Episode 6:
Parting Shots

        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...

        Sidra, still in her disguise as Roku has been grief stricken over the loss of her classmates who were under her command. She has been reunited with her brother, Siduri, and now desires revenge. Meanwhile, Shino Yuy has safely arrived and is learning to pilot the Typhoon Gundam. Trowa Barton heads for Mars after hearing of the declaration of war by Venus. Meanwhile, Meiran is still a 'fugitive' from her father, Wufei, who is Not Happy.

        The phone rang. Meiran picked it up since she was passing it.
    "Hello!?" It was her FATHER. Oh sh*t.... She covered the receiver with her hand.
    "Uncle Quatre, it's... er.... for you!" She hastily handed the phone to a confused Quatre.
    "Who was that a moment ago!?" Wufei snapped.
    "Wufei-?" Quatre glanced over his shoulder to see Meiran packing her things.
    "Have you seen my daughter? Meiran?"
    "Um..... why?"
    "BECAUSE SHE RAN AWAY!" Wufei snapped, "Have you seen her!? She was at Duo's before and left before I got there!"
    "Um... hmm.... Have I seen her-? Let me think...." Stall, stall, stall.
    "Think faster." Wufei sounded Not Happy. (Authors: Hey, we didn't have any Not Happies in the last ep! We gotta make up for lost time!)
    Meiran was out the door.
    "She just left-"
    "WHAT!?" Wufei screamed into the receiver. Quatre held it away from his ear and winced, "YOU DIDN'T TELL ME!?! YOU ROTTEN-"
    Quatre hung up the phone.
    Wufei didn't notice until five minutes later when he was done screaming at Quatre for harboring his daughter and not telling him until it was too late. He was tempted to show up and get revenge, like he did to Duo...

        "I still can't believe that bastard cut my hair!" Duo had said that every morning since Wufei had taken revenge for harboring Meiran. Duo was missing a foot and a half of his braid, returning it to the length it had been 20 years ago. Duo was bemoaning the fact it had taken him that long to get his beautiful hair to that length and how Wufei had ruined it in less than a minute.
    "Will you shut up about your braid!?" Hilde was, to say the least, mildly sick of hearing about the damned braid.
    "But it's so short now!"
    "YOU'VE SAID THAT SINCE LAST WEEK! Get on with your life! There's a WAR starting, remember?"
    "Yeah, yeah. I know! I'm leaving for Mars tomorrow morning." Duo finished brushing out his 'beautiful hair' and started rebraiding it, "I'm not used to it being so short-"
    "It goes down to your BUTT, Duo!" Hilde threw the newspaper she was reading at Duo, who ducked. It slammed into the wall with an audible 'thud'.
    "Glad that didn't hit ME... Well.... since today's my last day here with ya, wanna take the day off and make the most of it??" Duo smiled wickedly. Hilde smiled just as wickedly.
    "Okay. But first...."
    "... We go shopping. You need new clothes."
    Duo fell over, all dirty thoughts fading quickly and being replaced by dread.

        "I'm hooooome!!" Meiran unlocked the front door to her house and looked around. Apparently I'm the only one who is. She went upstairs and unpacked her things. She'd have gone anywhere but home, except she was running low on money. She debated calling her mother on her cell phone or just waiting for Sally to return. She decided it'd be more amusing to see her mother's face when she walked in and found her daughter kicked back on the couch like nothing had happened.

        But it wasn't Sally who walked through the door. It was Wufei. With a bright, shiny holographic band-aid across his apparently broken nose.
    "Daddy?" Meiran blinked.
    "YOU." Wufei glared at her. He was Not Happy.
    "Hi! Did you have a nice trip?" She replied sweetly.
    "What happened to your nose, Daddy?"
    "It's broken!" He snapped, "Stop acting so innocent, I know where you were."
    "I know you know." Meiran went back to reading her book, "So how'd it get broken?"
    "Duo." Wufei twitched, "He's just lucky I missed his neck." Meiran raised an eyebrow.
    "What did you do to Uncle Duo?" Do I really want to know this?
    "Cut his hair." Wufei held up the foot and a half weave.
    "And you kept it!?" Meiran stared.
    "Only because it upset the fool." Wufei dropped it back into the bag he'd brought it home with. Hilde had wanted to keep it, so had Duo. And so as part of his revenge, he'd taken it with him when he left. Also revenge for Duo only having those ridiculous holographic band-aids.
    "So I'm in trouble, huh?" Meiran sounded sooooo interested.
    "Yes. Do you have any of my money left?"
    She threw him a twenty dollar bill.
    "You don't have to shout! I'll pay you back!" Meiran snapped, slamming her book shut.
    "Go to your room!"
    "I plan to!" Meiran snapped again, tossing her book on the coffee table and storming up the stairs.
    "I WASN'T PLANNING ON IT!" Meiran had done that once before when she'd been confined to her room. The rose bushes below were not fun to land in. She hadn't repeated the maneuver since.

        Sally arrived home to World War III already in progress.
    "Just leave me the hell alone!" Meiran could be heard raising her voice, even though all the windows and doors were shut. Sally debated the wisdom of unlocking the door and announcing she was home.
    "I said to go to your room!"
    "You didn't say I had to stay there!"
    "I thought you were intelligent enough to know what I meant!"
    "I'm just a WOMAN, remember!?" Meiran snapped bitterly.
    Sally opted to break it up before things got even uglier and somebody ended up dead. She opened the door. Meiran and Wufei were in the kitchen.
    "HEY! KNOCK IT OFF YOU TWO!" Sally yelled at them. They looked over at her. Meiran shut the refrigerator door. All she'd done was come down to get something to eat.
    "What is going on here!? When did you get home, Meiran?" Sally crossed her arms.
    "Earlier today. Then Daddy came home and I've been in my room a couple hours. I just came down to get something to eat." Meiran glared at her father.
    "I didn't say you were allowed out yet!" Wufei glared back.
    "Both of you shut up. This is stupid." Sally glared at them both.
    "...." They had no comeback to that.
    "Now then, do I have to send you each to a corner for a Time Out?" Sally was on the war path now. Even Wufei had come to dread that.
    "...." No comeback to that either.
    "Are you going to behave?" She crossed her arms and leveled them each with a Glare of Death that would make even Heero cringe. It was the Mother Glare.
    "...." No guarantee they would, so they said nothing.
    "All right. As for you, Meiran, you're grounded. As for you, Wufei, our plans for tonight are off. Nice band-aid."
    Wufei turned and spat a curse to himself. Meiran blinked. She didn't want to know and opened the refrigerator again, making off with the last slice of pizza.
    ".... I was going to have that for dinner." Wufei twitched.
    "Not anymore, Daddy." Meiran headed back upstairs, munching on the cold pizza.
    "I had dibs on it already, Wufei." Sally reminded him. Wufei spat another curse to himself.

        Ariana wiped some sweat from her face before standing back and surveying her work. It hadn't been easy testing the buster rifle to make sure it still worked. The rumors of a Venusian attack or something along those lines still were flying around about the mysterious explosion and crater. Thankfully, her folks hadn't been home at the time, as Relena was busy at conferences, and Heero was there to protect her from any would-be assassins. But damn, that twin buster rifle was still in good working order.
    "Let's see.... still gotta finish hooking up all the cockpit systems... bang the dents out of the vulcans..." She ran through her mental checklist of the close-to-completed gundam. To hide the suit from prying eyes, she had adopted the arcane technique of using a camouflage net with some scrap metal stuck in it to blend with the rest of the scrap yard. So far, none of the neighbors had called to report seeing a mobile suit in their back yard, so Ariana assumed it worked.
    The FalconWing was nearing completion, and could even sit up on it's own. Ariana still had to reconnect power to the legs, but she would do that while rewiring the cockpit. Her tool kit in hand, she climbed into the cockpit and began to work.
    "Hrm... What's this go to-?" Ariana held up a wire that led off to some black box behind the seat. Shrugging, she let the wire dangle and got to work on the stuff she knew had to be wired up properly. She'd deal with the loose wire later once the number of places it could go and been reduced.
    Three hours later, there was one port left, and one wire left. But when Ariana had powered up the suit, it seemed to be in perfect working order. Besides, the little black box was banged up pretty bad. It's probably a flight recorder or something like that. It looks a like like a shuttle's flight data recorder.... Ariana shrugged and tucked the stray wire and it's connector back behind the seat so it wouldn't be in the way.  I won't need a flight recorder. I promised Shino I wouldn't take it into space. And that's where all the fighting is gonna be. Besides, a broken flight recorder won't do any good. So Ariana left what she thought was a flight data recorder in its space behind the seat.

        Duo yawned and stretched lazily. Man, what a bon voyage present! Duo glanced at the sleeping Hilde next to him. He had worn her out. Yawning, the God of Death got out of bed and threw some clothes on. (Authors: Duo in his undies! Fan service.) Careful not to wake Hilde up, he crept downstairs to get some coffee. He didn't want to have to endure another round of her pleading for him to let someone else fight in his place. Besides, no one else could be the God of Death! That's MY job. The braided pilot gulped down some coffee after polluting it thoroughly with cream and sugar. Besides, those guys on Mars were rebuilding Deathscythe! That was, and is still HIS suit. It was only right that he would be the one to pilot it.
    Creeping back upstairs, Duo got his suitcase and looked over at Hilde again, still sleeping peacefully. With a smile, he bent over and kissed her on the forehead. She smiled in her sleep and murmured something, snuggling up under the covers more. Duo left, headed for the space port. He had a shuttle to catch.

        Meiran set down her backpack quietly. She could hear her parents fighting about something in their room. I wonder what's up? Usually it's Daddy and I fighting, not him and Mom. She tossed her school uniform's blue sweater onto the couch and crept silently up the stairs to her parents' bedroom door.
    "You and I have work to do with the Preventers, you can't go and pilot one of Milliardo's new suits!" Sally sounded frustrated, "Meiran knows how to use a suit-"
    "I won't hear of it! I will not have my daughter out piloting a GUNDAM!" Wufei sounded frustrated too, "She can fill in for me with the Preventers and I'LL pilot!"
    "She's my daughter too, Wufei! Why are you so against the idea!?"
    Me? Pilot? I've used construction suits when I was working to get money for my motorcycle... Daddy used to pilot... he probably doesn't want me invading on his turf... Well... maybe if I could do that, I could show him I'm worth a lot more than he thinks I am! I've obviously got Mom backing the idea..... Besides, he can't just up and leave his job, now can he? A smile spread across her face and she continued to listen in.
    "She'll get killed!"
    Would not...
    "Why don't we ask her if she wants to? If she's afraid she'll get killed she won't take the offer." Sally smirked.
    "I won't hear of it, damnit! She's reckless! She can't possibly pilot a suit in a war!"
    The more you say I can't Daddy, the more I think I can... Meiran wondered if she should interrupt saying she'd do it yet, or continue listening. Maybe her father did have a good reason for not wanting her to pilot. She decided to interrupt now. What good reason other than not wanting her getting killed could there be?
    "I'll do it." She barged into the room, silencing the argument instantly. They stared at her in surprise.
    "I said... 'I'll do it' Do I need to define those words, Daddy?" She smiled.
    "YOU WILL NOT! I FORBID IT!" Wufei snapped.
    "She said she'd do it and obviously overheard us, Wufei. She can go to Mars and be trained to fight with a suit." Sally watched Wufei. He didn't look happy. In fact, he was Not Happy. Severely so.
    "No. She is not going to Mars, and she is not learning how to fight with a mobile suit! A GUNDAM, none the less! I won't have it!"
    "She's going, Wufei!"
    "No she isn't."
    "Excuse me! Can I say something about this?" Meiran sweatdropped slightly, "I have a way this can be settled."
    "What's that?" Sally blinked. Meiran's eyes fell on her father.
    "Daddy, I challenge you to a duel. Winner goes to Mars, loser works for the Preventers. How about it?"
    "Fine! I accept!" Wufei snapped. He remembered their last duel, two years ago. She'd lost to him, and he doubted she could win now.
    Sally sighed.

        "Ready?" Meiran unsheathed her blue tachi and set the elegant sheath on the ground. Wufei nodded.
    I'm not going to lose this time, Daddy. I'm going to show you and anybody else who tries to stop me just what I'm capable of. Last time I only fought because I was angry and wasn't thinking. I'm a lot smarter now, Daddy...
    They took up battle stances. Wufei scowled. Meiran's face was void of any expression and gave him no clue as to what was going through her mind.
    It's for your own good you don't go! Can't you see that!? You're just as stubborn as the woman I named you after!
    Wufei's thoughts were interrupted as Meiran attacked, her tachi clanging loudly against his katana as he brought it up to block. She stepped back, dodging Wufei's counter strike. The two fought relentlessly back and forth while Sally watched from inside the house.
    Neither one of them wants to lose... She sighed, A father and daughter shouldn't be fighting, not like this. Why can't you just let her go Wufei? She's not a little girl anymore... Sally watched the fight rage on. Indeed, their daughter was not a little girl anymore, but a young woman desperately trying to prove herself as such. Wufei just can't see... She wants him to be proud of her... That's why she took up the offer, isn't it? To show him that she's not a little girl...
    Meiran leapt to the side, watching her father slice the rosebushes in which she'd hidden the address book weeks ago. Their petals scattered on the grass. She brought the flat of the blade down on his shoulder, causing him to wince involuntarily, and then moved back before he could counter her. They circled each other for a moment, each looking for an opening to attack the other.
    Wufei, growing impatient, made the first move, breaking the circling. Meiran ducked down out of the way and hit her father with the flat side again, this time hitting his leg, causing him to stumble. She pressed the assault and Wufei struggled to keep Meiran's tachi at bay. Eventually Wufei knocked her back and attacked, hoping to have not given her enough time to recover. Meiran ducked the attack, using the force from being knocked away to do so. He was wide open as he finished carrying out his swing. Meiran stood up and pointed the blade of her tachi at her father's throat.
    "Drop your sword, Daddy. You've lost." Not only that, but to a woman in a skirt.
    Wufei stared at her, half in disbelief, half in amazement, until anger kicked in. He let his sword fall to the ground. She lowered her sword and picked up her sheath.
    "... You may be strong enough to defeat me with a sword," Wufei spoke in a low tone. Meiran locked eyes with her father, "but you aren't strong enough to pilot a mobile suit."
    She slammed her blade into it's sheath.
    "I hate you."

Continued in Gundam Wing: A New Era, Episode 7:
"The Art of War"