Sorrow and Heartache
Nimeesha Pembroke's plan has been put into action completely, Relena Yuy is dead. If this causes the chain of events she has predicted, the World Nation will fall apart. The year is After Colony 216, and the 20 years have peace have been shattered.
The FalconWing, Ariana's "pet project" has been stolen by her older brother, Shino, who plans to obtain vengeance for his mother's assassination and is heading for Venus, however, Sidra in the Tallgeese has intercepted him. Heero and Ariana are in hot pursuit after "borrowing" some of the Preventers' Gryphon suits. Kwannon has returned safely to Venus, taking Trowa with her to where Tiffany is still held on Venus.
"You idiot! Do you honestly
think ONE Gundam is going to be able to get through Venus' presumed defenses!?
Not even your FATHER could do something like that and he's a proper Gundam
pilot! Hell, Tiana said you wouldn't be able to get through! She lives
there! She'd know!!" Sidra snapped at her eldest cousin.
"I'll do it some how! Get out of my way already!" The FalconWing tried to dodge around the Tallgeese, but Sidra was too fast and remained resolutely in the way, "Damnit, Sidra! You're making me waste fuel!"
"Good! Maybe you'll have some time to think while you're lost in space on an empty tank!" Sidra countered, "You should hear yourself! You're practically hysterical! A hysterical pilot has even less a chance than a pilot who has full possession of his wits!"
Two Gryphons arrived on the scene, having ditched their carrier sometime ago.
"Yoshino." Heero came on the comm, "Calm down."
"Yeah, Shino! Calm down! That thing has the ZERO system!" Ariana came on comm.
"THE ZERO SYSTEM!?" Sidra exclaimed in surprise. She had heard things about THAT device. None of them too good.
"I thought it was a flight data recorder..." Ariana whimpered, "It was pretty banged up too."
"So it has a DAMAGED ZERO SYSTEM!?" Sidra blocked the FalconWing as it attempted to dodge again.
Heero closed in on the Gundam from above.
"Yoshino." Heero growled, trying to pull Daddy Rank on his son. The FalconWing stopped moving.
Shino sat the cockpit, head bowed, weighing his options and wondering a bit. How did they get two Gryphons... and what's Ariana doing out here? She shouldn't be involved in this. It's bad enough she built this suit. ... So it has the ZERO system, huh? Doesn't that increase a pilot's reaction time and abilities to super-human levels? Then I might have a better chance of getting to Venus, and getting through their defenses. But if it's damaged... ... ... ... I have to try.
"Shino! Are you listening to us!?" Ariana approached from below. Aw man, FalconWing responds a lot better than this thing. Pfft.
"I'm not coming back. I'm going to try for Venus."
"You're gonna get KILLED, stupid! If not by the Venus guys, then by the 'psycho system'! Use your head! We just lost Mom, I don't wanna lose you too!" The end of Ariana's statement was distinctively pleading and there was strain in her voice.
"No. Go home, Ari." Shino said flatly, with a dangerous tone usually used only by Heero (like father like son.).
"No!" Ariana replied instantly, "YOU GO HOME! Or I'll never forgive you! Especially if you get killed for being so stupid!" Ariana attempted the 'little sister threat', after all, it had worked before.
"... Sorry, Ari. That's not going to work. I don't want to have to fight you guys, and you know I won't, but if this thing kicks in..."
"If that 'thing' kicks in, we'll have to fight you." Heero declared, "We're in your way. We're the enemy, and that's what the ZERO would tell you."
"I've heard about the ZERO from my dad. According to him, it was hard enough for a pilot in full possession of his head to use it. And you're mentally unbalanced right now. It'd be like what happened to Uncle Quatre all over again. I'm sure you've heard about it before, right, Shino? And what happened to Uncle Trowa and to a couple of colonies because of it?"
"... yes." Shino admitted. The FalconWing switched from bird mode to mobile suit mode. Either he was surrendering or getting ready to fight.
"Yoshino-" Heero was interrupted as some one else got on the line.
"Yoshino Yuy!" Tiana's voice and image appeared on the screen, "You stop it now!"
Shino recoiled in surprise.
"Do you think this is what your mother would want!?" The girl shouted at him.
"... You just want me to stop because it's your mother I'm going after."
"AND IF YOU'D KNOWN IN ADVANCE THAT OUR MOM WAS GONNA GET KILLED, YOU WOULDN'T TRY TO STOP IT!?!" Ariana screamed at her brother over the comm.
"I don't want to see anyone, ANYONE else I know getting killed because of this stupid war!" Tiana cried out over the comm, "and that's exactly what it is! Stupid!"
"Well then I'm going to have to take out its source!" FalconWing ignited its beam sabre, "And if you guys don't get out of my way..." Shino warned.
"Are you really going to try and put Tiana through what you and Ariana are going through!?" Sidra snarled, the Tallgeese also ignited a beam sabre and took a defensive stance.
"Shino! Sidra!" Ariana shouted, "Don't fight!!"
"OUT OF MY WAY!!" FalconWing's boosters flared to life and the suit surged forward, it's target, the Tallgeese, with its beam sabre.
However, it was a Gryphon it crossed beam sabres with, much to Sidra's surprise.
"Uncle Heero!?" She gasped.
"Yoshino!" Heero snapped at his son, while wrestling with the controls. I already failed to protect Relena for Milliardo, I can't let his daughter be killed too.
The cockpit seemed to suddenly flare full of gold-yellow static around Shino.
"What the-!?" The FalconWing backed off in surprise and Heero swore violently on the comm.
"What's going on!?" Tiana had no way of knowing what was happening, not being present at the site of the suits.
Suddenly it seemed so
clear. FalconWing surged forward and tangled sabres with the Gryphon in
its way. While the sabres were locked together, Shino hit the button for
the twin buster rifle. The offending Gryphon was vaporized in a brilliant
blast of white-blue energy. One down, two to go.
While the enemy pilots screamed at him to stop, he fired at the other Gryphon.
"Shino-!!!" The pilot was cut off as the suit exploded violently. Just the Tallgeese left. I'm going to make it to Venus! He thought, taking aim. He fired.
The white suit effortlessly dodged out of the way. He'd anticipated that and quickly fired a second shot right into Tallgeese's flight path.
It couldn't stop in time.
"Yoshino! If you go through with this you'll be no better than Kwannon or my mother!" Tiana pleaded, having no understanding of the ZERO system or its effects on the mind.
He felt no remorse. He was on a mission for vengeance. Nothing would stop him. Not even his own father. All that mattered was carrying out his vengeance.
Venus was almost within reach. Shino could see its greenish cloud filled atmosphere. It wouldn't be long now. All he had to do was get past the army of mobile suits arrayed against him in front of the green sphere. He jumped into battle.
Something loomed behind him while he was destroying his enemies. All at once there was a flurry of laser fire from behind. Spinning around he saw it was coming from a large space battleship, easily twice the size of Libra. The shots were easy enough to dodge with his heightened abilities.
Kwannon was on that ship.
He would have to destroy it to take his vengeance on the assassin. FalconWing sped towards the ship, dodging the barrage of firepower. So close... so close. Something on the ship leapt to life, and even with his heightened senses, he was unable to dodge the beam cannon's gargantuan shot.
It all seemed to happen in slow motion, the cockpit peeling away in the flames, leaving him vulnerable to the cold void of space. And then searing pain as FalconWing exploded in a blinding fireball.
Shino rammed back into reality with a jolt.
It was all a hallucination. The FalconWing hadn't moved a bit. Heero, Sidra, and Ariana were still gathered around, waiting for his next move, Tiana's face still on one of the screens, looking pale with fright. Nothing had changed.
The stray wire poked out from behind the seat, having come loose some how. Shino stared at it.
"Yoshino? Are you all right?" Tiana blinked.
"Th-that was..." Shino fell unconscious in the cockpit.
"..... He passed out." Heero noted, "It was too much for him."
"Well let's get him home before he wakes up!" the Tallgeese put away its beam sabre and grabbed ahold of the FalconWing cautiously, "I'm assuming you two have a carrier?"
"Yeah. It's parked by MO-II." Heero deactivated his Gryphon's sabre.
"Is Shino going to be okay??" Ariana moved in to help haul the FalconWing to the carrier.
"He should be. Once he has time to recover." Heero stated, recalling his first experience with the ZERO.
Wufei paced around the house.
With Sally at work on patrol and Meiran having finally returned to school
(under threat of being expelled for so many absences) there was little
else to do besides wander through his house and try to remember. He'd already
been through the few photo albums several times, yet still, every time,
the faces seemed unfamiliar. The doctors had said he should regain his
memory, but he hadn't yet. Why?
He sat down and stared at the two swords that hung above the fireplace. Meiran had told him the blue tachi was hers, and that he'd given it to her. Yet he didn't remember. The other, was of course, his katana, yet any memories of it escaped him. Meiran had specifically told him to leave the swords alone and that they were sharp. Very sharp. I should know how to use that sword... I should. But I don't... Damnit... It was maddening knowing, but not knowing, who he was and how he acted. He didn't even know his wife! Or his daughter! He didn't even remember what had caused his amnesia, though he had been told, he did not recall it. Even Meiran's last words before it happened escaped his mind and she refused to repeat them.
Wufei stood back up and walked over to look at the swords more carefully. ... If I knew how to use this before, I can learn again. He reached up and plucked the katana from the wall, unsheathing it and studying it carefully. It was sharp. Very sharp.
Meiran sighed, slightly annoyed
at all the make up work that had been piled on her by her teachers, who
could not grasp the situation she was in. She opened the front door and
walked in, closed the door, turned, and stopped. Her backpack falling from
her hand with a dull thud.
Wufei sat on the floor, sword beside him, holding his left arm. There was blood on the sword.
"Daddy!?" Meiran ran over, "Daddy! What happened?" She looked at her father, whose eyes were shut tight, as if he was trying to remember something, or perhaps to hold back tears.
"Daddy! Answer me! What's wrong!?"
"I can't remember!!" Wufei suddenly shouted, surprising his daughter. An uneasy silence fell over the two.
"... You said I taught you how to use a sword, right?" Wufei looked at Meiran, who nodded slightly, still stunned by the outburst.
"... Daddy, I should get you to a doctor to have that looked at. Come on..." Meiran offered to help him up.
"... Teach me."
"Teach me how to use my sword!" Wufei demanded, emotions getting the better of him, as evidenced by the tears that finally spilled over.
"Daddy! Your arm! It's bleeding!!" Meiran protested.
"You can teach me, can't you!?" Wufei demanded once more.
"Y-yeah... But at least let me bandage your arm, Daddy!" Meiran relented. Wufei nodded and allowed her to help him up.
Sally was quite surprised
when she returned home. Rather than being inside catching up on school
work, Meiran was out front, with Wufei. Both were holding bokkens that
hadn't been used in years. She went inside and watched silently from the
window as Meiran shouted instructions to her father. It seems like just
yesterday he was the one shouting sword instructions to her. At least they're
getting along again... Sally watched the two battle back and forth
across the lawn, stopping only when Meiran saw fit to correct some mistake
made by Wufei verbally, rather than by bringing her bokken down on him.
Sally sighed. She'd have to treat those bruises. I don't even want to
ask about his arm... What have those two been up to all day?
Wufei backed away as Meiran advanced, not letting up.
"Just blocking won't get you anywhere!" The raven haired girl snapped, "You have to attack!!"
Wufei spotted an opening and did just that, scoring a hit on Meiran's arm, which would leave a nice bruise. The two broke away, pausing by some unseen signal.
"How was that for an attack?" Wufei taunted. Meiran blinked for a moment.
"... Good." She rubbed her arm where the bokken hit and smiled.
"Why don't you get some rest?"
Trowa observed the busily working albino. Tiffany glanced over her shoulder
"In case you HAVEN'T noticed, my life is kind of at stake here. I work, I live. I don't, I doubt they'll have any problems executing me for attempted murder!" Tiffany returned to work. She'd been awfully snappy since Trowa arrived and with fairly good reason. He was a terrible roommate and had been nagging on her to take a break from her laptop and drawing board.
"You've already designed three suits for them. I don't think they'll kill you for getting a full nights sleep."
"I don't think I CAN get a full nights sleep. Not a restful one anyways." Tiffany muttered, pencil breaking, "Damnit!"
"You can at least try."
"What I'm trying to do is work, Trowa." Tiffany grabbed a new pencil, "I'm sure you mean well, but you're just making it more difficult for me to finish this design."
Trowa walked over and looked at the drawing board and the design-in-progress lying on it.
"... If you submit that design to them, they just might execute you."
"What?? What's wrong with it? Who made YOU the expert!?" Tiffany twitched, stress level incredibly high.
"... Their pilots would be sitting ducks without optics, assuming they had a cockpit to be a sitting duck in." Trowa pointed out.
"... I was going to get to that in a bit." Tiffany defended lamely, slumping.
"....." Trowa raised an eyebrow.
"I was! Now go away. Go to the other side of the room or something." Tiffany made a shooing motion. Trowa shrugged and walked away.
And silence returned to its favorite spot- over Tiffany and Trowa. The silence was shortly broken by soft snoring. Trowa looked over at the drawing board. It was currently serving the vital purpose of being a pillow, and not a very soft one at that.
The door opening further disturbed the silence and awoke Tiffany.
"Eh-?" She opened an eye, not really caring. Trowa tensed, waiting for an opportunity.
It was Kwannon Yokoshima, and the door closed behind her.
"Coming unguarded? That's not a smart move." Trowa noted. Kwannon looked over at the pilot.
"There's guards outside the door, and killing, or even harming me, would do you both no good at all. While killing Nimeesha would rally the people of Venus, my death would rally the soldiers. Something I doubt you want."
"So what do you want? The designs aren't finished yet." Tiffany mumbled and sat up, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
"I've decided you aren't needed any more." Kwannon leaned against the door.
"Great... so I'm going to be shot now?" Tiffany mumbled again, voice dripping with sarcasm.
"Well if that's what you want I'm sure it can be arranged." Kwannon retorted.
"What do you mean then?" Trowa raised an eyebrow.
"What I mean is I am going to allow you to leave." Kwannon studied Trowa to see his reaction. He looked a bit confused, and Tiffany was rather surprised.
"... Does the Governess know about this?" Trowa inquired.
"I don't think that's important." Kwannon's eye narrowed, "You both want to escape, don't you? I'm relatively sure you came here to get her out of here, Trowa Barton."
"....." Trowa replied.
"She's served plenty use for us already, and I see no need to detain her any longer-"
"So the Governess doesn't know." Trowa stated.
"... No, Nimeesha does not. And it will be better that way. I can't just let you out, however, I can arrange to make escape easier."
"... I can understand why you might let me go..." Tiffany began, "But Trowa, isn't he one of your enemies? What's the catch, or is this some kind of trap to give you people a greater reason to kill us?" Tiffany frowned at the Venus official.
"At this point in time, I'd say he's no threat to us. With the plans set in motion, he might not even be a threat with his Gundam. However, I'm not going to disclose our plans to you."
"That's not much of an answer." Trowa noted.
"... I may be missing one eye, but I'm not totally blinded." Kwannon closed her good eye, "But does it really matter why I'm letting you both go? But if you must know, I see no reason or need to detain or kill either of you. It won't effect the state of Venus and its people, now will it?"
"I think I've done more than enough killing in this war. I'd like to avoid it if possible. So do you want to know the escape plan, or should I just leave you here to design... "Kwannon walked over and looked at the drawing board, "... suits with upside down v-fins blocking the nonexistent optics?"
"....." Tiffany sweatdropped slightly.
"And where's the cockpit?" Kwannon blinked, "Never mind. It seems your skills are doing down hill the longer you stay here."
Trowa looked over at Tiffany with a look that clearly stated 'I told you so.'
"So what's this plan?" Back to the business at hand.
"I can't help you much, but tonight there will be no guard stationed at the door. The Mars shuttle is at a nearby civilian spaceport. Wearing that Venus Military jacket, you should have little problem getting to it. The people of Venus have high respect for our soldiers. Take advantage of that."
"So how do we get out of here, you going to leave the door unlocked?" Tiffany leaned on her 'design'.
"That would be just a little too suspicious. However, as you can see, this is a normal room with a normal door."
"That happens to have a dead bolt on the outside." Tiffany rolled her eyes. Kwannon pulled a screwdriver out of her vest.
"You're smart. Figure something out."
"Eh...?" Tiffany looked at it. The Japanese woman left, the door locking behind her. They could hear her ordering the guards to a different post.
"....." Tiffany looked at the screwdriver, the door, the screwdriver, the door, etc, a few times.
"Have you figured out how to open the door with just the screwdriver?"
"The door hinges." Tiffany stood up and walked over to the door.
"Hm?" Trowa blinked, not following the PMS founder's train of thought.
"We can unscrew the hinges with the screwdriver and take the door out. And that covers Kwannon's rear because I could have easily filched a screwdriver from the hangar, and you could easily have taken out any guards..." Tiffany studied to the door, "So in conclusion... We can get out of here any time now. But first..."
"'But first'?" Trowa inquired.
"I am taking a nap." The albino woman flopped down on her bed, pulled the covers over her head, and promptly went to sleep.
Once out of the base, getting
to the civilian spaceport had been as simple as flagging down a taxi. The
driver didn't even charge them for the trip. Kwannon had been right about
the people fully supporting the military on Venus. Of course, the guards
that had required knocking out would probably be waking up soon, so pursuit
was inevitable. That would be dealt with when it happen.
Even getting to the hangar in which the shuttle was housed had been easy. Trowa simply stated he was bringing a technician to examine the shuttle and the spaceport personnel led the pair right to it, then left.
They quickly boarded the Mars shuttle. Trowa went about preparing the shuttle for take off until he noticed Tiffany staring into the back room, eyes fixed on a wooden crate.
"... Tiffany." Trowa frowned, still no response from the woman. "If you don't sit down and get strapped in, we won't be able to take off. We won't be safe here for long."
Tiffany still didn't respond, eyes still fixed upon the crates that lay in the back room of the shuttle. Trowa got up and walked over.
"Tiffany! Snap out of it." Trowa ordered shaking Tiffany by her shoulders, thus bringing her back to her senses.
"R-right..." Tiffany quickly shut the door to the back room and took her seat.
"Um... The Martian shuttle
that the PMS members were brought in is taking off." A soldier reported
to Kwannon, "And it isn't cleared to."
"Ma'am! The prisoners have escaped!" Another soldier ran in, a very nastly looking lump on his head due to having been knocked out earlier.
"I see..." Kwannon mused.
"We've informed the Governess!"
"....." Kwannon hid a look of annoyance. Damnit, she might order an attack. They were supposed to have been out of range before Nimeesha was notified.
"Should we send a pursuit force, Ma'am??"
"... Don't bother. That's one of Mars' high speed shuttles, we don't have anything fast enough to catch them. Especially with the head start they already have."
"Ma'am, couldn't we send forces from one of the colonies to intercept them?"
"I said don't bother. Are you questioning my orders?" Kwannon raised an eyebrow.
Tiffany sighed and leaned
back in her seat.
"... hey." She looked over at Trowa.
"I'm sorry. I was quite a bitch back on Venus to you." Tiffany frowned, "I haven't exactly been myself lately. And, well, we didn't exactly part on the best terms."
"... We don't have enough fuel to make it to Mars." Trowa changed the subject.
"I didn't think we would. So how about that envelope? We're out after all, or are you going to try and delay finding out?"
"....." Trowa took out the envelope. Tiffany walked around behind his seat and peered over his shoulder.
"Whenever you're ready." She prompted. Trowa carefully, if a bit slowly, opened up the envelope, carefully removing the document enclosed. She couldn't see the expression on his face as he read it, but sensed something was amiss.
"... Trowa?" Tiffany blinked, rereading the paper over Trowa's shoulder to see if she had missed something. "Closest match. Name: Catherine Bloom, Age: 37, Sex: Female, Height: 162 cm, Weight: 49 kg, Eyes: Blue, Hair: Brown. Match Percentage: 92%, Possible relation: Sister."
"... Trowa?" Tiffany walked around in front of him, "What is it??"
"... I know her..." Trowa stared at the picture the results included.
"You do?" Tiffany blinked, "Is this a good thing or a bad thing?"
"... All these years... I've been living with her..."
"Eh?" Tiffany blinked again.
"She even mentioned having a little brother... who was persumed killed in a war when he was a baby and she was just a little girl..." Trowa sounded completely and totally shocked. The person who he'd thought of as a sister really was. This was enough of a surprise to overwhelm even him.
"....." Tiffany was at a loss for words.
"... I can't believe I know her and she's..." Trowa whispered, voice uncommonly strained. Something sparkled in the air and caught Tiffany's eye. She noted a few more.
"... Trowa... You're crying..." She looked back over at the Gundam pilot. Trowa didn't answer, but continued to stare at the paper. Tiffany backed up and sat down in her seat.
"I.. I'm sorry..." She watched Trowa, then saw her own tears float out in front of her.
"Duo!" Hilde called from
the house, "Duo!!"
"What-?" Duo ran in from the scrap heap, "What is it, Hilde?"
"The doctor just called! The results from my test are in! I'm due in December!" She announced happily.
"That's great!" Three more months... JUST THREE MORE MONTHS! You can do it, Duo!
"Say... I don't suppose you could get me some tuna, could you?"
"... You don't like tuna, Hilde..." Duo blinked.
"... I want some though. It just sounds really good right now."
"uh...." Duo sweatdropped slightly.
"Please, Duo??" Hilde pleaded.
"All right... I'll go get you some tuna, Hilde." Duo had learned well his lesson. I'm doomed. I'll never make it to December.
"And remember! We have a parenting class tonight!" Hilde shouted after the God of Death as he left the house.
Continued In Gundam Wing: A New Era, Episode 21:
* A bokken is a wooden sword, usually
used for practice.
* For those of you who don't know, in the Episode Zero manga, which, by the way, is official, it is HEAVILY insinuated that Trowa and Catherine are brother and sister. We choose to believe this. Translations of Episode Zero can be found here.