Episode 29:
There Are Tears For Misfortune

        The year is After Colony 217. It has been nearly a year since the Venus Sphere declared war upon the World Nation. Though the fighting has not yet been of epic proportions, the causalities are high and the politics are dirty. The Venus Military Force, under orders from Nimeesha Pembroke, has assassinated the President of the World Nation, along with the influential Relena Yuy.
    Head of the Preventers, Lady Une, was branded as a traitor by the Earth Sphere government, causing the anti-terrorist force to split into factions. Followers of Josie Selvaggio, commander of the new Earth Defense Force, engaged in a high stakes battle with pro-Une forces. During this battle Lady Une and her supporters, with the aid of the Mars Defense Corps, escaped the Earth Sphere. Despite demands from Selvaggio, Mars Sphere governor Milliardo Peacecraft has refused to hand over Lady Une, the rebel Preventers, or his military hardware- effectively severing ties with the World Nation and opening the gate for hostilities.
    This is the year AC 217, and there is no peace.

        January 1st, AC 217. In what would later become known as the New Year's Massacre, Josie Selvaggio ordered a special forces team to attack Venus colony V-L7DBC2068. The attack decimated the colony, killing almost all 6 million people on board, most of them civilian. In an address to the Venusian nation, Nimeesha Pembroke pointed accusation at the Earth Sphere, further justifying the war to the Venus public.

        Nimeesha prepared to make yet another speech. This time on the special emergency frequency. The only means of communicating to the other planets at this point of Venus's orbit, albeit delayed.

        "On January 1st, AC 217, the Earth forces committed a heinous crime against humanity. Venus colony V-L7DBC2068 completely blacked out and ceased sending any signals out to neighboring colonies. Sometime during the black out, the colony's hull was compromised by explosions. Preliminary investigations have revealed several EMP devices, and traces of bomb materials. We believe this to be an act of the Earth Defense Organization, or perhaps people acting on its behalf.
    Six million people lived on that colony. Six million people died on that colony, save for a mere handful. These people suffered for at least an hour in total blackness as the colony's rotation slowed drastically.
    V-L7DBC2068 was not a military installation. While personnel were station aboard the colony, only 11% of the population was military. There is no justification for an attack on such a scale. There is no justification for labeling it a military target. This massacre is a crime against humanity, not just Venus. We will not tolerate such actions. Those responsible for them will face retribution of the highest order.
    I implore the World Nation to surrender those responsible for this senseless destruction. If there is no cooperation from the Earth Sphere government, we will hold that government accountable.
    There will be no peace until the guilty are punished for their crimes."

        Quatre stared in dumbfounded shock at his television. Had things really come to this?
    That... that's horrible! It's meaningless. It's all meaningless slaughter. He hung his head. It was hard to imagine such bloodshed. Even he, in his insanity, had only wanted to destroy the military personnel. The civilians had time to escape then. Quatre closed his eyes and shook his head, thinking back. That could have been something he'd have done. 6 million... could the EDO have been part of it? It's hard to think of any organized military carrying something like that out...
    Following Nimeesha's speech were images of the colony remains. All sorts of things floated about along with the debris. This warm, once safe haven against the cold stillness of space, reduced to a shadow of its former glory. An unscathed teddy bear drifted in the void of space, along with some damaged books, and a wheel chair. So many reminders of an everyday life that no longer existed
    Quatre wanted to turn off his TV, or look away, but some morbid fascination kept him there watching.

        Heero was not burdened by any morbid fascination, turning off his computer as images of the little girl and her dog filled his mind. She would never truly go away. Something would always bring her back. Heero clenched his fist.
    So many other 'little girls'... It's not right... it's not right, Relena... He closed his eyes and counted his grievances.

        "Cowards!" Wufei crossed his arms.
    "Bastards!" Meiran shouted at the same time. Wufei shot her a look that read 'watch your language.'
    "Josie Selvaggio was probably behind it..." Milliardo scowled at the TV, his voice low. "I wonder how long it will be before a counter statement is issued."
    "Whoever IS responsible is completely lacking in honor, and has no sense of justice!" Wufei growled.
    "Not even Venus deserved that. Nobody deserves that. Whoever did it is waaay beyond any sort of redemption!" Meiran ranted.
    "Attacking a colony! How dishonorable can you get!?"
    "I know! I mean, shit-"
    "Language!" Wufei interrupted Meiran.
    "... How many of those people were children or old people!?"
    "Or sick? Unable to even defend themselves in honorable combat!" Wufei boarded Meiran's train of thought. "Even war has unwritten rules!"
    "Slaughtering civilians is barbaric!"
    "... Welcome to the Wufei and Meiran show." Duo leaned in the doorway, observing the oddly similar, or perhaps, not so oddly, rants of Wufei and his daughter.

        "Oh my God..." Tiana felt tears in her eyes. There were no words she could say. She was too stunned to even think. All of it was almost too much to comprehend. Too much all at once for her mind to process.
    "I-I...." She didn't want to cry, but tears flowed anyways.
    Dorothy put an arm around the young girl. This shouldn't have happened...
    "It's all right, Tiana. Cry as much as you need to..."
    "I... I renounced Venus... I shouldn't... shouldn't take it... so hard..."
    "This isn't about Venus... You're only human, and you can't change how you feel. It's your home, no matter what you say, and it's important to you..."
    "Not about Venus?" Tiana looked up at the older woman.
    "This is about... nothing." Dorothy stared at the wall. "Nothing that matters, if anything... Senseless violence."
    "Nothing?" Tiana blinked, "How can it be about nothing?? Didn't it happen because of the war??"
    "I don't think it was about the war, Tiana. It's just... about nothing really." The blonde sniffed bit.
    "... I don't understand..." Tiana sobbed.
    "....." Dorothy closed her eyes and hugged Tiana. Neither do I...

    "Son of a bitch!" Tiffany stared at the TV in Keetia's bar, slamming her glass down, "Son of a fucking bitch!"
    "... I am pouring myself a drink." Yancha mumbled, eyes glued to the television as well. He poured himself a glass of whiskey and then took a drink from the bottle.
    "....." Keetia looked at him. ".... You are paying for that bottle." She picked up the glass an downed it. Everyone in the bar was silent, for the most part. Aside from Tiffany's increasingly inventive string of profanity, ending with her demand for the largest Nuriko Special that Keetia and Yancha could make. Trowa nodded agreement in silence, a stunned look on his face. Not even he could imagine such wholesale murder.

        The PMS sat in the hanger, gathered around the television, their anime having been interrupted. All six wore identical expressions of 'WTF!?'. A toilet drifted among the debris in front of the camera.
    "...I bet it's hard to take a crap on that toilet." Jenna blinked.
    "....." The others looked at her, bricks in hand.

        Siduri and Sidra sat on the sofa watching the news later that day.
    "Just moments ago, Josie Selvaggio issued a statement to the press, concerning today's events. Mr. Selvaggio claims that no EDO forces were in the area at the time of the assault, and that the World Nation wouldn't hand over the responsible parties if they knew who was behind the colony attack. Furthermore, he demands the Venus Sphere deliver former ambassador Kwannon Yokoshima to face trial for the murder of Relena Yuy, in September of last year."
    "Like that'll happen." Sidra snorted, eyeing the TV.
    "This sucks." Siduri eloquently declared.
    "... I second that motion." His sister nodded.

        Josie Selvaggio stood at the podium, the soldiers before him standing at attention, awaiting his address. "My fellow soldiers! Today, the people of Venus have accused our fine people of destroying a colony full of civilians. Of course they would say that! The people of Venus are aligned against us, there is no such thing as a Venus civilian! They have the nerve to accuse us of such a crime, when they themselves killed our beloved icon of peace, Relena Yuy! The Venusian people seem to think they can simply walk all over us, which is far from the truth! They are the ones who started this war. It was Venus that fired the first bullet, took the first life in this conflict! Now that someone is fighting back, they cry foul, demanding retribution! Where was this false sense of honor when they conspired to kill our President? Where was this honor when they abused our trust in peace, and cut Relena Yuy down in her prime? The people of Venus are ruthless, sacrificing their own CHILDREN, abandoning them to the mercy of the enemy! They claim war, they plan to invade our lands.
    Let them come! The people of Earth, the birthplace of humanity, are not so easily tread upon and torn down! It is our duty to defend our mother Earth from these people who would try and oppress us and throw the peace and order of our lives into chaos and bloodshed! We will fight back, drive the enemy hordes back, and force them into the shame of defeat!
    It is a dark day indeed, but in the end, we will bring about a new dawn for all humanity, with the absolute defeat of the Venusian threat, and restore the peace they so mercilessly shattered!"
    The troops broke into cacophonous applause, whistling and cheering for their military leader and their cause.

        Zaid Mukasa sat with his crew aboard their shuttle, awaiting the new orders. Oren was preparing for their arrival on Mars, where their new mission would take place.
    "We're receiving a message from Commander Selvaggio." Giva, the only female of the crew, announced. "I'm putting him through."
    "About time, man," Gavin yawned and stretched in his seat.
    "You did well. I'm quite impressed with your performance." Josie began. "As you know, Oren is already stationed on Mars, preparing for your arrival. I have two objectives for you all. First, capture the Gundam designers- an organization known as the PMS-"
    Gavin snickered.
    "Also known as Prototype Mobile Suits, Inc." Selvaggio ignored the snickering. "They should be fairly easy to subdue. Oren has the information you'll need on the seven members. ... But I suppose I should warn you that Oren reports their sanity as questionable."
    "I heard rumors they were abducted by the VMF and then staged their own escape!" Ivan added.
    "That's not important. Also, and this is high priority... You all know about the Martian Gundams, correct?"
    "Yes, sir." They all nodded.
    "Gundams are exceedingly difficult to destroy. Gundam pilots, on the other hand..." Selvaggio paused, "They are only human. They are your targets. Oren again has the information you'll be needing. Any questions?"
    "What are you gonna do about anti-war protests goin' on?" Gavin indicated to the television broadcasting some of the rallies behind Josie.
    "Nothing, at the moment." Selvaggio sounded Not Happy about it. "I look forward to your success."

        "I want these suits spotless! Or I'm taking away your coffee breaks!" Shannon announced to the 'techies' as the PMS called the technicians.
    "That includes the Preventer suits!" Momoko piped in. There was a collective groan from the workers.
    "But we're union! You can't take away our coffee break!"
    "Union this!!!" Stephanie hurled the One Wrench at the techie who dare defy the PMS. Ah, good old fashioned oppression.
    Oren cringed and rubbed his head. I am so looking forward to taking care of you crazy women...
    "GAH!" Oren fell from his ladder. God... damnit... "Ooof..."

        "The Aphrodite is almost ready, Nimeesha. Do we have mobile suits for her?" Kwannon was on the phone with the Venusian governess.
    "We'll have plenty by the time we're in range to invade."
    "I'm not sure some of our civilians want to wait that long, based on what I've heard. There's been a lot of talk about revenge for the colony. They're calling it the New Year's Massacre."
    "I know that, and there will be retribution." Nimeesha stared out her window. "For that and many other things."
    "Mom?" There was a knock on her office door.
    "I'll talk with you later, Kwannon. Keep up the good work... And remember, I haven't forgotten what you did."
    "I know..." Kwannon hung up her phone.
    "Come in, Chayton." Nimeesha turned her chair to face the door. Her red-headed son walked in, holding some papers.
    "I got an e-mail last night, from Tiana!" Chayton held up the print out. Nimeesha blinked. It was the first time they'd heard from her personally since September of last year.
    "She's well then?" Nimeesha looked at her computer screen.
    "Yeah, she's fine... Don't you want to read it, Mom?" Chayton blinked, looking at his mom in confusion. "Mom?"
    "No. It's your letter. If she wanted write to me, she would have written to me... She... decided she wasn't my daughter anymore..."
    "But she is, and she's my little sister!" Chayton protested. "No matter what either of you say! I want you to read it! I know Tiana would understand... You still care about her, don't you? I mean... she's your daughter!"
    "....." Nimeesha didn't look up from her computer. "I'm very busy right now, Chayton, if you don't mind..."
    "... Yeah... sure... no problem..." Chayton turned away and walked out, closing the doors behind him.
    Nimeesha leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes. Of course I still care... Tiana... my baby...

        "Well, Mom wasn't too interested in reading this, but I got an e-mail from Tiana." Chayton handed the papers to his younger brother.
    "She's okay??" Arthur blinked and took the papers, reading hastily.
    "Yeah, she seems okay. Talks a lot about the Yuy's son." Chayton noted.
    "Hmph." Arthur snorted. "She shouldn't trust him... She shouldn't trust any of them. They're probably using her for their own purposes. Besides, how do we know she wrote this e-mail? Maybe someone on Mars sent it, pretending to be her!"
    "... You worry too much. They may be our enemies, but they won't sink that low." Chayton sat down next to Arthur. "She attached some pictures with it."
    "... You don't worry enough." Arthur flipped through the pictures from some sort of Christmas party. Tiana was holding a stuffed puppy with a bow.
    "Yeah, as you can see, " Chayton leaned over his brother's shoulder, "They're treating her soooo badly. Positively suffering over there. Torture, by rabid stuffed animals!" He commented sarcastically.
    "Shut up." Arthur continued to look through the photos.

        "Tiffany-san! We're leaving now!" Kiandra shouted over her shoulder as she and the others walked out the door.
    "I'll see you all later. Don't do anything that will get you arrested!"
    "We're just gonna have a Megatokyo reading party! We all finally bought the manga!"
    "PH33R MY LACK OF B33R!"
    "Then we're gonna watch Shaman King till our eyes bleed!" Stephanie cheered. "HYOI GATTAI!"
    "WUFEI SHALL PH34R MY L33T N3KKID SKILLZ!" Kiandra added in.
    "NO MOLESTING ANYBODY!" Tiffany sighed. "And stop speaking leet!"
    "Our leader is not l33t, n0 d4." Jeanie noted.
    "Damn right I'm not l-three-three-t!" Tiffany shot back at the group as they finally departed. Ah, peace and quiet. The albino pulled a bottle of water out of the mini-fridge. Meh, I need to shower. I've been crawling around inside mobile suits all day. I'm gonna stain my hair one of these days.
    Oren peered around a mobile suit foot in the massive hangar. The other, more insane PMS members had left, so now his target was alone. Ivan should be able to handle those crack heads... But we definitely need her. She's the heart of their little outfit.
    "Miss Geslacht." Oren walked up behind her. Tiffany blinked and turned around, coming face to face with Oren. And his gun.
    "....." She swallowed her water.
    "Please, be quiet, and come with me." Oren watched her carefully.
    "... What the hell do you want?" Tiffany hissed. Not this kinda crap again. She glanced around, looking for a means of escape or a weapon. (For only Shannon had mastered Water Bottle no Jutsu.)
    "The same thing Venus wanted, your engineering skills." Oren chuckled. "One of my associates is already dealing with the rest of your outfit."
    "... Oh god, I feel sorry for him, he's probably a bloody pulp by now." Tiffany rolled her eyes. "So how are you gonna get me out of here without anybody noticing you're pointing a gun at me?"
    "Don't get smart with me-" Oren began to say, when a pair gunshots rang out. Tiffany jumped back in surprise.
    "Holy shit!" She stared as Oren crumpled to the ground with a shout, blood rapidly staining his pant leg and shoulder. Trowa stepped out of the shadows, his own pistol drawn, and still pointed at the whimpering Oren.
    "....." Tiffany stared still.
    "Are you all right?" Trowa glanced at the stunned albino woman. She nodded numbly.
    "I... didn't know you were still here." She blinked, fighting the urge to be ill.
    "I was running diagnostics on Heavyarms." Trowa picked up Oren's gun. "Go call base security."

        "EEEEEEEEEEK! HENTAI BAKA!" Jenna shrieked, kneeing the group's attacker in the gut. Ivan had not expected such resistance.
    "HITEN MITSURUGI RYUU OUGI! AMAKAKERU RYU NO HIRAMEKI!" Stephanie yelled at the top of her lungs, launching the One Wrench at Ivan with the godlike speed of a true Rurouni Kenshin fanatic.
    "OFFENDED FEMALE SLAAAAAAAAP!" Kiandra hauled off and slapped the poor guy silly.
    "DA!" Jeanie grabbed his ear. "TAMAHOOOOMMEEEEEEEE!!!!" She shrieked in his ear, while glass shattered nearby...
    "LEKKA SHIEN!!!"
    "That's a blow torch, not a tessan." Momoko noted.
    "IT SHOOTS FIRE! What do I care if it's not a tessan???" Shannon smiled evilly at Ivan, who now knew what true fear/ph34r was. He was also learning what a 'great deal of pain' was.
    "Stand back, ladies." Momoko cracked her knuckles.

    Ivan Sashenka was picked up by the authorities and taken away in an ambulance, no longer the man he once was.

        Tiffany sat in her office with Trowa, sipping some water. Though she really would have preferred a strong drink instead.
    "You probably shouldn't go home tonight. You should stay on the base." Trowa looked at her. She nodded, which, considering her protests last time such a thing was brought up, was unexpected.
    "Not putting up a fight about it?" Trowa raised an eyebrow.
    Tiffany shrugged in response.
    "You're unusually quiet... Are you all right?" Trowa put a hand on her shoulder. She shrugged it off.
    "Tiffany?" Trowa blinked.
    "I don't know I'm more scared of being kidnapped again, or more scared of you!" Tiffany turned to face him. "You... you... It was like you were someone I didn't know, I didn't recognize you!"
    "....." Trowa looked away.
    "It was like you were another person entirely... Trowa... It... you scared me, the look in your eyes. I can't really explain it... but..." Tiffany started to cry.
    "I'm... sorry..." Trowa hugged her. "Come on, let's go some place else."
    Tiffany nodded slightly.

        "Man, did you hear what happened to the PMS?" Siduri walked out of the library with Meiran. She nodded in response.
    "It's not likely it's Venus again. Probably that no good Selvaggio. I suppose we all should be extra alert. There could easily be more little pricks running around."
    "Yeah, but I kinda feel sorry for that one guy who attacked Steph, Jeanie, Momoko, Jenna, Shannon, and Kiandra... Ya know? I don't think anybody really deserves that much pain and suffering." Siduri sweatdropped a bit and stretched his arms behind his head.
    "It's his own fault really. Only somebody suicidal would-"
    "Did you hear something?" Siduri stopped a looked around. Meiran blinked.
    "No, you're just being paranoid now, aren't you?" The much shorter girl rolled her eyes and continued walking. Siduri grabbed her shoulder and stopped her.
    "I'm serious, Meiran." He whispered. "I swear I heard something-"
    "Ssh!" Meiran hissed, pretty sure she'd heard it too now. She pulled out her gun. "You go around the other way, and we'll get whoever is there from both sides, all right?"
    "Um... okay..." Siduri blinked and started off around the building, pulling out the gun he had been issued.
    Meiran peeked around the corner. She didn't see anything, and now she only heard some crickets chirping. She walked forward and looked around as Siduri peered out around the other side of the building.
    Siduri studied the shadows of the trees and bushes. I know I heard something... I have a bad feeling... ... THERE!
    "Meiran!!" Siduri shouted at her. Meiran whirled around in response.
    One shot was fired. Meiran started to fall. Siduri panicked and fired back in the direction he'd heard it come from. Two more were fired back, another hitting Meiran, and one grazing Siduri's cheek. Siduri fired the rest of his clip into the darkness.
        Then there was silence.

Continued in Gundam Wing, A New Era, Episode 30:
"Between the Black and White"