With one last look of unshakable longing, Vanessa, with Dana at her side, took leave of the home she had once shared with Bron. They had raised a daughter together in that home, she and Bron, the goofy but endearing Zentraedi she had grown to love with all her heart and soul. Together, they had filled the void, filled the loneliness, and along with the salves of time, had eased the ache brought on by the loss of Kim and Sammie. That loss could never be filled, but the years passed, and with these passing years, the pain of those old memories was supplanted by the happiness of new memories, memories that Vanessa, Bron, and their little daughter Samantha had made together. With Bron at her side, Vanessa had discovered the joy of loving another with a steadfast and sure love, a love that stayed firm with the ravages of time, always faithful and constant. Together, they had shared the joy of creating a wonderful new life together in the form of a darling girl. Bron used to say the darling girl was every bit as sweet and graceful and beautiful as her mother. Vanessa used to blush to hear such words, but she always accepted them gratefully.

"I don't know what I ever did," Vanessa said emotionally as she wiped a tear from her eye.

Together, she and Dana stood on the steps of the damaged home, looking on it sadly for the final time. Vanessa had packed her suitcases and they stood off to one side. She was going to leave now; she was taking a train to the south, to start her life anew.

Dana had her own memories of that blessed home. She cherished the memories of visiting Aunty Vanessa and being welcomed as one of their own. Most of all, she treasured the infinite small moments of kindness that Vanessa, Bron, little Samantha, Rico, and Konda had showered upon her, small moments that in themselves seemed insignificant, but when added up summed to an immense, undeniable truth-

This was a house of love.

"I don't know what I did to deserve such happiness," Vanessa said. Her voice was failing her. She felt a strange, upwelling sensation in the depths of her throat, as if her heart were rising like a feather in the wind.

"I wish Kim and Sammie could have had the life that I had," Vanessa said.

She paused, and Dana looked at her thoughtfully. Vanessa had lived a good life so far. But she had suffered much, as well. Her husband and daughter were dead, killed by the harsh dictates of fate, the fortunes of war.

"We were only together for a short time," Vanessa said. "Fifteen years. But I'm so glad, Dana. When your parents met and fell in love, I often wondered what it would feel like. I wondered what it would be like to hold my own child in my arms. I'll never forget how happy Miriya was when I saw her hold you in her arms for the first time."

And Dana closed her eyes as she pictured herself as a baby, being held in the arms of Miriya.

Miriya lay in her hospital bed, holding a sleeping baby Dana in her arms. She sang a soft lullaby to the child. Max stood by the side of the bed, the proud, happy father.

To Miriya, the feeling of being a mother was an alien one, yet it was strangely wonderful. She felt as if her motherly self was a part of her that had been buried deep within her nature. Her creators had tried to suppress that nature, that loving part of herself, the part of herself that took joy in creating a new life from love, rather than destroying life. But somehow, Max had unearthed this hidden treasure. The joy of motherhood was one that Miriya never wanted to fade away or lesson one bit.

"I'm so happy," Miriya said to Max with a smile. "Every day I'm with you, it's as if I'm discovering something new and wonderful about life that I'd never even known in my dreams. And it's all possible because you love me."

Max sat on a chair and took his wife's hand.

There was so much that Max wanted to say, if only he could organize his thoughts in the midst of his euphoria. Our life together is changing today, he wanted to say. Our life is changing because now we have a daughter, a little girl we will always cherish and joyously watch take each small step in life. But no matter what changes may come, Miriya, you will always be that green haired angel I saw that day in the arcade and about whom I wondered, is it possible that you have a heart that is capable of loving someone like me with a deep and abiding love? And I suppose that deep down, I will always be for you that young human pilot who, instead of killing you, told you that I loved you, by the look of earnest longing in my eyes.

"I love you," Max said simply, at last. "No matter what changes come, I will always love you."

Dana smiled to think of her parents on the day she came into their lives.

"It was the kind of thing I could only dream about happening to me," Vanessa said. "But my dream came true. Even if it was such a short time, I'm glad I had a chance to know what happiness was like. I'm glad I had a chance to know what love is."

Dana thought about what Vanessa had just said. She wanted to turn and hug her Aunty and cry with her. Dana tried hard to think of what she could say to console her beloved friend and Aunty but she felt so inadequate.

"I'm glad I could share those memories with you," Dana said at last, as they turned to leave the old house forever.

* * *

"Dana?"

Dana turned to Angelo and favored him with a smile. They could see Tirol now. Soon she would be with her parents again. She would be home again.

The rest of the group was also with them, on the observation deck. They had arrived at the end of the journey at last.

"We're here," Angelo said softly. "Can you believe it? It seems like it was just yesterday, we were saying goodbye to everyone on earth. And now, here we are. Tirol."

Marie nudged Dana in the arm.

"We're being hailed by the Robotech forces on Tirol, commanded by Admiral Hunter," Marie said, pulling Dana in the direction of the bridge of the ship.

"Care to do the honors?"

Dana pulled herself away from the sight of Tirol. Down there, her parents and sister were waiting for her. For so long, they were distant stars. With trembling hands, Dana punched the keys to activate the transponder.

"This is Dana Sterling," she began, "former first lieutenant with the Fifteenth Alpha Tactical Armored Corps of the Army of the Southern Cross."

* * *

All of Base Tirol was out there. The ship that had brought Dana and her crew halfway across the galaxy had finally arrived and touched down.

"Well," Dana said with an impish smile to the rest of her friends, "we made it. Let's not keep our adoring fans waiting, shall we?"

Dana took Angelo's hand as the giant bay doors opened and the ramp extended down to the landing platform. Together, they led the way down, with the rest of the group following.

"What do you think," Angelo said to Dana as they squinted against the brightness of the light outside. The light filled their ship.

"Do you think your folks will like me?"

"They will," Dana said, smiling against the bright light. "Even if they don't, I'll MAKE them like you."

"Well, THAT'S a relief," Angelo said.

"The question is, will my parents still recognize me? Will they see the little girl they left behind?"

Angelo didn't have to answer that one. Dana knew that part of her would always be that darling little girl. Walking down that ramp was like being born again.

I'm born again, Dana mused thoughtfully. I'm being born into the arms of my family that loves me. And they don't have to hear me say that my love for them hasn't changed one bit. I longed for you. I dreamed of finding you and being with you again. I would have moved heaven and earth just for the chance to see you again, mom and dad.

And Aurora.

There was so much to discover, and rediscover. It would take a lifetime, Dana knew.

With a smile of rapture on her face, Dana walked through the light into the loving arms of her family.

THE END