Episode 3:
Sneaky Games

        The year is After Colony 216. In the twenty years since the wars ended, peace has finally been achieved between not only the Earth and outer space, but also the newly terraformed Mars and Venus. However, the World Nation has grown and become rather ill-equipped to handle the rapid growth, and discontent is spreading...

        Roku Merquise, or rather, Sidra Peacecraft has recently been discovered by her parents, who have a very special plan in store for her. Her brother, Siduri has also joined the training academy against his parents wishes, but it was too late for them to stop him. Meiran is on the run from her demanding father, Wufei, and has left Duo and Hilde's home.

        "It's Meiran! Wufei's daughter!" Unfortunately, she added to herself bitterly.
    "Meiran??" Quatre sounded surprised. Why would she be calling? Not that it was a problem. Just unusual.
    "Yeah. I'm, er, kinda heading your way... So I was wondering if I could stay with you for awhile!"
    "... Why? Is something wrong?" Quatre sounded a bit concerned.
    "... Kiiiinda... You see.. I was hanging out with Uncle Duo because I reallllllllly needed to get away from Daddy for awhile and I guess Daddy found out where I was and is heading there so I left in a hurry..." Meiran explained as sweetly as she could, "I told Mom and she wasn't supposed to tell him, but I don't know if she did or not or if Daddy saw my note to her."
    "Um.... I suppose it's too late to say no if you're already on your way."
    "Is that yes? You won't send me back or tell Daddy??"
    "Yes, you can stay for a LITTLE while... Your father is probably worried about you though. You should at least call him and tell him you're all right." Quatre sighed.
    "Then he'll come after me! I told Mom not to worry and to tell him not to worry! Anyways. Thanks! I'll call you when I'm there, okay??" Whew... For a moment there I thought he'd say no. Where will I head next if Daddy finds me there? Augh. This is so annoying! Can't a girl get a break?
    "All right. Good bye" Quatre hung up. What am I getting myself into?

        "Roku Merquise! Report to the admissions office immediately!" the PA boomed. Roku looked up from her homework in surprise. She had finally gotten the code name thoroughly driven into her head so that she answered to Roku as fast as she did to her real name.
    "What the-?" She wondered what was up, and put aside her schoolwork, slipping the mask back on before she headed out. ...I need to wash the inside of this thing soon. It's starting to feel all nasty. She mentally noted. When she arrived at the admissions office, her counselor and the headmaster were waiting for her. From the looks on their faces, they had good news for her.
    "Hello! You rang?" Roku grinned slightly.
    "Yes, Roku. After evaluating your progress and abilities, we sent your transcripts to the main academy for Headmistress Noin to look over." Her counselor explained. Roku was suddenly very glad she had the mask on to hide her wide-eyed expression of shock..
    Oooooh crap! Mom'll recognize the name in a heartbeat! Crap crap crap!
    "They want to transfer you to the main academy for further training." the headmaster told her.
    "all right... This was really unexpected..." Roku replied. Saying no would have earned far more suspicion. She'd just have to figure out some way to explain to her folks when she arrived.
    "A shuttle will be arriving this evening to take you to the academy." Her counselor smiled.
    "Great..." Roku was fairly sure her face was a paler color than her hair at the moment. "I guess I'll go get my stuff packed and say bye to everyone..." With that, she hurriedly excused herself. I am SO dead. Even if they don't recognize the name for some strange reason, once they see me, mask or not... I'm screwed.

        "Milliardo!" Noin burst in on her husband. "I think I found Sidra!" She instantly had his attention.
    "Oh? Where is she?" He raised an eyebrow as he took off his shirt, changing into something less stuffy. (Fangirl service =p)
    "Look at these." Noin handed him the faxed transcripts. "Somebody is following in her daddy's footsteps."
    Milliardo skimmed the fax. "She's what-?" He read the information. "Student name: Roku Merquise-" What the HELL!? He looked next at the student ID picture included with the transcripts. Pale hair, a disturbingly familiar mask... "I want her brought home. Now."
    "I have a better idea." Noin grinned. "But first, look at her scores. You might be surprised."
    Milliardo gave his wife an annoyed look but did so and did a double take. "These are her scores?! They're the highest anyone in the corps academy has scored for this point in the cirriculum!"
    "Those are her scores unless this 'Roku Merquise' is someone different." Noin smiled. "I'm having her transferred to the main academy here, but rather than jump on her case as soon as she gets here...."
    Milliardo blinked and raised an eyebrow. "What are you planning, Noin?"
    Noin grinned. "We treat her as Roku Merquise. Not our daughter. Let her fret about getting caught for awhile." Noin glanced at the ID picture in the transcripts. "She really does look like you did 20 years ago when you can't see more than her shoulders and face, you know." She grinned, hugging Milliardo.
    "... I suppose your idea is a good one.... We can at least keep an eye on her." Milliardo sighed, returning the embrace.

        Wufei arrived at Duo and Hilde's door that evening. He knocked loudly.
    Duo gulped and opened the door.
    "Is she here?" Wufei growled. Duo looked at the bandages on Wufei's arms.
    "What happened to you?" He blinked.
    "... Meiran hid the address book in the rose bushes."
    Duo started cracking up.
    "Shut up! Is she here or not!?"
    "Actually she was-" Duo was interrupted.
    "YOU LIED TO ME!?" Wufei snapped.
    "No, not really." Duo grinned, recalling the phone conversation he'd had with Wufei, "I answered honestly. She was nowhere around when ya called."
    "IS SHE HERE NOW OR NOT!?" Wufei was... needless to say... Not Happy.
    "Nope! Ya missed her by a couple hours I think. You called and she took off."
    "To where!?"
    "Dunno. She didn't say." Duo shrugged.
    "You didn't' try and stop her!?"
    "Nope! Bye!" Duo tried to close the door, Wufei held it open.
    "I will get you for this, Maxwell!"
    "Yeah yeah yeah. Good luck finding your daughter...." Duo let go of the door and Wufei, who was still trying to push it open tumbled in, landing flat on his face.
    "I don't recall inviting you inside." Duo grinned goofily.
    ".... damn you.... " Wufei got up.
    "But seriously, Wufei... You oughtta be nicer to her. You should hear what she had to say about you to me!"
    "You are not one to be telling me how to raise my daughter!" Wufei had one hand clenched over his nose, "Damn, Maxwell. I think you broke my nose!"
    "Want a Band-Aid?"
    "NO. Do you have any idea where she might have gone?" Wufei sounded slightly nasal.
    "Nope, sorry pal."
    "...Don't call me that." Wufei scowled.
    "Sorry, buddy!"
    "OR THAT!" Wufei twitched. This was getting increasingly frustrating. Duo had to work at not cracking up.

        Roku had plenty of time to fret and worry needlessly about her parents finding her out on the shuttle flight to the main academy. Back home.
    So much for Sid's earring bringin' me good luck. I am so screwed.
    By the time the shuttle arrived, Noin had spread word that this really skilled student was coming to their school. There were people waiting to greet the new arrival. Roku looked out the shuttle window at the amassed crowd and gulped. Oh great. Publicly humiliated. By my own parents! She silently prayed to whatever gods that might be listening that her parents would at least have the decency to bitch her out in private. A member of the shuttle crew walked up to her.
    "Ms. Roku, everyone's waiting for you." he told her politely.
    "Ah.. heh heh heh.. I noticed." Roku sighed and stood up. Here's to hope that things don't go too badly. Prepared for the worst, she stepped out of the shuttle. Noin and Milliardo were both waiting, and both showed absolutely zero signs of recognition. Maybe they were waiting until they could pull her aside and scold her in private?
    "So you're Roku Merquise?" Noin asked.
    "Um... yes, ma'am." Roku replied, wondering when the axe would fall.
    "Welcome to our campus. I'm sure you'll enjoy your time here." Noin smiled. Roku searched her mother's face from behind the safety of her mask for any signs of 'I know it's you'. There were none.
    "Now if you'll come along, I'll show you to your dorm room, Roku." Noin turned and indicated for Roku to follow.
    Here it comes.... Roku silently gulped as she followed her mother toward the dorm building.
    She's nervous. Good. Noin thought with a smile. This should be a good object lesson for her. Even if it doesn't work, at least it'll be interesting to watch.
    Noin led a silently fretting Roku to a dorm room. "This is your room. Keep it clean. We'll send your schedule this evening. Both Milliardo and I would like to speak with you later." With that, Noin left, shutting the door softly behind her.
    Something is VERY not right here.  Roku thought, locking the door and removing her mask. "Oh geez, I hafta clean this thing up." With that, Roku went over to the sink, armed with a polishing rag she had acquired somewhere and began scrubbing the grime and sweat from the inside of the mask. "How the fook did Dad tolerate this thing for so long?!"
    Once done with that, she took a fast shower, and sat on her bed musing about this strange turn of events. "I'm probably gonna get it tonight when I get my 'schedule' from Mom and Dad.... Crud." She tied her long hair back into a ponytail and whittled away the time worrying about how she was going to explain this when her folks dropped the axe and took her head, figuratively speaking.

    "Well, it seems to be working." Noin told Milliardo in her office on campus. "I can't be too sure with that mask on-" she grinned at Milliardo. "-but she seemed to be fretting. The next couple of hours until we go deliver her schedule should be absolute hell for her if she is worrying."
    "Good. Maybe she'll learn something from this." Milliardo replied. He was still annoyed about the whole situation.
    Noin smiled slightly. "Maybe, but I doubt she'll change her mind about piloting. She's too stubborn to give up that easily.-"
    "She gets it from you." both said at the same time. Noin burst into laughter, giving her husband a quick smooch on the cheek before getting up. "Well, we should probably get ready to go and talk with our new student prodigy." She grinned.
    "Fine." Milliardo sighed.

    A few hours later, there was a knock on Roku's door. Hastily, she slipped her still-damp mask back on and unlocked the door. Goddamnit! I'm about to get the bitching at of a lifetime and I can't even be comfortable while it's goin' on! Geez, it feels like a frickin' sauna under here! Resigned, she opened the door, putting on a neutral expression in the vague hope that perhaps her folks really were as dumb as she sometimes thought they were. Noin and Milliardo were both waiting, still showing no signs of recognizing their daughter.
    "Hello again, Roku." Noin began. "Settled in yet?"
    "Yes, thanks." Roku replied. What's she up to? Let's get this over with already!
    "I'm sure you already know, but this is governor Milliardo, also head of the defense corps. Your scores caught his attention." Noin smiled. "Milliardo, this is Roku Merquise."
    "A pleasure." Milliardo nodded slightly.
    "Same here." Roku wished she could fidget. C'mon, Mom, Dad, drop the axe already. I know I'm in trouble, I'm ready to get this done with!
    "So, Roku, what got you interested in the defense corps?" Milliardo asked, running a critical eye over his daughter. She really did look a lot like he did 20 years ago. Except with breasts.
    "Ah... well..." Roku's mind raced for a reason. "I saw a documentary on the war and the... the entire concept of mobile suits really got my attention. The skill required and stuff...."
    "I see." Milliardo replied with a slight nod. Fast thinking. That's a good sign. He glanced over at Noin, who nodded slightly.
    "It's not as easy as it looks, you know. Especially until you really have had a lot of seat time and practice." Noin explained.
    "I know. I'm willing to practice and get better. I want to be the best." Roku answered, full of conviction. "And I'll practice until I am the best." Eat THAT, Mom.
    "I see." Noin seemed a bit surprised at the sudden determination in her masked daughter's voice. "Well, I think that's about it." She handed Roku a slip of paper with a class schedule on it.
    "I'll look forward to seeing your progress, Roku Merquise." Milliardo nodded once before he and Noin left.

        Heero leaned against a nearby wall, observing Relena in front of the vid-comm. She was talking to the governess of Venus and it's associated colonies. Nimeesha Pembroke, wife of the late Mr. Pembroke who was assassinated in the year A.C. 210. It was still unknown by who.
    "The World Nation has continually turned down our requests for more funding since A.C. 208 submitted by my late husband and myself." The raven haired woman frowned.
    "We don't have enough money in our budget to accept those requests, Mrs. Pembroke." Relena sighed, "When we do, increasing the funding for Venus and its colonies will be one of the first things we do."
    "And how long will that be? We have been waiting for about eight years. We are seriously considering removing ourselves from the World Nation by less peaceful means than my husband had talked of before he was killed."
    "There's no need for such methods and you do not need to leave the World Nation. We will get you the funding you need as soon as we can." Relena didn't change her expression.
    "We still are missing important facilities from the acid storm in A.C. 207, Mrs. Yuy. We cannot sit back and idle while there a people who still must be shipped such basic things as water from our colonies!"
    "I understand your concerns and we've been doing all we can-"
    "Obviously it's not enough!" Nimeesha snapped, "The people of Venus and it's space colonies cannot wait for the World Nation any longer! If you cannot provide us with adequate funding to finish recovering from the disaster in A.C. 207, you people are not equipped to handle the governing of such a power and we of Venus will take action against the World Nation!" Nimeesha glared.
    "We WILL be able to provide you with the funding you require, but not at this time-" Relena was interrupted.
    "So when will you?"
    "We don't know as of yet. It could be a few more years, Mrs. Pembroke..."
    "We can't wait that long! As governess of Venus, I denounce the World Nation and am hereby, on behalf of Venus and its associated space colonies, declaring war!"
    Heero stepped forward and appeared on Nimeesha's screen, expression dark.
    "You're making a big mistake." He flatly stated. Nimeesha scowled and shut off her vid-comm and Relena's screen went black.
    "So the peace isn't going to last after all."

Continued in Gundam Wing: A New Era, Episode 4:
"Foreboding Signs"