need it. She sounded worse than Noin did when she was pregnant with twins. OW! Noin!" Milliardo looked over at his wife, while rubbing his sore head. Noin smiled and gave Stephanie back her wrench.
    "I love you dear."
    Duo could only stare in horror.
    "Well, good luck, Duo. If she wakes you up at 3 in the morning, do as she says if you value your life."
    "... Gee.... thanks." Duo continued to stare.
    "Have fun, Uncle Duo!" Siduri grinned.

    "Are you coming, Duo??" Hilde asked impatiently, already ready to go, "There's a place with an all you can eat deal a few blocks away."
    "Eh... right. Sounds good. Just let me put my stuff away." Duo fled to the bedroom and shut the door.
    "I'm so screwed." The God of Death whimpered to himself. Maybe that good bye gift wasn't really worth it.

        "So when are you going back?" Tiffany looked up at Heavyarms, to where Trowa was working on repairing the gun's connection, "And I told you the technicians could take care of that."
    Trowa shrugged, continuing to work.
    "... So what did you want to talk to me about the other day when you so rudely interrupted my work?"
    "....." Trowa replied enthusiastically (note sarcasm).
    "....." Tiffany crossed her arms, "You just gonna sit up there and ignore me?"
    "....." Trowa glanced down at her. I suppose I can't just ignore her...
    "Well? Speak! I know you aren't mute! You wanted to talk the other day, did you not???" Tiffany was getting impatient.
    "....." Trowa resumed working. But what am I supposed to say to her?
    "....." Tiffany waited for a reply, which didn't come. "Fine! I'm going out to Keetia's for some dinner, and then I'm going home to my apartment! I'll see you tomorrow!" Tiffany turned and started walking off, slightly Not Happy.
    "..... Wait a second. I'll go with you."
    Activity ceased to exsist in the hangar. All turned, and stared. Tiffany blinked and looked over her shoulder. The PMS members were staring at Trowa from behind various solid objects, paranoid they might get shot at again.
    "... Okay." Tiffany waited for him to climb down. The PMS members whispered amongst themselves as the two left. They were debating the wisdom of following. Momoko was soon sent to follow them, on the grounds that all the PMS members would be too conspicious,  but that the PMS member that stands out the most in a crowd wouldn't be.

        "Well look who's back!" Yancha waved, "Planning on getting wasted, sir?"
    "... No."
    "Not even on the house?" Keetia poked her head out from the kitchen.
    "No, not even on the house."
    "Yancha! One Nuriko Special!" Tiffany sat down, "And some dinner."
    "Usual, I assume?" Keetia asked.
    "Yeah." Tiffany nodded. The two-tone haired woman vanished back into the kitchen. Tiffany turned so she was facing Trowa.
    "So, going to just sit there or talk?"
    "....." There was that silence again.
    "This have to do with the whole family thing I brought up time before last we were in here? When you got totally wasted after I left? You never did say why you decided to get so totally plastered after I left..."
    "... It does." Trowa finally replied.
    "One DNA test won't kill you."
    "Why is it such a big deal to you?" Trowa looked over at her.
    For once, Tiffany didn't reply, and instead, focused on the drink Yancha placed before her.
    "She puts a big value on family 'cause hers is dead." Yancha so politely, informed Trowa. Tiffany scowled at him and sipped her drink. Yancha scurried away.
    "So is what he says true?" Trowa raised an eyebrow. Tiffany nodded.
    "Yes. My mother died when I was young, and my father died when I was 18. I thought this conversation was supposed to be about you and your family. Not me and mine." Silence reclaimed its favorite place over their conversation. The PMS founding member soon de-throned it.
    "It just doesn't seem right to not care about having family. Especially because once it's gone, it's gone for good." She sighed, as if remembering something.
    "... I see."
    There was that pesky silence again.
    "... We really need to work on our conversation skills." Tiffany muttered. Trowa nodded slightly and Yancha sweatdropped slightly from behind the counter. Keetia emerged with the ordered meal and interrupted that pesky silence.
    "So are you guys on a date or something??" She regarded them with her red eyes. They both shrugged.
    "You mean you don't KNOW!?" Yancha sweatdropped.
    "How pathetic can you get?" Keetia rolled her eyes and made a face.
    "Keetia, go away." Tiffany twitched, "Or I won't leave a tip."
    "PFFT! Be that way!" Keetia went back into the kitchen.
    "Ya know," Yancha began, "The hospital near here has a DNA clinic, and since nearly everybody's DNA is on file nowadays, they can probably find a match." He wandered off into the back room. Silence attempted to reclaim its throne, but was interrupted by (Authors: *GASP!*) Trowa.
    "You aren't going to leave me alone until I go get a DNA test done, are you?"
    "Basically, yes. Besides. I did say I'd make it my business, and I'm a woman of my word. Besides, if you can make me skip work, I can make you go get stuck with a needle." Tiffany munched her dinner, "A fair trade, I'd say. What do you think?" She shot Trowa a look that just dared him to disagree.
    "... I suppose."
    "Good. We can go tomorrow."

        "Duo...." Hilde shook the sleeping pilot.
    "Wake up! It's urgent!"
    "mmm.... What is it Hilde?" Duo murmured, not all the way awake, "Are we under attack...?" He rolled over and curled up under the blankets more.
    "Do we have any ice cream?"
    "Duo! Wake up! Can you get me some ice cream?"
    "Mmph..." Duo opened an eye and looked at the clock, "It's 3 AM... go back to sleep..."
    "I want some ice cream, Duo!"
    "I'll get it in the morning Hilde... let me go back to sleep.... I don't think we have any, anyways.... and there wouldn't be a store open this late...." Duo muttered.
    "Duo!!" Hilde hit him with her pillow, "Get up and find me some ice cream!!
    "Ack! Hilde!" Duo sat up, "What was that for???"
    "Get me some ice cream? Please?"
    "Can't it wait till morning?"
    "NO." Came the demonic reply, as the Goddess of Death by marriage loomed above the God of Death, who shrank back in utter terror.
    "I'll be back in a bit!" Duo squeaked and grabbed his clothes.

    He had to hit every store, ice cream shop, etc, but he came home with that damned ice cream. Milliardo's wise words came back to him. "If she wakes you up at 3 in the morning, do as she says if you value your life."

        Ariana fidgeted in her mother's old blue dress, being as she had no nice dresses of her own. She detested the things. Sidra was wearing a soft violet dress she'd acquired upon being sent out to shop for one, and trying not to look to bored. Shino had gotten back home and was presumably changing into a suit to come and join them. A red haired girl in a green dress approached them.
    "Are you Ariana Yuy?"
    "Yep. Who're you?" Ariana asked, forgetting her proper ettiqute.
    "Tiana Pembroke. Your mother said I would probably find you idling by the walls."
    "Persoanlly, I'd rather be idling in my workshop."
    Sidra jumped into the conversation with the force of a twin buster rifle, and with just about as much grace.
    "So why'd yer mom start a war?" Sidra inquired, "Because of her, most of my classmates got killed."
    Tiana blinked, taken back by the comment.
    "I... I'm sorry about your classmates." Tiana looked down, "But things are really bad on Venus... It seems like the World Nation hasn't done anything to help."
    "Sidra! Don't blame her for what her mother's doing! It's not like it's her fault." Ariana whacked Sidra's arm.
    "Sorry." Sidra mumbled.
    "'Sidra'? Are you Sidra Peacecraft?"
    "Yeah. I guess."
    "You... 'guess'?" Tiana was becoming quite confused now.
    "She kinda sorta not really disowned her family and it's a long story...." Ariana kinda sorta not really explained.
    "Oh... You were out fighting? My mother would never let me do something like that."
    "Heh-heh.... My parents wouldn't either... I kinda ran off."
    "I see... "
    "So why'd your mom send you here?" Sidra studied the short girl.
    "She thinks it would be a good experience in politics for me. I'm probably going to be with Kwannon when she's talking to the Senate. I really hope the talks work."
    "Politics.... BLEH!" Ariana intelligently added to the conversation, "The Senate is full of young old farts."
    "I suppose so." Tiana smiled, "It's nice to meet you both."

    "Has Momoko gotten back yet? I need her for help with some stuff for a request Duo made for when Altron is done." Kiandra looked at her fellow PMS members.
    "Nope." Jenna grumbled, "Man, she'd better get back here soon!"
    "Yeah! I wanna hear the status report on Tiffany and Troooooowa!" Stephanie studied her wrench.
    "I can't beeeeeeelieve you people!" Shannon sweatdropped, "Spying on them!"
    "Da! You joined in the last spying." Jeanie pointed out.
    "So I'm a hypocrite." Shannon made a face, "Maybe they found her.... And didn't Tiffany say Trowa could kill her after the suits were completed!?!"
    "MAYBE SHE'S IN TROUBLE! After all, Trowa's shot at us before!" Jenna reminded the lunatics.
    "DA!!! TROWA SHOT MOMOKO, NO DA!!!" Jeanie fell over. Kiandra sweatdropped.
    "Maybe I shouldn't have brought it up?"

Continued In Gundam Wing: A New Era, Episode 16,