Disclaimer : Gundam 00 characters, names and related indicia © Sunrise, Bandai

Notes:
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Thank you very much to Dynames of the Mechaphiles for the beta work!
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I wrote this fic for myself, as I was not entirely happy at how Season 2 ended - but I do hope that those who like Tieria and Mileina will enjoy this light piece. Slight OOC-ness may be detected, as I wanted to push the envelope with regards to Tieria's character. I've also taken the liberty of using Veda's wide network for convenience. =P Comments and constructive criticism are most welcome.

WARNING! SPOILERS FOR SEASON 2, EPISODES 23-25!
Hit that back button or close this tab/window if you haven't watched said episodes. ^_^

Present
a Gundam 00 fanfic by Cielo

After the end of the war against the A-LAWS and Innovators, spending time on Earth had become increasingly difficult for Celestial Being, as the Earth Sphere Federation was on constant lookout for its members and the Ptolemaios II. Tieria was working overtime in Veda by manipulating personal information as to allow their members to roam around – for supplies and for much needed recreation – without raising any suspicion.

As bits of data whizzed through Veda, Tieria spotted a particular bit that caught his interest, and enticed him to pause for a moment as the giant processor brewed a little plan...

2313 – Himi, Toyama Prefecture
03:15

Mileina frowned in her sleep. Her Celestial Being-issued handheld terminal was buzzing by her bedside. Yawning heartily, she lifted her eye cover onto her forehead. Her rare moment of a complete beauty sleep disturbed, she sighed as she flipped the screen open, expecting some urgent message from Sumeragi or Feldt. To her surprise, it was a directive sent directly from Veda:

Mileina Vashti :
Urgent. Head to the Inn's front desk and pick up a note with reference number E0057. Bring warm clothing.

A moue formed on her lips – why would Veda ask her to get, of all things, a note? Then again, this was not the first time something had been transmitted to them in non-digital form. She dragged her reluctant body out of the warm bed and changed into warm civilian clothes – knitted turtleneck pullover, snug pants, and boots – and headed out, grabbing her coat. She let her hair down as she pulled a wool cap over her head.

The inn's front desk was open 24/7 and the lady attendant smiled at her, "Ohayou gozaimasu. You must be Miss Vashti." Mileina feebly smiled back, "Yes I am – I believe you have a message for me? E0057?"

"Ah yes – here you are," a sealed envelope with her room number written on the flap was handed to her. The brown-haired girl read another note:

Head to the Zuiriji Temple [1], and go to the shrine. You will receive further directives upon arrival.

Three o' clock in the morning and Veda was asking her to go to a temple.

"Will you be heading out, Miss Vashti?"

"Yes – I need to run some urgent errands. I'll be back for breakfast."

"Understood. Please take care."

Mileina took her rented scooter and warmed up its engine. The usually energetic and cheerful crew member of the Ptolemaios II was in a cloud of gloom. She'd told Sumeragi that she wanted to take her vacation in sunny Okinawa, but the older woman had insisted on snowy Toyama instead, telling her about the yearly winter festival she must see.

As she cruised through the streets, the scooter's GPS telling her where to go, she envied her parents – snug and warm in their room in the inn. She promised herself that she would drop by an onsen later in the day.

After parking and locking her scooter at the temple's designated area, she looked up at the stairs in front of her. They were not as long as the ones at some of the other temples they had visited, but for someone as sleep-deprived and cold as her, the task of climbing them seemed quite daunting.

Walking up the stone stairs finally got her blood going and she became more aware of her surroundings. It was quite dark, and she couldn't tell if it was the trees' acoustic qualities that were making her breath and heartbeat much more audible than usual, and causing her footsteps to echo. As she reached the top, night lights illuminated the gate and cast an eerie glow on the nearby stones and statues. She was suddenly startled as her handheld buzzed again.

Head to the right side of the shrine and draw a fortune. Further instructions are enclosed therein. [2]

Her energy picking up, she jogged down the open path and headed towards the fortune-reading table, where a cylinder was waiting for her. She shook it until a thinly rolled scroll slid out. A small piece of paper was found to be concealed as she unraveled the fortune:

Give thanks to the gods of the temple and head to Takaoka Station. Take the Himi line and get down at the Himi Station.

Fully awake, the young Vashti lightly smiled. She had no idea what Veda was up to, but she was getting the feeling that this has nothing to do with armed interventions.

She stepped to the front of the shrine and tried to imitate what she has seen in documentaries – she rummaged her pockets for some coins which she tossed into the offertory box and pulled at the ornate cord to call onto the gods. She suddenly winced, unsuspecting of the ruckus she'd just made, and hoped that she hadn't woken up any of the monks guarding the temple. She clapped her hands together and squeezed her eyes shut...

"Anou, Kami-sama," she started in her mind, "I don't follow any religion of some sort, but I wish for Mama and Papa's good health... ok, so good health for everybody in Celestial Being... eto... I don't even know how to pray..." she relaxed her eyes and took a deep breath, "thank you for everything, Kami-sama, for the peace and I hope it will last. I wish to be always at my best to help my comrades..."

After a few more moments, she felt revived with a glowing feeling in her heart – perhaps this is how it felt to be blessed by the gods. She bowed and headed out for her next destination.

She parked her scooter at the Takaoka Station, and purchased a ticket at the vending machine. She knew that the station should be closed at that time, but it would seem that Veda had manipulated the train to wait for her, its doors open. Once she stepped inside, the doors closed.

For a moment, her solitary voyage seemed surreal – the sound of the tracks seemed louder than usual. She looked out the window and took in the pre-dawn scenery in front of her from which she caught a glimpse the Takaoka Kojo Park. The train, which was headed east, then turned north, tracing the Himi coastline. She suddenly realized how much beauty on Earth she had been missing, being a child born and raised in space, her life spent inside labs and a battle ship.

After a brief stop at Shimao Station, the train moved on to the next one. Mileina's breath caught at the sight of the mountain range that spanned her view of the sea, and the sky that had been gradually brightening since she'd first stepped out of the inn. Checking the time, she saw that it was nearing five o'clock already. The train finally reached its terminal – Himi Station – and she got off. Her handheld buzzed again.

The first bus should be leaving shortly. Get on it and get off at the Himi Coastline stop.

The young girl sighed in relief. It would seem that this would be her last destination. She walked briskly towards the bus stop, where one of the vehicles was already waiting. She noticed that she was not alone – a few other people were already on board – tourists like her. She took a seat by the window as the bus went on its way.

The trip took around twenty minutes and she got off at her stop. A buzz in her pocket signaled another message.

Walk along the beach heading north.

A brisk wind blew and she held her coat closer. Cold sand lightly crunched at her feet as the receding tide lapped at the shore. Her attention was drawn towards the teal-hued mountains that were seemingly floating at the surface of the water. This time, her handheld did not buzz but rang instead. The screen's ID concealed the caller's name, and was set for voice-only communication.

"Hello?"

-Good morning Mileina.-

Her breath caught at the sound of the voice at the end of the line – there was some distortion, as if it was machine-produced; but it was definitely a voice she would recognize anywhere...

... And it was a voice she had longed to hear again. She opened her mouth, her voice barely above a whisper.

"E-Erde-san..."

-Look to the east, Mileina.-

As she turned her head, an overwhelming view met her: the sun slowly rising over the mountains. Its golden rays cast a spectrum of color over the water and sky – from grayish indigo, to fleeting shades of gold-tinted hues of pink and violet, until darkness was washed away by the shade of morning.

"Erde-san..." Mileina couldn't take her eyes away from the wonder of nature taking place, until the brightness forced her to shield her eyes – and yet she still did not want to look away, "Erde-san, you should see this! It's beautiful!"

-Happy birthday, Mileina.-

The greeting made several things click in her mind, "Hold on for a moment, please, Erde-san." She looked at the date on her handheld – it was indeed her birth date. She had been so completely caught up in Celestial Being's activities that she had forgotten her own birthday.[3]

Another thing she remembered that Tieria was in Veda – or rather, Tieria was Veda.

"You lead me here, Erde-san..."

-I'm sorry for interrupting your rest –

"Thank you," Mileina felt tears stinging her eyes, "thank you, Erde-san. I have never seen the sun rise from Earth before. It's really beautiful."

-The older Lockon Stratos, Neil Dylandy, showed us – Allelujah, Setsuna and I – the sunrise from our hideout in the Pacific. It was something that made me like Earth a little...-

"Ah! Erde-san! I need to call Mama and Papa – "

-Don't worry about it. I sent word to them of your whereabouts. They should be joining you shortly.-

Mileina kept the handheld open, and Tieria did not show any signs of "hanging up." She mused that in her ideal world, the Meister would be standing right beside her to watch the beauty of the morning unfolding, enjoying the little bit of peace the moment offered.

"Mileina!"

The young Vashti turned her head to the direction of the voices calling out to her – Ian and Linda were approaching to join her.

"Erde-san, I have to go."

-Enjoy your day out, Mileina.-

Signing off, Mileina jogged over to join her parents, talking about a trip to the onsen after a hearty meal for her birthday. On the way to the bus stop, her handheld clamored for her attention once more:

Mileina :
Just so I can put it on black-and-white – Happy birthday.
Tieria Erde

She paused a moment, and typed in a reply:

Erde-san:
And just so it will be part of your data bank – thank you very much. I will never forget this day.
Mileina

- END -

Notes :

- [1] I unfortunately am not knowledgeable of the temple's layout, and used what I could understand from pictures online, and the general topography of Takaoka. Please pardon any inaccuracies.
- [2] Bonus internet cookies for you if you caught the reference to a certain Atlus PS2 game. ;)
- [3] So far, I haven't encountered official information as to when exactly is Mileina's birthday, but should anyone have a more precise information, please don't hesitate to give me a heads up.
- My primary inspiration for this fic were the following songs : (1) Winter Love, (2) Love Letter by BoA and (3) Reflectia by Euphonius.
- The latter song was the OP of True Tears, an anime which also inspired my setting, theme and mood of the fic (... and also features Hiroyuki Yoshino – Hallelujah – as part of the supporting cast.) ^_^