Episode 22:
Red In the Morning

        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.

        Shino recovers from his bout with ZERO and realizes what a STUPID move that was on his part. Trowa and Tiffany are on their way to Earth still, lacking the fuel to make it back to Mars (Authors: We haven't gotten everyone on the same time schedule yet, so time is still kinda fooky.) while Wufei has surprisingly recovered from his amnesia and successfully destroyed somebody's motorcycle. Meanwhile, things are stirring amidst the Senate...

        Sidra sat at the vid-comm, speaking with her father once more.
    "Tiana's gonna head to that Senate meeting, and nothing is gonna stop her. We all tried to talk her out of it. Think it's a good idea-?"
    Milliardo looked thoughtful for a moment before answering.
    "It's not a bad one."
    "Uh... What are you planning, Dad?" Sidra raised an eyebrow.
    "I hate to get you involved like this-" Milliardo sighed.
    "I'm already involved. Just tell me what you're planning." Sidra interrupted.
    "I have no way of knowing what's going on at those meetings, since Mars has never had an ambassador before."
    "And if anything ever came up you could always call Aunt Relena..."
    "....." Milliardo paused, "Yes. Now, what I want you to do is to attend those meetings, preferably without them knowing you're my daughter."
    "If they know you're there, they'll watch what they say. If they don't know it's you, they'll be more 'honest'. You should be able to get in with Tiana as a body guard. She's probably going to need one."
    "Shino's trying to convince Lady Une to give him that duty." Sidra noted dryly.
    "Well go with them."
    "Right," Sidra sighed, "Looks like Roku's gonna make her big reappearance."
    "Sidra, I'm sorry-"
    "There's no point in apologizing. It's gotta be done anyway, so there's no point."

        "I can't believe you're coming. Looking like... that." Shino sighed and looked at Sidra's newly dark purple hair, pulled up into a high pony tail. She was clad in a borrowed Preventers uniform with a forged badge and sunglasses.
    "You're here your own business, I'm here on mine."
    "More like your father's."
    "Shush, and remember. Roku Seks."
    "....." Shino sweatdropped.
    "It's a lot less obvious than Roku Merquise!" Sidra hissed under her breath. Tiana blinked, then started towards the Senate building.
    "It's going to start without us if you two don't hurry up." Tiana glanced over her shoulder at her two body guards, wondering how she'd ended up with them.

        Senator Perth addressed the gathering first, opening with why Mars couldn't be trusted. A current favorite topic amidst some in the Senate.
    "Governor Milliardo violated the terms of the agreement that allows his defense force. It was agreed he could maintain it so long as only pre-existing mobile suit designs were used! He has Gundams! And not just the old Operation Meteor Gundams, which could be used as a loop hole regarding the agreement, but new designs!"
    Murmurs of agreement.
    "What if it has to do with this Project Eros we've heard various reports on?" Senator Ashford popped up with. Roku narrowed her eyes behind her glasses.
    "Various sources-"
    "Your sources are all paranoid fanatics, who also believe Elvis is still alive." Senator Zosia kindly pointed out to her peer.
    "What else is on our agenda?" President Shanie (formerly Vice President), inquired.
    "Terrorist attacks, the assassination of Vice Foreign Minister Relena Yuy, and some various other issues regarding budget as well."
    Tiana cringed slightly at the mention of the assassination. It still stood out vividly in her mind not three days afterwards.
    "All right then. Let's address the terrorist issues. What are the reports?"
    "According to reports most of the attacks are occurring in the Middle East areas and former China, though it seems to be spreading into Africa." Senator Caedmon answered, "The Preventers have been unable to put some of the revolts down."
    "What are some of the exact causes of these events?"
    "Dissatisfaction with the Senate, religion, and ethnic differences seem to be the most pronounced causes."
    "Shouldn't we have Commander Lady Une of the Preventers here? She is after all, heavily involved with anti-terrorist work." Senator Zosia asked, slightly sarcastic at the end.
    "I believe so, which is why we ought to address this issue at a later date and focus more on the Mars issue-"
    "Mars can wait!" Senator Zosia snapped at Perth, "They haven't done anything else besides build mobile suits, and those have only been employed against the Venus Military."
    "But those suits could possibly pose an even bigger threat than Venus! Remember what the Gundams did in A.C. 195!" Senator Ashford spoke up, "Do we really want to risk that again?"
    Murmurs once again. Tiana stood up, which drew attention in surprise.
    "Mars isn't the one attacking you! Why are you all discussing it??"
    No one answered and continued their murmuring. Tiana sat back down, annoyed slightly. Roku crossed her arms and spat a curse under her breath.
    Shino nodded slightly and whispered to her. "That's New Romafellar for you. All talk and no sense."

        "This is Mars shuttle number one-seven-six, requesting permission to make an emergency landing. We're almost out of fuel and this is the closest port we could reach."
    "Mars?" The comm crackled in reply, "Aren't you coming at the wrong angle to have been from Mars??"
    "We escaped from Venus." Trowa replied flatly. Tiffany sighed.
    "We're not going to make it in." She rolled her eyes.
    "Um....? Venus? 'Escaped'?? What are you talking about?" The control tower personnel was, to say the least, confused, "Hold on while I get the head of security!"
    "Fine. It will be 15 more minutes before we arrive." Trowa replied, then waited.
    A few minutes later, the comm crackled.
    "You're cleared to land, but we require identification as to who you are. We're letting you in solely based on rumors of a kidnapping on Mars."
    "It ain't rumor." Tiffany snapped, "Tiffany Geslacht, of the PMS, and I WAS kidnapped."
    "Trowa Barton," Trowa glanced at Tiffany, "It was your own fault."
    "....." Tiffany scowled at Trowa, using his famous line of silence on him.
    "All right. Do you need any assistance?"
    "That won't be necessary. Just have crews on stand by in case we crash."
    "CRASH!?" The comm and Tiffany replied.
    "We're basically out of fuel. We're going to have to coast in." Trowa replied, unperturbed by the concept.
    Tiffany shook her head and sat down. If we die, I'm gonna kill him. For allllll eternity. To say the least, Tiffany was still a bit cranky from her stay on Venus.
    The landing was a bit rough (though much better than the take off the rest of the PMS had made on Venus), though everything went smoothly.

        "What ya want?" Siduri blinked, plopping down in one of the chairs in his mother's office. Noin stood up.
    "Your father and I were discussing some things, and we've reached a conclusion, as hard as it was."
    "Um? This isn't anything bad, is it?" Siduri sweatdropped, looking from one parent to the other.
    "Since 'Roku' left, you've, surprisingly, proven yourself to an excellent pilot, scores topped only by Roku's scores."
    "... And 'Roku' has the Tallgeese. Where are you goin' with this?"
    "As I'm sure you, Mr. Listen In At The Hangar, are aware of, Epyon's redesign is complete-"
    "OH!!! I get to pilot it!?" Siduri jumped up excitedly.
    "... No." Milliardo replied flatly.
    "... bummer...." Siduri sat back down, "I'm expelled?"
    "No." Noin answered, trying to keep her tone level.
    "Then what is it?" Siduri sulked, tipping his chair back on two legs.
    "I'll be piloting Epyon II-"
    "Yeah yeah, so I figured."
    "-You'll be piloting the Star-Streak."
    "WHAT!?!?" Siduri's chair fell over backwards, taking him with it, "OW! CRAP!" He picked himself up while Noin snickered at his antics.
    "No way! Really!? This isn't some cruel joke!? I remember one April Fool's day once that you-"
    "Unfortunately, YES, REALLY." Milliardo mimicked his son's tone.

        After thorough interrogation by security, Tiffany and Trowa were released from custody at the spaceport.
    "So now what?" Tiffany asked of her fairly silent companion.
    "Catherine should be here with the circus if she's stuck to the schedule." Trowa noted.
    "Ooh..." Tiffany blinked, "So are you going to tell her-?"
    "... Let's go." Trowa stated, deftly changing the subject. Tiffany shook her head and followed after him.

        Catherine heard footsteps outside, followed shortly by a grumble from one of the lions. Assuming some one had wandered out to the cages without permission, she headed outside to let them have it.
    "What's going on!?" Catherine demanded, stepping out and addressing an albino woman, who turned around.
    "Um..." Tiffany blinked and pointed over at Trowa, who was kneeling by the cage and and stroking the lion through the bars. Catherine glanced over.
    "...Trowa! Where have you been!?" She exclaimed, instantly recognizing the pilot. He stood up and turned to face her.
    "Rescuing her." He pointed over at Tiffany, who sweatdropped slightly.
    "... hi." Tiffany waved slightly.
    "And she is-?" Catherine raised an eyebrow and looked at the two.
    "Tiffany Geslacht." Tiffany introduced herself. So this is his sister-?
    "Catherine Bloom." Catherine did likewise, then turned her attention to Trowa, "So exactly where have you been besides rescuing people?? I talked with Quatre and he said you left for Earth, just sort of disappearing! Couldn't you have told me? I was worried about you!" Catherine hugged Trowa. Tiffany watched the display with mild amusement. Catherine certainly acted like an older sister.
    "I had to go to Venus-"
    "WHAT!?" Catherine let go and stared at Trowa, "Trowa! Do you realize how dangerous that was?"
    "I believe I already told him it was a stupid move when he showed up." Tiffany stated dryly. Trowa glanced at her.
    "So what exactly were YOU doing on Venus?" Catherine looked over at Tiffany.
    "Not much... " Tiffany sweatdropped slightly. Having talked with Trowa before arriving about Catherine, she'd decided it might not be the best idea to say she built Gundams.
    "... All right..." Catherine glanced at Trowa, wondering if either of the two were hiding something. "Your trailer is over there. I've got work to do. We've got a performance tonight and we still have to finish setting up. If you're up to it, we could really use you, Trowa."
    Trowa nodded and head off towards his trailer. Tiffany blinked and followed after him, feeling rather lost in these new surroundings. She quickened her pace to catch up to him.
    "Aren't you going to tell her??" Tiffany whispered.
    "Don't you think she has a right to know?"
    "She thinks her brother, YOU, are DEAD!" Tiffany kept pace with him to his trailer.
    "God damnit, Trowa!" Tiffany hissed, "You think you can just go back to not answering me?"
    "Look," Trowa opened the door and turned to look at her, "I don't know yet."
    "Coulda said that in the first place." Tiffany leaned against the trailer and glared slightly, "Ignoring me doesn't work. Or hadn't you noticed?"
    "I noticed."
    "Well, I'm heading out." Tiffany stood up straight and started off.
    "Where are you going?"
    "To find something to DRINK!" She grinned, "I haven't had a decent alcoholic beverage in MONTHS! See ya later!" Tiffany continued on her way, heading off in search of something alcoholic to down.

        Catherine stopped Trowa after the show, much to his surprise.
    "Hey, about that woman, Tiffany."
    "What about her?" Trowa blinked, surprised that Tiffany was the topic of discussion.
    "Well... If she was just some person, you wouldn't have gone to Venus after her. Which means she's something special, right?"
    "Is she your girlfriend?" Catherine pressed the issue.
    "....." Trowa was rapidly finding he wasn't having a whole lot of luck with his trademark line of silence.
    "Well? If that isn't it, why'd you risk your life going to Venus for her?" Catherine nudged Trowa, "You can tell me."
    "... If I knew, I would tell you, Cathy." Trowa looked at her.
    "If you don't know now, after everything you had to have gone through for her- If you don't know, take her out to dinner or something. I can tell you like her!" Catherine winked. Trowa looked, to say the least, surprised, though the clown mask handily helped conceal some of it.
    "How... could you tell?" He sounded rather confused. Catherine winked again.
    "Big sisters have a way of knowing these things." With that, she headed off, leaving a baffled Trowa in her wake.
    He headed out and spotted Tiffany, much to his surprise yet again (Authors: Today is just full of surprises for the Uni-Banged One, isn't it?).
    "What are you doing out here so late?" He walked over.
    "Enjoying the fact I can be out here." Tiffany glanced up, "... Um."
    "....?" Trowa inquired.
    "..... That. The mask. Eesh. That thing's unnerving. It's even worse on a person than it is on a Gundam!"
    "... Sorry." Trowa removed the offending half-clown mask, noting the PMS founder had found herself something alcoholic to drown her previous stress in.
    "Why don't ya sit down?" Tiffany resumed staring at her bottle of wine. Not knowing what else to do, Trowa obliged.
    "So what are you doing out here?"
    "Drinking, obviously." Tiffany held up the bottle, "Care for a sip? Red, A.C. 175 Vintage. Good year for red wine. Bad year for politics."
    "No thank you. So you're a wine critic?"
    "Nah, I've just had it before. First drink I ever had." Tiffany made a slight face, as if taking a moment to remember something.
    "When was that?" Trowa briefly pondered if she'd have been at the LEGAL drinking age, given her fondness of drink and the company she kept.
    "When I was 21, in A.C. 202. As soon as legally possible, in other words, right on my birthday." Tiffany glanced at Trowa, "It was interesting. AND NO, I didn't end up totally hung over, like SOMEONE I know."
    "....." Trowa replied to that, "So what do you mean it was interesting?" For once, he was prying into her life, rather than it being the other way around.
    "Well, my old boyfriend-"
    "Boyfriend?" Trowa interrupted.
    "Don't tell me you're jealous," Tiffany smiled, "Anyways, he was my high school sweetheart and on my birthday he took me out to dinner. Which is where I tried this wine, and is why I know it's good. Well, after dinner, he went the whole nine yards. Got down on one knee, pulled out a little ring box, a nice mushy speech to go with it."
    "So he proposed?"
    "What did you tell him?" As if the answer wasn't obvious.
    "... As if the answer isn't obvious." Tiffany held up her left hand, "You see a ring on here?"
    "... No."
    "Well, there you go. I told him no. He wanted me to move somewhere with him, but that would mean dropping out of grad school, which I wasn't willing to do. He was too embarrassed to return the ring, so I got to keep it, but I ended up pawning it off to help pay for college."
    "Oh." There wasn't much else to say to that.
    "Any other questions?" Tiffany took a sip from her bottle of wine, "Might not have another chance to ask them. I'm a bit tipsy right now."
    Trowa looked over at the albino woman, debating. Maybe the rest of the PMS were right about some things. Even Kwannon Yokoshima seemed to have caught on to it. Even Catherine, and she had only just met Tiffany. I suppose I could ask her... It isn't like I've got anything to lose in doing so...
    "All right then... How do you... feel?" Trowa managed, not quite sure how to phrase his question. Tiffany blinked.
    "'How do I feel?' All things considered, not bad."
    "... That wasn't what I meant." It was hard to tell, but Trowa seemed to have acquired a slight... blush, Tiffany's oblivious answer not helping.
    "Eh?" Tiffany looked over at Trowa, "Then what do you mean?" Her slightly alcohol clouded mind hadn't picked up on it.
    "I... well... I mean..." Trowa mentally slapped himself a few times for stammering. This wasn't going as intended. "I mean... how do you feel... about us- I mean, me or...." Trowa cursed under his breath. Tiffany chuckled and set her wine down.
    "Surprised you asked." She shifted so she was facing him, "Really wanna know?"
    Trowa managed to nod, wondering just what Tiffany was going to do. She was awfully close now. He didn't have much time to think about it.

        Catherine peered out from the tent, watching as Tiffany, to put it mildly, kissed the clown like he'd never been kissed before. Which, he hadn't. She smiled and stopped watching the two, happy that her 'little brother' seemed to have finally found someone.

        "Maybe the Preventers should start using the Gryphon suits to control terrorist activity?" Senator Neta suggested to the rest of those present. Shino and Roku were both hard pressed to keep from letting these idiots have it. Tiana, didn't.
    "Aren't those suits solely for the purpose of battling the Venus Military if they attack!?" The green-eyed girl raised her voice, "There's a fine line between terrorist control and oppression!" She couldn't possibly imagine using mobile suits for something like that. It was overkill.
    Neta glared momentarily at the girl, then continued.
    "If we show that we have the power to stop them, less of them will pop up causing problems and we can focus on more important issues."
    President Shanie nodded slightly.
    "Maybe the Preventers organization needs to be re-worked to fit the needs."

Continued in Gundam Wing: A New Era, Episode 23:
"Inner Turmoil"