Episode 5:
Hence These Tears...

        The year is After Colony 216. Dissatisfied with the World Nation's inability to respond effectively to Venus's crisis in 207, Venus's governess, Nimeesha Pembroke, has declared war on the unprepared World Nation. However, preparing for such an emergency, Mars governor Milliardo Peacecraft has been building up a defense force of mobile suits, including several Gundams...

        The war is already underway, Nimeesha's forces having already launched a decimating, though ultimately failed attempt to steal the new suits Milliardo had commissioned. Sidra, still in her guise as Roku, has suffered a terrible blow of her own, having lost most of the student unit she was in charge of during the attack. The losses, while though not her fault, have taken a severe toll on her. In the meantime, Yoshino Yuy has arrived on Mars to receive the vital training he needs to take command of one of the new Gundams. Sidra's twin brother Siduri, is also on the way to the main academy, having proven his mettle at one of the regional facilities.

        So there's a "Roku Merquise" here, huh?  Siduri thought to himself as the shuttle landed. Maybe I should see how she's doing.
    When he arrived, he looked up "Roku"'s dorm room. Before he could get away from his parents to go check on his sister, he had to meet up with Shino, whom he hadn't seen for some time.
    "Siduri-?" Shino looked incredibly out of place, his Preventers jacket slung over one shoulder, a lost expression on his face.
    "None other!" Siduri grinned, "Sup?"
    "The sky?" Shino weakly joked. Siduri sweatdropped.
    "Siduri, why don't you show Shino to your room. You're roommates." Noin grinned. This had obviously been planned out before his arrival.
    "Eh...?" Siduri raised an eyebrow.
    "Um, great. I could use a rest." Shino sighed, "Long trip here from Earth, and that mobile suit attack didn't help matters much."
    Siduri lead his cousin to the dorm. "So, what kinda music d'ya like?"
    "Music-?" Shino thought for a moment. "Classical-"
    Siduri almost fell over. "Eh....."
    "... If you'd wait for me to finish-" Shino sweatdropped. "Classical, and soft rock."
    "Soft?!" Siduri made a face. "Bah!" he was eager to get to his sister, but didn't want it to show.

        There was a soft knock on Roku's door. She hadn't come out for hours since she got back, and both Noin and Milliardo were worried.
    "Who is it?" Roku whimpered, slipping her mask back on halfheartedly.
    "Governor Milliardo and Headmistress Noin." Milliardo's voice came through the door.
    Resigned, Roku got up and unlocked it, allowing the pair to enter. Both had concerned expressions, but still, thankfully, only held recognition of a student rather than their daughter.
    "How are you doing?" Noin finally broke the silence. It took Roku several moments to respond.
    "I screwed up out there. All but two of them got killed." she finally replied, voice strained. It was Milliardo who spoke next.
    "I overheard the orders you gave your unit." He explained. Roku waited to be told where she had messed up, what she had done wrong. It didn't come. "Those orders were dead on for the situation. You acted properly, ordering the damaged suits to get away after the first attack. The problem wasn't you, it was the fact that they were still students."
    "But I'm still a student and I'm still alive." Roku pointed out.
    "You are an exceptional student, Roku." Noin spoke up. "Your abilities exceed what the rest of the students are capable of."
    "This is war, Roku." Milliardo continued, voice solemn. "When you go into battle, you accept the risk of dying. Very few soldiers fully come to accept that. But you have to also accept the fact that you will very likely lose some, if not all, of your allies, your friends. What happened today was only the first in a long string of pointless battles."
    "'Pointless battles'?" Roku blinked behind her mask.
    "Yes. Pointless battles started by selfish, ambitious people. Venus could easily have separated itself from the World Nation without having to resort to force. Someone in charge there has greedy ambitions. With war, to the victor goes the spoils. By declaring this pointless war, someone plans to gain more than they deserve. And then things would go back to how they were in the days of the Alliance and OZ. Whoever has the military force is right." Milliardo scowled at the thought.
    "I... hadn't thought about it that way before." Roku admitted. "But I still should have been able to stop that suit that took out everyone-"
    "It's always nice to think that, but you are still just a student. Whoever was piloting those new suits obviously has had more training." Noin interrupted. "You did very well, even when your classmates were shot down. That's what caused the others in the group to get themselves killed. They attacked out of blind rage, and let their guard down. You didn't."
    "I... guess so." Roku didn't sound convinced. Noin was about to continue when Milliardo laid one hand on her shoulder.
    "Noin, we've said what we came to say. We can't convince her." he told her gently. "Let's go."
    Once outside the dorm, Noin sighed. "I feel so helpless. She's so obviously upset still, and I can't help her!"
    Milliardo nodded slightly, hearing the lock click back into position on the door. "We tried, Noin. This is something she has to figure out for herself. If she'll keep fighting, or if she'll run away from it."

        "Pretty good turnout tonight, huh Trowa?" Catherine smiled, shrugging into something more comfortable than her ring mistress outfit. It had been a good show, the crowd loved it. She even thought she'd seen Trowa smiling for once, to boot!
    "Yeah, it was." Trowa replied, taking off his half-clown mask. (Authors: *shudder* We HATE that mask!) He was focused on a news report showing on a small TV backstage.
    "In further news, we have just received word from World Nation leaders confirming the report of Venus and its associated colonies declaring war on the World Nation." the reporter droned on. Catherine froze. War? Again? Oh no....
    "It's not surprising." Trowa spoke up.
    "You're going to go fight again, aren't you, Trowa?" Catherine asked, a desperate tone in her voice. She had already almost lost him twice in the previous war. The supposed 'war to end all wars' the news had heralded it.
    "...Foreign minister Relena Yuy was the first to learn of it while trying to negotiate with Venus governess Nimeesha Pembroke concerning funding after the acid storm crisis of 207. Mrs. Yuy was heard to comment that while she still hoped discussion would be able to work out the problems, even she had her doubts. World Nation leaders are scrambling to prepare a defense force, and..." the reporter was cut off as someone handed her a sheet of paper. "... We have breaking news. We have just received word from our Mars affiliate that a battle between Mars' defense force troops and apparently Venusian mobile suits has just concluded a few hours ago. All ten of the attacking suits were destroyed, but the defense force suffered heavy losses, including a student unit that was forced to engage in combat. All but three of them were killed-"
    Catherine shut off the television, tears forming in her eyes even as her anger mounted. Trowa was already packing his things. "Trowa-?"
    "I'm going to Mars, Cathy. They're reconstructing some of the Gundams there." He said flatly.
    "But why? Why you? You've already done more than your share of fighting!" Catherine pleaded, knowing deep down that she couldn't change his mind.
    "I worked hard to obtain this peace. I'm not going to let it be taken away by some over-ambitious governess." Trowa replied, a slight edge to his usually monotonous voice. He finished packing his small suitcase.
    "Trowa..." Catherine sniffled and wiped her eyes. "You're like a little brother to me..." voice catching, she threw her arms around him. "You'd better come back alive, Trowa!"
    With a silent sigh, Trowa returned Catherine's embrace. "I will. Good bye, Cathy." With that, he disengaged from the sudden hug and began to walk away.
    "And you'd better not get amnesia this time!" Catherine shouted after him.

        "So Shino, y'know how to USE a suit?" Siduri grinned at his new roommate.
    "Not... really..." Shino admitted. "I tried a few of the racing suits, but that's it."
    "I'm SURE they'd let us take a couple of 'em out for a test drive...." Siduri grinned. "I've already got a license to pilot..."
    "What are you planning, Sid?" Shino raised an eyebrow.
    "Y'gotta start learning somewhere." Siduri smirked. "I can show you the basics at least!"
    ".... If we get in trouble I'm telling them you threatened me at gunpoint." Shino replied flatly.
    "What?!?" Siduri fell off his bed in surprise. He got up and dusted himself off. "Let's go!"
    The two headed out for the hangars and back buildings.
    "Y'know, I haven't had the time to check much out around here myself...." Siduri looked around. There was a large hangar set apart from the others. It just screamed 'SOMETHING IMPORTANT'
    "Shall we check it out?" Siduri had this feeling that it was 'SOMETHING IMPORTANT'.
    "Remember though. If we get in trouble you pointed a gun at me and made me come along." Shino reminded the irresponsible Peacecraft son.
    "That'd ALMOST be buyable if I had a gun!" Siduri retorted.
    "Here." Shino tossed Siduri his pistol.
    "AAH!" Siduri nearly dropped it in surprise, "Where'd you get this!?"
    "Dad gave it to me for my birthday after I joined the Preventers." Shino shrugged.
    "Let me get this straight... Your DAD gave you a GUN on your SEVENTEENTH BIRTHDAY!?!" Siduri sweatdropped.
    "Keep in mind my Dad is Mr. Perfect Soldier." Shino alllllmost sweatdropped.
    "... Oh yeah... Does he still point guns at Aunt Relena?"
    Shino sweatdropped, "Only when they're alone..." Siduri almost choked in surprise.
    "You pervert!" He peeked in the back of the hangar, "WHOA! Check this out, man!" The two boys peeked into the hangar. Technicians were scrambling around, apparently very busy, and in a big hurry.
    "What the hell are they making?" Siduri stared at the various suits that were in various stages of complete.
    "Gundams." Shino answered, a dark tone in his voice. He knew about this. That was why his dad had sent him to Mars in the first place.
    "You knew about this, huh?" Siduri stared.
    "Yeah. That's why I'm here. I'm going to be piloting one of them." Maybe I shouldn't have said that...
    "COOL! Wanna take 'em for a test drive?"
    "Eeeeh! Which one? There's three completed ones." Shino boggled, "And besides, wouldn't we get in trouble for taking them?"
    "Not much... I mean, you're SUPPOSED to be piloting one, right??" Siduri smiled, "Training in a Taurus suit just WON'T cut it! Come on! You take the big blue and green one, I'll take the cool one!"
    Shino looked unconvinced.
    "I'm telling them you were pointing that gun at me."
    "Yeah, yeah! So get in the suit already!" Siduri waved Shino's pistol at him. With a resigned sigh, headed for the suit.
    "And what are you two up to??"
    "AAAH!" Both boys jumped and spun around to face...
    ... An old bald guy in sunglasses and a tacky hawaiian shirt.
    "Aren't you Milliardo's kid?" The man studied Siduri.
    "Um.... um.... yeah, so?" Siduri weakly defended.
    "Howard?" Shino recognized the old dude. He'd heard about him.... And seen him at a couple of family functions, "Are you responsible for these?"
    "Well, me and the PMS-"
    "The WHAT!?" Siduri and Shino both almost fell over.
    "PMS. Prototype Mobile Suits, they're an all woman designing group. Not a bad looking one either... OW!" One of the 'not bad looking ones' walked by and whacked Howard over the head with a notebook.
    "TIFFANY! Ya didn't have to do that..." Howard winced and rubbed the sore spot on his head, "Feisty bunch..."
    "Dirty old man." This 'Tiffany' turned around and razzed him. She didn't LOOK like a suit designer.
    "WELL I GUESS WE'LL BE GOING!" Siduri grabbed Shino's arm to drag him off.
    "Hooooold it right there." Howard crossed his arms, "You're Yoshino Yuy, aren't you? Heero's brat?"
    Yoshino twitched, "I usually go by Shino, gramps." He retorted.
    "Well YOU can be here.... Siduri, get lost. Go play with the Tauruses. Maybe Miss Roku could give you a run for your money."
    "Eh... I think I'll go talk to her, maybe..." Sh*t. I almost forgot about Sidra! With that, Siduri tossed Shino his gun back and took off across the tarmac for the dorms.
    "So how'd you like to try one of the complete suits?"
    "I don't even know how to pilot..." Shino sweatdropped slightly, "All I've done is pilot some of the racing suits on Earth."
    "Well then ya know enough to at least walk it out of the hangar! Take Typhoon." Howard nodded up at the large green and blue suit, "Just don't fire the acid cannon."
    "In the shield, there's a big acid tank. Now go on." Howard encouraged. Even in his even older age he hadn't changed much. A little less hair maybe, but same tacky shirt and shades.
    "...okay..." Shino gulped and stared up at the suit. With a sigh he ascended the scaffolding in front of the behemoth. Settling into the cockpit, he noted how it differed from the racing suits he'd tried out before. Racing suits, for one, didn't have anywhere near so many buttons. After some fumbling around, Shino located the power switch and the suit came to life, the cockpit sliding shut with a slight hiss, the view screens blinking to life.
    "Good! Now back it away from the scaffolding a couple of steps..." Howard instructed over the comm. Carefully, Shino complied, afraid he'd squish somebody. The Gundam was also at least twice as tall as any of the suits he was used to, at least sixteen meters, whereas the tallest land racing suit came up to less than nine meters.
    After a close encounter with the hangar door that Howard said would cost at least a few hundred credits to repair, Shino got the suit out in the open behind the building.
    "Okay, I'll hook you up to the computer tutorial and you figure out for yourself how the Typhoon works." Howard informed Shino over the comm. "I've got to get back to work on the other suits."
    "Yeah... great... Thanks, Howard." Shino sighed as the tutorial came up on one of the screens.

        There was a knock on Roku's door. She immediately slipped her mask back on. "Who is it?" she snapped, not intending to sound so pissy.
    "It's Siduri! Open up!" Siduri's voice replied through the door. Hastily, Roku opened the door to let the smartass in, shutting it behind her.
    "What do you want?" She muttered.
    "I KNOW it's you, Sidra. Chill!" Siduri explained. "I wanted to check on you."
    "What're YOU doing in military school?" Roku scowled.
    "I... joined. Then I told Mom and Dad AFTER it was too late." Siduri beamed.
    Why didn't I think of that? Roku sweatdropped behind her mask. Maybe I should give Sid more credit.
    "Yoshino's here, by the way." Siduri sat down on the floor.
    "So I heard. It was all over the campus before..." Roku trailed off, turning away.
    "Yeeeeah... I heard about that. Y'okay, sis?" Siduri cast a worried glance at his masked sister, brushing the one blonde streak of hair from his face. His mother had been very annoyed when she found out he had bleached it.
    "Dunno." Roku sighed.
    "Y'know, you can take that stuffy mask off around me, sis." Siduri noted. Sidra made no reply, her back to him. "Sidra-?"
    "Roku for now. Mom and Dad don't seem to realize it's me. Maybe they're dumber than we give them credit for." Sidra slipped off the mask and brushed some sweat dampened hair out of her face.
    "Really? Whoa." Siduri blinked. "Oh yeah! Guess what I saw!"
    "The Gundams?" Sidra replied.
    "Damnit! Does everybody but ME know about them?!" Siduri fell over in frustration. "Shino's out piloting one as we speak!"
    Sidra shrugged. "Good for him."
    "Man! He doesn't even KNOW how to pilot! WE should be there!" Siduri made a face. "This sucks!"
    Sidra spun around on him suddenly, and upset look on her face. "No, we SHOULDN'T be there! You don't know it, but it's awful! I wish I'd never run off on this crazy whim! Almost all the top students in the class are DEAD. KILLED. Because they weren't good enough and neither was I!" By this point a new wave of tears had started down her face, her barriers down. "You don't know how awful that feels. I had to watch them get killed by those monsters!" By now, she had almost broken down into a fresh round of sobbing. Siduri got up and suddenly hugged Sidra close.
    "S'ok, sis...." Siduri sighed. "Y'gonna keep fighting though?"
    Sidra pulled away suddenly, turning away from her brother, wiping her tears on her sleeve. Head bowed, she slipped on her mask again.
    "... I think so.... Yeah. I owe everybody that much...." She sighed. "Someone's got to take revenge, right?"
    Siduri grinned slightly. "I'll be yer wing man any day, sis!" He gave her a thumbs-up. Roku smiled slightly.
    "Only if you remember to call me Roku, not Sidra or sis. I've got an image to maintain, y'know." She smiled wickedly. Even though most of her face was shrouded, Siduri was pretty sure that very unpleasant consequences awaited him if he screwed up.
    "Okay Si- er... Roku!" He sputtered. "But you've gotta remember not to call me 'bro'!"
    "No problem, freshie." Roku smirked. She outranked him. Siduri sweatdropped.
    The next few weeks were going to be a living hell.

Continued in Gundam Wing: A New Era, Episode 6:
"Parting Shots"