Episode 32:
Even the Dead Cry

       March 15th, After Colony 217. Venusian terrorists succeed in accomplishing the unthinkable. Former asteroid fortress MO-II is sent careening towards the Earth. With drastic measures the Eighth Fleet of the Earth Defense Organization attempted to destroy the shattered base.
      But they couldn't stop it. Tragedy has befallen the Earth once more.

       "We have breaking news from our affliliate station at New Edwards. A suicide attack by Venusian forces broke past Earth Defense lines and..." The anchor woman's voice faltered for a moment. "And... destablized the orbit of the asteroid MO-II. The Eighth Fleet of the Earth Defense Organization engaged the enemy but was unable to halt their aggression. The fleet attempted to destroy the asteroid and missiles were reportedly fired from New Edwards to assist in breaking up MO-II."
       Her voice wavered as if choking back a sob. "MO-II broke into fragments on its descent. We've... we've received reports of major impacts in eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Lake Victoria. Reports are also coming in of impacts in the Atlantic ocean. Tsunami damage has already been reported in Africa and Europe. Deadly tsunamis are expected to reach the eastern coasts of North and South America in a matter of hours... People living in these areas have been instructed to e-evacuate. Estimated death tolls..."
She stopped to shuffle through notes. "Martial law has been declared. Estimate death tolls from immediate impact are expected to be in the millions... We'll... we'll... As more information becomes available we'll continue to r-report. Oh god..."

      "Those motherlovin' assholes!" Noah slammed a fist into the nearest wall. "They're sitting pretty in their military bunkers talking about this crap like.... like a normal disaster!"
      "Uh.. Bossman, aren't WE just sitting pretty in a borrowed Maganac military bunker while they're talkin' about it like a normal disaster?" One of the other Peacemakers observed, only to get smacked upside the head for the observation.
      "Shut your motherlovin' mouth!" Noah growled. "It's gonna be a no man's land outside. No way they can maintain control of the entire planet even with all the military helpin'! And that's not even considerin' that Venus comes outta its communications blackout period in a month and we can bet on a full-scale invasion!"
      "Um... sir?" One of the civilians, apparently the spokesperson from a small knot of tense conversation approached the grizzled terrorist leader. "What's going on outside?"
      "Hellfire an' brimstone, sky's fallin'. A regular Biblical barbecue out there." The Peacemaker leader responded dryly. "And unless I miss my guess, we're about the only force of law for a thousand miles now. That idiot at the reins of that martial law the ESUN's declared ain't got the manpower to help everybody."
      "But then.... what... what are we going to do?" All eyes turned to the tall veteran, the civilian refugees staring in abject terror as they envisioned what would happen now.
      "Easy. You guys are the newest members of the Peacemakers now." Noah retorted. "And as soon as it's safe to open the motherlovin' doors, we're all getting the hell outta here to start lookin' for survivors!"

      Selvaggio sat alone in his office. He'd already given out orders to start diverting military personnel to the stricken zones while a different order went out to the space fleets...
      To take control of the colonies.

      "Don’t hesitate; the enemy will kill you if you give them the chance." Heero criticized both his daughter Ariana, and her friend Tiana. The two girls were both piloting Gundams while he was borrowing a new Mars Gryphon. The three were out alone on the training field, Ariana having convinced her father to teach Tiana how to pilot a mobile suit. Unfortunately, FalconWing’s pilot also was on the receiving end of Heero’s blunt instructions.
      "'If you wanna learn how to pilot quick, my dad's the best person to ask! He knows his stuff!'" Ariana grumbled under her breath, recalling her earlier conversation with Tiana. "Dad, we're supposed to be teaching Tiana how to pilot a mobile suit! I already know the basics!"
      "You rely too heavily on your mobile suit's strength." Heero countered. "I could destroy you both with just a Leo."
      "No way!" Ariana protested.
      "I'm sorry, I'll try harder." Tiana was taking things better than Ariana. She had thought about the classes at the academy, but her friend had persuaded her that they would not be fast enough for her to be any good by the time Meiran was recovered.
      "It's all right, Seiryuu is a difficult mobile suit." Heero remarked to Tiana.
      "What about mine!?" Ariana sweatdropped. "It transforms and stuff!"
      "You said you know the basics." He responded flatly. "Let's take a break."
      The trio powered down their mobile suits and disembarked. They left the suits on the field and went into the observation tower. Heero no doubt intended to go over recordings of the past two hours and point out everything they did wrong, as well as how to correct their mistakes.
      At least, that was the plan until the emergency broadcast came on shortly after they had settled in. They watched frozen and silent until the broadcast was finished. Then Tiana spoke.
      "No… oh, no…" The Venusian girl gasped and covered her mouth, "They… they couldn't.-!"
      Ariana's only reaction was a wordless cry of grief and she did what any overwhelmed young girl would do. She threw herself at her father, already in tears. Heero could think of nothing to say to console her.
      "Ari…" Tiana bit her lip and looked at them, eyes teary. She didn't know what to say. How could anything she said come across as anything but contrived? Earth, as beautiful as she found it, was not her home. She couldn't possibly understand their loss.
      "…Eastern Europe-? Oh no-! What about Mom?! Mom's grave is-!" Ariana choked out, still clinging to Heero.
      "I'm so sorry, Ari, Mr. Yuy…" Tiana spoke softly, feeling as if she as a Venusian was in part to blame for the tragedy. She closed her eyes and slumped against the wall, unable to continue looking at them.
      Heero said nothing and held onto his daughter, staring hard at the now blank screen. Relena… What do I do, Relena?

      "So it's come to this…" Dorothy mused to herself, looking at her television screen. She didn't feel as fazed as she knew she should, but perhaps it just hadn't sunk in for her yet. Carefully she set her tea cup down and leaned back in her chair.
      "Here we go again." She sighed. All your work gone to waste, Relena.
      Never the less, Dorothy was certain there would be others to carry on Relena's work and ideals, even though Relena had forsaken the Peacecraft's ideal of total pacifism. In fact, I'll make sure of it.
      She thought back to Shino's words, accusing her of using Tiana as a tool. It was true, after a fashion. Dorothy's intentions weren't malicious and the young girl did need someone to look after her without her mother.
      "Hm…" Dorothy closed her eyes. Why did her mother send her to Earth? Tiana is such a gentle, impressionable young girl. Of course… Mrs. Pembroke wanted her to meet Relena and be influenced by her.
      "Before she was assassinated, anyway." Dorothy turned off her television.

      Shino didn't bother finding a chair, he slumped straight to the floor of Lady Une's office in open shock as he heard the news. "They… they did what?"
      "It's like Operation Meteor…" Wufei clenched his fists. "Those cowards!"
      Lunch sat forgotten on a nearby table as those gathered in the former commander's office digested the terrible news from Earth.
      "Mister Treize…" Lady Une whispered. At least you don't have to witness this… this atrocity.
      "That is what I nearly let happen?" Mariemaia squeaked. "Dekim wanted this? How could anyone… it's inhuman!"
      "You were still just a young child then, and you can hardly be blamed for that madman's lust for power." Lady Une set a reassuring hand on the young woman's shoulder.
      "I suppose I was right even back then though." She frowned, staring at the floor. "The endless waltz of war, peace, and revolution will continue."
      "Too cruel…" Tears slipped down Sally's face. "It's too cruel. Is this what everything we fought for has amounted to?"
      "No…" Shino growled from the floor, face obscured by his bangs. "Ari and me… and Sidra and the rest… you guys gave us peace…. Now it's up to us to defend it. It's our turn."
      "You have your parents' raw determination." Lady Une noted with a wan smile.
      "This isn't the world we wanted to give you kids. You shouldn't have to." Sally looked down.
      "I won't forgive this." Wufei growled to himself. "Nataku cannot rest in peace in the face of such cowardly evil."
      "Kids have to grow up sometime." Shino stood back up and looked his aunt Sally in the eyes. "Ariana's accepted that, it's about time I did, too."
      "Those are a man's words, Shino." Wufei nodded to the younger pilot. "There's no taking them back."
      "I know." He answered.

      "Brought you some snacks!" Siduri paraded into Meiran's hospital room. She didn't hear him, her eyes fixated on the television screen mounted on the wall. Siduri followed her gaze and his vending machine goods fell to ground.
      "M-millions!?" He gasped, coming to Meiran's bedside.
      "Cowardly." Meiran snarled. "All of Venus' tactics are based in cowardice! Kidnapping engineers, assassinating Aunt Relena! Even abandoning their governor's daughter!"
      "They… how could they… Of all of us, they should know how fragile a planet's environment is. This is insane…" Siduri's voice wavered.
      "It's because they're cowards!" Meiran slammed her free fist against her bed, her other arm secured in a brace while her shoulder healed. "They have no honor and no shame. That woman, Nimeesha Pembroke… she has no limits, no conscience!"
      Siduri stood speechless while Meiran's tirade continued. Her angry movements pulled out her IV, but she paid neither it or Siduri any heed.
      "Meiran…" His voice was almost inaudible.
      "There's no honor in attacking civilians like that! They should know that well since they lost one of their own colonies! I won't forgive them, the strong have a duty to protect the weak. Right, Siduri? … Siduri?" She looked over when he failed to respond.
      Tears were running down his face, unrestrained.
      "D-don't cry…" She stammered, disarming her rage "I mean, you're a man, aren't you? It's… It's not like you lived there or anything-"
      "That's not the point!" He raised his voice. This was too much for him, on top of everything else that had just happened as of late. "It's Earth! Even if we don't live there, weren't born there-! It's… it's Earth! Don't you feel connected to it at all!?"
      "… Earth, where life originated. That's what you're trying to say, isn’t it?" She looked down, injuries starting to ache without the pain medication or rage to drown them out.
      "Don't you feel connected to it at all, or are you like Sidra!?"
      "Sidra?" Meiran wasn't sure what he was trying to get at.
      "Cold! Emotionless to it all!" Siduri sobbed, on his knees at her beside. "She's… she's…"
      "Left you." Meiran finished for him, finally understanding. It was the same feeling of loss and disconnect when she'd heard her father say he had wanted a son back when she was a little girl. Wanting to loved, wanting to love, but feeling pushed away.
      "… I'm sorry, Sid." She put her good arm around his neck and hugged him.

      "So this is my new mobile suit?" Sidra inquired, looking up at the tall black and maroon machine.
      "Unless you can talk your father out of taking the Tallgeese back." Tiffany shrugged. "It's a good suit, though. I think you'll like it better. Like FalconWing it will transform."
      "You might want to practice with that before taking it into a fight." Trowa recommended.
      "Did Trowa just say an entire sentence to someone other than Tiffany?" Jenna gasped as she passed by.
      "….." Trowa considered pointing a gun so as to see the engineer flee in unfounded terror, but thought better of it.
      "….." Sidra didn't have a gun to point at Jenna and didn't even consider the option.
      "Um, guys!!!" One of the other PMS members hollered and turned up the radio. Everyone fell silent and listened to the broadcast.
       The silence stretched on, the sounds of people working tapering off as chores and mobile suit maintenance were forgotten. A metallic clang permeated the hangar, the sound echoing around as tools were slipped unheeded from hands gone limp in shock.
      "The eastern sea board…" Tiffany said numbly, realizing where some of the tsunamis were going to hit if they hadn't already. "I grew up there, around New York city."
       Trowa looked over at the albino woman, but said nothing.
      "So they got revenge for that colony." Sidra said icily. "A hundred times over."
      "Revenge? It's… it's genocide!" Tiffany blurted out. "They don't even compare!"
      "It might be revenge, but we don't know if Earth military forces destroyed the colony, or rogue troops. We don't know if it really was Venus military forces, no matter what Selvaggio claims." Trowa spoke calmly.
      "We don't have the evidence, we can't tell what is or isn't propaganda." Sidra agreed.
      "Still! To drop MO-II on Earth!? It's beyond criminal, it doesn't matter who did what!" Tiffany was taken aback by her companions' calm.
      "Do you hear anyone disagreeing with you?" Sidra snapped. "But what good is getting upset going to do anyone now?"
      "….." Tiffany paused, "I was your age once. If you don't feel it now, it will hurt even more for even longer. I know." The albino turned and walked away to where the other PMS members were clustering.
      "It's okay to act on your emotions." Trowa broke the awkward silence that followed.
      "That's a good one, Uncle Trowa." Sidra retorted, "Where'd you hear that one?"
      "Heero. It's easier said than done sometimes, but it's true." He looked her right in the eye.
      "….." Sidra broke eye contact and walked away briskly.

      "Waaah!" Baby Lena cried in her mother's arms. Her parents were frozen in front of the television.
      "They… did… they didn't-!" Duo squeaked. "Who in their right mind would do something like that?!"
      "Duo, calm down. You're upsetting the baby." Hilde's tone was wavering, a sign of her own distress at the news.
      Duo turned his back on the TV and took Lena in his arms, rocking the child gently. "Whooo… yeah, nothin' to worry about here kiddo. Nothin' at all, don't you worry sweetie." The coddling and cooing drowned out the report, the news that millions on Earth were massacred, and millions more would undoubtedly die in the aftermath. "Everything's gonna be just fine, your daddy'll make sure it's all better, I promise."

      "So it's come to this?" Noin sighed, inside Milliardo's office with Quatre. They had been discussing Howard's special project.
      "I feel like I should be really angry about this," Milliardo remarked dryly, "except I tried to do the same thing twenty years ago."
      "That was a long time ago now, you can't blame yourself forever." Quatre put down his cup of tea.
      "….." Noin looked at him curiously, "The same way you don't blame yourself anymore for trying to send the Gundams into the sun twenty years ago?"
      "This isn't the best time for joking around. While we're sitting here, countless lives are being threatened." Milliardo brought the conversation back to the tragedy unfolding as they spoke.
      "Yes." Quatre agreed. "Are you going to offer humanitarian aid? Even though we are at war… We can't just do nothing, can we?"
      "We have the three Leviathans. They haven't done anything since we relocated Lady Une and her Preventers." Noin suggested, "We could put a lot of food, water, and medical supplies on one of those ships."
      "I don't imagine Commander Selvaggio will take kindly to Martian ships paying Earth a visit after our last trip." Milliardo frowned at his desk. "This still is a war. Even if it's a war we didn't ask for."
      "I suppose he might try to commandeer the ships for raw materials and the technology." Noin mused. "We can't exactly send a full military escort on a humanitarian mission."
      "But we can't just do nothing!" Quatre protested. "The people of Earth need our help."
      "There is no 'we' in this, it's my decision to make as governor." Milliardo looked over at the younger blond. "I appreciate your sentiments, and the work we've done together, but this is something I need consider very carefully."
      "I'm sure they'll be receiving aid from the Earth Sphere colonies." Noin offered in an attempt to soften her husband's comment.
      "… I understand." Quatre sighed. "Sorry, I've over stepped; Martian resources aren't mine to spend."
      "What if you had permission for one military ship as an escort?" Heero entered the room abruptly, an intense expression on his face.
      "Heero?" Quatre glanced over, not surprised that he hadn't heard him approach.
      "Do you think Selvaggio would even permit that much?" Noin raised an eyebrow.
      "You have something in mind. What is it?" Milliardo looked over at him.
      "He'll be cocky. If he wants to steal the ship and supplies, one military ship won't be a problem. Not when you have an entire fleet to use against it." Heero explained, the barest ghost of a smirk starting to show in his expression. "But don't specify the type of ship, just the number. One ship."
      "If we send just one ship, we're just wasting the lives of our m-" Noin stopped herself. "Wait, you mean-?"
      "The Behemoth class?" Milliardo raised an eyebrow. "One of them could easily discourage any bad behavior from the Earth Sphere military."
      "And they look identical to the Leviathan class at a distance." Heero nodded.
      "Not surprising, since both are built from the exact same hull design." Quatre observed.
      "Well then, Heero." Milliardo leveled a hard stare at the former Gundam pilot. "I assume this isn't a social call. You've considered my offer?"
      "Offer?" Quatre glanced between the Martian governor and Heero.
      "I'll take command of the humanitarian mission to Earth." Heero stated flatly.
      Noin looked over at Milliardo, who nodded. "We'll start the preparations."

      "Pretty dead in here." Yancha wiped down the bar. The place was mostly deserted, and even Tiffany hadn't shown up for her lunch break.
      "Eh, give it time." Keetia shrugged. "I'm sure it'll pick up when the shock wears off."
      "Yer takin' this rather well, you know."
      "Yeah, about that… We'll need to restock the cognac."
      "….." Yancha sweatdropped. "You drank all that and you're still standing!?"
      "Well we didn't have that much left…" Keetia nearly tripped over a chair.
      "Ooookay." Yancha looked up when the bell at the door chimed and someone stepped inside. "Oh, hey, man. Tiff ain't with you?"
      "No," Trowa sat the bar, "I'm not sure where she is, other than with her friends. They left together shortly after the news."
      "Guess she isn't taking it well- Whoa-!" Keetia ran into the kitchen doors. "Ow… I'm okay. I'm okay. I'll be back here. Yeah."
      "That seems unusual for her." Trowa noted as the drunken owner left.
      "You'd think that…" Yancha sighed, "But you don't know her like I know her."
       The bell chimed again.
      "Whew, finally got the baby to nap! Hey, got any cognac?" Duo walked over and noticed Trowa. "Hey, Trowa. Heard the news, too?"
      "Er, about the cognac… That's how, uh, the owner of this fine establishment is handling the news. So we're out, but we have plenty of other things to drown your sorrows with though! What can I get ya?" Yancha ignored a crash from the kitchen.
      "Um…" Duo sat down, "I dunno. Just some beer, I guess."
      "I'll take one of those Nuriko Specials." Trowa shrugged. "How is Hilde?"
      "Comin' right up." Yancha busied himself with the orders.
      "Okay, I guess… I mean, it's not like she and I are from Earth, but… It's still close to home, ya know?"
      "Yeah." Trowa nodded.
      "For you…" Yancha poured Duo a beer, then placed a Nuriko Special in front Trowa.
      "You're not gonna get totally wasted are you? 'Cause I ain't gonna carry you back." Duo made a face.
      "Duo, Trowa, I didn't expect you guys would be here." Quatre and Heero stood in the door way. "Tiffany isn't with you?"
      "Heya, good to see you guys!" Duo waved the other two pilots over.
      "No, she's with the other engineers. I'm not sure where they went." Trowa reiterated.
      "Oh, I see." Quatre sat down next to Trowa and looked at Yancha. "Cognac, please."
      "Sorry, Quatre, what's-her-name is already smashed on it all." Duo beat Yancha to the explanation. The statement was punctuated by another crash from the kitchen.
      "OW!" Keetia yelled. "I'm okay! Don't worry about- OW!"
      "If you'll excuse me one moment…" Yancha hurried back to the kitchen to assess the damage.
      "So…" Duo took a gulp of his drink, "Given that I can't see Quatre here ordering hard liquor for fun… It's 'cause of the news, isn't it?"
      "It's just what the original Operation Meteor would have been." Heero noted.
      "I know." Quatre sighed. "I can't believe it's actually happened… That someone succeeded in taking things this far."
      "Okay, what can I get you two?" Yancha walked back in.
      "Yaaaaaaaaaanchaaaa! Let me out!" Keetia wailed from another area. "You're so mean!"
      "Heheheh, I get to lock her up for once. Don't mind her, gentlemen!" Yancha snickered.
      "Just what kinda relationship do you two have!?" Duo gaped at the barkeep.
      "You really don't want to ask that question." Trowa answered.
      "He's right, now then… Drinks, that's what you're here for after all." Yancha looked at Heero and Quatre.
      "Scotch on the rocks, I suppose." Quatre shrugged.
      "Whatever Trowa is having." Heero sat next to Duo and leaned on the bar.
      "You sure about that?" Trowa raised an eyebrow.
      "Yeah, I won't try to drink so many in a row." Heero smirked slightly.
      "So you heard about that." Trowa replied. It wasn't a question.
      Quatre chuckled slightly. "Thanks to those engineers, I don't think there's anyone who hasn't heard about that, Trowa."
      "Eh-heh-heh." Duo declined to mention the PMS had dragged him along for part of the spying that day Tiffany took Trowa to the bar. The last thing he needed was for anybody to know he'd ended up in drag.
      "Well, this guy holds the record now. Beat Tiff's!" Yancha snickered. "Although I don't remember by how much."
      "I've learned to nurse my drinks since then." Trowa noted dryly.
      "I'll comp ya if you want to go for a new record. This time I'll keep count right." Yancha winked and then passed a drink to Heero.
      "No thanks." Trowa took a small sip of his own drink. The bell chimed again as the door opened.
      "Hmph, I thought all of you might end up here." Wufei looked over the other pilots. "Pathetic."
      "Hey, you're here, too." Duo stuck his tongue out. "And no, there's no cognac."
      "Why would I want any?" Wufei retorted and sat down. "Barkeep, screwdriver. No ice."
      "Coming up." Yancha sweatdropped.
      "How is Meiran doing? I haven't had a chance to visit her in the hospital." Quatre inquired.
      "She's recovering well. I haven't seen her today, either." Wufei watched as Yancha mixed his drink. "Sally went to go check up on her."
      "Ah." Duo nodded. "It's pretty crazy, what happened, huh?"
      "It's cowardly." Wufei growled, immediately sipping his drink the moment it was set in front of him. "And after all we did for peace, everything we had to give up and everything we had to fight for…"
      "And then more people die anyway." Heero's voice was void of emotion.
      "It was only a matter of time, I suppose." Trowa looked down.
      "No, I think it could have been prevented…" Quatre tightened his grip on his glass. "Maybe if we'd been able to maintain an alliance with the Earth Sphere, then with the Martian forces we could have…"
      "And if we hadn't sent the Gundams into the sun Dekim Barton wouldn't have been able to pull off his coup d'état." Duo interrupted.
      "But I-"
      "And while we're at it, it's your fault there's no air in outer space." Duo taunted. "Quit blaming yourself for this stuff, Quatre."
       Heero chuckled slightly, remembering Duo's remark about Quatre when they were heading to X18999.
      "Sorry…" Quatre looked down. "It just seems like whatever we do just isn't enough."
      "Maybe, but we can only do what we can." Trowa nursed his drink. "Like we've always done."
      "For what purpose?" Wufei narrowed his eyes. "So it can happen all over again twenty years from now?"
      "Would it be any better if we didn't do anything?" Heero looked down the bar at the Chinese pilot. "And just let Nimeesha Pembroke have her way?"
      "And just what have you done?" Wufei sneered back. "Your own children are fighting while you just wallow uselessly in grief!"
      "Wufei-" Quatre began to interject, worried about where a confrontation would go if it involved both alcohol and Relena's memory.
      "… You're right, I've been a coward." Heero nodded in agreement. "Ever since… Relena died… I've been running."
      "So you admit it." Wufei raised an eyebrow, mildly surprised at the former pilot's agreeable demeanor. "Then why do you still do nothing? You're as capable a pilot as any of us."
      "Wufei-" Quatre tried to interject again, this time for an entirely different reason.
      "No…" Heero looked down at his drink. "I'm not capable of piloting a mobile suit in combat anymore."
      "Lies! How dare you say that when your son and daughter, when my daughter, are out there fighting!" Wufei snapped angrily.
      "You think I don't feel the same way you do, Wufei?" Heero looked up again.
      "Guys-" Duo looked back and forth at the two, but couldn't get another word in.
      "But you're running-"
      "I'm not going to run anymore." Heero interrupted. "I'm done running. Ariana and Tiana have helped me realize that I can't keep running. I'm going to Earth."
      "To Earth?" Duo successfully interjected. "What're going there for?"
      "To assassinate Selvaggio?" Trowa raised an eyebrow, "After infiltrating the EDO?"
      "Guys-" Quatre tried, unsuccessfully, to get a word in edgewise.
      "No." Heero sipped at his drink again. "I'll be heading the Mars humanitarian mission to Earth."
      "Hm, I suppose an assassination now would be poorly timed and only create more problems." Trowa noted, deciding to scratch the idea of doing it himself.
      "Humanitarian mission?" Wufei not-quite-sneered at the notion. "You'll be standing in a refugee soup kitchen feeding the victims?"
      "No." Heero threw back the rest of his drink. "As of tomorrow, I'm taking command of the Behemoth class battleship Olympus Mons."

To be continued in Gundam Wing: A New Era, Episode 33:
"Out of the Depths"