Title: Hand of Sorrow
Author: Takada Saiko
Disclaimer: I don't own except for a few originals. Gotta love those.
A/N: Well this is a beginning of a – gasp – new Gundam fanfic of hopeful length. I've also been glancing over Three Beats of War, Peace, and Revolution and am thinking about doing a third rewrite of it just because my writing skills were so horrific back then. Anyway, this stems from a short story 'Not a Politician' which stemmed from a drawing late one night. This is the lengthy explanation of the bill that Relena's trying to get passed and why it's causing a rift between the government and certain members of the Preventers. This takes place 3 years after 3Beats (I know I said one year in NaP, but I changed it to fit my ages I wanted and such).
The year is 204 AC and peace, though nine years after the war that was supposed to end all wars, was still far out of grasp and we are still fighting. Nine years after the Gundams came together and fought Treize Kushranada. Nine years since two mysterious women appearedi, they have since engrained themselves in our twisted society. Eight years… Eight years since I, personally, came to the understanding of what it means to search for peace… and continue that search.
There was a long pause in the spoken words of the recorded journal. Though no words were spoken, a small sniffle could be heard before it clicked off. Though, after an immeasurable amount of time, it clicked back on.
It's been three years since Lee Ares gave up his life for us and three years since, after so long, I gained a family that truly loves me. Much has happened. Many have died at different hands, many injured, but also, life has begun. Jack, Marq, Ethan, and Tobias… They will, someday, grow up to be great men amongst Space and Earth.
And I… in this year, 204, I turned sixteen. I grow to look more like my father every day, but Heero-nii-san admitted that he finds me taking after each of the pilots in some way or another. Whoever I may appear as, or act as, I am, in the end, only myself. In a new time of turmoil, as the government is facing a new fear of chaos, I – Mariemaea Kushranada – will do all I can to grasp a hold of the peace that my family now fights for. Even if it means going against the government itself.
"You must be mistaken," Une-sama was saying over the phone that seemed to have been connected to her ear as of late. Mariemaea watched her carefully as the elder woman that she very much admired half way collapsed into the chair at the table in the kitchen. She glanced up at the teenager and motioned for her to leave.
Mariemaea bowed her head slightly, irritated, but complied as she had been ordered to. Even if they would not allow her a place in the Preventers, she would obey as a soldier would. Une-sama was their direct command and the young redhead would not question her.
The blue eyed teen realized that she'd been falling back into thought as she felt a nuzzle on her hand. "Snowy?" she asked, looking down at the dog that she had finally convinced everyone to let her keep. The white fluff ball had become the children's greatest treasure in the cabin. "I'm very sorry," she apologized with a slight bow to the animal who did not understand. "Why are you looking for me?"
The dog whined, licking her fingers until Mari scratched him behind the ears. "What a good dog," she praised quietly. "Do you know what's going on with everyone lately?"
Snowy lay down on the floor as if to reciprocate the feelings of confusion that were radiating off of his master. Mariemaea shook her head slightly and pushed herself from her leaning position on the wall. She could not gain anything from eavesdropping through the kitchen door to a one-sided conversation. They would simply have to tell her, she decided firmly. She was sixteen now, and Heero-nii-san and Chase-nee-chan could not treat her like a child any longer.
"Mari-chan!" a voice echoed through the cabin.
"Eh? Marq-chan? When did you get here?" she asked the boy as he seemed to materialize before her.
"Mama and Papa came here to talk with everyone," he answered as if that explained everything. He pushed a lock of bleach-white hair out of his bright eyes. "Papa said to come find you."
Well, there went the idea of finding out what was going on then, Mari admitted to herself. The Preventers would gather in the cabin's annex that they had designed to be a military room and expect her to watch the children while they planned for the next big battle. It wasn't fair. She was the same age as they had been eight years before when she had led her misguided revolution.
"Mari-chan?" Marq questioned, tapping her on the shoulder. "Your face is all red, Mari-chan. Are you mad?"
"Yes!" the teen announced, voice showing all of her irritation. "But it doesn't matter…" Everything seemed to slump around her. "Come on, let's go see everyone."
"Yay!" Marq cheered, grabbing the elder girl by the hand and dragging her up the three level of stairs to the play room at the top. The small, one hallway cabin that it had begun as had been added onto gradually over the years as their "family" had grown. When Jack Maxwell had been born, the second level had been added for the two married couples and any children. Then Mari had been adopted into the Yuy family and she had been given her own room as well on the second floor, much to her great pleasure. Then, finally, when Tobias Yuy was born – and taking into account the two Peacecraft children that were regular visitors – the third level was added as a play room for all the children. Poor Mari was now the resident babysitter instead of soldier that she wished to be.
Lucracia Noin-Peacecraft was standing in the middle of the large room and turned upon her eldest son's entrance. Her husband was nowhere to be seen and Mariemaea was sure that Zechs was already preparing with Heero-nii in the annex. She heard the muffled sound of the door slamming downstairs and knew that Une-sama was also on her way to the separate room, irritated greatly by her phone call.
"Mari-chan!" Noin called out, embracing the girl. It had been sometime since she had seen her. "You've grown!"
"I turned sixteen last week," Mariemaea said proudly.
"You would have been considered a grown woman in old Japan."
Mari turned. "Heero-nii! Does that mean that I get to join in?"
Heero Yuy, the Perfect Soldier, frowned at this idea. "That's not what I was-"
"This isn't old Japan anymore," Chase murmured as she followed in beside her husband, two-year-old Tobias in her arms. "Mari-chan…?"
"I know," the redhead growled. "'Mari-chan, please watch the children.' I know, Chase-nee-chan. You don't have to say it."
"Eh?" the petite pilot managed as she set Tobias down. "Mari?"
"It's frustrating, you know," the younger girl growled. "You were younger than me be two years when you begun all this and now I'm not allowed to even know what is happening, much less participate!"
Green eyes softened more than they had in some months. "Mari-chan, these are very dangerous times."
"They are always dangerous times! I can't sit by idly as you all get to rush head first into battle!"
"Mari-chan," Heero spoke quietly, dark blue eyes connecting with her bright blue ones. "Let us have our meeting. You know it is a very delicate thing if we've brought it to our home."
"Yes?" the teen asked, hoping that he might open up more information.
"It must be handled as such," Heero continued, placing a steady hand on her small, thin shoulder. "We will speak after our meeting."
"And you promise to tell me everything?" she begged.
"Perhaps not everything, Mari-chan," Heero answered honestly and gave her one of his very rare smiles. "To be a soldier, you must learn patience. Be patient now and in the end it will work the way it is supposed to."
"Haiii," Mariemaea murmured in Japanese.
"Domo arigatou," Heero responded as he turned to go.
"Tell me too!" Tobias wailed as he latched onto his father's pants and refused to let go.
The tension in the room seemed to lift momentarily as Noin and Chase managed to laugh – and not a forced laugh – at Heero's uncomfortable look. He had had a harder time than Chase – though the woman didn't seem to have quite as much of a mother instinct as Anna had originally thought – in understanding how to take care of a small child.
"Mama and Dad will be back in a couple of hours," Chase told the young boy and leaned to kiss his head. Innocence… How beautiful. "Play with Mari-nee and the others, ne?"
"Hai!" Tobias cried out, launching himself into his precious nee-san's arms. Mari picked him up and held him close. "Mari-nee!"
"They'll be back soon," Mari promised as she watched Heero, Chase, and Noin leave the play room. "Very soon."
The small annex was packed upon Heero, Chase and Noin's entrance. Une-sama was already seated at the head of the table, eyes half lidded and fingers gently messaging her temples as she stared down at the flat screen that produced the reports she was looking over last minute. Milliardo Peacecraft –better known and acknowledged by the Gundams Pilots as Zechs Marquis – sat to her left. He stood as his wife entered and pulled her chair out for her. She nodded her thanks as she took the seat offered. Next to Noin sat Trowa, eyes scanning his own documents and fingers tightly grasping the pin in which he scribbled tactical notes with. His eyes flickered very slightly to his right as Noin sat, but then continued on his work. Quatre sat quietly on Trowa's left, eyes soft though unreadable. To his own left as an empty chair left for Dorothy Catalonia who had not been able to make it. Chang Wufei occupied the seat directly opposite of Une-sama's, his dark eyes flickering to each of the members of their team. Sasaki Ryuujin's seat was open to Wufei's left and Duo sat in the next one. He was absently playing with his braid until Anna, to his left, took it from his grasp, glaring the age old glare that he knew too well. On Une-sama's right Heero Yuy sat, eyes dark and brooding. Chase took the remaining seat next to her husband. The sound of her chair scooting across the wooden floors, purposefully, broke the silence.
"Now that the children are out of earshot," she said lowly, eyes moving to Milliardo. He met her look evenly. "What the hell does your sister think she's doing?"
With that one question everything was opened up wide.
Milliardo sighed, looking tired and worn down. Relena Peacecraft had, many years before, assured him that his place was in the Preventers, not the political realm. He had accepted what he considered to be her sacrifice with much gratitude and taken up his position quickly. Now he was trying to salvage anything he could of his sister's disaster before it went too far. The only problem was that the proud princess was convinced that she was doing what was right for everyone. "Chase-chan…"
"Don't try to defend her, Zechs," the Galaxy's pilot warned him. "She's turning all of space against us."
"That's not Relena-san's intentions, Chase-san," Quatre piped up from the other end. "She's only-"
"What she is trying to do has nothing with her outcome, Quatre," Chase answered darkly. "She's destroying everything we've fought for."
"No," Heero answered from her left. "She is destroying the Preventers. Not everything."
"We are back to the questions asked in the war with Mariemaea," Wufei said from the other end of the table. "Are weapons needed in a time that is supposedly peaceful?"
"But it hasn't been peaceful," Anna answered his question. "We've fought one large war since Mari-chan's and countless small skirmishes that would have turned into a larger scaled battle had the Gundams not been on hand to quell them."
"But what if we've moved past that?" Quatre tried again.
"What if, what if…" Chase murmured and turned her intense eyes on the blond man. "What if we destroy everything we have. Then what? Our children have no future."
"Is that what the Zero System tells you, Chase-san?" Noin asked pointedly from her husband's side.
Dark green eyes widened momentarily. "That is what history tells us, or have you forgotten what the Three Beats are?"
"Enough," Une-sama said finally. "We are in a dire time now, but we do not know the extent of what this bill will mean for everyone."
"That's enough, Chase," Une said again. "I understand that you and Senator Peacecraft have a long running feud between you, but the political realm is not the place to stage the battle."
"This has nothing to do with my distaste for Relena – sorry Zechs – at all!"
"Whatever the case," Heero stepped in, cutting his wife off. "We must keep a close eye on it. Zechs…"
Milliardo Peacecraft's shoulders slumped and he found himself looking down. "I cannot be a spy on my own sister. You know this."
"Please remember that you chose to take up the sword instead of the pulpit," Wufei murmured. "That was your choice. Your sister makes her own. All either one of you can do is what you believe to be right and follow along the paths you've chosen."
The blond man nodded very slowly, all the while looking just as torn as he had when he entered the room. "Do we even know what this new legislation entails?"
Mariemaea looked up irritably from her studies at her wailing little brother. "What is it, Tobias? Nee-san is studying for a test."
The toddler sniffed. "Samurai-sama went away."
"Samurai-sama?" she echoed. "I don't know what you mean, Tobias."
"Samurai-sama!" the boy wailed again, tears flowing freshly from his dark blue eyes. He flung himself at the redhead and clung to her, then just as suddenly tugged her to the TV and pointed.
"The show was cut off," Marq said as he looked back at her. "News."
"Eh?" Mari sat down, patting the spot next to her for Tobias to follow suit.
"Breaking news in our headlines today: The bill that has been kept under such tight wraps by Senator Peacecraft has finally come into the open with surprising results. Chaos is erupting in the streets as an announcement was made just moments ago that the government is hoping to pass a bill that will ban all weapons in Space and Earth. Repercussions for those that are unwilling to give up their weapons might appear to be dire, but our president hopes that it will, in the end, win peace once and for all. Though, in all of this, Senator Peacecraft of Earth has been impossible to contact and it leaves us wondering: whose side with the senator take in this? The government that she's spent so long helping to form, or will she vote against it as she has ties to the Preventers and her own brother is one of its leading officers? Stay turned to find out!"
"Mari-chan?" Marq asked, staring up at her. "What does it mean to 'ban all weapons'?"
"It means that the Preventers will be taken apart," Mari said quietly, watching the TV – which had returned to the samurai anime that Tobias was glued to once again – and her eyes turned sad. "They'll destroy the Gundams."
"Wha' 'bout Uncle 'eero?" Jack asked as he craned his head around from the television to see Mari better.
"What do you mean?" Mariemaea asked carefully.
"Daddy calls Uncle 'eero a hu-man wea-pon," the boy said slowly, trying to sound out each word as he said it and sound as grown up as he could.
Ethan's eyes widened and he clung to his elder brother, pulling Marq to level with him, whispering frantically. The boy was far more developed than any three-year-old that Mari knew. He was only a year older than Tobias and a good six months younger than Jack, but he seemed to have a better grasp on everything that happened around him than either of the other boys.
"Mari-chan!" Marq gasped, eyes wide and frightened. "Remember that thing I told you about, that Ethan can do, that you can't tell no one about?"
"Anyone," Marq," Mari corrected him. "But, yes."
Ethan was tugging on Mariemaea's skirt, blue eyes wide. "Mari-chan! Yume! Yume!"
"Yume?" Mari echoed, fear seeping through. She shook her head suddenly. "Marq?"
"You're in charge. Make sure the others behave. I'll be right back, okay?"
"'kay. Don't tell the grownups about the dream, Mari!"
Marimaea nodded once and dashed out of the room and down the stairs. If she knew them, and she did, they had no television hooked up in that secret room. They couldn't have known. Her feet carried her faster than she knew they could and she was pounding her fist against the door before she knew it. The door opened widely to reveal Wufei staring down at her. "Fei-kun!" she cried.
"Mariemaea? What is it?"
"On the news, upstairs, they announced the bill."
"That's impossible," Une-sama said as she rose from her seat. "We were not informed. We're always informed before the media."
"I could see why they wouldn't want to, Une-sama," Mari answered as she stepped into the annex. She had never been inside, but at the moment she had no time to glance over the details that normally would have drawn her attention. "They're talking about destroying all weapons. A complete banning! And dire consequences for those that don't comply."
"If this is correct, than this is bigger than just maintaining funding for the Preventers," Quatre murmured.
"It's always been bigger than that, Q-chan," Anna sighed from beside him. "We just hoped that it wasn't."
Chase reached into her bag at her feet and pulled her laptop from it, pulling up the news on it. Her dark eyes scanned the reports. "They've been flooding in within the last few minutes. There was definitely an announcement to the media." After a few moment she paled. "'Every weapon is a potential threat against our peaceful nations. Every weapon must be destroyed, no matter what kind. If it can cause death, it does not belong in our mist.' This is that radical politician that has been climbing since the war with Tyler."
"He's a lunatic," Anna grumbled. "How has he gained any ground?"
"Relena adores him," Milliardo grumbled. "Ethan's afraid of him."
"Afraid?" Duo asked. "I didn't think either of your kids were afraid of much. I mean, he's a creep and all, but he's not scary looking or anything… I mean, they're not scared of Chase after all…."
"Shut it, Duo," the small pilot growled.
"Duo no baka," his wife grumbled, tugging at his braid. "This is serious."
"I heard him telling Marq once that Vrisiot-san was 'covered in red,'" Noin said as she glanced around the table.
"Is that his name? Vrisiot? Where's he from?" Chase asked as she typed it into her databanks. She paused as his report came up. "Born in space, raised… everywhere. Damn. This guy's been around."
"We'll have to keep an eye on him," Heero piped in his opinion. "Radicals calling for the destruction of weapons before the time comes are very dangerous. Who are we to say it is safe? Idealism will get innocent people killed."
"The news was really harping on Relena-san," Mari said as she took a seat in Dorothy's open one. "They want to know if she will side with the radicals or the Preventers."
"They're making us into a political voice now?" Milliardo demanded.
"We haven't said anything because we didn't know anything!" Duo growled out.
"Quiet everyone. Thank you, Mari-chan. You have been most helpful."
Mariemaea beamed at this remark and glanced at Heero and Chase. They nodded simultaneously and her grin grew.
"If Relena-san is being followed that closely by the media, we shall have to arrange for some sort of protection for her. Someone out there will think she is the turning point – and she may well be – for the passing of this bill or not."
"She has a speech in two days on the bill," Milliardo said quietly. "And before you ask, Chase-chan, I don't know how she's voting. She won't even tell me."
"We'll meet tomorrow here at noon, understood?" Une-sama told everyone. "Until then, get things packed. Quatre, if you'll get a hold of Dorothy, we'll need her."
"And for heaven's sake, someone find Sasaki. He turns out to be useful more times than not, but that's only if we can find him!"
Chase grinned at this. "We'll find Ryu, Une-sama, don't worry."
"Not you, Chase. Come with me, I have something I need to speak with you privately about."
The petite pilot nodded and followed her commanding officer out of the annex. Mariemaea watched each of the other pilots follow along until she and Heero were the only ones left. She glanced up at him, expecting a stern look.
"Get things packed for you and Tobias," Heero said.
"Do I get to go with you?" Mari asked hopefully.
Her adoptive father shook his head. "No, Mari. You must understand, though you would be a great asset to us, you are still a child. Cherish what you can of your childhood. Some of us weren't allowed that." He paused thoughtfully for a moment. "Get things packed. I'd rather you and the kids stay at Preventer HQ while we're gone this time."
"But Heero-nii! I can do just as much here!"
"Things are about to turn ugly. I don't trust Vrisiot."
Mari nodded at length. If there was one thing she'd learned about the Gundam Pilots in the time she'd known them, it was that if they told her to take cover it was best to do so.