Episode 25:
Musicians of War

        With mistrust planted in the Senate by Kwannon Yokoshima, hearings take to the idea of revenge, violence, and war. Mars governor Milliardo Peacecraft's motives regarding the construction of new Gundams is in question and there is little that can be done to dissuade the Senate. Also, the anti-terrorist organization, the Preventers, is beginning to come under the Senate's fire.

        Dorothy Catalonia has decided to return to the politics of war, writing a letter to Tiana Pembroke, encouraging the girl to continue to speak against the path the Senate is heavily considering to head down. Elsewhere, on Venus, Nimeesha Pembroke has relocated Kwannon Yokoshima to take charge of the mysterious 'Aphrodite' being constructed on Luna 2, one of two large asteroids serving as a moon to the planet. Trowa has finally revealed the DNA test results to Catherine, much to the latter's surprise. Tiana later contacts her mother, explaining the course of action she is going to take- against Nimeesha.

        Tiana dug through her luggage, hastily pulling out her black business suit and a blue tie. She'd slept in, and was in a bit of rush because of it. It'll look rotten if I show up late to this!! She chided herself as she tossed her night gown aside and threw her white blouse on.
    "We've gotta go soon!" Shino knocked on the door, "Are you ready??"
    "Not yet! Just a minute!" Tiana shouted through the door, as she finished buttoning up her shirt.
    "You'd better hurry up, it won't look-"
    "I know it wouldn't look good to show up late! I know!" Tiana frantically threw on the rest of her suit and paused in front the mirror to study herself and run a brush through her pony tail.
    "... hmm..." She fiddled with the red bow in her hair. I always wear this. She noted to herself.
    "Tiana!" Shino knocked again, "We should be leaving now!"
    Tiana lingered in front of the mirror a little longer, then yanked the ribbon out of her hair and left her room, grabbing a set of index cards on her way out.

        "I-I'd like to thank you all for coming today." Tiana took the podium, slightly awed at the amount of people present, "And while I'm sure you'd like to ask me questions, I'd appreciate it if you would wait until I've f-finished speaking."
    "As you know, I am Tiana Pembroke, daughter of Venusian Governess, Nimeesha Pembroke. The woman behind Kwannon Yokoshima's actions on the night of September 10th. Miss Yokoshima left me behind with the Yuys that same night. H-however," She looked down at her neatly written index cards, then back out at the crowd, "I am not here to address those issues. As you also know, I had been attending Senate hearings in Miss Yokoshima's place. Being as the Senate has not heard me out, I am hoping you will. The Senate's discussions have turned to the idea of war. They have become suspicious of the only ally they have. The Mars Sphere, which, unlike the Earth Sphere, has the military power to fight the Venus Sphere. They have looked at their anti-terrorist organization, the Preventers, and are considering making them an army. An army which would justify its existence under the pretext of avenging the late Relena Yuy." Tiana continued, gaining confidence in her speaking, "This is not the action that should be taken. Mrs. Yuy, as an advocate of peace, would not wish her death to cause such foolish actions, I am quite sure of that, though I did not know her for very long. Defensive forces are the only forces needed in the Earth Sphere right now, and I am aware the Preventers have served that purpose well. The Earth does not need to launch an attack. Managed correctly, I believe that with the help of the Mars Defense Force that the World Nation could maintain only defensive forces and eventually wear down the Venus Military."
    "Now... I am aware many of you have come to view me as an enemy, or a spy, or a young girl abandoned by her mother, into the hands of the people who would most likely seek revenge. I am none of those. I am not your enemy. I do not have the tools with which to fight you, or anyone else. I am not a spy. I'm quite sure I'd be dead by now if I was. And I was not abandoned here. It was my own accidental decision that left me here on Earth. I understand that I am not trusted because of my deep connection to Venus. I was one of the first children born there, back when it was still being terraformed. My mother is its governess, and is responsible for the attacks against the World Nation. I cannot make you trust me, but I desire to make you see me for who I am as a person, and not who I am by relation or association." Tiana worked at keeping her voice level, so as not choke on her words, "So today, I disassociate myself from Venus, and denounce Nimeesha Pembroke as my mother."
    After a moment of stunned silence from the press, Tiana spoke again.
    "I'll now take your questions."

        Nimeesha sat at her desk in front of her vid-comm, looking at Kwannon's face on the screen.
    "We were supposed to have launched the attack weeks ago. You aren't meddling with things, are you, Kwannon?" Her green eyes narrowed. She knows better than that.
    "No, Nimeesha. Construction on the Aphrodite is behind. It is an immense project after all, and while we've got full support and staffing from the citizens of our colonies..." Kwannon explained.
    "We're going to have to hold off then and wait for the next pass in May next year. The World Nation will have finished collapsing for sure by then anyways. If we're lucky they may take Mars down with them without us around to fight. All we have to do is keep morale high and keep building up forces. After all, they have no way of knowing what we're up to while we're in the communications black out periods."
    "Indeed. Aphrodite will be complete by then, Nimeesha. I assure you that I have the crews working full time."
    "Good. Just keep them happy and they'll continue working at full speed. Anything else, Kwannon?"
    "No. If there is, I'll be sure to report it to you immediately." Kwannon replied swiftly.
    "Much appreciated." Nimeesha clicked her vid-comm off and turned her chair to stare out her office window. The colonies in the Earth Sphere will probably declare neutrality, but given the Earth's status right now and the predicted collapse of politics they may revert to old habits and try to control their colonies. That may affect the conquest. Assuming that occurs, and it shouldn't be a problem, I can either continue oppression of the colonies or see if they're dumb enough to fall for the same tactic twice. However, I think if the Earth doesn't try to grab control of them it would be in my better interests to let them alone in their neutrality. Unless of course they oppose us once we establish control of the Earth.

        "What are you two whining about??" Stephanie looked up from her beloved Zeta model, on which she still couldn't get the light to work. Her sister, head of finances, was with Jeanie talking to Quatre (aka, that cute guy who paid them.)
    "Why are you leaving??" Jeanie demanded.
    "The colony delegates are getting together to discuss what's going on regarding Earth, and I have to be there." Quatre sweatdropped slightly as he explained. Maybe it had been a bad idea to stop by to say good bye to the lunatics and ask them to take care of Sandrock. (He didn't want it befalling the same fate Altron seemed to have fallen...)
    "No you don't! They'll reach the same decision without you! It's obvious!" Shannon turned SD.
    "Just take care of Sandrock, all right?"
    "Can we paint it pink??" Momoko looked over, just in time to come face to face with an empty water bottle, then a paper fan.
    "NO, NO DA!" Shannon and Jeanie chorused, before returning their attention to the poor pilot.
    "Don't go, Quatrekiiiiinz!" Jeanie glomped on to him, but was pried off by Shannon.
    "You can go only if you remember to pay us hazard pay! Working with Trowa in the area was dangerous, and we all got kidnapped, and Jenna got shot! That wasn't in our contract!!"
    "Hazard pay isn't in your contract either." Quatre reminded the short girls.
    "I'LL TAKE YOU TO COURT OVER IT!" Shannon shouted.
    "Oh that's smart." Jenna noted.
    "....." Shannon sweatdropped.
    "Are you finished?" Quatre had to pry Jeanie off, being as she had latched onto him again.
    "We can't let you go! You're one of the most eligible bachelors in the world!!" Jeanie informed Quatre. (He's rich, he's cute, he's sweet. Who wouldn't want him? ^.~)
    "... I've got a shuttle to catch. If you'll excuse me..." Quatre swiftly made his way to the door and escaped.
    "Who are the other most eligible bachelors?" Kiandra blinked.
    "Heero-" Jenna was quickly smited before she could finish.
    "... Think Trowa is out of the running?" Jeanie grinned. Then promptly got into a cat fight with Shannon regarding Quatre.
    "SO!? HE'S NOT RICH!"
    "That among other things. Remember, I am head of finances for a reason!"
    "NO HE'S MINE!"
    "Um... weren't you guys fighting about Quatre?" Stephanie sweatdropped and looked up from her model, "Not that either of you have a snowball's chance in hell. Not after that display."
    Silence crashed on the heads of Jeanie and Shannon. Silence was then disturbed by very, very loud music. Oddly coming from Star-Streak.
    In one foul blow, Siduri had incapacitated the PMS, who lay twitching on the floor in pain.
    "Like what I added to Star-Streak???" Siduri shouted from the cockpit ledge.
    "... iie..." The reply was lost in the noise.
    "What... did... you do...?" Jenna twitched.
    "Added a 6 disc CD changer! And a surround sound stereo system in the cockpit!"
    "... You'd fight while listening to 'music'?" Momoko sweatdropped.
    "He'd probably open up a comm line with the enemy and incapacitate them with it..." Steph sat up slowly.
    "Music is the ultimate weapon??" Shannon blinked.
    "It worked in Macross." Jenna reminded the group of crazy otaku.

        Lady Une sat patiently waiting for her chance to address the Senate once more. Things weren't looking good, and the proposed new commander for the Preventers was not her idea of a calm, rational person. In fact, Josie Selvaggio, the proposed new commander, reminded the former OZ colonel of an annoying little man with a big nose named Tuborov, only younger and far more under the control of New Romafellar (a term for the Senate quite popular among her colleagues).
    "Venus's orbit will bring it into excellent attacking range! We need to establish forces in time to attack!"
    "I'm not sure we have time for that, Senator Stockard..."
    "Venus is probably planning on attacking us when they come back into range." Selvaggio slipped in, "We need a defense force, to fend them off, and an offensive force to push the war onto into their own turf. We also need it in case Mars tries something, they may attack while we're distracted by Venus. I'd say the Preventers as they are now are not equipped to handle it. They can't even handle the terrorists, so how can we expect them to fend off an army?"
    "Mars isn't our enemy, you idiot." One of the other senators snapped, "Any why didn't Venus attack when they were at closest approach? They've already passed it and haven't even sent one mobile suit."
    "Yet." Perth mumbled.
    "With a little force, the terrorist attacks could easily be dealt with." Selvaggio continued.
    "And just how much force is a 'little force', Mr. Selvaggio? What do you propose? Stepping on them with the Gryphons?" Lady Une had little patience for this fool.
    Selvaggio chuckled slightly, "You have an interesting sense of humor, Lady Une."
    "It wasn't meant to be funny." Lady Une narrowed her eyes slightly.
    "Well I don't suggest stepping on anybody. One show of force should be enough, you see, once an example is made, the rest should be afraid to try anything. Our ancestors operated on that principle for thousands of years."
    "You still haven't specified what type of 'force' you would be using."
    "Well, your methods of infiltrating terrorist factions simply take too long. One display of the Gryphons against any one group should be more than enough."
    Murmurs filled the room as the idea was discussed.
    Selvaggio sat quietly, looking smug. It doesn't really matter what Lady Une says to the Senate. I secured the majority's vote when I contributed to their campaign funds for the next election.

    All was silent in the hangar as Mariemaia disabled the alarms and entered. She knew problems were mounting rapidly for the Preventers, both from the terrorists who were becoming increasingly difficult to deter, and the ever-present threat of Venusian attack. In all the tests on the record, the PNUCU-01's performance seemed to exceed expectations, and if the plans set in motion were to indeed work, every ounce of firepower that could be mustered would be needed, even if it was still only a beta version.
    She parked her wheelchair a safe distance from the suit and rose awkwardly to her feet on her crutches. If any of the Preventers had noticed her fatigue on some days at work, they hadn't yet commented or inquired as to what she had been doing. After several minutes she caught hold of the lift cable and activated the mechanism, hefting herself to the suit's cockpit. Strapping herself in and properly hooking up the control system took another several minutes because she had to proceed carefully, double and triple checking every connection to the uplink headband to make sure it was secure.
    "All right then, everything is hooked up right..." She settled back against the seat, mentally prepping for the bizarre experience that uplinking to the suit was. "All systems green, activate the PNUCU-01 primary control system."
    Mariemaia let out a little gasp that was abruptly cut off as the system came online at her command. Even though she had already tried and tested the suit several times, the sensation still caught her by surprise, the sudden sense of misproportion and the barest whisper of the suit's computers reporting its condition in the back of her mind. Then that first instant of full control, standing upright without effort or discomfort.
    Out of habit, she immediately activated the suit's thermal scanners, and was thoroughly relieved to see that she was the only one up and about in the hangar. Let's get out of here then... With a slight shake of her... well, since she was currently uplinked, the suit's head, she carefully turned around to retrieve the flight pack and slide it onto the suit's back. The one problem with these late night sessions of mine... Mariemaia mused to herself as she cautiously peered outside the hangar doors. ... is that it's very difficult for a mobile suit to step silently.
    Taking each step slowly so as to minimize the multiple-ton mobile suit's footfalls, Mariemaia made her way across the tarmac to where she felt it was safe enough to activate the flight pack and make her escape to continue her practice. I have to master this suit. Aunt Une is going to need all the help she can get. My father was a fairly skilled pilot... I wonder what he would think of a system like this? Mariemaia mused while running through drill sequences she had picked up from some of the technicians during the legitimate practice sessions. It did take considerable getting used to, not only the sense of being so much larger than normal, but also the direct feed of information and additional controls that had to be carefully monitored. It's not the ZERO system, but I doubt very many people could handle the psychological aspects of this form of piloting. It makes the motions far more personal. She had gotten accustomed to the not-quite numbness of the uplink- the suit could detect impacts easily enough, but the armoring was not nearly as sensitive as human skin. Sure, while uplinked, she could check the temperature, wind speed, direction, and so on, but she couldn't feel hot or cold, and the suit's sensors only picked up the sensation of the strongest gusts.
    She practiced into the wee hours of the morning, sneaking back to base to return the suit and return to her quarters for a few hours sleep.

        "They're WHAT?!" Noin stared at the vid-comm in disbelief, sitting back heavily in her office chair.
    Lady Une's image on the screen nodded, expression grim. "The Senate is planning to place Selvaggio in charge of the Preventers. Needless to say, several of our members are dissatisfied with the planned change of leadership. But some of them, mostly the younger members, look forward to it."
    "Let me guess, they've heard the stories about AC 195 and want to be heroes of a war, fighting off the 'bad guys' and getting decorated with meaningless medals?" Noin sighed and shook her head.
    "Basically. And the Senate has been eating up the idea of a Mars invasion during the Venus attack. At this point it seems the Earth Sphere is going to re-militarize. We're waiting to hear from the colony delegates as to their decision." Lady Une looked mildly exasperated.
    "And what about the Preventers opposed to Selvaggio?" Noin prompted.
    "I've overheard rumors they intend to resist, possibly violently." Une exhaled. "Deja vu."
    Noin nodded sympathetically. "Like the Treize Faction all over again. Now all we need is the White Fang and we could have a big reunion." She noted.
    Une smiled slightly at that. "To hear the Senate talk about it, that's what you guys are, since Milliardo's in charge over there."
    "Great." Noin rolled her eyes at the news. "We'll get things ready here for you. Let us know when you think things are about to go down and we'll send help."
    Une nodded her thanks. "We'll need it, if we intend to get out of there with minimal casualties."

        The PMS head of finance's prediction of the colony delegates reaching the same decision without Quatre seemed to be true. They were already set to declare neutrality in the war before the meeting had even started.
    "Well, then for the most part our neutrality is settled. We can only hope both sides of this brewing war will respect that. Though there are some other matters regarding it I think need to be addressed. For one, the Preventers." The meeting chairman looked over his papers, "The Preventers stationed on the colonies may become a liability if the war does reach us."
    "They would provide a reason for the colonies to be attacked, because we'd be housing an enemy force."
    "Almost all terrorist action right now is taking place on Earth." One of the L-2 delegates noted.
    "Are you implying getting rid of them?" Quatre inquired, thinking briefly how this would effect some of the people he knew.
    "They aren't needed, and their presence is a potential threat to our peace. Also, they are an Earth based organization, and in declaring neutrality, we are temporarily seceding from the Earth Sphere. Housing them would align us with the Earth Sphere in the eyes of the Venus Sphere." The L-2 delegate from before answered.
    "Wouldn't getting rid of them leave us open to terrorist attacks? Some groups might be waiting for a chance to strike and have yet to be discovered by the Preventers. If we threw them out, we'd be wide open to any attacks."
    The delegates seemed rather divided on the issue regarding the Preventers.
    Quatre sighed slightly. It was going to be a long meeting. In fact, it was about to get even longer for him.
    "There's also an issue some of the other L-4 delegates would like to bring up." The chairman changed the topic of discussion.
    Quatre blinked, not aware the other L-4 delegates had any issues he didn't know about. He had a bad feeling about this.
    "Mr. Winner, we're aware that you're in possession of one of the Mars Gundams, and have been contributing large amounts of money to their Governor for various projects."
    "Yes..." Quatre admitted, secure in the knowledge that no one knew just what some of those projects were.
    "It's been making some of your fellow delegates uneasy and suspicious of your intent, Mr. Winner. Especially since rumors about the Mars Sphere and their defensive forces have reached us."
    "Those are only rumors you know." Quatre tried to counter, already feeling it was a lost cause, "The issue about the Preventers is a little bit more important than this, isn't it?"
    "Mr. Winner, we'd just like to avoid repeating... um... previous events that have occurred when people became suspicious of the Winner family before."
    "....." Was the only reply Quatre had to the rather tactless reminder of events surrounding his father's death and the creation of Wing Zero.
    "We'd like to know what your exact relation to Mars and Milliardo Peacecraft is, Mr. Winner. I'm not sure you're aware of this since you've been gone on... business... to Mars, but there has been considerable talk of having you dismissed from the L-4 delegation."
    "No, I wasn't aware of that. My relation to Governor Peacecraft is mostly business."
    "'Mostly'?" An L-1 delegate raised an eyebrow.
    "Yes, mostly. We happen to be fairly good friends as well, if you insist on knowing."
    "I find that a bit suspicious, considering the former relation you had with him in A.C. 195. Wasn't he in command of Libra, and weren't you then enemies?" The chairman pressed.
    "I wouldn't say we were ever personally enemies. We were just fighting on different sides."
    "It's still suspicious."
    "I can understand your concerns," Quatre sighed, "But my relationship with the Mars Sphere isn't relevant to this meeting, in my opinion. Unless you think I'm a liability like the Preventers are."
    "Well... We are relatively sure Venus is aware of your relation with Mars, so, it is a possibility you are. They were aware of the Gundams before anyone else was, and it's becoming common knowledge you were the one funding their construction."
    Quatre idly wondered who had gone through the Winner Corporation financial statements and if they'd had a search warrant to do so.
    "You do realize we're going to have to vote regarding if you should be allowed to stay a delegate, correct?"
    Quatre nodded, heart sinking as the voting lights blinked on one by one, indicating a nearly unanimous vote for him to be dismissed from the delegation.
    "Well... the votes are quite clear it would appear. Mr. Winner, you are hereby dismissed from the L-4 delegation." The chairman informed him of the obvious. Quatre nodded once more and stood up.
    "One last thing... You might want to consider staying on Mars for awhile, Mr. Winner. For your safety of course..."
    "... Of course." Quatre narrowed his eyes slightly.

        Tiana slipped quietly into the car, leaving her second press conference. Her first speech had been fairly successful at shifting attention away from the fact she was Nimeesha's daughter, and more to what she was trying to convince the people of. Unfortunately, it was rather tiring.
    "Well, they asked less questions about the assassinations." Shino noted, still wearing a black armband with his uniform, even though his mother's funeral service had come and gone.
    Sidra shrugged and stared out the window as the reporters fell out of sight.
    "They may stop asking questions, but will they actually listen to Tiana?"
    "The reporters might not, but the people watching may." Tiana mumbled her reply, closing her eyes in hopes of taking a nap.
    "This isn't 196 and Nimeesha isn't Dekim. The people could probably riot all they want, but I don't think that's going to change the government's mind any." Sidra replied, her usual optimistic self.
    Tiana sat up straight abruptly.
    "If the Senate doesn't have any people to fight for them, what can they do!?"
    "They'll draft them. And even if you do convince some people, there's going to be some idiots who do want to fight, because they don't know any better..." Sidra trailed off, remembering she had been such an idiot months ago.
    "Better to have tried and failed than to have never tried at all." Shino shot a glance at Tiana, who slumped back and leaned against the door.
    If I can't even convince the people around me, how am I ever going to be able to convince the 'general public'? Tiana closed her eyes and sighed.

        "Hey, Siduri." Sidra sighed as she saw her twin pick up the vid-comm on his end.
    "Yo! 'Sup?" He was a little cheerful for Sidra's taste, "WHOA! What did you do to your hair?! Hey! Now we really ARE twins!"
    "Shut up." Sidra snapped. "I dyed it so I'd be less noticeable at the Senate meetings."
    "Are you gonna bleach a streak of it in the front??" Siduri grinned, "So what is it you want?"
    "First off, no, I'm not bleaching my hair, except maybe to get the dye out later." Sidra muttered. "Tell Dad and Mom that I'm not gonna be able to sneak into many of the Senate meetings. Maybe a few with Lady Une, but not likely. She's being removed from command of the Preventers. Tiana's started giving speeches and stuff to try and convince the general public not to let the Senate escalate the damned war, what good it may do. I've been tagging along with her and Shino, who's appointed himself her escort and bodyguard. And to overhear Uncle Heero and Lady Une's discussions, there's considerable scheming going on that we don't know about. Might want to badger Mom and Dad for more info, I think."
    "Oookay... I think I got that all written down." Siduri put his pencil down.
    "You better have." Sidra glared at the screen. Siduri rolled his eyes.
    "I don't think your vacation's done you much good." He noted.
    "No shit." Sidra hung up.

        "Well I love you too, Sid." Siduri hung up on his end, then headed for his car. Knowing his parents, they were unquestionably working at the academy/base, and he needed to get some more seat time in the Star Streak.

    "Hey, Mom!" Siduri came into Noin's office without knocking, "I heard from Sidra just now. Basically things are going to pot on Earth, and she's not going to be able to get into the Senate meetings."
    "... Thank you for knocking, Siduri." Noin noted, a touch of sarcasm in her voice, "May I have the DETAILED message, please?"
    Siduri handed over the scrap of paper he'd scrawled the message down on to his mother. Then sat down in one of the other chairs in the office.
    "... You can go now, you know." Noin glanced up.
    "I kinda wanted to talk to you about Sidra, Mom. And I figured it would be safer to talk to you about it than, um, Dad. Given his track record with psychologists."
    Noin raised an eyebrow, recalling all too well how stubborn Milliardo had been about seeing one.
    "What is it then?"
    "Well, besides the fact she dyed her hair purple-"
    "She dyed her hair!?" Noin shook her head, "Well, a logical step in keeping hidden. What else?"
    "Well I'm a bit worried about her, and her whole Roku thing, well, not that I wasn't before, but, her little vacation hasn't helped and stuff." Siduri actually sounded serious, "I'd have to talk to Shino to really find out how she's behaving, but... Well, maybe you should take her to that psychologist? I kinda don't want her ending up... well, you know." He frowned.
    "... I understand, I'm sure she won't get that bad." I hope, Noin added to herself silently.
    "Well... I hope so. She sure ain't as cheerful as she used to be."

        Ariana crossed her arms and looked from the battered black box that had been the ZERO system's software, then to her father. "Did you really have to SHOOT it?"
    "Hn." Heero put the gun away and nodded. "This way it's not going to come back again."
    Ariana snorted. She was rapidly becoming convinced her father personally just liked shooting things. Not that shooting things WASN'T fun, but....
    "So, Dad.... um... just why do you hate the thing so much as to ground me for life over it?" Ariana picked up the box and looked at it. It definitely wasn't coming back, not after having had a full round put into it.
    "It's dangerous." Heero replied flatly.
    "I mean the detailed reason. It doesn't take a psychologist to tell you've got some kind of hang-up about the contraption, Dad." Ariana shot a LOOK at her father. "And after what it did to Shino, I'd kinda like to know just what the hell I was dealing with."
    "......" Heero did not reply.
    "Well? I'm waiting." Ariana wasn't going to be satisfied with a non-answer from her father, and at this point she'd even ignore having his pistol pointed at her. (It was already out of ammo anyways.) She wanted answers.
    "... Sit down. It's a long story." Heero instructed. Perhaps it's better if she does know about it all. Then she should be able to avoid making the same mistakes.
    Ariana promptly sat down on her work table.
    "I'm going to give you the whole story. I'm not sure your mother would approve, however..." Heero trailed off, reminded of Relena's death.
    "'However'..." Ariana prompted him.
    "I think she'd understand why you ought to know the whole story." Heero launched into the explanation, being as detailed as possible, "Wing Zero was designed by the 5 Gundam engineers, and was what all the other Gundams were based off of."
    "And Uncle Quatre built it in a fit of insanity, right?" Ariana interrupted.
    "Don't interrupt if you want to hear this." Heero snapped at his daughter, who 'meeped' and shut up. "And yes, he did."
    "They decided not to build it because they realized that it was a far too dangerous system, and the odds of there being a pilot who could probably use it... slim. Side-effects of ZERO were hallucinations during battles. The system takes what the pilot views as the enemy, and focuses them on eliminating it. No matter what. Even though Quatre built it, he didn't really know about the cockpit system. His mental state at the time didn't help matters, which is why he started to attack the colonies. He'd lost sight of the enemy. Eventually, Ze-...Milliardo," Heero corrected himself, since Relena was not around to do so, "Milliardo ended up with it when Quatre and I went back to Earth. I'm not sure what effects it had on him, and I believe your Uncle Duo ended up being forced to pilot it before then, by a man named Trant. As for Epyon, I'm not sure how Treize acquired the information and technology to implant a system like ZERO in it. I can only assume Trant may have managed to pass on whatever he uncovered to him. I was given Epyon, and when Zechs and I battled at the Sank Kingdom, both systems either reacted to each other, or both shorted out at the same time, and our battle temporarily ceased. I'm not sure why, but we switched suits. I was fairly sure Treize had built Epyon for Zechs, but he wasn't on Earth then. Treize may have very well planned on my giving the suit up to him. But we'll never know. Zechs became Milliardo again, joining up with the White Fang sometime after that. Epyon had to have been telling him Earth was the enemy, either that or there was far more to Treize and Milliardo's relationship than your uncle has ever let on." Heero looked over at Ariana, who was listening attentively to his story, "You know how the battle with Libra and the White Fang went, if you've been paying attention in school."
    "So basically ZERO makes you see things or something right? Couldn't you have just said that? And it's bad if you're emotionally messed up at the time?"
    "What you see isn't pleasant. Some day I'll have to ask Yoshino what it showed him. Every time I used ZERO, it was the same thing."
    "So why didn't  you just shoot the thing then?"
    "It was needed at the time. Mobile dolls were merciless enemies. Hn... Makes me wonder if it showed Dorothy anything, that modified version she used to control the dolls."
    "... So what did it show you...?" Ariana was almost afraid to hear, and tactless as always.
    "..... A little girl and her dog." Heero replied, earning a confused look from his daughter. Luckily she didn't inquire further.
    "The battle with Dekim Barton was supposed to have been ZERO's last fight. It should have died in A.C. 196." Heero continued.
    "... oh." That was unquestionably one of the most interesting conversations Ariana had ever had with her father, and for once, she wasn't the one doing all the talking.
    "Um... Most of the scraps used for FalconWing were from Wing and some of the other suits... That's where I got the basic design from."
    "I could tell."

        Milliardo hung up the phone, frowning.
    "Who was that?" Noin inquired, skimming the newspaper headlines.
    "Quatre's on his way back here."
    "... Aren't the delegation meetings scheduled to go on for a few more days?" She looked up at her husband.
    "He was dismissed from the delegation. And politely informed to remove himself from the colonies, 'for his own safety', to quote the chairman. I don't think things are looking up. He'll probably be arriving in a couple of hours on his personal shuttle."
    "Well I guess we aren't going to be able to find out exactly what is going on there either. Sidra can't get into the Senate meetings now, and Lady Une can only get so much information. Did Quatre say what was discussed at the meeting?"
    "Well, neutrality was quickly declared, but the Preventers were a touchy subject, which is understandable if they come under direct political control. The other big issue was my relation with Quatre. Apparently some people are quite suspicious about us."
    "Hmm... I wonder why..." Noin mumbled to herself, a trace of sarcasm in her voice.
    "They weren't able to decide at that meeting about the Preventers, but some delegates wanted to have them removed from the colonies."
    "That really doesn't bode well, does it?"
    "No, not at all." Milliardo looked over as Siduri emerged from his room.
    "Kicking Preventers off the colonies? They lost their minds?" The youth inquired. Milliardo simply shrugged.
    "Hm... I don't think Meiran or Uncle Wufei will like that very much. I'm sure Aunt Sally would be able to handle it with more grace, but those two..." Siduri shook his head.

        Meiran started to set her backpack down when her homeroom teacher hurried over to her, handing her an office summons slip.
    "Meiran, take this and go to the counselor's office."
    "Um..." Meiran blinked taking the paper and setting her bag down.
    "Oh, take your things with you, please."
    "....." She raised an eyebrow and slung her backpack back over her shoulder.

    "Ah, close the door and sit down please, Meiran." The girls' counselor instructed. Meiran swiftly closed the door and sat down, a scowl beginning to form on her face.
    "I'd like to talk to you about some things regarding your work and behavior..."
    Meiran nodded, "I hope this won't take too long. My first class starts in about 10 minutes."
    "You won't have to worry about that. I'm sorry to have to inform you of this, but I've brought you here today to explain that you are being expelled from this school."
    "..... Why?" Meiran's eyes hardened.
    "To start things off, your absences. You have been absent far more than the rules allow. That alone is grounds to suspend you. Also, you've missed a great deal of work-"
    "I made it all up." Meiran snapped.
    "I'm aware of that. Don't interrupt me young lady. Now, while you have made it up, I feel that you are missing an important part of the learning process by not being in the classroom. I'm aware you may be having problems at home, after all, you did run away recently, but you are compromising your education. You also joined up with the, er, Mars 'Defense Force', have you not?"
    "What of it?"
    "Don't take that tone with me. I don't think it's healthy for a child your age to be engaging in such an... activity. Not to mention it is setting a bad example to your fellow peers who look up to you- academically, that is. And it has been brought to my attention that not only have you joined the Mars Defense Force, you are piloting one of the new Gundams they have made. I'm not sure why your parents would allow such actions, all though, if I recall correctly... your father is a former Gundam pilot?" The counselor's tone was less than favorable.
    "Yes." Meiran spoke with a voice like ice, "So you're expelling me on the grounds I was absent too much, even though I'm at the top of my class, and using my outside activities as back up for the reason?"
    "I find your way of wording that rather rude-"
    "Well I find you rude!" Meiran snapped, "You have subtly insulted me more than once in your little speech, and not only have you insulted me, but you've indicated a STRONG disliking of my heritage as well!"
    "Young lady! Behave yourself!"
    "What, are you going to expel me if I don't?" Meiran countered, "You have no heart. You called and ordered me to return to school when I was still taking care of my father. And do you know what happened while I was at school!? He hurt himself because I wasn't there! I made up ALL the work and more, every single assignment my teachers gave me I took with a fake smile and completed. Yes, joined the Mars DEFENSE FORCE, and no, it was not something I was told I could do. It was something I had to earn-"
    "This educational establishment has a reputation to maintain. We cannot have our students running around joining military forces! Let alone to pilot Gundams!"
    "I am not finished! I heard what you think, so you're going to have to hear what I think!" Meiran raised her voice and stood up, "You only have grounds to suspend me. What I do outside your 'educational establishment' is NOT your concern. That is my parents' concern."
    "Obviously they are not concerned enough-"
    "I will NOT have you insulting my family in front of me-"
    "You should learn respect your elders, young lady! Now if you don't calm down-"
    "I respect them when they have earned it! I would like to remind you that the peace you are enjoying right now could be shattered any day now by the Venus Sphere, and the Mars Defense Force is the only organization equipped to deal with such an assault!"
    "The colonies are declaring neutrality, as I'm sure you know."
    "Who's to say that neutrality will be acknowledged!? And also, the peace you are enjoying right now was not even earned by you! This peace, which won't last, I assure you, was earned by my father, the 5 other men I call uncles, others who I call aunts, and the people who had the nerve to stand up for it in A.C. 196! You disgust me, but I want you to remember, that when Venus attacks, the ones fighting for this peace you're enjoying will include myself and my family."
    "Meiran Chang, I have had enough of your tirade! Leave now or I will call security and have you forcefully removed from campus! Further more, I will call child services and have them look into your home life and just what kind of parents you have!" The woman stood up behind her desk.
    "You needn't bother." Meiran spoke quietly, "I can't stand being in your disgusting presence any longer."

    Meiran stormed down the street, heading home, when she had the unfortunate displeasure of running into Morrie.
    "Hey, Meir-" Morrie was quickly cut off by becoming the target Meiran vented her anger on. Fist first.
    "Shit! The hell was that for!?" Morrie rubbed his already swelling cheek.
    "I have told you NOT to call me that!"
    "Well what the hell are you doing, cutting school or somethin'? It's barely begun." Morrie muttered, "And you owe me a new bike, girl."
    "If you speak one more word to me, asshole, I will make sure you are unable to reproduce." Meiran snarled.
    "Whoa, whoa...." Morrie backed away a bit as the short girl in front of him dropped into a fighting stance, "Who lit the fuse on your tampon?"
    Morrie, to say the least, found himself eating pavement, thanks to a well-aimed kick to his reproductive system.
    "I have not been a 'girl' for a long time now. I am a woman, and I'm not going to tolerate disrespect from a boy as pitiful as you." Meiran tossed her hair over her shoulder and stepped over the crippled mass blocking the sidewalk, "If you never see me again, consider yourself lucky, because if I ever see you again, somebody isn't going to walk away alive."

    What little anger had been vented off on Morrie was quickly replenished by the yellow paper posted on Meiran's front door.
    NOW WHAT!? Meiran yanked it off and looked at it. "Notice of eviction: All residents and their belongings must be removed from the premises by 6 AM October 31st, A.C. 216." ..... Well I guess it doesn't matter that I was expelled now. That probably had to do with this. She glanced at the houses across the street, noting they had yellow papers posted on their doors as well. So they decided to kick the Preventers off. Lovely...  And to think I wanted to finish high school here. Fuck that.
    Meiran stormed inside, and up into the attic to retrieve the boxes her family kept, since they'd done a lot of moving, then stormed back down to begin packing up her life.
    The phone, evil device that it was, interrupted her work.
    "Goddamnit!" Meiran shouted to no one and yanked up the receiver, "Former Chang residence." She greeted the caller, her tone thoroughly caustic, "Who the HELL is it and what the fuck do you want!?"
    Meiran could almost hear the person on the other end of the line blinking in surprise.
    "Meiran, I'm assuming?" Sidra found her voice after that surprise outburst, "So they actually are evicting all the Preventers?"
    "Oh no, I'm being evicted for a special reason! They wouldn't have gone so far as to kick me out of school if it was just the fact my parents are Preventers. I pilot a Gundam, so I'm an additional threat to the damned colony's neutrality!" Meiran hissed, Not Happy, or rather, Pissed Off.
    "Happy fun." Sidra noted sarcastically, "That's what I was calling about actually. Lady Une is being removed from command of the Preventers, and things could get ugly down here because not all of the Preventers are happy with the coming change of leadership."
    "Tell me something I don't know, Sidra. I live with two Preventers, and I can assure you they are extremely unhappy with that. But when they get home they are going to have something to be even less happy about! Now is that all you called to say? I have to get every thing packed and out of here by 6 AM tomorrow."
    "Actually, no. I called to invite you guys to Earth. Tiana's going to be giving a speech to most of the Preventers in a couple of days. Lady Une wants as many of the Preventers there as possible."
    "I'm sure we'll be there. You might want to call Uncle Duo, because he'll probably be getting kicked out too. I believe he took his Gundam with him, and I know how much the colonies love Gundams and their pilots." Meiran snatched the picture of Nataku off the mantle, pausing to study it for a moment.
    "Right... Good luck, and see you soon." Sidra hung up.
    Meiran put the phone away and went back to work packing.

        "I can't believe those idiots that are the colony delegates!! I am two months away from giving birth, and we have to move EVERYTHING! If I wasn't pregnant I'd take your Gundam and-"
    "Hilde! Hilde! Calm down or you're going to be giving birth now, for God's sake!!" Duo sweatdropped for a moment as he helped Hilde pack up, "I'm not happy about it either, but there isn't anything we can do about it. It's kinda logical, having my Gundam here is like telling Venus 'Hey! Come shoot us!'. We're a big threat, and it's probably better the colonies stay out of it."
    "'WE'?" Hilde glared over her shoulder at Duo, "I can understand them kicking YOU off the colony-"
    "Hilde! I don't want to leave you here anyways, so even if it was only me, I'd rather you come too, I mean, I'd kinda like to be there when the baby is born. We can go to Mars. It's pretty nice there, and hell, most of the kid's extended family is gonna be there."
    Hilde's face softened slightly, "Yeah... I just hope we can eventually move back..."
    Duo nodded, "Though it is kinda unfair... I mean, we just finished decorating the baby's room."
    Hilde chuckled slightly, while Duo returned his attention to packing and his own thoughts.
    Twice. Twice the colonies have betrayed us. I bet Wufei's being kicked out too. And Quatre's been kicked out-er... 'politely dismissed' from the delegation according to what I've heard from Noin when she called. Bastards, just when I'm getting my life in order and starting a family they've gotta pull this crap on me! Damn! Hell and damnation! .... Hm.... Damn nation.... Damn the World Nation! On this clever note Duo sealed his box and moved onto to filling the next one.

        Tiana sat going over her index cards, making sure she had everything in order before she would head out to address the press again. She was tired, staying up late several nights to research the facts.
    "Miss Tiana, I assume?" A sly feminine voice asked from behind. Tiana blinked and turned around.
    "Yes?" She blinked again and studied the blonde woman who stood before her, "And you are-?"
    "Dorothy Catalonia." The woman smirked. Tiana nearly dropped her index cards in surprise.
    "Miss Catalonia! I wasn't expecting to see you!"
    "Of course not. I didn't announce my coming, now did I?" Dorothy replied, "I see you're doing well."
    "I suppose. I think I'm getting somewhere, but the Senate-" Tiana was interrupted.
    "I know all about the Senate. I keep my eyes on things." Dorothy continued, "I've seen your speeches. Very impressive for some one your age."
    "Thank you, Miss Catalonia..." Tiana found the conversation rather awkward, "You didn't really have to come all the way out here. Your letter was more than enough."
    "Nonsense. I never do anything half way."
    "Hey Tiana- Dorothy Catalonia??" Shino blinked as he walked in, "When'd you get here?"
    "Just recently. Yoshino Yuy, correct?" Dorothy's piercing blue eyes glanced at the Preventer.
    "Just Shino. Anyways, Tiana, the reporters are all waiting outside."
    "Oh, right. If you'll excuse me..." Tiana headed outside. This press conference was being held out doors due to the large numbers of journalists and reporters present. Sidra had advised it wasn't the safest idea, but Tiana wanted as many people to hear her as possible.

    "For those of you who are unaware, Venus has already passed the Earth, without attack. Next month Venus will be going into it s normal communications blackout and will be out of Earth's range. Assuming Venus does not attack, which at this point would be an inadvisable idea since any forces sent would be without support or guidance from their leader for four to six months, I would suggest the Senate work out an agreement with Mars. Yet the Senate is rushing to form a military group, and threatening Lady Une's command over the anti-terrorist organization known as the Preventers and as you all know, growing suspicious of their only ally. The man they propose to replace Lady Une with is supporting the use of mobile suits against people. I would have to say this is a step back from the progress the world has made since A.C. 195. Also regarding the Preventers, the Earth Sphere colonies have decided to remove all Preventers from themselves and declare neutrality in the war that is slowly brewing. In doing so they are removing their only line of defense and they have no way of guaranteeing  that either the Senate or Venus will acknowledge it." Tiana surveyed the crowd, amazed by the sheer number of people there to listen to her.
    Shino glanced around, recalling his father's advice, 'Watch the rooftops. That's always the best place to fire from.' He figured it was good advice and scanned the tops of the buildings in the area, an uneasy feeling washing over him. He was the only one right there if anything happened, being as Sidra was wandering around the perimeter. He did a double take when he glimpsed something metallic where it should not have been.
    "As it was proved in A.C. 196, if any sort of peace is to remain, everyone needs to stand up for the peace. The group posing a threat to the peace is not Mars, which has been fighting defensively for itself and the Earth, but Venus. If the Earth were to throw itself into this upcoming war-" A gunshot interrupted Tiana and the next thing she knew she was on the ground, Shino covering her while the crowd looked around in surprise and near panic.
    Sidra took off running after estimating the source of the sound in hopes of apprehending the would-be assassin.
    Tiana was too stunned to speak as she was hurried inside.
    Sidra tapped her foot and stood patiently by the stairs and the elevators. The assassin would have to come down sometime and she intended to be right there to greet him. It wasn't long before he came charging down the stairs, obviously not a professional. Needless to say, he stopped dead in his tracks when he spotted spotted Sidra in her Preventer uniform.
    "You know," Sidra stated calmly, "When you intend to assassinate someone, I wouldn't recommend doing so from a building with only one way down."
    "Shit!" The man took off running, but was floored by a well-aimed kick to his vitals. (Sidra must be feeling sadistic today?) She roughly hauled the shorter, squeaking man to his feet and cuffed him while the people in the lobby stared in confusion.
    "Stop staring and somebody call the police so they can take this moron off my hands. He just attempted to assassinate someone."

    Dorothy rushed Shino and Tiana into her car to drive them back to the hotel they were staying at, "Come on, I'll take you back. If there are any more assassins in the area they'll be looking for your car. That Roku girl can pick it up later."
    Tiana didn't object and Shino nodded, holding a hand over his arm which bore the traditional Anime Male Arm Injury.
    "Are you all right?"  Dorothy inquired, starting the car as they got in.
    "I-yeah..." Tiana found her voice, though it was shaky. She glanced around and over at Shino, "Yoshino!" She stared at him.
    "Just doin' my job." He said through clenched teeth.
    "Did it hit you?" Dorothy glanced back. Shino nodded. "Then I guess we'll be dropping by a hospital first." The blonde woman pounded on her horn and sped through an intersection.

        Tiana woke up with a shout from her sleep and sat bolt upright, out of breath. Shino leapt out of his bed on the other side of the room and was already there with her.
    "Tiana!  What's wrong?" As if it wasn't obvious, but that was one of those obligatory questions.
    "I...I..." The redhead trembled, as did her voice, "I died!!"
    It took Shino a moment to add it up. Tiana must have had a dream, or rather, nightmare about the events that had just occurred.
    "Hey, it was just a dream..." Shino sat down on the bed next to Tiana and studied her. Her face was pale and her eyes were wide with a relived terror.
    "I....but..." She really couldn't find any words, "They shot me! Just like they shot President Semele and-and Mrs. Yuy-" Tiana rambled, tears beginning to fill her eyes, near hysterics.
    "It's okay, Tiana. You aren't dead." Shino whispered and hugged her close. She was cold as ice and he could feel her quivering in his arms.

        Sidra slipped her sunglasses and approached a group of Preventers whom she had overheard voicing their extreme displeasure about Selvaggio.
    "We can't just let those idiots in New Romafellar waltz right in and take over!" One young man growled.
    "What'll happen to Commander Une afterwards?" Another pondered as Sidra joined the cluster.
    "They'll likely try to find some way to lock her up for treason against the Nation." One of the much older men noted, a cynical edge to his voice. "That way she can't undermine them."
    "You're sure?" One of the young women in the group looked completely disbelieving. The older Preventer nodded grimly.
    "Basically what they did to Treize Khusrenada back in 195 after he quit OZ." The elder Preventer grinned proudly. "'Course, even being confined they couldn't keep him from messing them up. I know, I was part of the Treize Faction then."
    "Well, then-" Sidra entered the conversation, "-why don't we show our loyalty to our commander in a similar fashion?" Instantly she had the attention of the entire grouping.
    "You mean, rebel against the World Nation?" The young woman from before asked.
    "Damn straight." Sidra replied. "They're making a REAL stupid mistake, everyone here KNOWS they're making a real stupid mistake, it'd be a crime to just sit back and let it happen without putting up a fight."
    "Y'know, you're right, kid." The older pilot nodded thoughtfully. "Done it once, I'm willing to do it again."
    "But how?" One of the younger men asked, dubious.
    "I can't say I know exactly how the Treize Faction worked, but I'd assume attacking Romafellar targets." Sidra smiled slightly. "And I know who in New Romafellar has really been pushing the idea of Mars being an enemy, and for replacing Commander Une."
    "WHO?!" Several of the gathering immediately asked.
    "Senator Perth. He and his family are currently attending the meetings in Luxembourg... his rather large, posh, expensive manor isn't near there... and so far as I can guess, completely unguarded...."

        Lady Une sat patiently while some of the Senate members gave their speeches about how appointing Selvaggio as head of the Preventers would bring about a new era of peace and similar such recycled nonsense.
    "Do you have anything to say, Lady Une, before Selvaggio officially takes charge of the Preventers?" Senator Caedmon asked.
    "Yes, in fact, I do." Lady Une stood up and straightened her blouse. "I think you are making a terrible mistake. History will repeat itself, and more lives will be lost." She leveled a glare at the Senate, Perth, Neta, Ashford, and Stockard in particular. "And those lives, those murders, will be on your heads. Assuming you live through this conflict."
    Without a further word on the subject, Lady Une marched out of the Senate hall. In the brief silence that followed, Selvaggio cleared his throat and addressed the gathering.
    "Well, with that out of the way, I'd like to note she sounded almost rebellious in that little speech of hers. In any case, shall we continue?"

        Seven Gryphons blazed through the sky, flying in tight formation, locked onto their target, expecting easy victory.
    "Preventers, begin the attack!" The former Treize Faction pilot from before bellowed on his comm, diving groundward at the unprotected mansion and grounds below. The other six followed suit, beam cannons blazing.
    "We won't go quietly! We'll fight for our leader!" One of the other pilots yelled, as the Gryphons all landed and methodically began stomping the grounds flat.
    "Use the mobile suits against people! THIS is what would happen!"
    "Stomp 'em! Give 'em their 'show of force'!"
    "For Commander Une!"
    It didn't take more than a few carefully timed jumps of the mobile suits to pound the main part of the mansion into toothpicks, and in less than ten minutes, the attack was over, the attackers departing.

        "Tiana," Shino walked up the the girl as she was getting ready, "I want you to wear this today, just in case..." He held out a black bullet proof vest. She turned around and looked at it for a moment.
    "I think it's an excellent idea, given how the Preventers themselves are divided." Dorothy reminded the group.
    A short distance away Heero was having a nice long talk with Duo, who looked like he wanted to be anywhere else at the moment.
    Shoulda gone straight to Mars with Hilde. The braided pilot mused to himself, wondering how long until Heero pulled a gun on him. Hey, Wufei had gone after him with a sword after all. I should just leave allllll the daughters alone. Before I know it I'll be getting in trouble for something Sidra's done.
    Sidra scanned the people back stage, so to speak. Meiran and her family had arrived only a couple of hours ago, as did Duo. Hilde she had learned had gone on ahead to Mars. Lady Une was sitting a corner, a look of deep thought on her face with Mariemaia attending the soon to be former commander.
    "All right, Yoshino." Tiana nodded and accepted the body armor, recalling the more than recent attempt on her life.

        Senator Perth hung up the phone, a look of utter disbelief on his his face.
    "What is it, Senator?"
    "They ATTACKED my HOUSE!!" He explained in response, "The Preventers used their Gryphon's on MY HOUSE!!"
    This didn't do wonders for the senator's blood pressure, however, it provided Selvaggio the golden opportunity he'd been hoping for.
    "Apparently former commander, Lady Une... Has some problems with the change of the command. To the point of being willing to commit treason against the nation." He slipped in.
    "I want her arrested! And the pilots involved as well! Alert the rest of the Senate! Commander Selvaggio, take the new force and attack. Most of the Preventers are all attending that little girl's stupid speech. They're sitting ducks!"
    "Is the Senate unanimous on this, sir?" Selvaggio asked.

        Tiana stared out across the crowd of men and women in Preventers' uniform and decided they were perhaps more intimidating than journalists and reporters had ever been. She cleared her throat and began.
    "I'm here today because your commander, or rather it seems, former commander, asked me to address you all today. As you know, the Senate desires to take full control over you. I'm aware this change has divided you all. There are those of you who want to throw yourselves into the war that is coming, even though you don't have to."
    "What do you suppose we do!? Rebel!?"
    "Some of us already have!" Somebody shouted from the back.
    "What!?!" Shino, Wufei, and several of the other Preventers exclaimed in shock/surprise. Sidra just smirked to herself.
    "I'm not here to encourage you to fight the Senate," Tiana blinked, realizing she was probably going to have to ditch her speech and wing it, "I'm here to encourage you not to fight for them, and go about doing the job you were created for, which is to maintain the peace!"
    "Well the peace is shot now! It's just a matter of the soldiers throwing down with who they believe in!" One of the older Preventers in the back shouted.
    "I'd rather go to Hell than follow Selvaggio!"
    "Those fools aren't soldiers." Wufei muttered from the back area behind the podium.

    "Aunt Une, there's a call from the Maganacs!" Mariemaia held the phone out to Lady Une. "They've got bad news, from the tone of voice."
    "What?" Lady Une took the phone. "Une here. What is it? Rashid? Yes.... What?! A group of Preventers attacked Senator Perth's house?!" If Lady Une wasn't too busy being shocked, she almost would have been amused by the mental image of several Gryphons stomping Perth's mansion flat like so many children throwing a tantrum. Rashid's next bit of news turned the former commander's blood to ice. "They've issued a warrant for my arrest? I understand. I'll be getting in touch with Noin. We're going to get out of here. See you shortly." Lady Une hung up the phone and took a deep breath. Now why wasn't I informed of this attack sooner? Damn them, they keep to themselves too much. And why wasn't I informed of these pilots supposedly fighting for me? Damnit, history repeats once again. Lady Une was rousted from the thoughts and plans she was beginning to form by the insistent ringing of the phone again. Cautiously, she answered.
    "Is this Preventers commander Lady Une?" A deep voice immediately asked.
    "Yes..." Lady Une narrowed her eyes slightly, wondering who was calling now. It wasn't Selvaggio, that much was certain.
    "We'll be joining your forces shortly. Don't attack us this time, all right?" The guy sounded slightly amused.
    "And who are you?" Lady Une scowled at the receiver, her tone chilly.
    "Just your friendly neighborhood terrorist organization with a problem with New Romafellar." The man replied.
    Lady Une smiled slightly. "Deal. We'll need all the help we can get."
    Sally glanced over as Lady Une hung up the phone. "Who was that?"
    "Just your friendly neighborhood terrorist organization." Lady Une smiled slightly, tone cynical.

        "I-" Tiana tried to regain the attention of the Preventers, who were arguing amidst themselves, "I.... WOULD YOU LISTEN TO ME!?!" Tiana shouted into the microphone, "You weren't gathered here today to bicker with each other!! Aren't you all part of the same organization!? Shouldn't you be a bit more unified than this!? Some of you want to be real 'heroes' and fight to defend your homes, right? But why fight when you don't have to!? The Gryphon unit is enough to fend off attacks until help could arrive from Mars, which is already outfitted to deal with the threat of war!"
    "How do we know Mars won't attack us!?"
    "Haven't you figured it out for yourselves yet!?  Kwannon Yokoshima planted the ideas of Mars being a threat to the Earth Sphere in the heads of the Senate, and they have since planted the ideas in all of yours! Venus undoubtedly did this with the intent to destabilize the World Nation, and from what I see, they SEEM to have SUCCEEDED! Is that what you people really want!? To play right into their trap!?"
    "And we should believe you!? You're not only from Venus, but you're the daughter of the woman leading them against us!"
    "And I am TRYING to stop Venus! I said this before, I have denounced Nimeesha Pembroke as my mother and have disassociated myself from Venus as much as I possibly can. I can't change the fact I was born there, but I don't have to let that stereotype me before you all!"

        "Let's move out." Selvaggio ordered his troops and smirked. This will be a surprise for them all. Unknown to Lady Une, Selvaggio had gone out among the Preventers and had been granted permission by the Senate to start building a sizable military force in secret. And he'd wasted no time building it. It was amusing how many suits that had supposedly been destroyed one could find.

        "It's time, isn't it?" Noin's voice answered the phone, "I'd been expecting this any day now."
    "Yes, and things are going down much faster than any one of us has anticipated." Lady Une replied, explaining to Noin about the attack on Senator Perth's mansion.
    "We've only got three of the Leviathans ready, but that should be more than enough. Can you fend them off for a few hours?"
    "Assuming they attack. I don't know if they have the power to do so yet, but the Preventers listening to Tiana Pembroke's speech might turn on themselves at any minute now."
    "Commander..er.. former commander? Um... Lady Une!" One of the Preventers came barging into the room, a look of panic on his face, "We've detected a large number of mobile suits heading this way! Mostly old OZ designs!"
    "I assume you heard that, Noin?" Lady Une inquired, her voice surprisingly calm.
    "I understand. Help will be there as soon as possible. Good luck." Noin hung up. Lady Une tossed the phone to Mariemaia and went to address the Preventers.

    "ATTENTION!!" Lady Une ran forward by the podium. When that failed to get all attention on her, she took Sidra's approach to the situation and fired a few shots into the air. "ATTENTION!"
    Tiana backed away.
    "THIS BASE IS ABOUT TO COME UNDER ATTACK!" Lady Une bellowed, not needing to microphone to be heard. That announcement got several surprised shouts. "THOSE OF YOU WHO ATTACKED PERTH'S HOUSE, TO THE FRONT! NOW!"
    Seven pilots nervously approached the podium. Sidra was glad she was hidden slightly behind her sunglasses.
    "I hope you're happy." She glared at the small group. Looking out over the rest of the assembly, she raised her voice again. "THOSE OF YOU WHO WANT TO STAY UNDER SELVAGGIO, LEAVE THE PREMISES NOW!" She barked the orders rapidly. "The rest of you! Come with me!"
    Brief chaos ensued as people moved to either leave the base of follow Lady Une to the mobile suit hangars.
    "The Senate is sending an attack force here, presumably to wipe myself and those who support me out." Lady Une explained rapidly.
    "What do you need us to do, Commander?" Shino stood at attention. "I can't say that I speak for all of us, but I'd follow you through Hell!"
    "I'll go get the Tallgeese." Sidra took off for one of the cars.
    Lady Une nodded, and continued to shout out orders. "Someone contact the lunar base! Tell them to prepare their Gryphons and Basilisks for combat! We're going to need everyone who can pilot out there!"
    "Aw man, I wish I'd brought Deathscythe with me." Duo muttered, "Which way to the Gryphons?"
    "This way." Shino glanced around to make sure Tiana was taken care of. Dorothy was already hurrying the girl to one of the shuttles waiting. He took off down the hall in the direction of the Gryphon hangers, swiftly followed by Duo, then Meiran.
    Wufei paused to look at Heero as he ran by, noting that the Perfect Soldier wasn't showing any signs of joining the fight. Heero glared at him in response.
    "I can't pilot any more."
    "....." Wufei continued after his daughter, Duo, and Shino, leaving Sally behind to help Lady Une organize the chaos that was beginning to ensue.
    When Wufei arrived he was nearly hit in the head by a flight helmet flung him by Meiran. Luckily he managed to catch the projectile.
    "I don't think I need any more head injuries." He replied to the not-too-subtle reminder.

        Outside, Lady Une was bellowing orders in rapid-fire fashion.
    "Load the Basilisks! Get them up into space first! Our best and only bet is to take the battle into space! Get as much loaded as you can, and torch what's left! Gryphon squads one through three, get your suits and equipment loaded on the carriers and launched now!"
    Lady Une took a breath and resumed.
    "Everyone else, prepare for battle!"

Continued in Gundam Wing: A New Era, Episode 26:
"To the Stars Through Hardship"