Episode 2:
Trouble At Home

        The year is After Colony 216. In the twenty years since the wars ended, peace has finally been achieved between not only the Earth and outer space, but also the newly terraformed Mars and Venus. However, the World Nation has grown and become rather ill-equipped to handle the rapid growth, and discontent is spreading...

        Sidra Peacecraft, determined to join the Mars defense corps, even against her father's wishes, ran away from home to join the training academy, telling only her twin brother Siduri of her plan. Donning a mask and a false name, she signed up in the training academy as far from her father, Milliardo Peacecraft, as she could get, under the name Roku Merquise...
        Siduri on the other hand, has his own plans now...

        "I'm hooooome!" Siduri shut the door behind him and waited for a reply. Neither of his parents were home. He shrugged and dropped his backpack by the stairs. He could tell them later.
    They are soooo not gonna be happy. But there's no stopping me now! Why didn't Sidra just do this? She's always gotta be so melodramatic and sneak off and cause eeeeeverybody to worry about her. I prefer the direct approach.

       Once both Milliardo and Noin were home from work that evening, Siduri sprung his surprise.
    "Hey! Mom! Dad! Got news fer ya!"
    "Is it about Sidra?" Noin looked up. In the past few days since Sidra had run off, both parents had run themselves ragged worrying about her.
    "Nope. I enrolled in the training school downtown!"
    Milliardo's coffee cup dropped in surprise, spilling its hot contents all over him. He muttered some obscenities under his breath and Noin went to get some paper towels to clean up the mess.
    "YOU WHAT!?!?"
    "Aren't ya happy, Dad?" Siduri beamed, knowing that his father was Not Happy.
    "You didn't even ask!?!"
    "No, I don't think I did..."
    "WHY!?" Noin returned, demanding information.
    "Um... To look for Sidra?"
    "Strike one." Noin crossed her arms.
    "I figured she'd go to a school further away from here! As a student, I can look for her under cover, yeah!" Siduri fumbled.
    "Try harder." Milliardo scowled, standing up and crossing his arms. The coffee stains seemed to ruin the effect.
    "Can I have money for a dorm to get away from you?" Siduri sweatdropped.
    "No." Noin rolled her eyes.
    "Well, I'm already enrolled so... There isn't much you can do unless you wanna go to the trouble to yank me out." He grinned.
    "....Fine." Milliardo went to go get changed out of his stained outfit.
    "At least your sister ASKED." Noin sighed and shook her head.
    "And ran away." Siduri reminded her, as if she needed reminding.

        "Where are you going?" Wufei glared at his daughter.
    "You always ask that! You expect the answer to change or something?" Meiran glared back.
    "You should at least tell us so we know where you are." Sally leaned in the door way. There is never any peace in this house!
    "Out, okay!? I'll TRY to be home before curfew!"
    "You WILL be home before curfew!" Wufei snapped. Meiran glared and snatched his jacket from him, beating him to the punch.
    "And 'Cover up'. I know!" She slammed the door behind her. What the hell is HIS problem!? Is it so wrong to not want to be at home? Man, I'm sick of this. She pulled the jacket on and hopped on her motorcycle. She'd had to work pretty hard to get the thing since her father wasn't too thrilled with the idea of HIS daughter on such a vehicle. She'd worked almost any job to save up the money for it and he was pissed when she arrived home with it one night.
    And now Mom's starting on me too. I can take care of myself. They don't have to watch me every minute!  I'm 15, I can handle going out on a Friday night! It's not like I'm doing drugs or anything. Just some racing.
    The idea of dueling with her father (again) briefly crossed her mind, but she pushed it aside. She'd lost last time she had, about two years ago. Nah... not yet. Even I know I'm not strong enough for that... yet. She smirked. And I won't lose next time I do. I've never lost anything since and I don't intent to start now. Patience will pay off.

        "You're late. AGAIN." Wufei was, once again, waiting for his daughter.
    "Only 15 minutes! Lay off!" Meiran threw the jacket at Wufei, aiming for his head. While he was momentarily blinded by it, she slipped upstairs into her room, taking the address book with her and locking the door. I'm sure one of my uncles wouldn't mind letting me stay with them awhile. I gotta get outta here! Jerk... She flipped through the pages. Who would most likely take me in? I've only seen each of them a couple times, but... hmm... There was a knock on her door.
    "What are you doing?" It was Wufei.
    "Reading. Get lost, Daddy." She snapped. She didn't need him finding out she was about to be racking up expensive phone charges. When she was sure her father was in bed, she picked up the phone.

        The ringing of the phone woke Duo up.
    "Huuuh?" He blinked, thinking it might be his alarm clock. When smacking the clock half way across the room didn't stop the noise, he snapped fully awake realizing it was the phone. If it's Heero calling to get back at me for that prank call... 20 years hadn't changed the 'God of Death' that much. Just his braid was a lot longer, down to his feet, much to Hilde's dismay.
    "Hello?" He yawned into the receiver.
    "Hi!" Came the entirely too cheerful response for this ungodly hour of the morning. He didn't recognize the voice either.
    "Who is this?"
    "Meiran, Wufei's daughter. Hi Uncle Duo-"
    "Why are you calling me at 1 AM?? You could  have woken Hilde up and then she'd start yellin'."
    "Sorry.... Can I ask a biiiig big favor?" Meiran used her sweetest tone possible.
    ".... what?" Suspicion.
    "Can I come stay with you and Aunt Hilde for awhile??"
    "Eh....." Duo blinked. Wufei finds out I'm harboring his daughter when she runs away... I'm screwed. Well... he never killed me for the crack at his wedding... "I... suppose... What's yer dad up to?" Do I really want to get into this family feud? Ah hell.
    "Being his usual asshole self." The sweetness of her voice turned to bitterness rather quick.
    "Oooh....." Duo decided not to investigate further into the Chang family problems, "When ya coming?"
    "Tonight? I just have to get some money from Daddy's wallet and buy a ticket...." Meiran sounded awfully happy at the idea of stealing from her father.
    ".... Your father's gonna kill us both."
    "Nah. He hasn't killed me yet."
    "Well you're his daughter! Of course he won't kill you! Me...." Duo gulped. Wufei when angry was an.... interesting... person to be around. Unless you were the target of his anger. Especially when it came to his family. Hilde might beat him to it...

        Meiran set a note addressed to her mother down on the table and picked up her suitcase. She glanced at her father's Preventers jacket laying on the back of the sofa. She took the jacket and scribbled a note out, leaving it in place of the jacket and headed out the door.

    Wufei was immediately aware that something was amiss in his household when he came down stairs. His jacket was gone and there was note on the table addressed to 'Mom'. In place of his jacket was another note. He glanced at it. "I know, cover up. - Meiran" What is she up to?
    He picked up the note for Sally and started to read it. "Hey Mom! Don't worry, I'll be back eventually. Don't tell Daddy, but I've gone to visit-"
    "Since when was your name 'Mom', Wufei?" Sally grinned and snatched it.
    "... I wasn't finished reading that." Wufei crossed his arms.
    "Well it wasn't addressed to you anyways." Sally skimmed the note. "Hey Mom! Don't worry, I'll be back eventually. Don't tell Daddy, but I've gone to visit Uncle Duo. Yes, he said it was okay. I just need to get away for awhile. Don't worry about me, I'll be fine. Tell Daddy not to worry too. It's not good for his health ^-^ - Meiran"
    "Who is she visiting?" Wufei demanded.
    "Family. I'm not supposed to tell." Sally grinned.
    "Damnit, woman! She's my daughter, I have a right to know!"
    "She has a right to keep it from you. Deal with it." Sally poked Wufei's nose and headed off to get breakfast.
    "Damn women. How did I get tricked into marrying one!?" Wufei also went to get something to eat. Family, hmm? I doubt she'd visit anybody on Sally's side. So that leaves... hmm... I'll have to call them. Where is the address book!?

        "Ariana? What're you doing back there?" Shino hollered at the large heap of scrap parts that was his younger sister's playground.
    "Workin' on stuff!" Came the reply, followed by a few metallic clanks.
    "NOW what're you building?" Shino walked around the scrap heap. Ever since she was little, Ariana had a gift for building things, and her projects grew more and more complicated.
    "Stuff! Get out! GET OUT GETOUTGETOUT!" Ariana panicked and hurled a wrench at Shino. So much for a 'beautiful melody', the meaning of Ariana's name. Shino dodged the projectile with practiced ease, having dodged worse weapons when on duty with the Preventers. While Ariana continued to shout at him, he got a good look at his sister's current project.
    "You KNOW, there's a NO TRESPASSING sign for a REASON!" Ariana hurled another tool at her brother. Shino caught the offending hammer easily, somewhat taken aback at the sheer size of his sister's current work. It was at least 50 feet long, several pieces not yet attached, others still in shambles. It didn't take him too terribly long to figure out what the huge pile of wiring and parts was going to eventually become.
    "SH*T!" Shino swore, "Ari, where the hell did you get this stuff?! This is-" he paused for a second, confirming what it was by the large feather textured wing like parts. "The scraps from Dad's old gundam?!"
    Ariana shrank back from her older brother. "I found it in a scrap heap and got an idea..." she squeaked.
    "Some idea! If Mom or Dad find out you're rebuilding a Gundam, you're gonna be grounded for LIFE!" Shino exclaimed. "Why the hell would you want to rebuild Wing-Zero?!"
    "I'm NOT rebuilding it!" Ariana snapped indignantly.
    "Then WHAT are you doing with it?!" Shino never ceased to be amazed by the crazy ideas his sister got.
    "I'm designing my own and using the parts!" Ariana informed Shino. "It's FalconWing!"
    "That's even crazier!" Shino exclaimed, lacking a better response.
    "You're not gonna tell on me, are you, Yoshino?" Ariana gave Shino a pleading look. Shino lacked his father's nerve and buckled under the intense puppy eyes.
    "Fine, I won't." Shino sighed. "But I'm not gonna bail you out when Mom or Dad find out. You won't be able to sneak this thing away without them hearing it."
    "I'll sneak it away when they're on a trip." Ariana razzed Shino. "Wanna see the blueprints?" She grinned, holding up several sheets of paper with large amounts of technical jargon scrawled all over them. She handed Shino one with a sketch of what the finished suit would look like. Vaguely similar to pictures he had seen of the original Wing gundam, armed with beam sabers and buster rifle. "One question, Ari."
    "What the hell do you want an insanely powerful weapon for?"
    "Beeeecause.... it's cool?" Ariana replied, posing a model of Wing-Zero (Custom =p) she had built so it looked like it was doing ballet. Shino almost fell over at his sister's response to what was, to him at least, a very serious, very important question. If peace had been achieved, building weapons like this just for the heck of it could seriously screw things up. He glanced over at her other models, only to see Wing mooning Tallgeese, Altron flipping Tallgeese II the bird, and Sandrock and Heavyarms playing Patty cake. He sweatdropped. For all her technical ability, Ariana still had a very warped childish streak in her. And nowhere else did it show more than when she played with her models. Shino could still remember quite vividly the look on his father's face when Heero had walked into a room and seen the Wing-Zero model hugging the Epyon model. Shino would have sworn Heero would have shot them both right off the table had not Relena distracted him before he could go for the gun.
    "Ari, there's a lot more responsibility when you own a mobile suit, y'know." Shino tried a different tact to dissuade his sister from this crazy plan.
    "I know. I can't wait. I wanna be able to fight just like Dad! An' Uncle Duo, an' Uncle Zechs, an' Uncle Trowa, an' Uncle Quatre, an' Uncle Wufei... even if he is a total jerk!" Ariana beamed. "And like you!" That did it. She won.
    "Ah... well.... I..." Shino stammered, "But I don't pilot a mobile suit-"
    "Yet." Ariana filled in. "I heard that Uncle Zechs is also building suits and offered you the position to pilot one!"
    ". . . Yeeeah... well...." Shino realized he had lost this verbal battle, and quietly retreated, saying something about having some work to go over back at the house.

        Sidra looked around the mess hall, somewhat on edge. What if somebody found her out? She had already fielded numerous questions from her classmates about her mask, and her choice of name. She mentally berated herself many times over for using Merquise rather than making something new up. Oh well. Too late to change that now. She had forgotten that Zechs Merquise was still quite famous, though very few people seemed to ever make the connection between the Lightning Count and her father. She had already told most of her classmates and several of the faculty that she wasn't related to Zechs Merquise, and had gotten out of the mask issue by lying and saying it a) made her feel more confident, b) hid some horrendous facial scarring, and c) just looked really cool. it also kept her classmates at a safe distance for the most part, which really helped her out. The school routine had already become secondhand, going to class, hitting the mess hall, killing time in the dorms, and so on. In the first weeks since she had run off, she had already risen quickly through the class ranking, impressing peers and teachers alike.
    Actually, this whole air of mystery is kinna cool. Sidra thought to herself with a smirk. Even though the mask was horribly uncomfortable at times, it was fun terrorizing her classmates without having to actually do anything. There were already rumors that 'Roku' was actually related to the 'late' Zechs, and a couple of students had jokingly referred to her as the 'Lightning Countess', though she quickly shut them up.
    The TV in the mess hall was presently set to the news, and Sidra idly watched yet another report about the still-missing Sidra Peacecraft.
    "Wow, she's still missing? It's been... sheesh!" One student noted.
    "Over two weeks now. Did she get kidnapped or run away or what?" Another student mused.
    "I heard she ran away." Sidra put in.
    "Where'd you hear that, Roku?" a third classmate asked.
    "On the news a few days ago." Sidra replied after a moment. It still took her a minute to respond to the name Roku. Damnit, girl. Roku. Not Sidra right now. You are Roku Merquise, kick ass mobile suit pilot-in-training. Roku Roku Roku Roku.  She silently hammered into her head.

        Meanwhile, one of 'Roku's' teachers called the head school, wanting to inform the headmistress about this incredible student prodigy.
    "Hello, is Mrs. Noin available right now?" the teacher inquired. The response was positive and Noin was put on the line.
    "Yes?" Noin came on the line.
    "I've got a student down here who I think should be transferred to the main academy."
    "Oh? Who?" Noin asked.
    "I'm sending her transcripts right now." the teacher finished sending the fax.
    Noin took the transcripts and began to skim through them. The name stopped her dead in her tracks. Roku Merquise?! Sidra...  Noin mentally scowled. So that's where her daughter had gone and hidden. An idea struck her. It wasn't a particularly friendly one, but it would certainly teach her 'missing' daughter a lesson. "Her scores are impressive. She'll be a good addition to the school..." Noin smiled slightly. Her scores really are good. Maybe Milliardo should have let her attend the academy. "I'm faxing you the transfer papers right now. We'd love to take her."

        Duo was waiting at the spaceport, his ears still ringing from Hilde's lecture. "You what!? You shouldn't be getting involved in their family problems. You should have told her no like a RESPONSIBLE ADULT! DUO! Are you listening!?"
    "Hi!" Meiran pounced Duo, quite happy to be away from home.
    "ACK!" Duo almost fell over, "Meiran!?" He looked at the girl.
    "Yep. Thank you so so so much for letting me come." She let go, grinning happily, "I hid the address book so even if Daddy finds out he won't be able to call anytime soon since he doesn't have anybody's phone number memorized."
    "Smart girl! Let's go. I'm sure Hilde has something to say to me again. And probably you too." Duo sweatdropped
    "... Did I get you in trouble?" Meiran sweatdropped slightly.
    "To say the least."

        Hilde paced in front of Duo and Meiran who both wore similar looks of despair on their faces.
    "-but I suppose since you're already here you can stay." Hilde finally ended her lecture.
    "Thanks, Aunt Hilde!" Meiran went to put her suitcase away in the guest room. Duo eyed Hilde, who, once Meiran was gone, glared at him.
    "I'm sorry already! But she was desperate! Come on! You've seen how Wufei is!"
    "No excuse! You should have-"
    "Been a responsible adult, yadda yadda. I know..." Duo rolled his eyes, "I'm gonna go ask her if she wants to help me out in the junk yard, unless you object." Duo made a face.
    "She can earn her keep. Go ahead." Hilde had kind of turned into the responsible adult of the two since they had gotten married 18 years ago. Duo.... hadn't.

        It was about a week before Wufei finally found the address book hidden in the rose bushes. He picked up the phone. His guess was Duo.

        "Hello?" Hilde picked up the phone.
    "Is Duo there?" Oh dear, it was Wufei. She could tell by the tone. He didn't sound happy. Hilde smiled a bit.
    "I'll go get him...." She opened a window and yelled out, "DUO!!!! PHONE!"
    Duo emerged shortly after the shout and came in.
    "Who is it?" He blinked, a feeling of dread sinking into him from the look on Hilde's face.
    "Just Wufei....." She handed him the phone.
    "... sh*t." Duo held the phone to his ear, "Hello?"
    "WHERE IS MY DAUGHTER, MAXWELL!?" Duo held the phone at arm's length and could still clearly hear Wufei. Once the yelling stopped Duo answered.
    "Don't know..." He looked around. Nope. He wasn't sure where she was out in the scrap area, so he wasn't actually lying.
    "Have you seen her?" Wufei had since calmed down a bit.
    "Um... nope." He looked around. Nope! He hadn't seen her half the morning and Wufei wasn't being specific anyways.
    ".... Is she there?" Wufei demanded.
    Duo looked around again. Nope! She wasn't in the room.  "No...."
    "The truth, Maxwell. Have you seen her?"
    "Couple years ago when we all got together. Yeah. How is she doing?"
    "Eh! Um... Wufei-" *click* Wufei had hung up. Sh*t.
    Meiran came in and saw the look of panic on Duo's face.
    "Good timing... Otherwise I'd have had to actually lie to yer old man."
    "Daddy called?" Meiran blinked. F*ck.
    "Yep. He's on his way because he doesn't believe me." Duo pouted for a moment.
    "I'm outta here, thanks, I love you all, good bye!" Meiran zoomed up stairs, backed her things, took a fast shower, and made tracks for the spaceport.

        About an hour later she was staring out the window of a shuttle. She picked up the in-flight phone and pulled out her list of phone numbers. She picked a number and dialed.
    "Hi! Uncle Quatre-?"

Continued in Gundam Wing: A New Era, Episode 3:
"Sneaky Games"