Disclaimer

I don't own Macross. If I did, I would be far too rich to be bothered writing fan fiction.

Prologue

Trailing mists like some great bird, the VF-1A Valkyrie cut cleanly through the cloud cover and into the clear air below. The sun was just rising behind Seraph 210, burning across Sora's shoulder and illuminating the black and white Valkyrie. Far below her feet, through the wonders of the holographic cockpit, Sora could see the jungle of Viet Nam, mostly untouched by the Zentraedi holocaust. Not completely untouched; the city of Ban Me Thuot, forty miles ahead of the pair of fighters, had been lasered from orbit, and a Zentraedi Destroyer had crashed into the heart of the city. Nothing grew for miles around the impact site, even though the city had been abandoned; the toxic fallout from the ship's engines had poisoned the very ground for many miles about.

The earpiece in her helmet crackled. "Come right to three-five-four for ten seventy, ascend to Angels twenty."

She checked her nav computer, and sighed; a return heading to the base at Haiphong. Pity; she loved flying, even a simple patrol, and she was unfortunate enough to have a group commander who knew it. Unfortunate, because the CAG's favourite punishment, whenever Sora was in hack, was to ground her. She started to think the jet through the turn, then paused as her radar pinged at her.

"Hold on, Lieutenant." She adjusted the set, and frowned. "Two contacts, sir. Bearing two-six-five for fifty, down in the clutter."

"I've got nothing on passive." Protocol for this sort of patrol called for the wing commander to run with his radar on standby; this made little sense when the wing commander was driving a VF-1S, with its powerful sensor system. But nobody said that the rules had to make sense.

"Hold on, running IFF..." She thumbed the button on the throttle, and her radar transmitted an IFF - Interrogation Friend or Foe - request. IFF was a little more advanced than it had been last time there had been an air war here; even a civilian aircraft whould respond with its transponder code, and there were no hostile aircraft in the region.

No response was forthcoming this time. She scowled, and thumbed it again. "Sir, I'm getting no response." She checked the radar again, but the A's system could only give bearing and distance, and a rough guess at velocity and direction of travel. "I've got no reliable velocity figure, but their bearing appears to be about forty degrees northeast."

"Probably just some civvies in a prop job."

"I don't think so, sir. Rate of climb is measurable, and it wouldn't be on a civilian prop aircraft."

The Lieutenant sighed. "You just want to have an excuse to continue flying. All right, Hasukawa, we'll go check out your contacts."

"Vector two-seven-zero at six hundred for intercept, sir." Sora advanced her throttles and pulled her jet slightly to the left. "I'd advise you to go active, sir."

"Good idea." Her RWR beeped quietly as the more powerful radar on the VF-1S came online. "Got them now...they're just above supersonic. Skin paint says VF-1, but the computer's not 100% certain." There was a click, then he said, "Sora, get within five and give me a visual. I'll backstop you."

"IFF cannot confirm or deny friendly aircraft, sir."

"Master arm is on."

Sora threw the throttle all the way forward, past the afterburner detente. The engines roared, as the "afterburner" began dumping water into the thermal stream of the FF-2001 fusion engines, producing a blast of plasma. The fighter leaped forward, and Sora could almost imagine it was a state of the art machine, rather than the fifteen-year-old relic that it was.

"Visual contact, sir." She rolled the fighter inverted, so she didn't have to rely on the holographics. "Not VF-1 types at all; some atmospheric fighter, probably Eagles or Flankers. They're pretty big." She frowned, and rolled her ship upright. "Aspect change on them...I think they're getting curious."

"Back off, Hasukawa."

"Roger, sir--"

The RWR went nuts, giving off the high-pitched warbling noise of an active radar homing missile. Her eyes widened. "Missile!"

"Confirm. I'm jamming. Return fire."

Her hand flew across to the master arm ring and depressed it, cranked it, and let it pop back up. "Weapons hot." She spun the weapon selector, located on the throttle just under her thumb, until it rested on Point Five, the laser turret. She pickled her thumb button once, and the laser came on line.

She glanced through the holographic floor at the incoming missile, and pickled again. A burst of laser fire slagged down the missile.

"Missile is down."

She pulled on the stick, bringing the fighter around on the bandit. The fighter reconfigured as she maneuvered, the engine booms swinging outward to sharpen the turn. She never had to use the reconfiguration levers anymore; the Valkyrie could read her mind, through the sensor-studded helmet and gloves, and act on her very whim.

She dropped in behind the bandit, and rolled the weapon selector switch to Point One. The warbling tone of a locked-on heatseeker filled her ear, and she squeezed the weapon release trigger.

"Fox one!"

Th missile was homing, hot and true...but to her shock, the fighter ahead merely reconfigured, reshaping itself into robotic form, and hosed down the missile with its cannon, now held as a rifle.

"Lead, target is a variable!"

"Confirm. Get the hell out of there!"

She pulled up, but the reconfigured bandit continued firing the rifle/cannon at her, and she screamed as the fighter started to come apart around her.

"Two's hit!" She glanced over at her engine controls. "Starboard engine's out, and I'm losing power on port." She fired two more missiles at the bandit in front of her, then jettisoned the rack. "Jettisoned...still losing power. I'm punching out!"

She reached down between her knees, to the ejector handles, and gripped them firmly. She hesitated long enough to mutter, "Good riddance", and pulled them sharply. There was a series of sharp cracks, as the canopy was blown away, and then she lost consciousness as the blast of the ejector seat catapulted her out of the doomed Seraph 210 and into the air.