Thus Go the Fates of Men
Mars. The planet was once
ravaged by sandstorms that swept across its entire red globe, but in
.197, terraformation began, and the storms were tamed. The people in
of the project were hailed as heroes. They were Lucrezia
and her husband, Milliardo Peacecraft. Two soldiers who brought
now working to create a new life for themselves and others. In AC 200,
the project was considered complete in the eyes of the Earth-based
however, locally to this day, it is considered ongoing.
Located near the asteroid belt, a need for protection became vividly apparent when colony M-L3X2082 was decimated by a wayward meteor. In A.C. 211 the Mars government was granted permission to employ armed mobile suits as a meteor defense shield. These suits were given to the Mars Defense Corps, which had originally been formed to combat the problems frequent of a new frontier.
Sidra sighed and looked
the window in the rather crowded room aboard the Leviathan-1. I'm
home. After how long? The massive ship was making good time back to
Mars, even with its cavernous cargo bay full. ... I was such a
Running away from home like that, then stealing Dad's mobile suit. I
reality kinda hit over the past few months. This is a war, a brutal,
bloody war. Staring at the blackness outside, Sidra thought back.
I shouldn't have gotten Ariana involved, even if she had the damn Gundam before I arrived. I gave her an excuse to use it, and it was selfish of me to use her to become a better pilot. She's a good pilot, all things considered, but... She's a little young to be fighting a war. Does she even realize that she's killed people? I know I felt pretty ill when it first occurred to me, after my first battle.... of course, I was also feeling like crap because of my classmates... And my parents... but would it have been different if they'd come forward and told me they knew all along? Or if I'd been ratted on and sent home sooner? Who would have apprehended that assassin that took a shot at Tiana? And Aunt Relena... Why did Nimeesha Pembroke give the order and execute that farce of a peace negotiation just to get at Aunt Relena?
Sidra clamped her eyes shut against that bloody memory. If they had all just gone back into another room before Kwannon could have taken the shot... If only, if only, if only! Damnit! And she got away with it. Got away with murder. The bitch is probably a celebrated hero on Venus because she shot a pacifist!
I wonder how Siduri's doing? He didn't see what I have, even if he's been involved in any battles... And I wonder who else they have piloting the new Gundams? Shino'll probably resume piloting the Typhoon, but what about those other suits? And Uncle Heero... he's a lot different than I thought he was. He seems almost afraid to fight, and only went out in this last battle because of Ariana...
Ariana rolled her eyes
tried to tune out Shino's scolding.
"You promised not to take it into space!" Shino crossed his arms and leveled a Yuy Death Glare at his sister.
"You took it into space first! And I couldn't just LEAVE it there for the bad guys to get their hands on!" Ariana shot back with a matching glare. "And it doesn't HAVE a self-detonator so I couldn't just blow it up like Sidra said to!"
"Knock it off." Heero beat out the younger Yuys with his more experienced Death Glare. "Ariana did what she felt was right, and she came out of it alive."
"But Dad-" Shino began in protest.
Heero shut his son up promptly with a look.
"Man," Duo looked over at Wufei, "She's just like her mother. Always runnin' around doing dangerous stuff she shouldn't be do..." Duo stopped himself and glanced over at Heero.
"....." Heero looked over at the American pilot in silence, expression unreadable.
"Er.... Sorry, Heero... I... um..." Duo fumbled for something to say, then gave up and sighed. How the hell do you try and console a guy like him? Can't even tell what he's thinking! Sheesh.
"How's Mariemaia?" Lady
asked over the comm. She was on board the Leviathan-3, while Mariemaia
and the Maganacs were aboard the Leviathan-2.
"Well, she's resting now and the medical staff is trying to figure out what the problem is..." Rashid replied, glancing momentarily in the direction of the sick bay. "Apparently she thinks something is wrong with her left arm."
"Her left arm-? Didn't her suit take damage to the left arm?" Une inquired.
"It didn't just take damage to the left arm, it completely lost the left arm." Rashid noted. "What does that have to do with it? Just what sort of suit was she piloting?"
Lady Une sighed. "An experimental prototype. She's been the test pilot for the suit because of its control system. I told her to get away and to not take it into battle, but..."
"But she didn't listen and prevented your carrier from being shot down." Rashid pointed out.
".... Point taken." Une replied dryly. "After what's happened, I think development on that system will be discontinued. If the suit taking critical damage causes problems like this in the pilot, it's not a very good system, no matter what the combat advantages are."
One of the doctors came out with an update. "Commander, Mariemaia's vitals are fine, and she just has a few bruises, but she claims she can't feel her left arm. It must be a sort of psychosomatic reaction."
"I see. We'll have to wait and do a more thorough examination once we arrive on Mars." Lady Une sighed and closed the connection.
Mariemaia mumbled a few
the colorful phrases she had picked up from the other Preventers and
up in her bed. She glared in annoyance at her left arm, which, in spite
of the incident during the battle, was perfectly intact, yet stubbornly
refusing to admit to this fact.
It was just a mobile suit, damnit! "Psychosomatic reaction". Geez. Even after all my practice, this happens and... Or maybe this happened because of how much I've been practicing? I hope this is only temporary. I KNOW I'm fine, but.... Even when the doctors had stuck an IV into her left arm, she hadn't felt a thing. It was more than a little disorienting, and only compounded by the zero gravity. Maybe once the suit is repaired, I can try that, and maybe that will work...? Assuming they'll let me anywhere near the PNUCU-01 after this. At least we're all alive and more or less in good shape.
Siduri stood at the
along with his parents and Quatre, awaiting his sister's return.
and shuttles flew in almost non-stop.
"When's she coming? God, it feels like it's been ages since we saw her!" The tall youth started to pace, hands planted in his trenchcoat's pockets.
"Soon." Noin rolled her eyes, "I thought I brought you up with more patience than this."
As if on cue, Sidra, along with the Yuys, the Changs, and Duo walked into the terminal. They were followed by a redheaded girl and a tall woman with blonde hair.
"Sidra!" Siduri waved and ran over, "Damn, you look totally different with that purple hair! Gonna keep it that way?"
"Good to see you too." Sidra responded with suitable sarcasm.
"Siduri!" Ariana ran over and nearly knocked her cousin over, "I haven't seen you in ages!"
"Oof! At least somebody likes me." Siduri made a face at his twin, who was already walking off after greeting her parents. What is up with you, Sidra??
"Ya know, I'll be back at the house if anybody needs me." Siduri pried Ariana off and made his retreat.
Dorothy introduced Tiana to the people present, though the girl probably already knew their names.
"Tiana Pembroke, Lucrezia Peacecraft, Governor Milliardo Peacecraft, and Quatre Raberba Winner." Dorothy smiled and used her best Evil Dorothy tone while looking at Quatre. She decided he obviously hadn't changed. "You look like you've recovered well."
"Um... Thanks..." Quatre looked a bit ill at ease, considering the last time he had seen this woman she'd run him through on a rapier. Tiana blinked and looked between the two for a moment, confused.
"I'm... glad to see you made it off Libra all right." Quatre managed to say.
Siduri pulled his
neon green car (with a yellow smiley face painted on the hood) into the
garage and climbed out. Sidra's attitude concerned him.
She's totally changed. He made tracks for his room and shut the door. I don't get it... Well... maybe I do get it... Siduri rummaged through his closet and pulled out his guitar. She must have really let this war change her... and man... Seeing Aunt Relena get shot... Guess that sorta thing would traumatize somebody for life. Siduri tossed his coat on the floor and sat down on his bed. He began to play a surprisingly mellow chord, especially considering the music he always listened to around others. Seems like yesterday she was fighting with Dad about joining the MDC... She was pretty lame, wearing that mask. I can't believe she was stupid enough to use that last name! Well, she is blond. But the school people were dumber for believing it.
I wonder what Mom and Dad were thinking... playing that trick on her. Maybe I shoulda stopped her from joining....
Idiot, how would you have pulled that off? Well, I could have told Mom or Dad... But that's like... sibling betrayal or something, and I've always tried to look out for her... Of course, now I think stopping or telling would have been better for her.... Some 'big brother' I am... Helping her steal the Tallgeese... Moron. Shoulda kept your anger to yourself. It was Meiran's idea though. Wonder if she's changed over this period of time too. It had to be hard for her and Aunt Sally dealing with Uncle Wufei's amnesia.
Still... War isn't any reason to be cold to your own brother! So what if we've stupidly gotten ourselves involved and are fighting and killing. .......... Killing.
Siduri struck a sour note.
... When I go out there in Star-Streak... I'm gonna be killing people. How the hell does peace come out of war with all the killing that's happened-? And all those sneaky politicians on Earth... I saw some of their hearings on TV... They don't care about peace... they just care about themselves...
... War sucks. It's changed my sister, taken my uncle's memory for awhile, killed my aunt, made the Pembroke girl disown her damned family... I guess history is written in blood. After all, the things it seems to focus on are the wars, and who won. Most people forget the other stuff, even if it is written down. Damnit, I don't know if I can do this shit. Sidra, Meiran, and Shino all seem to be able to handle it in one way or another... Especially Shino, but I don't wanna end up all gloomy and embittered like Sidra. This is the kinda thing that'll haunt me in my sleep forever! I wonder if any of my uncles have that problem. How do ya ask a guy something like that-?
Siduri briefly envisioned Heero pointing a gun to his forehead in response.
..... Eh... you don't. Feh... if this is what Fate has in store for me, then I'll do it, and I'm not gonna let it get to me. Besides, everybody has enough problems going on without me being all serious and depressive like Sid.
'Sides, somebody has to get peoples' cases to lighten up. Like Uncle Duo sometimes does.
Siduri went back to playing his guitar, set on not letting anything get him down, even his sister.
A course of shrieks greeted Tiffany upon her entrance into the hangar.
She was swamped by her fellow PMS members.
"We missed you!!!" Shannon glomped the 'Great Albino Leader'.
"It's been crazy around here without you!" Momoko grinned, "Shannon and Jeanie were fighting over Quatre!"
"And then somehow over Tasuki." Stephanie noted.
"WAS THERE FLUFFAGE!?" Kiandra shouted above the others.
"DAAA!!!" Jeanie fell over, then got up and rubbed her ears, "That hurt, no da."
"What's that?" Jenna poked around and snatched the bottle Tiffany was carrying.
"....." She studied it. The others gathered around her to look and await the verdict.
"INCRIMINATING EVIDENCE!" Jenna declared and held the bottle up above her head, "A HALF EMPTY BOTTLE OF RED WINE!!"
"You know... I JUST got back." Tiffany snatched the bottle back, "I'm juuuust a little bit tired."
"After all, she probably didn't get much sleep on the shuttle. All alone with Trooooooowa!" Stephanie sang out. Tiffany snatched Steph's famous wrench and clobbered its owner over the head.
"Ooooorooo..." Stephanie wobbled and fell over dazed, "Lookit da pretty bishoooouneeeen...."
"How about this..." Tiffany set the wrench down, "I'll give you alllll the details tomorrow. Right down to every dull and boring one."
"Okay!" The others chorused.
"Oh yeah... we've got a lot of work to do, Tiff... They're..." Momoko sniffed, "Using us like common TECHIES!" She burst into super deformed tears.
"There there, Moe." Jeanie patted her friend on the back.
"Just think of the money we'll make!" Shannon's eyes became starry as she became a super deformed version of herself and dollar signs briefly flashed in her eyes.
"....." Tiffany made tracks for her office to begin sorting through her mail. She noted a new addition framed next to the Ranma 1/2 calendar. An animation cel of a character we can't name for fear of breaking the Fourth Wall.
I need a Nuriko Special.
"Hm." Milliardo eyed the
beeping vid-comm in his office. He hit the call accept button. The
lit up with Josie Selvaggio's scowling face. (He's Not Happy?)
"If it isn't 'Commander' Selvaggio." Milliardo didn't look too thrilled, but he'd been expecting this eventually, "And what is the meaning of this call?"
"Treason. Against the Earth Sphere Unified Nation."
"It isn't very unified anymore, now is it, 'Commander'?" Milliardo replied in a low voice.
"The President, along with the Senate, demand you hand over the rebel Preventers you aided. And that is only the beginning of their list."
"All Martian military equipment is to be handed over as well. Tiana Pembroke is to be deported back to Earth for interrogation, as a suspect in the murder of Relena Yuy." Selvaggio continued smugly. Milliardo didn't look too interested in what the man had to say.
"I see. So you expect me to hand over a military force capable of defeating yours, should you come to attack, simply because a corrupt government is 'demanding' it? Along with Preventer refugees and an innocent girl?"
"This isn't to be taken lightly, 'Governor'."
"Indeed." Milliardo smiled and hit a button on the vid-comm, "You're online live to all of Mars. Would you care to repeat your demands, 'Commander' Selvaggio?"
"....Uh..." Siduri blinked at his TV screen.
"You're online live to all of Mars. Would you care to repeat your demands, 'Commander' Selvaggio?" His father's voice said.
"Man, I hate these live broadcasts. Who cares what this dork has to say anyways?" Siduri grabbed the remote and turned off the TV.
Meanwhile, people more interested in the news
Siduri, stopped at watched, as a somewhat flabbergasted Selvaggio
on screens throughout the Mars sphere.
"....." He tried to recover from the surprise, "Eh... ahem... Citizens of Mars, as part of the Earth Sphere Unified Nation, you should be willing to comply with their demands to help maintain peace. Those demands being that Mars hand over all military equipment, including the Tallgeese and Gundams-"
"LIKE HELL!" Ariana threw a shoe at the television.
"And if we don't?" Meiran rolled her eyes and continued unpacking things in her dorm room, "What are they going to do? Try and take them by force? Feh."
"Surrender the rebel Preventers-"
"So says the usurper." Lady Une slipped her glasses on to get a better look at the screen, "That idiot doesn't know what he's getting into."
"Wufei," Sally stuck her head into the room her
was in, "Selvaggio wants Mars to surrender the 'rebel Preventers'."
"They'll have to come and take us by force." Wufei snorted, "As if they're actually any threat."
"I'm surprised they have the nerve to demand this. As if Mars is going to help us, and then hand us right back."
"I'd say they're desperate for military forces."
"And to deport Tiana Pembroke back to Earth. For interrogation."
"Like hell." Shino, in a fit of uncharacteristic
crankiness, pulled out his gun and shot the television in the hangar.
"You're paying for a new one." Shannon crossed her arms.
"And here I had wanted to hear the rest of it." Duo commented sarcastically.
"Now we can't watch anime!!!" Jenna flailed while Shino put his gun away.
"Hm." Dorothy listened to the radio in the
she'd decided to share with the young Pembroke girl, taking the girl
her wing in a sense.
"..." Tiana shook her head, "Probably about Mrs. Yuy's assassination... even though they already know it was Kwannon."
"They probably just want to use you for propaganda. To give the Earth a more definite face to hate. Poor tactics." Dorothy noted, "Very poor tactics. Just what I'd expect from such a snively little man like Mr. Selvaggio."
"I have a simple answer to your demands."
spoke once Selvaggio finished.
"Never." There was a certain amount of calmness in the response.
"What!? Mars and its colonies are part of the World Nation!!" Selvaggio switched back to the more casual term for the government.
"The Earth Sphere Unified Nation, is, and always has been, more beneficial to the Earth Sphere. Until recently the World Nation was not too interested in Venus or Mars. It's no wonder Venus declared a war."
"Are you saying you're declaring war on the Earth Sphere as well!?" Selvaggio snarled.
"Far from it. Venus was attacking us before they were attacking you. It's obvious we're the greatest threat to them. We aren't going to ally ourselves with them against the Earth Sphere. In fact, if... no, when. When Venus attacks the Earth, you're more than welcome to request back up support from the Mars Sphere."
... And Siduri was totally oblivious to the great moment in history that was going on.
Meiran sat in the Academy
library, quietly reading. It'd been a few days since Selvaggio's little
speech, and not much was going on. Mars didn't have plans to attack the
Earth, Venus was going out of attack range, the Earth was still
forces, and was still not strong enough to wage war against Mars. Let
both Venus and Mars.
Fools don't know what they're diving into... Not that I knew at first. Not that I know for sure even now... It hasn't even been a year since this whole mess started, but it feels like it's been going on forever now! Especially those months back home, when Daddy didn't remember anything... I can't believe I was such an idiot. I could have gotten myself and Daddy killed. And I can't help but wonder if it was a bad idea to encourage Sidra to steal the Tallgeese... She could have died piloting that thing, after all.
Yes, you're a smart one, Meiran.
She rolled her blue eyes at herself. I suppose I should tell Uncle Quatre he was right about how I wouldn't realize how important the old man was until he was actually gone.
I'm just glad he came back.
She looked up briefly as a redheaded girl walked in, hair neatly pulled up in a red bow. It took her a moment to recognize her as Tiana, or as she had heard Ariana call her 'Shino's chick!' I can't believe that annoying cousin of mine built herself a Gundam! Without Uncle Heero or Aunt Relena finding out.
Meiran watched Tiana over the top of her book.
"You know," Her speaking startled Tiana, "you were basically fighting a losing battle talking to the Preventers back on Earth. I'm not sure if I should admire your efforts despite it, or assume you're feeling guilty about Relena Yuy's death and trying to take her place."
"'Guilty'...?" Tiana blinked and looked over. It was late, she was tired, all she wanted to was to check out a book to read and go to bed, but this tiny Chinese girl had chosen to unleash a verbal assault. "I don't even know you!"
"Meiran Chang. I was backstage at your last speech, and piloting a Gryphon during the escape. I'm piloting a Gundam for Mars."
"Why? Aren't you a little young to be fighting?" So is Ariana, but she's... a strange case.
Meiran's eyebrow twitched slightly at the assumption she was just a little girl because of her height. It was a problem she'd had at schools before.
"My mother was an Alliance Medical Major by the time she was 19, and my father was piloting a Gundam when he was my age. Besides, aren't YOU a little young to be diving into politics? You're what, 14?"
"That's not much better." Tiana noted.
"Hmph." Meiran closed her book.
"Why are you fighting?" Tiana sat down across from Meiran, interested in the conversation as long as things didn't get too heated, "Is it because you believe it's right?"
"Hm." Meiran didn't answer, "Why aren't you?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean why haven't you been out there fighting?"
"Because I don't believe it would help."
"And if everybody here believed that Venus would have taken over Mars in one attack." Meiran pointed out in a slighting tone, "Have you accomplished anything talking your head off at people?"
"I... well... maybe some... civilians..."
"I can tell you from personal experience civilians don't give a goddamned crap about it. Not on the Earth colonies anyway." Meiran snapped, recalling the little chat with her school counselor, "They'd rather distance themselves from it as much as possible, and persecute anybody who remotely threatens their 'peace', regardless of what side they're on. It happened to me, it happened to my family, and it happened to my 'uncles'."
"You still haven't said why you're fighting." Tiana glared as best she could, which wasn't very well, "Do you even know why you're fighting!?"
"Of course I know!" Meiran returned the glare, tenfold, "And it isn't YOUR business why I decided to fight! I don't think you truly understand war, Pembroke. It doesn't just cause people to kill other people. It changes lives. I wouldn't be alive if it wasn't for the war in A.C. 195. My parents would have never met. My mother would still be in the Alliance, and my father would be living as a scholar, married to the woman he named me after!"
"So you're saying you owe your existence to a stupid war!?" Tiana raised her voice a bit. It was a good thing the library was empty.
"I'm just using myself as an example about the effects of war. In fact, if it weren't for that war, Sidra, Siduri, Ariana, and Shino probably wouldn't be here either!"
"You're just like the war hungry people on Earth! Diving into something you don't understand!"
"You think I don't understand!? Some of us didn't grow up with a silver spoon in our mouth, or in blissfully ignorant peace! I grew up with one or both my parents gone, risking their lives to maintain the damned peace. If it had been a truly peaceful world before Venus started their attacks, there wouldn't have been a need for the Preventers!"
"You seem awfully embittered for somebody who's only 15!!" Tiana stood up, "And I bet I know why you are!"
"Oh?" Meiran set her book down, eyes narrowed.
"What!?" Meiran stood up, slamming her hands down on the table. Tiana stepped back in surprise, but continued quickly.
"You're afraid and becoming bitter is the only way you know how to deal with it!"
"Brat." Meiran growled, "You think you're better than me, don't you? You're the one who let herself be used as a fucking pawn."
"What do you mean!?"
"You were the opened door into the Yuy household for that Yokoshima woman!"
"I... I..." Tiana searched for a response, but Meiran pressed on.
"And you were too ignorant to realize it! Your little speeches were well written pieces of bullshit. If you really meant any of what you felt, you ought to be doing more than just talking about it and stop being a pawn!! Even on Earth, you were letting yourself be a pawn to discourage the Earth fighting. They may not have realized that's what they were doing, but they were doing it! If you really don't want a war, why the hell don't you go back to Venus, and start talking to the people THERE instead!?! Maybe then you could make a damned difference!"
"They're set on their course as much as the Earth is now! You don't understand what's going on there!" Tiana, not having a temper that could match Meiran's, started to feel tears in her eyes.
"All I need to understand is that they want to attack, and have attacked, the Earth Sphere and the Mars Sphere!"
"I didn't come in here to fight with you..." Tiana looked down, "We've probably got a lot more in common than you think!" With that, Tiana fled the library.
"....." Meiran picked her book back up and returned it to its proper place in the back. After a brief moment of just standing there, quivering slightly, she sat down. She leaned her back against the wall and pulled her knees up to her chest.
Maybe I really... don't understand it... I came out here originally just... just to try and prove myself to Daddy... But I don't think I'm afraid... am I? There isn't enough time to be afraid of it... Damnit... things were so much simpler when I was just running away from home. Come to think of it... Why was Mom for me piloting when she was talking with Daddy about it? Did she think it would do him and I good? ... I guess it some twisted way it has... Meiran started to cry, despite her best efforts to avoid it. She banged her head back on the wall.
What's wrong with me!? After this whole damned war is over, we can go home, and things will be different... Daddy and I are getting along much better now... it's not perfect or anything, but still... we aren't always fighting... But.... when will it end...? The longer it goes on... the greater chance that me, or mom, or Daddy will be next in line to be killed in combat... Then what?? Then what happens? Am I really becoming bitter-? What does she know anyways? That brat has probably had anything she ever wanted. She doesn't have any right to try and judge me!! ... I suppose that means I don't have any right to judge her either...
So much has happened... too much has happened. Being thrust into a battlefield, and stupidly throwing myself in on occasion, Aunt Relena's death... she was always so nice the few times I saw her, the colonies kicking us out... It's all too much... Daddy without his memory... When he first woke up and didn't know who I was... I felt so much all at once... I was so afraid he'd never remember who I was again... But I could hardly bring myself to cry during those months... I wanted to though... I wanted to. He didn't even remember how to use chopsticks... It hurt so much, so much, to be around him.... And when he cut himself on his sword and then asked... no, demanded I teach him how to properly use it.... I wanted to just die...
Nobody understands though... Nobody... I'm hurting too! But I'm supposed to be stronger than that... Damnit! If Daddy saw me right now... She banged her head against the wall one more time. Stop it!
"... I'm hurting too..." Meiran whispers between sobs and buried her face in her arms, hidden away between the tall wooden shelves full of books.
"I have never had a
dream about someone!" Stephanie grinned. All the PMS members were
in at one of their apartments, playing a rousing round of 'I've Never'.
Kiandra and Jenna both sipped at their drinks.
"I'm not surprised." Shannon made a face, "As for me, I have never..." She looked thoughtful, then a devious expression crossed her face and she looked at Tiffany, "I have never been RESCUED by a cute guy!"
"Not even an ugly guy would want to rescue you." Tiffany replied dryly and took a sip.
"Heeeey!" Shannon whined.
"My turn! My turn, no da!" Jeanie cheered, "I have never piloted a Gundam!"
Stephanie, Jenna, and Momoko coughed, looked away, and guiltily sipped.
"When?" Tiffany raised an eyebrow.
"We just needed to test the systems!! Honest!" Momoko sweatdropped, "We didn't even leave the hangar!"
"I have," Jenna interrupted, "never dreamt of Wufei."
"I have..." Kiandra trailed off dreamily, then took a large sip of her drink.
"Well.... Hm... Let's see... I have never Naga-laughed on a golf course." Momoko grinned.
"IT WAS TOO TEMPTING!" Shannon declared and took a sip from her glass, "It was so quiet.... and... and.... I just had to do it!"
"Hmm... I... Hm. What have I never done...?" Kiandra set her glass down and crossed her arms, "I have never... never... um... I never... Been hit on in a super market parking lot!"
"You're just jealous." Shannon rolled her eyes and sipped her drink, "Tiffany's turn."
"I've never blown $500 on anime in one day." Tiffany winked.
"....." Everyone else drank quietly.
"I've never gotten into a cat fight over a guy who doesn't exist!"
"HE DOES TOO EXIST!" Shannon held up her glass.
"HAI! NO DA! IN ANOTHER DIMENSION!" Jeanie gulped down half her glass. Shannon followed in suit.
"I have never tried to turn into a Super Saiya-jin!" Shannon pointed at Stephanie.
"I was so close, too..." Steph looked down and took a sip, "Maybe next time."
"Hm. I've never been shot, no da!"
"Yeah, yeah." Jenna grumbled and took a sip, "Maybe if I'm lucky Trowa will shoot you."
"DA!!!" Jeanie took on her Super Deformed form and flailed her arms.
"Well, I have never... hm." Jenna looked at her peers, searching for something she knew one of them had done, that she hadn't. "I have never fallen for somebody who's SHORT and PURPLE!"
"PIXY STICK PURPLE, YOU INFIDEL!!" Shannon pointed the Finger of Accusation at Jenna, refilled her glass, and sipped, eying Jenna evilly.
"Along a similar train of thought... I have never declared myself a Miko to any anime character."
"You're all infidels." Shannon switched her glare to Momoko and sipped at her drink.
"Hm." Kiandra looked at the ceiling for inspiration on how to continue the current trend of bagging on Shannon, "I have never... eaten a peanut butter and pickle sandwich!"
"Those are quite good, thank you." Shannon took yet another sip, "And what is this? Bag on Shannon night??"
"My turn. I've got another one that will get you all." Tiffany grinned, "I have never kissed, or been kissed by anyone under mistletoe!"
"... Um, you're all supposed to sip now. I don't celebrate Christmas, remember??" Tiffany looked at the shocked faces, "Not my religion."
"Oooooooh, yeaaaaah." The others slowly came to and sipped their drinks, evil ideas beginning to form in the backs of their tipsy minds.
"Say, Tiffany-san?" Shannon looked thoughtful, "Even though you like, don't celebrate Christmas and stuff, if you were under mistletoe, would you let somebody kiss you or not??"
"Um.... I... suppose." Tiffany blinked, "... Why?"
"That's just something I've always wondered." Shannon hiccupped and swiftly covered her mouth in surprise.
"Hey, Heero." Duo blinked
as he walked over to the door to Milliardo's office, "You here to talk
to Milliardo too?"
Heero nodded in response.
"Ah... Well, he even in there?" Duo blinked.
"He's on the phone. Be patient." Heero answered flatly.
"Well, is it like, all right if I talk to him first? I don't wanna leave Hilde alone too long and all... ya know." Duo sweatdropped slightly.
Heero nodded again and the door opened.
"Sorry, I wasn't expecting any meetings with anyone today." Milliardo sighed, "You need to talk to me too Duo?"
"Is it IMPORTANT?"
"YES!!" Duo snapped indignantly and stalked in. Milliardo shook his head and closed the door behind him.
"All right then, what is it?" The older man sat down at his desk. Duo sighed.
"I want to talk to you about my piloting the new Deathscythe... I'm not sure... not sure I can do it anymore... It kinda just occurred to me last night, when I was watchin' Hilde sleep, that I could get killed out there. And then, well, I want to be alive to see my kid grow up."
Milliardo nodded and allowed Duo to go on.
"I want my kid to have what I didn't. I want him to have a family. Ya know? A mom, and a dad. Maybe even a brother or sister eventually. No matter how good a pilot I am, every time I go out and fight, there's a chance I'll be killed." Duo paced back and forth as he spoke. "Part of me still wants to fight and all, but I don't want Hilde to have to raise our kid without me... I know that the fighting is important, and that somebody has to do it... But I don't think I'm the right guy to do it anymore..." Duo stopped and looked down.
"I understand. I'll look for a new pilot. But let me know if you change your mind."
"Thanks..." Duo sighed again and headed out. Heero, who had overheard, looked at his friend.
"The 'God of Death' finally developing a sense of mortality?" He inquired.
"....." Duo didn't answer and continued on his way down the hall.
"You wanted to see me
Heero?" Milliardo sat down at his desk. He had his suspicions as to
this meeting was in regards to, but he didn't indicate it.
"Yeah." Heero sat down in a chair opposite of Milliardo, "First I want to make it clear I won't be piloting."
"And I..." Heero looked down, "I failed to protect Relena."
Milliardo didn't answer immediately. While he had expected Relena to come up, he had not prepared any comments. Her untimely death still hurt, and it probably always would. He chose his words carefully.
"... If this had happened 19 or 20 years ago, I'd have probably blamed you. You don't need to apologize to me for anything, Heero."
"She was happy with you. And I'm grateful for that." Milliardo sighed, "Relena... she wouldn't want you blaming yourself for it. I know you. I know you are."
"There should have been something I could have done." Heero snapped in response, "I told her I would protect her!"
"I should have known Venus was going to do something like that!"
"How could you have? It doesn't matter now anyway."
"I failed her. I failed you." Heero clenched a fist, "I failed myself."
"It wasn't a mission-"
"She was why I lived!" Heero snapped again.
"Heero Yuy." Milliardo stood up, "You have two children. You need to take care of them. They're undoubtedly hurting from this too."
"....." Heero stood up, "Thank you for your time."
"....." Milliardo watched the apparently not-so-perfect soldier head for the door, "Heero."
"....." Heero looked back at him.
"Since you don't want to pilot, how would you feel about taking command of one of the ships we're working on? It's not much of a fleet, but..."
"I'll think about it."
Heero knocked twice on
dorm door where Quatre was currently residing. His fellow pilot seemed
surprised to see him when he opened the door, but was nevertheless
and let him in.
"Heero, how are you?"
"I want to talk to you about the ZERO system." Heero was not exactly one for small talk.
"W-why?" Quatre blinked, "Do you intend to use it again, Heero?"
"Do you still have a copy of the program?"
"... Yes. I've kept it with me... just in case." Quatre admitted.
"Hn. 'Just in case'... So much for pacifism." Heero noted.
"....." Quatre looked down and sighed, "I probably should have destroyed it back we destroyed the Gundams... but..."
"Give it to me." Heero held out a hand. Quatre nodded and retrieved it from a briefcase.
"What do you want with it, Heero? I was under the impression you weren't going to fight anymore." He handed over the disc.
"I'm not." Heero looked at the disc. Hn, innocent enough on its own. He 'carefully' applied enough pressure to break it in two.
Quatre blinked momentarily, "But... what if we end up needing it again?"
"... Would you use it again?"
"Tiana?" Shino blinked as
he walked up to the younger girl in the cafeteria. She looked rather
has probably been really hard on her... She's only fourteen and people
have tried to assassinate her! Not even Mom had to worry about being
at until she was 15..... Mom... I wonder what she'd think about all
She always had something nice to say to everyone it seemed.
"Hi..." Tiana idly stirred the ice in her soda around with her straw. I know I've been used a bit... but I don't think I'm really a pawn... I'm not just trying to take Mrs. Yuy's place, am I? Tiana shook her head slightly. If even I don't believe what I've been saying, nobody else will.
"Something wrong?" Shino set his tray down and sat down across from Tiana.
"... I don't know..." Tiana sighed and stared down at the table, "... I went to the library last night and ran into Meiran there." I hope she isn't always like that.
"Meiran?" Shino blinked again, "Um... I would assume this wasn't a good thing, given her track record..."
"... So she is always self-righteous and insulting?" Tiana glanced up at Shino.
"As far as I know... She gets it from her dad."
"... I don't think I want to be in the same room as both of them then."
"No kidding. So what did Meiran have to say?"
"....." Tiana sighed, "Well... we argued with each other... Basically... we don't much agree on anything. But... one thing she said has been bothering me all day."
"She thinks I'm trying to take your mother's place because I feel guilty about what happened..." Tiana sipped her drink, "Among other things."
"....." Shino looked down. No one could take Mom's place, even if they wanted to.
"I do feel guilty about it... If I hadn't been there at all, it would have been a lot harder for Kwannon to get in." Tiana leaned on an elbow, "Meiran pointed that out too, even though it was something I already knew." So what is it I'm trying to do, or prove? Why'd I even want to try to keep the Earth out of the conflict? Was that really me talking, or was I really just feeling guilty? I wonder if my own mother was using me for this... I don't think I'd put it past her now.
"Well, I think Meiran's got her own problems... I wouldn't dwell too much on what she has to say. You just happened to be a convenient target."
"It's not so much that she said what she did, but that what she said might be true."
"Huh?" Shino mumbled with his mouth full. She wouldn't have been trying so hard to stop things if she didn't really want to. Nobody would risk their life- after all, she did nearly get shot - for something they didn't believe in, right? .... Man, am I turning into my dad?
"Well... it's just... I don't think I even know what I'm doing now." Tiana slumped.
"There really isn't much you can do right now." Shino mused. Seems like a lot of time has passed. I remember when I met Tiana. Heh. I'd just gotten back from Mars, and found that Sidra had ended up on Earth with Mom and Dad. She seems a lot older than she is. I wonder how things would have gone if I hadn't dragged her onto the dance floor? Heh. Sidra and Ariana were pretty miffed. "You were sure out there awhile, Shino." "Yeah, with the 'enemy'. And you looked pretty happy, bro." That was nice though.
"Hey, Tiana." Shino finished his hamburger, "I was just thinking-"
"Did it hurt?" Ariana walked by.
"Yes, and I'm lucky I survived." Shino shot back as his younger sister stole his dessert cup in passing, and heading for the Gundam hangar.
"Hi and bye, Ariana." Tiana waved slightly.
"Anyways... Do you want to go out somewhere?"
Ariana smirked and ran
the hangar, jello dessert cup in hand.
"SHINO ASKED TIANA ON A DATE! And how's FalconWing?"
"Mm..." Shannon looked up from her manga, "Tiffany-san is writing up some new software for it, and Jeanie and Momoko are getting paint for it."
"What's wrong with it's current color scheme!?!" Ariana demanded. Shannon was already lost in her own little world.
"Tasuki..... I want 'artificial respiration' like that..." She sighed longingly.
"Well," Stephanie walked over, "First off, it's not ever been completely painted. Second, that brown is a nasty shade. Third, we have to replace a bunch of armor because it was scrapped together, to improve the overall performance of it."
"It performs fine!!" Ariana scowled.
"You've got like, LEO parts for the knee joints!" Jenna shouted.
"And the left hand came from a Virgo!" Kiandra added.
"AND," Tiffany stuck her head out her opened office door, "You've got the software for a recreational suit installed, not a proper combat system."
"Rrr..." Ariana grumbled.
"Besides," Jeanie walked over, "I've got a much cooler color scheme in mind for you, no da!"
"Eh?" Ari raised an eyebrow.
"Swap the brown for a silvery gray, white for orange, and we'll leave the blue as is, no da." Jeanie read from her clipboard.
"Couple that with a proper finish," Momoko leaned on Jeanie's shoulder, "and maybe some insignia's, and it'll be great."
"We already ordered the paint." Shannon said from behind her manga, "There will be no buts. I refuse to spend more money on paint."
"Rrr.... Fine! But I demand to supervise!"
Gasps were had by all. Tiffany walked out.
"Miss Yuy." Tiffany walked around in front of her, "Let me just make a few things clear. I am in charge around here. When I am not around, Shannon is, since she handles the money. We are professionals, and we know exactly what we are doing. While it's impressive that you built a combat ready Gundam all by yourself, at age 14, we've been doing this for at least a decade. So basically, if any of these lunatics want to do something to your suit, since your FATHER asked us to upgrade it, they will."
Ariana put her hands on her hips and glared up at the PMS founder.
"It's MY mobile suit! I own it! Just because my dad asked you guys to upgrade it doesn't mean I wanted your help!"
"Ano..." Jenna sweatdropped.
"Hey, kid." Stephanie walked over, "Look at THAT." She pointed at the Typhoon, "That is your oniichan's suit. We built that. Imagine what we could do to make your suit even better!"
Ariana blinked and looked at the tall blue and green mobile suit.
"Aweeesooome...." She then clasped her hands together, eyes going starry, "Can I join you guys!?!"
"NANI!?!?" In one fell swoop, Ariana got the entire PMS to fall over.
"Noooo! No lunatic kids!" Moe sweatdropped. Tiffany looked at her.
"Look who's talking."
"I'll be a good little apprentice! I promise!!" Ariana bounced up and down, "And I can at least help! You guys are understaffed at the moment, aren't you? With all the Preventer suits, right???"
"Well, yeah. WHICH REMINDS ME." Tiffany looked at Shannon, "What are you doing sitting on your arse!?"
"WARK!" Shannon dropped her manga in surprise, picked it up, and then scurried off.
With that said, Tiffany headed out the door for a late lunch break.
December 3rd, A.C. 216
suddenly, instantly rousting the God of Death.
"Who?! What!? Are we under attack!?!" Duo sat up in his (black) boxers. (Fan service.)
"No! No damnit, not that!" Hilde threw some clothing at Duo, "Get me to the base hospital. NOW."
"IT'S TIME! Where's my suitcase!?!"
"BY THE DOOR!" Death was up and running like somebody had put ice down his pants, "OHMYGODOHMYGOD! I'm gonna be a daddy!"
"SHUT UP AND START THE CAR!!!" Hilde climbed into the back seat.
Not that it was a long drive from the base housing to the hospital. But Duo insisted on laying on the horn to make sure any drivers out at this ungodly hour were alert he was speeding by.
"Ugh..." Sally rolled
"Who the hell is honking at this hour...?"
"... Injustice..." Wufei mumbled. The phone rang right by his head. "GAH!"
"Keep it down!" Sally snapped.
"Hello?" Wufei grumped into the phone.
"WUFEI! SALLY!" Duo's all too psychotically gleeful voice rang in Wufei's ears.
"THIS HAD BETTER BE GOOD."
"KEEP IT DOWN!" Sally hissed.
"HILDE IS IN LABOR! WE JUST GOT TO THE HOSPITAL! Call the others! I have to go with Hilde now! But I want everybody to be there! Would you do that for me? Please, Wufei?? Please??"
"Why... did you... call ME out of all of us?"
"... Um, I only remember this number. Sorry! Bye! I gotta go- OW!- Let go of my braid, Hilde! CALL THE OTHERS WUFEI! Call Heero, and Quatre, and Trowa, and um, call Wufei and Milliardo, and.... Um... GOTTA GO!"
"... You called me, idiot."
*click* Duo was gone. Wufei sighed.
Within about 10 minutes,
everyone but Heero was present.
"About how long is this gonna be, Doc???" Duo paced.
"She'll probably be in labor a few hours. This is her first, isn't it?"
"Yeah... But not for lack of trying!" Duo beamed.
"Why don't you all go into the waiting room for now, and we'll get you when it's time." The doctor sweatdropped at the crowd present.
"I'll stay here." Sally smiled. Duo thanked her before scurrying out into the waiting room with the others.
"I'm gonna be a daddy!! I wonder it'll be a boy or a girl!?" Duo paced back and forth, "Will it have my hair color, or Hilde's??? Whose nose will it have? Do you think Hilde will be okay????"
"Will you calm down, Maxwell!?" Wufei sat down. Meiran whacked him lightly.
"I heard you fainted when I was born, Daddy."
"And Sally told me that you got decked with a bedpan." Noin smiled.
"He's right that you should calm down though, Duo." Quatre walked over, "I'm sure Hilde is going to be fine."
Heero sat quietly in his
room, on his bed, in the dark. The call hadn't awakened him. He'd been
up all night thus far. He hadn't said he would be there, and it wasn't
asked, since Wufei was in a hurry to call everyone else.
This wasn't to say he wasn't happy for his friend. He could remember when Yoshino had been born. It was the most amazing thing that he'd ever seen happen. And Relena had been so happy. Tired, but happy.
Shino is almost an adult... I know he can take care of himself... and Ariana as well. I know Ariana will learn to take care of herself too.
"It's time!" A nurse
in, and nearly got run over by Duo. The others followed to watch from a
"Duo!" Hilde looked over at her husband.
"Hilde!" Duo ran over, took her hand, and sat beside her, "This is where I tell you to breathe and push, right!?"
"Well, we tell her to push, sir." The nurse sweatdropped slightly.
"Okay, whatever! Breathe, Hilde!"
"You're SUPPOSED to breathe WITH me, Duo!!" Hilde snapped.
"Sorry, sorry!!" Duo answered frantically, and paced deep breaths with Hilde's.
"I can see the head." The much calmer doctor stated.
"One more push ought to do it. Push hard." The nurse instructed Hilde.
The others outside could hear Hilde's scream as a new little life was brought into the world. (Was that sappy or what?)
"I'M A DADDY! I'm gonna teach him how to throw a ball and catch it! I'll buy him a glove! Show him how to fix cars! I'll teach him how to braid his hair!"
"It's a beautiful baby girl." The nurse smiled.
"I'll teach him how to race mobile suits! How to drive! How to throw a football! And I'll buy him a Ferrari!"
"Yeah! Bright red one!"
"DUO!" Hilde shouted.
"It's a GIRL!"
"Then I'll teach her all that stuff, and get her a bright red Ferrari! .... It's a girl?" Duo blinked. The nurse looked at him and nodded.
"Waaaah!" The baby cried.
"She's perfectly healthy, sir. Here." The nurse handed Duo his little girl. Duo blinked and looked down at the kid, and sat back down next to Hilde so she could see too.
"She's so tiny..." Duo was in awe.
"She's opening her eyes." Hilde smiled and the baby quieted down and stared back at Duo. Her eyes were the same bright violet-blue as her father's.
"Wow... She's our daughter." Duo blinked again. A serious expression crossed his face suddenly. This is what I'm gonna fight for now. So my little girl can have someplace peaceful to grow up. And be safe. I simply won't let myself get killed. So she can have what Hilde and I didn't. Yeah.
"Duo?" Hilde blinked.
"Huh?" Duo looked over at Hilde, "Sorry, I was just thinking."
"Why don't you call Heero on a vid-comm since he couldn't be here? I know he's your friend and that you wanted him here. He should have his vid-comm, and I'm pretty tired now." Hilde smiled tiredly, "Show him the baby, and tell him what we're going to name her."
"Um, right. Mission accepted, Hilde-babe." Duo smooched Hilde's cheek and made his exit with the doctor.
Heero sighed and pressed
his gun to his head. Sure, it was probably selfish to do this on Duo's
big day, and cowardly to do this to his family, but it was the only
he knew. Then he could be with Relena again. He wouldn't even have to
All he had to do was pull the trigger. It was so simple.
Why is it so easy to take life away?
Maybe too easy. He hadn't written a note. Heero knew he wouldn't be able to explain himself. The pain was too much to explain. He lived for Relena. Without her, what was his purpose? He had nothing to live for anymore. Heero's grip tightened
... Relena wouldn't want this. A voice seemed to whisper in the back of his mind.
Any further thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of his vid-comm. Confused for a moment, Heero set his gun down and a walked over to the desk.
... It must be Duo.
He answered the vid-comm, and sure enough, there was Duo's smiling face. His hair was a bit messed up, but in his arms, wrapped in a blanket, was a little baby, with the same mischievous eyes as Duo.
"Heero! I thought I'd be wakin' ya up or something. You okay?"
"... Yeah. Sorry I wasn't there."
"Ah, no problem." Duo shifted so Heero could see the baby better, "It's a girl. She's got my eyes, and I think she's got Hilde's nose. Hilde and I talked about this awhile ago, and I want to tell you now. Well, and Hilde asked me to. If it was a boy, we were gonna name him Solo after an old friend of mine. But since it's a girl... We want to name her after Relena, if that's all right with you. And ask you to be her godfather. How about it, buddy?" Duo looked hopefully.
Heero looked confused.
"Yeah. Relena Helen Maxwell. I think it sounds kinda nice, don't you?"
"....." Heero blinked, "Yes."
"Hear that, 'Lena?? Lookit the screen. That's your Uncle Heero." Duo cooed at the baby, "Well, I better go show her to the others, before they riot since I woke them up at 4 AM. What time is it now, anyways?"
"Almost 6 AM."
"Damn... Well, thanks Heero. I mean it." The baby grabbed the end of Duo's braid.
"... I see she's already got you wrapped around her fingers." Heero smiled.
"Eeeh, not Daddy's hair! Aw, man, not in the mouth... See ya later, Heero." Duo grinned and hung up. Heero shut off his end and sat down on his knees.
December 31st, A.C. 216
(Yes, you missed a lot.)
"Hey, hey people!" Keetia
grabbed the mic from Yancha, "How about we share some New Year's
We've got less than a half hour of 216 left, and I know some of you
even thought about it!"
Shannon climbed up onto the small stage and grabbed the mic.
"I have a few New Year's Resolutions to share! Number 1- I resolve to find a way to the Universe of the Four Gods and acquire Tasuki!"
"HE'S MINE, NO DA!"
"Number 2- If I can't do Number 1, I resolve to find a way to summon Kaioshin!"
"SHE WANTS TO FLUFF 'GOD'!!!" Stephanie shouted and got hit with the mic.
"And Number 3! I WILL MAKE YOU MARRY ME, QUATRE RABERBA WINNER!!!"
"THAT'S MY RESOLUTION, NO DA!" Jeanie attacked Shannon and a small cat fight ensued. Quatre sweatdropped and blushed slightly. Dorothy laughed.
Siduri snatched the mic.
"I got one! My New Year's Resolution is to limit my music to a 40 foot radius instead of 50!"
"I'm going to hold you to that." Noin smiled at her son, who grinned in response.
"Hm." Tiffany looked down
at her Nuriko Special, "I guess I ought to at least try and make a
"Oh?" Trowa raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah. I think I'll try to cut back on my drinking. How's that?" Tiffany smiled.
"... Sounds good."
"I WON'T EVER LET YOU HAVE HIM!"
"WHO, TASUKI? OR QUATRE!?"
The cat fight passed by the couple at the bar.
"....." Tiffany sweatdropped slightly, "And they haven't even been drinking that much. "
"Ten more minutes, peeps!" Keetia shouted into the mic, "Just ten more minutes until it's time to start a new year! Get your resolutions ready!"
"I vow to finish building that stack of models in my apartment before 218!" Stephanie shouted back.
"Don't promise the impossible." Jenna made a face.
"So..." Tiffany sipped at her drink, "You have any resolutions?"
"... Three." Trowa sipped at his own Nuriko Special.
"I shared mine." Tiffany made a face and set her glass down, "So what are yours?"
"THREE MORE MINUTES, EVERYBODY! JUST THREE MORE MINUTES! Fulfill your resolutions made last New Year's before it's too late!"
"But I resolved LAST YEAR to go to the Universe of the Four Gods!"
"OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHOHO!!!!!!!!" Momoko let loose with a Naga laugh.
Several people fell over.
"One. I resolve to not point a gun at your co-workers unless I mean it." Trowa glanced in Momoko's direction.
"TAMAHOMEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!" Jeanie countered.
"AMANO-SENPAI!!!!" Stephanie shot back.
"VAN-SAMAAAA!!!!!" Shannon shrieked.
"Shut up!!" Several people shouted in response.
"ONE MINUTE! ONE MINUTE! LADIES! MAKE YOUR HUSBANDS BUY YOU THAT DIAMOND NECKLACE! GENTLEMEN, GET THEM THAT DIAMOND NECKLACE!"
"... Is that some kinda hint, Keetia?" Yancha sweatdropped.
"Two." Trowa finished his Nuriko Special, "Increase my tolerance level to match yours."
"... So I'm going to drink less, and you're going to drink more." Tiffany raised an eyebrow, "Perhaps between the two of us we'll find a middle ground when it comes to the drinks."
"EIGHT! SEVEN! SIX!"
"And the third?" Tiffany inquired as the final countdown progressed.
"FIVE! FOUR! THREE!"
"Just wait." Trowa smiled mysteriously.
Trowa grabbed Tiffany in his arms, and, emboldened by the drinks he'd already had, kissed her full on the lips, much in the same manner that she had surprised him back at the circus. He'd had to pay her back for that, with interest. Tiffany was too stunned for a moment to respond.
".........................." Where everybody else should have been shouting 'Happy New Year', there was silence. Stunned silence. Not even a single remark from the PMS or Keetia.
After a minute they parted. Tiffany opened her eyes and blinked a few times.
"That," Trowa whispered, "was number three."
Continued in Gundam Wing: A New Era, Episode 28:
"Truth Behind Clouds"