ACES OF HEARTS
Disclaimer: Robotech and all characters mentioned within belong to their respective creators, so don't bother me with legal details.
< >: Thoughts
[" "]: Translation
January 2010 A.D.
Corporal Max Sterling toppled out of his seat when the blast hit the conning tower of the SDF-1. His bunkmate Ben Dixon came crashing down onto the floor of their barrack. The sudden impact of the Zentraedi attack had effectively left the battle fortress flying blind.
For the last two months, Max and Ben had been flying various patrol missions and for the most part, their engagements with the enemy had mostly been isolated skirmishes. The enemy seemed content to shadow the Robotech ship and occasionally test its defenses. Max had been racking up an impressive kill ratio. Though Ben had nowhere near the level of his friend's innate abilities, he too had been dealing the enemy some damage.
Life in the military had fallen into a kind of routine for the two, with the exception of a couple of extraordinary events. The first of these was the Miss Macross Beauty Contest, in which one of the judges was Captain Gloval. Surprisingly, Rick Hunter's friend, (whom he stated was NOT his girlfriend, though Max suspected otherwise), Minmei had been crowned the winner, rather than the popular movie star Jan Morris. At the same time, Lieutenant Hunter had an encounter with a Zentraedi Cyclops Recon Scout Ship, while piloting the prototype Armored Battloid. He had managed to destroy the scout, but had to be towed back to base after his Battloid was seriously damaged. Other than those two events, the war with the unknown alien foe was relatively quiet, until now.
Max and his comrade were immediately on their feet as sirens started blaring and the base was contacting them. It seemed that the enemy had decided to start up the war again. The bridge had received a demand for surrender from the enemy forces.
At least Max knew what to call the opposition now. They called themselves the Zentraedi.
Max carefully piloted his blue-trimmed Veritech, (which he had nicknamed the Blue Devil), through the swarms of asteroid fragments as he and his wingmates flew cover for Commander Hayes' Cat's Eye craft. Since the last Zentraedi attack had knocked out the SDF-1's long-range radar, the recon mission was necessary to guide the battle fortress through the swarms of ice chunks and various rock formations.
Almost immediately, since the start of the mission, his superior and the commander had gotten in another one of their arguments. The way they went at each other's throats sometimes made Max wonder if there was more to their relationship than meets the eye.
This time around, it was Rick who was lecturing Lisa, when Ben had received some damage to his Veritech, and the Lieutenant was requesting to return to base for repairs. Though the chunky pilot assured his superiors that the damage was manageable, Hunter was not convinced. Commander Hayes wanted to continue the mission, but Rick wasn't willing to take the chance, as he knew from experience that the smallest damage could mean the difference between life and death.
When the Zentaedi forces began attacking, Lisa pulled rank and ordered Vermilion Squadron to engage. With no choice but to obey, Rick and his wingmen peeled off to meet the enemy while the Cat's Eye proceeded on its mission without support. Max was already picking off a couple of Battlepods, when his teammates joined him in the fray. It was quite a challenge to maneuver about the hazardous field of asteroids while firing at their opponents and dodging their shots. Several times, the less agile 'mecha-ostriches' exploded from collisions with massive chunks of ice and rock. Though Max had not participated in the Battle of Saturn Rings, he realized that this is what the pilots must have experienced during that encounter. His uncanny piloting skills allowed him to maneuver his fighter about the tight confines with millimeters to spare.
However, as he and the others were adding kills to their records, there was a brief distress call from the Cat's Eye, which was then cut-off.
The enemy had captured Lisa's craft.
On board his flagship, Breetai nodded as he and Exedore were informed that the Micronian reconnaissance ship was being brought into the main hanger bay. It looked like Exedore's request to study an enemy Micronian would be fulfilled. However, when the bridge crew also informed them that three enemy fighters had invaded the ship in order to rescue their comrades, Breetai immediately went into a rage and started running. Nobody, but NOBODY sets foot aboard his ship without his permission!
Inside his Battloid, Max's adrenaline was reaching its peak levels as he and Ben lay down covering fire for Rick as he went about freeing Commander Hayes from her damaged craft. Unfortunately, the co-pilot of the Cat's Eye had perished when the ship had collided with an asteroid.
The blue-haired pilot couldn't believe the sheer size of this place! The hanger alone was big enough to contain Macross City itself! And the giants, who were present, gave him flashbacks of his first encounter with one of them during the launch day of the SDF-1. However, he bit down his fear and began shooting. The Zentraedi soldiers were taking cover as he and Ben sprayed the immediate area with auto-fire. But, as the enemy began firing back from positions around parked Battlepods, a series of warning lights started flashing on his console. The ammo feed to his main weapon was dwindling and he had no spare clips left.
"Lieutenant, I am almost completely out of ammunition."
"I'm running low too." Ben added.
With less than fifty rounds left in his autocannon, Max knew that he needed to buy Rick and the others some time. Scanning about with his Veritech's sensors, he caught sight of what appeared to be a storage tank, which was connected by several large cables to a row of waiting Battlepods near the Zentraedi that were firing at them. Taking a gamble, he fired several shots into it. The gamble paid off as the tank exploded in a huge blast, which in turn caused the Battlepods to go off like a string of firecrackers. The hanger trembled from the explosions as mecha and alien soldiers were tossed about.
With the distraction, Max and Ben were able to lay down a withering barrage, which forced the remaining Zentraedi out of the hanger. To make doubly certain, Max used the remaining rounds in his weapon to cause the main entrance to the area to collapse in on itself, sealing them off from the rest of the ship. At that point, Rick had safely extracted Lisa Hayes from her damaged Cat's Eyes, much to her indignation. That was when Max's autocannon finally sputtered out.
"Oh boy! That's the last of my ammo!"
"I'm dry too!" Ben cried out.
Then something... someone, came down from a catwalk and landed hard on the back of Ben's Veritech.
Even by Zentradi standards, this particular warrior was huge! Max estimated him to be well over sixty feet tall and it looked like he could on the entire Robotech Defense Force on his own! What distinguished him from all the other soldiers was that he had a shining faceplate covering one half of his face.
Before the giant could press his attack, Max acted fast and had his Battloid come up from behind. He used his depleted autocannon to pin down the giant's arms to his sides by throwing it across the Zentraedi's chest and pulling back at each end. With the weapon keeping him temporarily immobilized, the pilot desperately looked about for a way to get rid of him. The giant struggled to free himself and Max's pressure sensors were going off wildly, indicating that the arms of his Battloid were about to be ripped from their sockets!
"Damn! This guy's unbelievable!"
Max then had the Battloid's head to look up and its sensors picked up what appeared to be an airlock. He came up with a desperate plan and raised Ben on his communicator.
"Ben, fire your rockets up at twelve o'clock!"
"Huh? What for?"
"JUST DO IT!"
His friend triggered the release of his missiles upward, blowing a hole in the ship's hull. There was massive blast of decompression, causing all manner of debris to be suck out of the vessel. At the same time, Max's Veritech took off with feet thrusters going at full blast. As he neared the hole Ben had made, he immediately released his hold on his autocannon, letting the massive Zentraedi get sucked out into the void. Reversing direction with his thrusters, he jetted back to the hanger, just as a massive bulkhead automatically slid into place and sealed off the breach in the hull.
Max let off a sigh of relief as he landed. Their main problem had been dealt with... or so he thought.
Unknown to the Vermillion Squadron, Breetai was made of far sterner stuff, even by Zentraedi standards. The giant commander's genetic structure allowed him to withstand the cold, airless vacuum of space for short periods of time, as he made his way across the hull of his flagship and headed toward another airlock. In his mind he thought about the Micronian pilot who actually had tossed him out of his own ship! He had to give that particular opponent credit for his audacity and initiative. It wasn't very often that the Zentraedi commander had been caught off-guard like that.
However, that Micronian was the enemy and Breetai was going to make him pay for this insult. As he found the correct access point to let himself inside the ship, he began thinking of ways of how to get his revenge.
"Ah nuts." Max grumbled as his console lit up with an array of warning lights.
The single laser mount on the head of his Battloid was nearing its limits and was in danger of overheating. It had been meant for quick bursts in combat, and short-term cutting. The airlock that his team was trying to penetrate to escape had a door of reinforced alloys. He had to give his laser time to cool off, so he moved his Battloid off to one side and let Ben take over with his.
At the insistence of Commander Hayes, the pilots were trying to use their lasers to cut their way out. The problem was that their weapons were not sufficient to burn through fast enough. The thousands of Zentraedi on board this vessel would eventually get into the hanger and people from Earth wanted to get out before then.
As Max stood by with Rick and watched Ben work on the door, he took the time to look at his surroundings, partially to keep watch for enemy soldiers, and partially due to curiosity. Aside from Rick's brief invasion of a Zentraedi cruiser during the Battle of Saturn's Rings, this was the only time humans had ever been on an enemy vessel. It was hard for Max to take in the sheer proportions of everything. Surprisingly, the layout of the hanger bay was similarly oriented just like the ones on the SDF-1. As he thought about it, he correctly assumed that since the Zentraedi were humanoid, albeit on a scale of nine to ten times larger than Terrans, then it wasn't too hard to see his environment as made for human life-forms... more or less.
It was just as Rick was moving in to take over Ben's position to cut through the airlock, Max noticed a large shadow looming over them. Looking up, he saw a familiar figure jumping down toward them with something in his hands.
"BEN, LOOK OUT!"
Breetai's weapon, which was large piece of pipe, slammed hard on top of the head of Ben's Battloid, dropping it to the hanger deck with a resounding crash. Max was uncertain if Ben was all right, but there was no time to check as the Zentraedi commander began charging at them. At the same time, more troops began to appear from access hatches.
Breetai went for the closest opponent, namely Rick's Battloid. The lieutenant had his machine hold out its depleted autocannon like a battle staff and swung it toward the Zentraedi. The pipe that Breetai held connected with Rick's weapon and sent it flying off toward Lisa. The young woman managed to avoid being flattened by the autocannon, but was immediately captured by one of the soldiers with a large sack.
Max was about to assist his commander, but three Zentraedi came at him with rifles that were about the size of an old Earth artillery gun. Max engaged the first one by gabbing hold of his extended weapon and swung him about, knocking him into his other two comrades. He was about to pick up the fallen weapon, but was stopped as some more Zentraedi began firing at him.
<This calls for a rocket boost!>
Pulling down the G-Lever, his machine immediately morphed into its intermediate form, the Guardian Mode, and took off. As he did his best to dodge in the confines of the hanger, he looked over to one side and was horrified to see his commander's Veritech being slammed against the wall and skewered like a technological version of Jesus Christ being crucified. Breetai immediately began taking the machine apart and when the Veritech's head fell forward and ejected its pilot, the giant leapt up and caught Hunter in his massive hand with a crushing grip.
Max at that point did something extraordinary, which was that he lost his control. Fearing that his superior and best friend had been killed, he dived down and prepared to let loose with whatever firepower he had left. However, his vengeance would be denied as Rick's Veritech self-destructed. This blew Breetai off his feet and made another hole in the hull. The sudden decompression caught Max off-guard and sent his craft spinning out of control and out into space.
Breetai dusted himself as he got up and berated his troops for thinking him as being as fragile as they were. Looking down at the figure in his hand, he studied the tiny unconscious being still strapped to his pilot seat. Then he looked out toward where the blue-trimmed enemy fighter had been sucked out, before the bulkhead sealed the breech. He was certain that the one who had tossed him out was the same one who was now outside of the ship.
What goes around comes around...
<Stupid, stupid stupid!> Max growled as his Veritech, now in Battloid Mode, clung to one of the many sensor antennae that bristled across the hull of the huge flagship. The young pilot was angry with himself for losing his control and he was now in a very bad situation. He had to get back into the ship, as he was certain that the enemy would be looking for him.
Using the magnetic field projectors on the soles of his Battloid's feet to keep him anchored to the ship's armored skin, he started walking across the hull, looking for a way to get back inside of the vessel. He wondered just how that giant with the faceplate had managed to get back inside, and reasoned that he must have caught hold of the antennae like he did to prevent being flung out into the void. When he spotted what looked like an exterior airlock, he decided to go for it. He correctly guessed that this must be the way that Zentraedi officer had gotten back in.
However, as he came up to it, he saw that it had some kind of security lock on it, and being unfamiliar with it, decided not to try and force it. That would most likely set off the ship's sensors and alert the Zentraedi to his position. So he would have to find another way in. Fortunately, he came across a beech in the hull that had been made by one of the many asteroids that was floating about. The hole had not yet been sealed and Max decided that this was his best option, so he directed his Battloid into the opening and found himself in what appeared to be a storage area.
Once inside the ship, he considered his options.
<Okay... I've got no ammo, no gun, no lasers, and about half a dozen rockets left. This Veritech is in need of some serious repair and won't last much longer. Lieutenant Hunter may be dead, but I'm pretty sure that Commander Hayes is still alive and Ben might be too. These guys went through an awful lot of trouble to bring in the Cat's Eye, instead of destroying it, so it could be that they wanted prisoners. I promised Ben's mom that I'd look after him and I'm going to do just that. Problem is, this is one BIG ship and I don't think the Zentraedi are going to let a Battloid go waltzing around. They're BOUND to notice.>
Max directed his machine down a dimly lit corridor and started to take note of a few things. There were a lot of open panels and exposed circuitry along the walls and much of it was in a terrible state of disrepair or damage. On the SDF-1, such disregard for proper maintenance would not have been tolerated, but apparently, the Zentraedi weren't concerned with keeping their ship in good working order. As he thought back to his time in that hanger, he hadn't recalled seeing any sort of repair or maintenance crews, just soldiers. And now that he thought about it, there had been many damaged Battlepods littering the place, before he had caused that explosion. He thought it was odd for a technologically advanced warrior race to have no one to tend to the weapons of war. Furthermore, as he ducked in and out of dark corners and stole a few glances, all he could see were soldiers. Did the Zentraedi even HAVE engineers and repair crews?
As he continued to wander about, Ben's friend felt a bit of a rumble in his stomach. He let off a sigh and regretted skipping lunch before going out on this mission. What he had in his emergency ration kit wasn't too appetizing either. Destroid pilots had it better when it came to combat rations. The roomier cockpits of their mecha had more storage space, and they would often have enough MREs (Meals Ready to Eat), to last three to four days. The Veritech cockpit had limited space. Pilots had to make do with a small box of nutrition energy bars and a water bottle that was provided, plus whatever they carried in their pockets. Currently, all Max had on his person was a few sticks of chewing gum and a piece of hard candy. They weren't exactly nutritious, but they would keep him going for a while.
This got Max to wondering what the Zentraedi ate for food and if it was edible for Earthlings. If things got desperate, he may have to raid this ship's pantry, if it had one. He was pretty certain that the amount of food needed to fill his stomach would barely be half a mouthful to a Zentraedi. It probably wouldn't even be missed.
Taking a bite out of a nutrition bar, he made his list of priorities, which was to first find his comrades and gather as much intelligence about the enemy as he could. Then finding a way to escape would be next on the list since they all couldn't fit in his one tiny cockpit.
Maybe he could steal one of those Cyclops Recon ships?
All of a sudden, his Veritech's energy sensors and chronometer began to go wild as the entire ship shuddered. Ducking into what looked like a storage locker, Max looked down at the readings, then had a kind of displaced feeling that he had only experienced once before. The ship was executing a hyperspace fold!
Aboard Azonia's battle cruiser in Dolza's flagship...
Miriya was quite surprised to hear that Breetai would be returning to Dolza's main ship. She had just gotten the message that the legendary commander's vessel would be executing a fold operation soon. At first, she thought that he was coming back like a trog with his tail behind his ears, to report his failure in recapturing the battle fortress. Though she greatly respected Breetai for his many victorious campaigns, his nonsuccess over the SDF-1 meant that Azonia would be put in charge, and the Quadranos would be required to do the job that Breetai and Khyron's forces could not.
Her expression turned from great expectation to disappointment as she was informed that Breetai was bringing along three Micronian prisoners for interrogation. Whatever information could be forced from the enemy, would be of great tactical value. If that knowledge could be used to finally get a hold of the battle fortress and its secrets, then it would be another proverbial feather in Breetai's cap.
Although she felt let down at the news, her curiosity was aroused. There were actually Micronian prisoners. She wanted to have a look the tiny enemy that had confounded the best the Zentraedi had to offer. Well, second-best in her mind.
<Long trip this time!> Max thought as he watched his Veritech's chronometer record the passage of time. Though it felt only a few hours had passed since the beginning of the fold, according to his console, two weeks of real time had elapsed. That unintentional jump to Pluto was a short hop compared to this journey through hyperspace.
He could only imagine what was happening back on the SDF-1.
By now, the Vermillion Squadron and Commander Hayes had probably been declared missing in action and possibly dead. Ben Dixon's parents would had been notified of their son's disappearance and he could just see Mrs. Dixon's eyes full of tears. He felt a pang of regret as he remembered the promise he had made to her to keep her son safe. He felt as if he had failed her. He had no idea where Ben was or even if he and the others were alive. He was stuck on board an alien vessel that was heading toward who knows where. He had no way of contacting home and even less of how to get back. And even if by some miracle he did return to the SDF-1, he couldn't return to the Dixon home without their son. Just what was he going to do?
Just then, the decks of the ship rattled beneath the Battloid's feet as the hyperspace fold ended. The chronometer on Max's console began matching real space-time with its own. Max took a deep breath and stretched his arms and back in the confines of the mecha's cockpit. Now that the fold operation was over, he could begin searching for his friends. Suddenly, the door to the storage locker opened.
Max had about a split second to stare at the Zentraedi who had accidentally discovered his hiding place, then his reflexes took over. With a single movement, his right hand pushed the control lever forward and his Battloid's right leg shot out and plowed into the giant's solar plexus. This knocked him out and Max immediately hauled him into the storage locker and closed the door.
Technically speaking, Max was the first to capture a Zentraedi POW. The only question was, what was he going to do with him?
<I can't believe I'm doing this! I hope it'll be good enough to fool them. This may have worked for Bugs Bunny, but these guys aren't Elmer Fudd.> Max thought as he finished with the new... adjustments to his Battloid. Lying down on the floor of the storage locker, still unconscious, tied up, gagged and in his undergarments, was the Zentraedi soldier that Max had knocked out. His uniform had been commandeered and was now being sported on the human mecha. In an incredible series of advanced mecha manipulation, especially in the limited confines of the storage locker, Max had stripped a Zentraedi of his clothes and put them on his Battloid. The Veritech pilot knew that if he wanted to find his friends, he had to explore more of the ship. In order to do that, he would have to find a way for his machine to 'blend in' so to speak. This was the only feasible, if radical idea.
Taking a deep breath, and placing the Zentradi's cap over the Battloid's head, allowing only enough clearance for the forward scanner to function, he exited the locker and closed the door behind him. He then made his way down a side corridor and headed toward what he believed was the main bridge of the ship. Logically, it would be located somewhere near the center of the ship.
As he passed by several giant soldiers without incident, his confidence grew. He noticed that several of them would give some kind of salute to others. Since his Battloid's garb was simply decorated in comparison to some of the others, he reasoned that his must have come from a low-ranking officer, perhaps a corporal or private. As he approached another officer, one who was wearing a more elaborate uniform, he gave the salute to him. He raised the right fist of the mecha to the left side of the breast, near the Zentraedi insignia on his coat. The giant nodded and returned the salute as he passed by.
Max let off another sigh of relief as he continued to search for his comrades.
A few hours later...
Max was beginning to lose hope as he had searched for seemed to be forever and still no sign of his comrades. Though his wanderings hadn't been a total loss as he had ascertained that the enemy had HUGE fleet that could be set against the Earth at any time. He had almost fainted when he had looked out a porthole and saw hundreds of thousands of ships surrounding a huge vessel that resembled a misshapen apple. He had guessed that this was the enemy's main fleet and headquarters would find this piece of information very interesting.
He had also picked up a few interesting Zentraedi phrases as well, by using his audio sensors to record nearby conversations. Of course, he had no idea what those words meant, but judging by the reactions of some, they could prove useful. He had even started practicing in speaking them as well.
When he came across an area that seemed to be more heavily guarded, he began to get the feeling that he was getting close to where his friends. He became overjoyed as he turned around a corner and spied a Zentraedi pushing a cart... with three humans on it. As he zoomed in with his Battloid's scanners, he almost jumped out of his cockpit as he saw Ben, Lisa and Rick, alive and well!
He immediately began following them from a safe distance. Once he knew where they were being taken, he would then take action.
Miriya was miffed that the guards wouldn't let her see the prisoners. Though they knew of her as the best pilot of the Quadranos, they were under the strictest of orders from Dolza, not to let anyone near those disgusting Micronians! That... that act called kissing between the male and female had almost caused the Commander of all the Zentraedi to lose his lunch. Interaction between the sexes was strictly limited among the giant race. Even Miriya's presence aboard Breetai's ship was causing quite a stir, despite the fame and respect she commanded as an ace pilot.
As the emerald-tressed giantess stomped down the hallway angrily, she saw that a low-ranking private was coming in the opposite direction, and considered taking out her frustrations on him. However, when the lowly soldier hunched down his shoulders and meekly gave her a salute, she decided that he wasn't worth the effort. The two passed each other, neither one knowing how close they had been to prematurely off-setting the cosmic wheel of destiny.
As Miriya walked off, she glanced over her shoulder at the private and wondered just what he looked like. His cap had been pulled down so low that she hadn't been able to make out his face. She shrugged her shoulders and continued on her way back to Azonia's cruiser.
Max was on edge as he approached the cell where Lisa, Rick and Ben were being held. He righted the cap on the Battloid's head as it had accidentally slipped down over the forward scanner, obscuring his line of sight temporarily. He had been walking blind for a few seconds and knew that he had passed by someone. He had automatically given the salute as he passed by whoever was out there. He hadn't gotten a look at what the person looked like and figured that it was just as well. The chances of them ever meeting again were astronomical, right?
When he came around the bend, he saw that two soldiers were guarding the door to his comrades' cell. One of them spoke to his companion, who nodded to him. A moment later, he went off somewhere, leaving his cohort alone to guard the prisoners. Max waited until he was gone and walked toward the cell. He looked over the remaining guard and was pleased to see him yawn. Handling just one Zentraedi would be easy, especially when he looked half-asleep. He approached the guard and gave him the salute. When the guard began speaking to him in his native tongue in a questioning tone, Max decided to use one of the phrases he had been practicing and activated the Veritech's loudspeaker. Though he didn't know what the words meant, he was certain that they would get the desired response.
"Tae shun har dua?"
The guard wished his companion would return soon from the latrine as he looked strangely at private who had approached him. When the private asked the same question again, the guard gestured with one arm and pointed toward an adjacent corridor and replied...
["The latrine is down that hall and to your..."]
Just as he turned his head toward the direction he was indicating, the private suddenly reeled back with a metalshod fist and slammed a right cross to the guard's chin, spinning him about and knocking him out. When he landed face-down and unconscious on the deck, the disguised Battloid approached the door and its scanners focused on the locking mechanism.
Max zoomed in on the device and noted a kind of slot on the side like a credit card reader. Looking down at the fallen guard, he noted a kind of key card hanging from his belt. Picking it up, he slid the card through the slot and the door automatically slid open to reveal... Rick and Lisa in a passionate embrace and involved in deep osculation?!
"Gosh Lieutenant. I thought you liked younger girls but now you seem to prefer them to be more mature."
"We only did it to escape!" Lisa insisted. Rick was also quite flustered as he tried to convince their rescuer that the kissing had only been a stratagem to make their escape, but Max was finding it hard to believe. As a joke, he had purposely put both Lisa and Rick in the same coat pocket while he put Ben in the other. The lovebirds needed to be alone. Heh.
As they made their way toward another corridor, the other soldier that had been assigned to guard the Micronian prisoners, who had just been returning from his pit stop, approached them. Ben, Rick and Lisa ducked down into the pockets as Max made his Battloid give the customary salute to the Zentaedi. As they passed by him without incident, it seemed that they were home free.
That is... until the soldier called back to them.
Miriya had just returned to her quarters when she received the alert that an enemy mecha had somehow appeared on Breetai's ship and that the Micronian prisoners had escaped. There was absolute havoc on that ship and Miriya decided to get involved. If she could recapture those prisoners before Breetai's forces did, then Dolza would surely realize that the female Zentraedi were more suited to the task of retrieving the SDF-1. With that in mind, she immediately picked up a small laser pistol and headed out of her room.
Max knew that his Veritech wasn't going to last much longer as it took more and more blaster hits from enemy assault rifles. The confines of the corridors didn't allow for much maneuvering and several of his systems were nearing their critical levels. Lisa urged him to switch modes and Max pulled down the G Lever to change to Guardian configuration. Like a caped bird of prey, the Veritech blasted down the hallway and headed toward what appeared to be...
Breetai and Exedore were quite surprised when Max's Veritech suddenly burst through their main monitor and sailed across the bridge. The two had to duck for cover as the severely damaged fighter headed down another corridor and disappeared.
Max gritted his teeth, as the Guardian stood hunched over inside an elevator. Warning lights flashed all over his console and he knew that he had very little time left.
"The circuits are fried! The plane's gonna blow!"
As Rick walked down the extended arm of the Veritech to close the elevator's door, Max grabbed hold of his laser rifle and a few things from his survival kit. As the elevator headed downward, he leapt out of his cockpit and joined his comrades on the floor. As they waited for the elevator to come to a stop, they all looked back at the fighter, as it was about to self-destruct. Ben, Rick and Lisa didn't want to be anywhere near the thing when it blew, but for Max, it felt as if he was about to lose another loved one.
He had gotten used to this fighter and had customized it with the blue trim when he had received it. He had even tinkered with it to make it more maneuverable and responsive to his heightened reflexes. It had served him well during his first missions and he had racked up an impressive kill record with it. Now, it was about to die and Max couldn't help but feel like a cowboy that was about to lose his favorite horse.
<Farewell... my Blue Devil.>
Just then, the elevator door opened and a huge Zentraedi leapt toward them in a dive. Ben and Max dove to the left while Rick and Lisa went right. Each pair managed to scramble away before the Veritech erupted in an explosion, which engulfed the Zentraedi in a searing blast.
Ben huffed and puffed as he and Max rounded a corner and hid in what looked like an ammunition storage room. They had just managed to evade a squad of Zentraedi after going into another elevator and using Max's laser rifle to fry the control panel. After descending down to a lower level, they had been darting in and out of the shadows before ending up in their current location.
"Man! I thought we'd never shake them!" Ben said as he leaned against a bin to catch his breath. Beside him, Max was also panting, but not as much, since was in better shape than his companion.
After a long while of silence, the two sat down and began to converse with each other.
"Well, it looks like we're safe... for now." Max said as he looked about and saw no one. "I hope the Lieutenant and the Commander got away."
"Don't worry, buddy. I'm sure they're fine." Ben said with confidence, then slapped his friend on the back. "By the way, thanks for the rescue."
The blue-haired pilot waved it off. "Aw, I'm sure you would have done the same for me."
"Damn straight." Ben agreed, then noticed that Max's expression became a bit downcast. "What's the matter, Max?"
"It wasn't much of a rescue, was it? I mean, we don't know where the Skipper and the Commander is, my plane's junk, and now we're running like rats aboard a giant alien spaceship. This rifle's all we got for protection and I don't know where we should go from here. Heck, I didn't even plan on what to do after I found you guys."
"Aw, don't worry about minor details, Max. We'll get through this, no sweat." He then changed the subject as his stomach rumbled. "Hey Max? You wouldn't happen to have any food with you, would ya? That stuff the Zentreadi fed us was bland as cement. I don't know how they got so big eating crap like that."
"What did they feed you?" Max asked, as he handed his friend one of the nutrient bars he had managed to take from his Veritech before it blew.
The larger pilot gratefully took it and took a big bite, savoring the almond taste of the bar. "Thanks buddy. Anyway, they fed us some kind of nutrition pills and water. They didn't taste like anything and they weren't very filling. Though there were some strange stuff that we wondered about."
"Well for one thing, they gave us our food on human-sized plates with utensils and cups. We wondered where they got them. But the most surprising thing about them is that they don't know about the birds and the bees."
"It's true! Their leader, some REALLY big guy called Dolza, kept on asking us how we became Micronians."
Ben shrugged as he took another bite and continued to explain. "I guess that's what they call us Earthlings. Anyway, when the Skipper told them that we're born this way, this smaller Zentraedi asked us 'born from what?' I mean, talk about not knowing about nature, huh?"
"They really DON'T know?"
"Not a clue! And they really freaked out when the Skipper and Commander kissed each other!"
"Dolza told us to demonstrate and the Skipper and Commander... you know, lip-locked. All of a sudden, the big guys are moaning and groaning. It was like they never seen that stuff before. If kissing causes them to lose control like that, then think of what seeing sex would have been like! If Commander Hayes' video recorder was set up to show porno films, I bet that the war would be over like that." He snapped the fingers on his free hand to emphasize his point, then finished off the bar.
"Well, it could be that there aren't any females of their race. So maybe they don't know about the relationship between the sexes?" Max suggested.
Ben shook his head. "Nah, Commander Hayes thought that too, but the Skipper said that they knew that she was a female, so they gotta have some idea about men and women. Hey, you didn't happen to have seen any fifty-foot tall women, have you?"
"Not that I know of."
Miriya stalked the hallways of Breetai's ship with her weapon in hand. She was certain that this was the area that the Micronians would be. It was dark with plenty of places for the diminutive enemy to evade detection. She looked ahead and saw an ammunition storage compartment. Thinking that is was as good a place as any for the Micronians to hide, she decided to check it out. Thumbing the safety off her laser pistol, she started slowly toward Max and Ben's hiding place with careful measured steps.
Just as Ben was about to say something more, Max quickly placed his right hand over Ben's mouth and motioned for his friend to be quiet. As the two listened in, they could hear the dull thudding of something heavy hitting deck plates. However, this was not some object falling down. This was the sound of giant footsteps. Judging by the amount of noise they were producing, Max surmised that whoever it was suspected that they were there, and was taking great care not to alert his prey.
Looking about, he spotted a rack of Zentraedi assault rifles leaning against the door to the ammunition shed. He also spotted a small, unrepaired hole in the wall opposite to where they were. It looked to be just wide enough for Ben to squeeze through. As the door began to open and a large shadow was seen coming toward them, he made a quick decision and silently signaled to his friend to get ready to run. Taking careful aim with his laser rifle and setting it to maximum intensity, he made a silent prayer and fired.
The beam shot out and burned its way into the insides of the nearest rifle, igniting its magazine. The results were spectacular gun went off wildly, firing all over the place. This caused the person behind the door to close it to avoid being hit by the random shots.
"Come on!" Max cried out as he pushed his large friend toward their only avenue of escape.
Though it was a tight fit, Ben managed to pass his bulk through the opening, with his friend following close behind. Unfortunately, he had to leave his laser rifle behind as he had used up the last of its charge for the diversion.
At that moment, the huge Zentraedi rifle stopped firing and the door swung open.
Miriya growled as she found an empty ammunition locker. In the corner of her eye she saw some movement and focused on a small hole in the far wall. She caught brief glimpse of something that was colored blue disappearing into the hole, then saw a shiny object on the floor. Walking over to it, she bent down and picked up what appeared to be... a Micronian weapon.
The laser rifle was no bigger than a toothpick to her, but as she looked down at the Zentaedi rifles that now littered the floor, she noted that one of them had a damaged side that was burned. She surmised what had happened, and had to have give credit to the Micronians. They had escaped her... for now.
Just then, her personal communicator beeped. Miriya took it out and responded to the call. She smiled as she had received the news from Azonia that Breetai had been blamed for his inability to recapture the Micronian prisoners, and had been replaced by Miriya's superior. Their new orders were to go to the Micronian star system and recapture the battle fortress. They were to leave immediately.
The green-haired giantess took one last look at the hole that the Micronians had used to escape, and decided that it wasn't worth her time to search the interior of the walls. By now, the Earthlings could be anywhere and she had to get going. She gazed upon the tiny laser rifle in her hand, then pocketed it. It would make a nice souvenir. Now, she was finally going to meet the enemy...
"I don't where to go." Max cried out as he and Ben continued to make their way toward what appeared to be a loading bay.
Ben checked for air currents by wetting his index finger and held it aloft. He then gestured for his friend to follow.
As the two rounded a bend, they were quite surprised to come across Lisa and Rick, as they too had somehow eluded capture. The four were elated that they were all together again and Rick made the suggestion to board a cruiser that looked like it was departing soon. Though there was some initial disagreement from Lisa, the quartet eventually agreed to sneak onto the lavender-colored ship.
Miriya frowned a bit as she came onto the bridge. She had just received her latest orders and wasn't too happy about them. Azonia nodded to her best pilot and bid her to speak.
"Deliver spies onto the enemy ship hardly seems a task worthy of my skills, Commander."
"I thought you might feel that way, Miriya. Need I remind you that this mission was given the highest priority by Lord Dolza himself?"
"I shall brook no argument, Miriya." Azonia said firmly. "Now then, let us discuss the procedure as to how you will insert the spies into the battle fortress."
"Why not leave that up to me, Azonia? After all, we're only dealing with Micronians."
"They might just surprise you." Azonia warned.
Miriya said nothing as she saluted her superior and exited the bridge to prepare for the impending fold operation. As she headed back to her quarters, she reached into the pocket in her tunic and took out a tiny object... Max's laser rifle.
Some time later...
"Hurry up, they're about to come out of the fold!" Lisa urged as she and the Vermilion pilots were all inside a Battlepod. Rick was studying the main drive controls. Ben was busy puzzling over the missile firing systems. Max was working out the particle cannon controls and Lisa was trying to work out the communications.
"Hmmm, thoughtless of them not to leave me an instruction manual." Rick muttered under his breath, then steeled himself as Azonia's cruiser came out of hyperspace. The time it took to make this fold jump was exactly the same as their previous one, which meant that they were either in Earth's solar system again or that it was some fantastic coincidence.
As the Battlepod started up and the main viewer activated itself, the group were startled to see two Zentraedi coming toward them.
"We've been discovered!" Lisa cried out.
However, Max kept his cool and opened fire with the particle cannons, blowing the soldiers away. Then he focused the guns on the wall of the hanger and began pouring heat into the reinforced steel alloys. Once a hole was made, Rick directed the pod forward.
Miriya snorted as she flew her Quadrano in zigzagging patterns that the less-experienced Veritech pilots couldn't possibly track. The background was littered with ongoing battles between the SDF-1's defenders and the remnants of Breetai and Khyron's forces. In her mecha's massive arms, was a small pod, which contained Konda, Rico and Bron, the three Micronized spies that she was to deliver to the SDF-1. As she dodged withering barrages of enemy fire and blew away several Veritechs, she began to wonder why Breetai and Khyron were having so much trouble with these Micronians.
"Hmpf! It looks like the big, bad enemy isn't so bad after all. They're hardly putting up any resistance at all!"
With unbelievable piloting skills, she easily avoided the massive anti-aircraft batteries of the battle fortress and found an unguarded area. Tearing open a large hole in the hull, she inserted the pod, then raced away toward the safety of Azonia's cruiser. Along the way, she silently cursed as she almost collided with a poorly piloted Battlepod. She was tempted to shoot whoever that amateur was, but decided to spare that incompetent and continued on her way.
"Whew! That was close!" Max said as he watched the strange-looking mecha streak away at unbelievable speeds. He had never seen such a craft before, but after seeing the damage it had dealt to the other fighter squadrons, he wanted to test his skills against such a formidable opponent. It was then that Lisa tuned into a frequency and heard on the loudspeaker...
"STAGE FRIGHT, GO 'WAY! THIS IS MY BIG DAY! THIS IS MY TIME TO BE A STAR!"
The group cheered as they heard the familiar voice of Lynn Minmei and knew that they were almost home. Already, several Battloids were guiding their pod back toward the SDF-1.
Miriya was mystified as she looked at the bulkhead, which had sealed the hole that had been created in the flight deck. According to the report, a Battlepod had suddenly powered up and blasted its way out, killing two guards in the process. It had happened just after she had taken off to deliver the spies. As there were no pilots unaccounted for, the incident had been initially labeled as a gross malfunction on the part of the Battlepod.
However, the ace of the Zentraedi was not convinced. Battlepods do NOT just suddenly activate by themselves. Without pilots, they couldn’t do anything. She recalled that Battlepod she had almost collided with, then started to form a theory. Though it would have been considered ludicrous by her comrades, it was the only feasible explanation.
She then looked back down at her newest souvenir.
Perhaps Azonia was right when she said that the Micronians would surprise her.
To be continued...
Well, that was a long chapter and for those Robotech fans that are wondering, yes it was different from the original episode, but I felt that since this is from Max and Miriya's point of view, I'm allowed to make my own additions. Besides, I felt that the near-encounters of Max and Miriya gave the story a little more drama and the original anime didn't say much about Max's experiences during that time. There were a lot of gaps and I just added my own scenes to fill in those blanks.
In the next episode, Max is among the few aboard the SDF-1 who will have the first personal contact with the Zentreadi spies as they explore the wonders and mysteries of Macross City. In the meantime, Miriya will begin to ponder what kind of challenges she will be facing against the Micronians. See you then!