Disclaimer: I do not own Gundam Wing.
Dawn and Moon Wars
Part One (The Dawning)
"Not again…" The young woman sighed as she surveyed the empty study. "Damn it!" Lucrezia Noin, Captain of the Royal Guard, cursed as she turned on her heels and faced the three very sheepish looking women. "You're supposed to watch her!"
They winced, "Captain, we were but Lady Dorothy became scared and sent us to search the room while she and the Dawn's Star waited outside."
Noin snorted, "And you fools believed her! Lady Dorothy is a sorceress; she's not scared easily! Fools! Find them! Find them now!"
The clanging and clashing of swords was music to the smiling woman's ears. She breathed in deeply and could taste the metallic tang of metal, sweat, and blood. She watched with excited eyes as two female gladiators fought in the middle of the ring. Her heart began to pound faster in her chest as her eyes drank it all in. To her this was the elixir of life.
'I've finally made it. I'm finally here. My chance to be a Dawn Warrior.' Her smile faded slightly as she watched the female fighters stop and turn scornful faces toward a line of slaves. Their ankles were chained together and each wore only a pair of rough breeches. Many were bleeding from recent whip wounds.
Hilde's smile appeared again once they were out of sight. Unlike many females she didn't scorn the male race, but she did feel a bit of unease whenever she was around one. There were times she wanted to rush forward and protect one from their sometimes cruel masters, but it wasn't true sympathy. At least, not sympathy for an equal. To her saving one would almost be like saving a mistreated dog or horse.
Male gladiators were used for sport. They were slaves that fought till one died or the crowd tired of the fight… The crowds rarely tired.
Female gladiators were honored fighters that fought to prove their skills before the Dawn. Hilde had trained all her life to be one of those warriors. She smiled and walked into the ring.
"Why must we come here of all places?" A soft voice inquired as the two tiptoed through the shadows beneath the wooden risers.
"No one will think to look here till last. Everyone realizes how strongly the Dawn's Star dislikes fighting and the guards will think we've gone as far from here as possible." Dorothy stopped and peered between the seats to watch as the slaves were led across the ring.
"But must we wander below the commoners' seats!" The Dawn's Star, the Queen's only daughter, sighed as her closest friend and advisor offered no words. Dorothy was too intrigued by the fighting to talk. "Oh, yes, ignore me. After all, this is only completely your fault. My shoes are ruined." She gave a mischievous smile, "I suppose that means I can take them off." The princess removed her silk shoes and dug her soft, white toes into the dark brown dirt.
Dorothy pulled her eyes away from fighting long enough to see the princess's antics. "Dear Mother! Relena, put your shoes on!"
Relena frowned, "Why?"
"Because your mother will kill us if she sees your feet like that!" Dorothy sighed heavily, "You are hopeless."
"This coming from the girl that plays gladiator in the middle of the night." Relena gave a smug smile as Dorothy turned a brilliant shade of red.
"Snake's Fang!" A voice bellowed and both girls jumped. Dorothy rubbed her now bruised head and cursed the shorter girl's height. They both peered through the seats and watched as the bellowing woman stood beside a woman about thirty-five and a short female that looked either eighteen or twenty.
The older woman obeyed the command and tried to put the younger female into the Snake's Fang move, but the younger female dodged to the left.
The younger woman gave a quick smile then yanked her short sword free of its sheath. The older woman seemed to snarl and swung her own sword at the younger.
"Why isn't she moving!" Relena screeched and Dorothy hissed at her.
"Be silent or they'll hear!"
The blade slid across the younger female's skin, leaving a thin angry line of blood. A fire seemed to rage behind the younger female's eyes and a battle cry erupted from her lips. She lunged and the air was filled with the whistling of their swords… Then a cry sounded and the ring was silent.
"I'm sorry!" The younger helped the other to her feet, the fire now gone from her eyes, and two more women came to help the older to the Master Healer. "I didn't mean to…"
"A blood warrior." A calm voice spoke up and the two hidden girls winced and ducked lower to the shadows. Lucrezia Noin walked forward, flocked by two underlings. Her bright red uniform with its gold buttons and tall black boots stood out among the metal armor and leather clothing.
Dorothy's fear of being caught disappeared once she realized what Captain Noin had called the younger gladiator. She mouthed the words with awe, "A blood warrior."
"It has been a long time since I've seen one in battle." Captain Noin continued, talking to the wide-eyes girl. "You waited till her sword drew blood before attacking." Noin smiled, "Carlita is one of our best and you defeated her in less than five minutes."
"Oh no!" Hilde's sword fell to the ground; "I wounded one of the Dawn's Warriors!"
"She can still fight. The loss of two fingers will not hinder her." Captain Noin looked Hilde over. 'A warrior that fights with unearthly strength and grace when blood is drawn. Strong legs, fast runner… But is she intelligent?' "Why are you here, blood fighter?"
"To fight for the Dawn." Hilde eyed Captain Noin warily, a sense of nervousness creeping up her spine.
"Why choose the path of a gladiator?"
Hilde hesitated, "Because… I know it is quite impossible for those of common birth to enter the ranks of the Dawn's Swords, her royal bodyguard, immediately. I've decided to first become a gladiator and hope my name will travel as I fight. After years of fighting in the ring I feel that my name will eventually reach the Captain of the Guard and I'll be promoted. My life goal is to become a Sword and protect the Dawn."
"A sound plan." 'Intelligent planner. Her common blood worries me slightly though… I remember my first year. I need a person that will knock some sense into those two without fear of the Dawn's wraith.' Her face softened as she stared at the younger female. 'Where would I be if the Dawn hadn't given me a chance…'
"What is your name, girl?"
"Come with me, Hilde. I have a job that may better suit you. You shall be a Sword-in-training under my mentoring."
Hilde's eyes widened, "R-really!" Her face lit up with a wide smile, "Thank you! But… Um, could you tell me your name please?"
"You will call me Captain Noin."
Hilde looked ready to faint, "Captain of the Swords!"
Dorothy winced while Relena chuckled. "Poor girl didn't even know who she was speaking to!"
"Don't you understand!"
Relena frowned, "Understand what?"
"You saw that girl! She's a blood warrior! We're doomed!" Dorothy wailed, "Oh, goodbye freedom! Goodbye fighting ring!"
The princess watched with raised eyebrows as the sorceress continued to moan. "I don't understand. What are you talking about?"
"Blood warriors are powerful fighters that are overflowing with the elemental powers of spirit and earth. The slightest cut allows the powers to flow free and they are gifted with enhanced senses. Their strength and grace are otherworldly, their sense of smell, sight, and hearing all enhance! That girl is one and now she's Noin's student meaning Noin will probably send her after us! She'll be able to find us!"
Relena paled, "Won't your magic hide us?"
"Blood warriors can sense sorcery…"
The two shared a mournful look and spoke in unison; "We're doomed."
Sally watched as the Master Healer wrapped Carlita's hand in thick bandages. 'I could do that… She never lets me prove myself.' She sighed and ran a hand over her catriffin. Galea purred and Sally scratched behind one of the catriffin's dark green wings. The catriffin's body was black with a sheen of purple and as soft as silk. Her large green wings had a satiny feel to them and the creature's bright blue eyes smiled up at Sally.
"Sally! Sally! Get your head out of the clouds!" The Master Healer snapped and the twenty-two year old female jumped.
"Get me some powdered dawn-mint."
Sally obeyed and watched as Carlita was forced to gag down the numbing medicine. She hid her smile as Carlita moaned and tried to move her now numb hand, but couldn't. The Master Healer frowned at Sally's hidden smile and would've scolded her if an angry Driver hadn't run in.
"Damn boy! I need you to come and look over a new slave. He wouldn't shut his mouth and my damn apprentice used the whip too rough! The boy may be a slave, but he's valuable! Damn it!" The Driver continued to curse as the Master Healer snarled under her breath.
"One of the Dawn's Warriors needs me right now." She finally spat out, "A Warrior is more important than a new slave."
"Fine then." The Driver frowned, then stared at Sally. "Send your apprentice then. She knows enough to help the boy."
The Master Healer hesitated, then slowly nodded. "Sally, go with her and tend the slave."
Sally nodded, snatched up her kit, and bolted off after the Driver. It didn't take long for them to reach the slave barracks and Sally couldn't help but nearly skip inside. This was her first alone healing and she wasn't going to fail! The Driver led her to a small room where a tan figure laid stripped on a rough, dirty sheet. Sally's nose wrinkled at the smell and sight.
"Why hasn't he been cleaned?" Sally snapped, ignoring the Driver's startled look. "Somebody get me a pail of warm water and a soft rag. Very soft!"
The Driver turned toward a hovering slave, "You heard her! Get!" The slave bolted to do his job and soon returned with the pail and rag.
Sally took it and slowly began to wash the grime off the silent man. She supposed he'd fainted from pain and was glad. The Driver soon left her and she worked slowly, getting the dirt out of his cuts. The man had been turned on his back so she could reach the lashes easily, but the cuts went all the way down his body. She had finally cleaned off the last slashes on his legs when he moaned. Sally stood up and ignored his sounds of awakening.
She opened her kit and searched. Half of the herbs were expensive, used mainly for nobles, while the others were more common… Sally bit her lower lip and glanced back at the man. 'He's only a slave like all men…' But her heart moved her hand and it closed around two tiny bottles.
He moaned again and she kneeled beside him. "Drink this." Her voice was low and soothing and caused him to open his eyes in surprise. Sally was shocked at the brilliance of his violet eyes… And the smile they seemed to hold.
He took the vial and slowly drank its contents. The medicine went to work instantly and he flashed her a grin. "Thank you, milady."
She frowned at his tone. "I'm merely the Master Healer's apprentice and be grateful for my help, slave." Sally poured a thick lotion into her hand and began to apply it to the cuts.
"Ah. So what is your name, Master Healer's apprentice?"
Her eyes widened, "No wonder you received so many lashes! You must learn to hold your tongue, slave!"
"I wasn't a slave before this so I don't believe I shall act like one." His grin stayed in place even though his face was lined with pain. But there was also a sense of thankfulness to him as Sally's hands stayed gentle even through her astonishment. "So, what is your name?"
She blinked, "You were a free man? Is it possible?" Her voice held such a tone of wonderment that he laughed.
"Yes, I was free before the hunters came and captured me and two of my companions. Please, I hate to think of you as merely the nice apprentice of the Master Healer."
She sighed, "My name is Sally. Nothing special. How is it possible that you were once free? I thought the tales of wild men to be myths!"
"Not myths, quite true. It's not that difficult. Though the majority of the Earth is ruled by the Dawn and her warriors, a few parts still lie out of her reach. We've lived in seclusion, only coming out during battles or hunting."
"But it's not right. Men cannot survive on their own!"
His laugh was bitter, "We can and we shall. What right do you women have to rule over us? What right do you have to make us slaves?"
"It is the way the Mother wished it to be."
"There is no real proof of this, only tales told by Priestesses whose power would be lost if the stories weren't true."
"You are such a deluded slave." Sally finished wrapping bandages around his wounds and helped him lay back down. She stood up and closed her kit, knowing she would be getting an earful once the Master Healer realized what medicines she'd used.
"Huh?" She stopped in the doorway and stared at him.
"That's my name. I'm not slave. I'm Duo."
Sally shrugged and walked outside, but she couldn't help mouthing his name. "Duo…"
Deep in a forest that hid many secrets just one of them raised his face to the sky. "Duo has been caught…"
"He acts a fool, but he is a brave warrior. He should be rescued." A voice spoke to the man's right, a voice that tried to stay calm but a hint of anger showed itself.
"Rescues are so difficult these times. The Dawn is becoming more aware of us and it's dangerous to send men into her lair…"
"Because she fears for the safety of the Star since the coronation is close."
"She knows we plan to attack soon… The Star cannot be crowned with the powers or else all will be lost."
Nearly black eyes watched the man, "So, she must be stopped at any cost?"
The man nodded, "At any cost."
"They're gathering their forces closer, my Queen." A lithe figure whispered from the shadows, whispery blond hair wrapped around her pale face but she ignored the strands. "They grow more bold as each day passes."
"We captured a few of their men today." The Dawn stood and stared outside her room's window, watching as her daughter and advisor were ushered back inside by Captain Noin and a young woman she didn't recognize.
"Their numbers range far higher than your Council's been telling you. A few is nothing to them. Our number are far higher than theirs, but if just one gets a lucky shot then it's all over… If the Star dies chaos will rule. She must awaken to her powers."
"I know." The Dawn placed a hand on the cool glass, "My poor child. Such a heavy burden is about to be placed on your young shoulders." She sighed and lowered her hand. "Midii… Watch over her for me."
Midii bowed, "Honored, my Queen." She stepped deeper into the shadows and the Dawn watched as the small woman seemed to disappear.