Episode 18:
The Assassination

        Nimeesha Pembroke, wife of the late Arthur Pembroke the First and governess of the Venus Sphere, had declared war on the World Nation. Recently though, a cease fire has been called, and Kwannon Yokoshima, head of the Venus Military Force and chief assistant to Nimeesha, has been sent to Earth as a peace ambassador. However, this is only farce for the governess' true plans. The year is After Colony 216 and peace seems to be in reach...

        A gunshot rang out, silencing the crowd of reporters outside the Senate conference hall. Kwannon cried out and fell to her knees, feeling a searing pain in her left arm. A terrible silence encompassed the crowd. The president's bodyguards could do nothing but stare. The man, the very president of the World Nation, whom Kwannon had been speaking with just seconds ago lay still on the ground, his bodyguards having failed him.
    He was dead.
    The freakish silence was soon broken by reporters, announcing to the people watching their TVs.
    "The president has been shot and the Venusian ambassador is injured!"
    Heero, as soon as he had heard the shot had knocked Relena down. He quickly got up and looked around for signs of the assassin or where they might be hiding, but the perfect soldier found none.
    Relena picked herself up off the ground and quickly surmised the situation when she saw the lifeless body of the president on the ground and Kwannon's bleeding arm.
    Tiana stared, a look of horror and shock on her face. The moments that passed before an ambulance arrived were filled with the questions of shocked reporters. Accusations flew along side the questions.
    "Miss Yokoshima! Is Venus responsible for this!?"
    Kwannon didn't reply and covered the wound on her arm. Relena walked over and helped her up.
    "Was the Venus Sphere planning this? Ambassador Yokoshima!" When it was clear Kwannon would provide them with no answers, they turned their microphones towards Tiana.
    "Miss Pembroke, was this tragedy planned by Venus? Did you know about this ahead of time? Miss Pembroke! Does this reflect the Venusian governess' intentions!?"
    "Wh-what?? I-i..." The girl stared. Kwannon walked past her toward the ambulance.
    "No comment." She whispered to Tiana, who blinked for a moment before understanding.
    "N-no comment..."

        Siduri blinked.
    "We interrupt this program for a special news break..."
    Siduri twitched. Man, I haven't seen this episode yet! This sucks.
    "Just moments ago, President Semele was shot down outside the Senate hall in Luxembourg. Venusian Ambassador Kwannon Yokoshima was injured in the attack. The assassin remains at large. We'll have more information as it becomes available."
    Siduri blinked. Uuuh.........
    "Now back to our regularly scheduled program."
    "Uuuuh..... MOM!!!!! DAD!!!!!!" Siduri yelled, running upstairs to his parents' room. Sure they had told him they weren't to be disturbed, but this was rather important. He paused to pound on the door once, then burst in. A very surprised Noin and Milliardo were staring at him with the sheets pulled all the way up over them both.
    "What is it?" Noin managed to say.
    "Uuuh...." Siduri blinked for a moment, "Oh! Oh yeah! The president was just shot!! The Venusian ambassador is injured! There was a news break about it-"
    "Is Relena okay??" Milliardo sat up, knowing his sister would have been with the two above mentioned people.
    "Well they didn't say she was shot... With the bit of footage they showed, Uncle Heero had knocked her down and gotten his gun out. But I think she's okay."
    "... Can you excuse us a moment, Siduri?" Noin asked, trying to keep from turning a nice shade of red. Siduri nodded dumbly and left, closing the door behind him. The phone rang.

        Sidra tapped her foot and waited for someone to pick up. A few moments later she heard her father's voice on the other end of the line.
    "Hello?" Milliardo sounded cranky. "It's a little late to be call-"
    "Dad! President Semele is dead!" Sidra exclaimed.
    "What?!" Milliardo gasped.
    "He was shot today-" Sidra began to explain.
    "I know that. Siduri just told us."
    "Anyways, he was apparently dead before the ambulance even got there. And Kwannon Yokoshima was hit, too, but not as bad. There's all sorts of rumors flying over here! Aunt Relena is okay, she and Uncle Heero are staying over there longer because of everything. It's a mess!"
    "Sidra, calm down!" Milliardo commanded, noting the tone of hysteria in his daughter's voice. "Your Aunt is very capable. Things won't fall apart that easily. The vice-president will take over and the negotiations should proceed as they had before." Milliardo tried to calm his own racing thoughts, tried to ignore the worry that had knotted his stomach, to little avail.
    "Yeah... okay, Dad..." Sidra sighed, taking a few deep breaths. "Ariana and I are going to keep on the alert. I've got a really bad feeling about this."
    "Who would have a good feeling about an assassination?" Milliardo tried to weakly joke.
    "Good point." Sidra sighed. "I'll talk to you later, Dad. Say hi to Mom and to Siduri for me."
    "Right. Good bye, Sidra. Take care."

        "Man, we've been at this for weeks! I want out of this deal. Tiffany-saaaan!" Jenna looked over at their albino leader who was busily, if not obsessively, reviewing blue prints of the suits.
    "Yeah.... I don't wanna build these!" Momoko twitched.
    "Stop whining. We're going to give them their damned suits." Tiffany scowled.
    "But Tiffany-"
    "Do you idiots want to stay alive or don't you?" Tiffany snapped. The other PMS members were immediately sobered by that blunt statement of the fact they all knew.
    "They're the bad guys though, no da!" Jeanie sighed.
    "Hey, the World Nation is the 'bad guys' to us." Chayton pointed out from where he was studying the partly completed Hymemaios Gundam. Two guards came in.
    "The governess wishes to speak with you, Miss Geslacht."
    "Oh, she 'wishes to speak with me'? Not like I have any choice in the matter." Tiffany said sourly and got up from the table she was at.

        "I want you to install remote detonators in the suits." Nimeesha looked at the PMS leader, who seemed quite shocked by the notion.
    "You want me to put WHAT in our suits!?"
    "Remote detonators. I want to be able to detonate them if the need should arise."
    "You'd blow up your own sons!?" Tiffany stared, "I'm not going to do something like that. I didn't even install self detonators in the Gundams!"
    "Yes... We found that out when we attempted to hack into the systems to blow them up by remote." Nimeesha scowled momentarily.
    "I was right it seems." Tiffany scowled right back, "That you people would stoop that f*cking low. You disgust me."
    "There's nothing honorable in revolution. Revolutionaries are fighting to win, not to be recognized as heroes and honorable fighters. Revolutionaries are desperate."
    "....." Tiffany borrowed Trowa's trademark line of silence.
    "Take her back to the hangar."

        Tiffany sighed as she was escorted back, taking note of the surroundings on Nimeesha's estate. Nimeesha Pembroke was supposed to be the bad guy fighting for conquest and living it up while the people suffered, but that didn't appear to be the case. The gardens were unkempt, most of the estate needed a fresh coat of paint, and the fountains hadn't been used in ages it seemed. And everywhere there were signs of the acid storm of A.C. 207. Pockmarks dotted everything, only the large ones had been filled, and no one had bothered to blend the repairs in. Just how much damage did the acid do here? Maybe she really is fighting for a revolution and not for her own gain... but still....
    She glared at the guards as she was pushed back into the hangar and the door closed behind her.
    "What'd the b*tch want?" Shannon muttered.
    "..... We have to put remote detonation systems in the suits." Tiffany looked around for the Pembroke sons, but they had apparently left. I'll tell one of them about it the next time I see them. They should at least know that their own mother could, and apparently would blow them up if they fail out there.
    "Whaaaaaaaaat!?" Stephanie boggled.
    "No way!" Kiandra stared at Tiffany.
    "She'd blast her own kids, no da!?" Jeanie gawked.
    "I'm out of sugar..." Momoko sweatdropped.
    "Well.... I wouldn't mind them blowing up. Jerks. Kidnapping us and making us build Gundams. THEY'RE USING US LIKE THE OLD KOOKS FROM THE OLD WAR THAT BUILT THE ORIGINAL GUNDAMS! THOSE BASTARDS!!!" Jenna ranted. Tiffany slumped against a wall.
    "Jenna... Even if they are jerks, they don't deserve to die like that. And by their own mother's hands, no less."
    The PMS grew silent, thinking on this.
    "I wouldn't be too happy if my mom could blow me up at any second, no da." Jeanie noted.
    "Yeah... it'd be like 'She's out past curfew! BOOM!'" Shannon said, completely missing Tiffany's point.
    "Dude... yeah.... I wouldn't want our mom, god rest her insane soul, to be able to do that!" Stephanie sighed.
    "'Insane soul'?" Tiffany raised an eyebrow.
    "Well DUH! Who do you think WE got it from?" Stephanie and Shannon chorused.
    "....." There was that trademark line of silence again.

        "Hey! I made some dinner since Mom isn't home!" Meiran emerged from the kitchen, carrying two bowls of ramen (her idea of making dinner), "Well, sorta made... I can't really cook that well, so it's just some instant ramen. Daddy?" She looked over at the mantle, where her father was standing, gazing a picture of... his gundam from the old war.
    "Daddy?" Meiran set the bowls down on the table and walked over, to see what was fascinating Wufei.
    "I piloted this?" He asked, curiously, and more than a little awestruck. Meiran nodded.
    "According to Mom you always called it Nataku... after your first wife. You told Mom that she called herself that."
    "My first wife? I have two?"
    "Had.... She's dead. You guys named me after her though." Meiran handed her father a set of chopsticks, "Let's eat." She went over and sat down. Wufei followed.
    "Um... I probably should remember how to use these, shouldn't I?" He joked weakly, holding up the chopsticks. Meiran blinked.
    "Oh.... Sorry... I can get you a fork..."
    "No. I'll learn how... again..." Wufei insisted. Meiran nodded and started eating, aware she was being observed. If Daddy makes a mess with those chopsticks...
    As if on cue, Wufei attempted to use the chopsticks like he had seen Meiran doing, but the ramen noodles slipped right through the two sticks. It took him a moment to register this. The look on his face almost made Meiran giggle.
    "Don't take so much at once, Daddy." She coached her father. Wufei nodded slightly, and tried again. The noodles slipped out again and fell onto the table. Meiran sighed, and went to the kitchen to get a paper towel. The doctor said he'd get his memory back probably in a couple of weeks... Why hasn't he yet? Daddy... will you ever be yourself again?

        Shino stood next to Lady Une before the PNUCU-01. Mariemaia was busy being belted into the suit.
    "You sure this is a good idea, Commander?" Shino asked.
    "No." Lady Une replied drolly, "But this is what she wants... So how are things on Mars, anyways?"
    "Pretty good. Morale seemed high and the people there fully support my uncle and aunt. Oh yeah. Gundams are on Earth." Shino winked. Lady Une looked at him with a look that shouted 'explain'.
    "Sidra ran off with the Tallgeese and came here. She's staying with us." Shino decided it was not a good idea to mention that there were two Gundams. I'll have to check Ariana's FalconWing out though since she finished it while I was gone. I can't believe she and Sidra have been practicing. I can't believe my cousin LET her... well... okay... I can...
    "Off the record, how are the new Gundams that there are rumors of?" Lady Une grinned.
    "Pretty damned cool.... Commander. Off the record of course. With the peace talks going on, we've been scattering. I think the others took their suits with them. I left Typhoon behind."
    "So that's what it's called?"
    "Mm-hmm!" Shino grinned, "Meiran Chang pilots the Seiryuu, and Uncle Milliardo has been piloting the Star Streak until Epyon II is complete."
    "'Epyon II'?" Lady Une looked surprised.
    "It doesn't have the ZERO system. And it actually has long range weapons, according to the engineers."
    "I see... Who did they end up hiring anyways?"
    "The PMS. Same group that designed the Gryphons that you've been producing. And Howard helped with the Tallgeese... I don't think he's been of any use other than that. But he did let me test out the Typhoon when I got there."
    The PNUCU's optics flared to life, and the technicians scrambled down from the suit as the cockpit slid shut. The suit wasn't much to look at- it looked mostly like a white Leo with a Gundam head, sans the v-fin. Lady Une and Yoshino turned their attention to the test.
    "Commencing test sequence!" One of the technicians announced. Haltingly, the suit took a step forward. Then another.
    "It's working..." Lady Une stared at the suit.
    The arms moved, in fact, they gave a thumbs up with the hands. Shino boggled.
    "So... let me get this NUCU system thing straight here...." Shino watched the test continue, "She's basically hooked up to this thing so that she's controlling it as if she was actually the suit?"
    "The thumbs up didn't clue you in? Have you ever seen a mobile suit give a thumbs up before? That kind of control can't be done with regular joystick controls." Lady Une explained.
    "Oooh.... So the reaction time is faster since the pilot doesn't have to punch in what he or she wants the suit to do on regular controls...."
    "Basically. She IS the suit right now. Hey! Mariemaia! Can you hear us down here!?" Lady Une waved up at the suit, which turned around and nodded.
    "Yeah!" Mariemaia's voice replied over the loud speaker, "It's great! You guys look so tiny from up here!"
    Shino sweatdropped. He'd never seen Mariemaia act quite so.... so... he couldn't think of a word to describe it... excited? Maybe? Well, he hadn't seen her like this in all the time he had known her.

        "At least we're finished with them... The technicians can take care of the rest." Kiandra sat down. Shannon looked at her salad and freaked.
    "What are you complaining about? At least they've kept us well fed." Momoko sweatdropped.
    "I. Am. Allergic. To. Carrots. And. Bean. Sprouts." Shannon frowned.
    "How badly?" Jenna blinked.
    "Well... last time I had two bean sprouts... I was having trouble breathing in less than fifteen minutes. My throat gets really tight and my right shoulder hurts... sometimes my stomach..." Shannon explained, "Even when I take my medicine."
    "I HAVE AN IDEA!!!" Tiffany shouted, scaring the ever-loving utter crap out of her co-workers. They stared at her like she was crazy and waited to hear her plan.
    "What plan, no da?" Jeanie asked, slightly afraid.
    "I think our bold and fearless leader has finally cracked under the strain." Stephanie whispered to Momoko, who nodded agreement.
    "Shannon!" The bold and fearless leader in question stood up.
    "Yes?" Shannon blinked.
    "Eat it."
    "NO! Don't give up hope Tiffany! We can't resort to ritualistic suicide yet! We all have so much to live for!" Shannon cried out.
    "And I still have to build my Perfect Grade Zeta model!" Stephanie added.
    "I'm not giving up hope. I'm giving an order. If Shannon is ill, they'll have to come in here to get her. Note in our luxurious quarters the large number of large heavy ceramic vases that are not held down."
    "Aw, man, Tiff.... That only works in the movies!" Jenna sweatdropped.
    "Well... What do we have to lose?" Kiandra shrugged.
    "MY LIFE!" Shannon twitched.
    "You'd lose it anyways, no da. I don't think they plan to ship us back to Mars in those crates when they're done with us." And uneasy silence fell over the room, but like all silences in this story, it was broken.
    "I don't know about you guys, but I'm PMSing." Stephanie stated, "And I feel a strong desire to take my raging hormones out on the nearest man in the area. Which would be whoever is outside the door."
    "Okay then! Let's do it!" Momoko grinned, "Eat up, Shannon!"
    "....." Shannon sighed and picked up her fork, "If I die, I will not be happy with you people. I will come back and haunt you all."
    "Yeah yeah, eat. Stephanie, get that vase and get by the door." Tiffany instructed.
    "Yes, Commander!" Stephanie mock saluted and grabbed a vase, getting into position. Shannon sighed and slowly ate a few of the forbidden foods.

        15 minutes later.

    "Okay, I'm really having trouble now..." Shannon looked at Tiffany, her voice sounded higher pitched than normal and her skin pale.
    "All right." Tiffany turned around and knocked on the door, "HEY!"
    "What is it? You need seconds or something?" The guard on the other side replied.
    "No. We need a medic or something. Shannon is having a really bad allergic reaction. She's having trouble breathing." Tiffany replied calmly.
    "Oh yeah, right. I'm not stupid." The guard snorted. Shannon heard that.
    "YOU BASTARD! IF YOU DON'T GET ME OUT OF HERE RIGHT NOW, I'M GONNA SUFFOCATE!" Shannon squeaked, ready to panic.
    "Um... Okay... That sounded too real. Hold on." There was the sound of a lock sliding open. Tiffany moved away. The door opened and the guard stepped in.
    "Man, you weren't lyi-" He was cut off by the shatter of a large ceramic vase meeting with his skull.
    "It worked!!" Kiandra cheered, "Let's go!"
    "I GET HIS SEMI-AUTOMATIC!" Stephanie grabbed up the gun happily. Tiffany silently picked up the pistol.
    "Get going. Don't take the Mars shuttle. They'd see that and shot you guys down faster than Jeanie can say 'no da'." Tiffany checked the gun's ammo.
    "Ano.... What about you, no da?" Jeanie blinked, confused.
    "I'm going to make sure you guys get away. And maybe  I can put an end to this whole mess. Now get going!" Tiffany glared at them.
    "Right..." Jenna blinked and helped Shannon up, "Ya gonna make it?"
    "Yeah.... It goes away after about an hour generally. Plus I'm prone to exaggerating a bit. I'm just going to be not feeling good for awhile." Shannon winced.
    "Let's go then!" Stephanie looked at the others. They nodded.
    "Hey, Tiffany-san! Don't get killed, okay? We need our bold and fearless leader. Otherwise we wouldn't be able to get jobs. We need a sane person to lead us." Shannon gave Tiffany a thumbs up. Tiffany nodded slightly, then took off down the hall. She knew exactly where she was going. Nimeesha's office.

        "BANZAI!" Stephanie shouted, and led the charge, knocking out guards they came across until five semi-automatic toting crazy engineers and one recovering one were on the loose and heading for the base right by the estate. It didn't take the raging lunatics long to make it to the shuttle hangar.
    "Anybody know how to fly one of these things!?" Jenna shouted.
    "Haven't got a goddamned clue!" Momoko said happily.
    "GREAT! NOW THEY'RE SHOOTING AT US WITH LIVE AMMO!" Shannon twitched. The guards had A) finally found the lunatics and B) had given up on trying to gas them. They were too hyper for the sleep gas.
    "Jenna! Come on!" Stephanie sprayed the surrounding area with bullets as Jenna scrambled to get aboard the shuttle, stumbling as a bullet pierced her leg.
    "Come on, no da!!" Jeanie helped her on. Stephanie dived in, slamming the shuttle hatch shut behind her.
    "Get us out of here, Moe!"
    "Jenna! Are you all right?" Kiandra blinked.
    "I GOT SHOT! DO I FREAKIN' LOOK ALL RIGHT!?!" Jenna twitched. Kiandra pulled out a first aid kit from the cockpit. Of course, everyone got thrown around something awful when Momoko attempted to take off. On the third bounce she finally got it to stay in the air.

        Nimeesha picked up the phone as it rang.
    "Nimeesha speaking- What!? Then shoot them down! We can't have them getting back to Mars! They could blow everything-"
    The black haired woman looked up in surprise as her office doors opened, revealing a very Not Happy Tiffany, pointing a pistol at her.
    "Let them go." Tiffany glared.
    "... Cancel that. Let them go. We don't need them anymore anyways. They don't know too much, either. Yes. I mean it. I'm fine. Good bye." Nimeesha hung up the phone calmly and stood up at her desk.
    "... Do you think killing me will end this war and my plans?" She calmly walked around to the front of her desk and leaned against it.
    "I've considered that..." Tiffany frowned. She had to keep this up until the others were out of firing range of Venus and its colonies. "You are the one who started it all, after all. Without you, your people just might lose their will to fight." Tiffany's pink eyes narrowed.
    "Well, if you think that is how things will turn out, you are quite welcome to shoot me. However... I believe my death would increase their desire to fight the World Nation to greater levels than I could ever bring about alive. Of course, if you shoot me... Where will you go? You'll never make it off this planet if you do, Miss Geslacht. The people of Venus would never forgive you for such an act."
    "....." Tiffany was finding Trowa's trademark silence line more and more useful this episode.
    "I don't think you're capable of killing, are you?" Nimeesha titled her head to one side, "Considering how you handled the idea of putting remote detonators in the suits you and your co-workers made for me. That's why you didn't put any in the Gundams for Mars, did you?"
    "Well, I'm quite sure your friends have gotten away by now. Are you going to shoot me or not?"
    "..... You're right, I'm not capable of killing. I place a higher value on human lives." Tiffany lowered her gun, "Even those as lowly as yourself."
    "Both the lives and the deaths of people have value." Nimeesha picked up her phone, "Security, please come to my office and escort Miss Geslacht out."
    Tiffany stood and waited for the security to arrive.

        "This is the PMS to Mars, no da! Do you read us, no da? We're on a Venus ship!" Jeanie shouted over the comm. A reply crackled through.
    "This is Mars."
    "Get Governor Milliardo on the line, STAT. No da!"
    "Um.... who are you again?"
    "OH!!!! RIGHT!!!" Within moments, Milliardo was on the line.
    "This is Milliardo. Where are you!?"
    "Heading to Mars on autopilot!" Momoko winked, "Finally got this thing figured out."
    "We escaped from Venus, no da!"

        Milliardo sat in hangar, on the comm with the PMS.
    "So where were you guys??"
    "On Venus,  no da. They kidnapped us!" Jeanie answered.
    "We suspected that."
    "We had to build Gundams for the jerks!" Stephanie cackled, "But we didn't give 'em our best!"
    "How are you all?" Noin was in the hangar now, along with Trowa and Quatre, who had stayed on Mars.
    "Well... Jenna got shot, no da. But she'll be okay. And... Tiffany-san is still there... no da... She made us leave her behind. She went to make sure we could get away, no da."
    Trowa looked in Tiffany's office while Milliardo was on the comm, noting the large amount of mail that had piled up on her desk. Silently he went through it, pulling out an envelope from the hospital.
    "Trowa?" Quatre looked in, "What are you doing?"
    "I'm going to Earth, Quatre. I have a shuttle to catch." He replied enigmatically.

    "I've alerted our patrols, so you'll have no trouble getting in. The people at the control tower will talk you through the landing." Milliardo explained.
    "Thank the Goddess. Momoko can't fly a shuttle unless her life depends on it. And even then, not very well." Shannon replied.
    "HEY!" Momoko grumbled, "Nobody else tried. So don't complain."

        Shino watched the Tallgeese and the FalconWing sparring. He had to admit that Sidra certainly had a knack for it, but she had also been formally trained, at least partially, on Mars. Ariana had no prior training save for simple simulators. Ariana had insisted he come to one of their weekend training sessions since Heero and Relena would be at another conference. Ariana was doing surprisingly well, and Shino guessed that Sidra had shared her knowledge of mobile suit combat with the girl.
    He continued to watch the suits from the 'safe zone' where the camp was. At the moment, the two Gundams were fighting back and forth with beam sabers, occasionally taking the battle into the air before crashing back to Earth to continue. Shino watched the FalconWing and then noted the jerkiness of its motions now and then. The suit would suddenly jolt into a faster series of reactions, then slow back down on par with the Tallgeese. What is up with that suit-? I'd better ask Ari when they're done.
    Awhile later, the two pilots called a halt to the session and climbed down.
    "Hey, Shino..." Ariana began, "Are you mad at me for practicing with the FalconWing?"
    Shino blinked. "I'm annoyed, but I wouldn't say I'm mad at you. You didn't break your promise, right? What made you think I'd be mad?"
    "Just a hunch." Ariana shrugged, chomping down on her sandwich.
    "Ari, mind if I take your suit for a quick test run? I'd like to check it out." Shino asked.
    Ariana blinked. "Go ahead. Just don't damage it." Her tone promised dire consequences if he did.
    Shino nodded and climbed into the suit. Everything in the cockpit looked like it had been wired up properly. Powering the suit up, he started going through the drill sequences he'd learned during the crash course training he'd had on Mars. Why was it moving so jerkily before-? When he was done, he checked the wiring and found a loose one behind the seat, apparently it went to a data recorder of some sort. Wonder why she left this unhooked? She's usually such a perfectionist about stuff. Maybe it came loose. Before he climbed down, he plugged the wire into its proper place. That jerkiness must be her own piloting. Weird.

        "While this may or may not be relevant to the peace talks we are having, I would like to present this information to the Senate." Kwannon began, "I'm sure you are all well aware of the rumors of new Gundams being involved in the battles between Mars and Venus, correct?"
    Nods and murmurs.
    "Do you have any information concerning those rumors?"
    "They are not rumors. If you'll all turn your attention to the display screen... " Images appeared on the screen, "These are images that were transmitted from the attack forces we had sent."
    There were gasps of astonishment and some anger.
    "I would like to bring an interesting point to your attention. The World Nation is built on the principles of no armaments, no war. The Mars Sphere, which is part of the World Nation possesses a considerable 'Defense Force'. And Gundams, as you can see from the transmissions I have displayed. In the year After Colony 195, Mars governor Milliardo Peacecraft became leader of an organization known as the White Fang, and attacked the Earth. Governor Peacecraft fired the main cannon of the space battle ship Libra at the Earth, then tried to drop the ship on it. I wonder... How is it a person who committed such crimes came into such a position of power? How can you trust him not to use the Mars forces against the Earth, just like he did with the Earth colonies' forces?"
    Murmurs and whispers filled the hall.
    "That's true... Governor Peacecraft did attack the Earth in A.C. 195."
    "Aren't Gundams considered symbols of rebellion??"
    "And Mars didn't send an ambassador for the peace talks..."
    "That's not true!" Relena intervened, "My brother, Governor Milliardo Peacecraft, has quite definitely learned his lesson. Remember, in A.C. 196, he helped defend the Earth. The Gundams from Mars were most likely built to defend against Venus's rising military power."
    "Vice Foreign Minister Yuy, we understand how you must feel since he is your brother, but we must take into account what Ambassador Yokoshima has brought up. Please try and keep your personal feelings out of this."
    "Milliardo had his reasons for attacking the Earth. But that was 21 years ago. People change. And he could have attacked the Earth and the World Nation long before Venus built up military force. But has he? No. He has not." Heero spoke up, in the defense of his former enemy."
    "I suggest we adjourn for the remainder of the weekend. Emotions are running high today, and when emotion prevails over common sense, hasty actions are taken." The vice president, now president, interrupted the meeting, "We probably all need time to calm down."

        Trowa studied the Venusian shuttle sitting at the spaceport. It was oddly all set to go. He'd been planning on hitching a ride on it to get to Venus, but the ambassador had made no statement saying she was returning to Venus. That's strange... She wouldn't leave without making an announcement to the press, but the shuttle is all set go. Ready to take off at a moment's notice. I wonder what's being planned?

        "Pleeeeeeeeeeease?" Ariana looked at Kwannon, "Let Tiana stay over night???" Sidra kicked Ariana under the table and glared to remind her of her manners. Relena had invited Tiana (and Kwannon) to join them for dinner. Heero kept glaring at Kwannon warily until Relena kicked HIM under the table and glared at him to remind him of his manners.
    "Is it all right, Kwannon?" Tiana looked over at her companion, "I really would like to."
    "I'd rather you not." Kwannon eyed the girl. Damnit, Tiana.
    "Come ooooon!" Ariana got kicked again, "Sidraaaa! That hurt!" Ariana glared at her cousin across the table. Shino sweatdropped.
    "It wouldn't be a problem at all." Relena smiled, though she was presently suspicious of Kwannon due to her speech at the last Senate conference. Kwannon sighed.
    "Please, Kwannon?" Tiana asked again, having forgotten that Kwannon had told her to be at the shuttle and ready to go that night.
    "Fine... I'll have your things sent over from the hotel when I return." Kwannon sighed again.
    "Thanks!!!" Ariana cheered. Tiana smiled.
    "Thank you, Kwannon."
    "....." Heero used Trowa's favorite phrase and narrowed his eyes.
    "I'll send her back in the morning. Don't worry." Relena kicked Heero under the table again.

        "Good night." Kwannon excused herself later that evening. She stepped out the door into rain that had begun a few hours ago.
    "Good night, Kwannon!" Tiana smiled. The group stood in the entryway.
    "Heero, you were awfully rude, you know." Relena pointed out after Kwannon left.
    "I don't trust her." Heero replied flatly. Tiana sighed and shook her head.
    "Speaking of rude... Ariana." Sidra looked at the short Yuy girl, "You must have gotten your manners from Uncle Heero. None!" That comment earned the Peacecraft daughter two Glares of Death. Shino smiled and leaned against the wall.

        Kwannon walked a few feet away, and looked back at the window. A perfectly clear view of the inside. She walked onto the lawn so she was standing in front of the window, but far enough away to be in the shadows. Ignoring the down pour that soaked her clothes, she reached into a her jacket and withdrew a pistol.
        Please forgive me.

        Everything happened so fast. The front window shattered. Relena gasped in pain and fell over, Heero dived to catch her.
    Ariana stared. This couldn't be happening.
    Tiana gasped, clasping her hands over her mouth in surprise. Shino dashed to the phone, calling 911. Sidra made a running leap out of the now open window, hoping to catch the gunman.
    "Heero..." Relena looked up at her husband, a red stain spreading rapidly across her white blouse.
    "Relena..." Heero choked out, gazing down at his wife.
    "Take care of the kids... please..." She whispered.
    "Don't talk like that, Relena." Heero ordered her, even though he knew such a gunshot wound would be fatal. He couldn't believe it.
    "M-mom..." Ariana still stared, tears coming to her eyes. Shino dashed back in.
    "An ambulance is on the way..." He said, voice hoarse, as if he too did not believe this was happening.
    "Ariana.... Yoshino..." Relena coughed, "Heero... I... I love you all...."
    "Mom!" Yoshino cried out, "You'll be fine! Just hang in there!"
    "Mom..." Ariana whimpered. Relena closed her eyes and went limp in Heero's arms.
    "R-relena..." Heero's eyes widened in shock, shining with unshed tears. I.... I love you too.... I failed you... Relena...
    "Oh my God......" Tiana stared, also not believing this could have happened.
    Sidra came back in, soaked, her face grim.
    "Kwannon Yokoshima did it."

Continued In Gundam Wing: A New Era, Episode 19:
"Thus Passes Away The Glory of This World"