The stars glittered like diamonds on the black canvas that was space, the sun shining on a celestial body as the much smaller metallic, brick-shaped craft floated seemingly listlessly just outside of its gravitational pull. While it was tiny in comparison to the planet itself, the ship was hundreds of meters long, with a small protuberance at one of the ends where the bridge was located, while along its body were multiple turrets and what one would believe to be weapons-emplacements. Inside one of the hangars along its front, several aircraft were docked via manual docking-arms, save for one. There was one that was slightly different from the angular craft, seated at the back of a runway where the cosmos lied at the other end, the tiny diamond-like stars seeming to beckon to the craft. Inside the cockpit, the pilot was going over the last of his checks, though not in particularly high spirits. "I don't see what you're grumbling about. It's just like piloting the older models, and you logged more than enough hours in the simulator."

"I'm not a big fan of something I'm not entirely familiar with. Simulator aside, this is supposed to be more advanced than the Thunderbolt model. Anyway, let's get the kinks out of it." He could feel the engines growl to life when he turned them on, feeling the vibrations through the frame of the craft. Gripping the joy stick, he pulled down on the throttle as he lowered the visor on his helmet. The craft sped out of the hangar almost like a bullet,, the immense g-forces being pressed on the pilot were absorbed by his flight suit, his focus on his HUD while stars wheeled about him in a dizzying frenzy. Gripping the joy stick and throttle, he was able to bring the ship under his controls. He performed half a roll, and then another, making sure the stabilizers and ailerons were in working order. He executed a perfect roll next, followed by a loop-de-loop.

"Having fun out there?" the voice crackled in his headset.

"Making sure everything works, that's all."

"How's she feel?"

"So far, so good. Systems nominal, no abnormalities."

"Good, let's shake things up a little bit." from the hangars, several craft were launched towards the other. The pilot was alerted when his sensors picked them up. A live-fire exercise he thought. Fine. He performed half a loop to face the oncoming craft and gunned the engines, rocketing towards them. The first one that came withing range, he flicked a switch on the joy stick and two missiles flared from the undercarriage of the fighter and streaked towards the lead craft, destroying it in a flare of fire and metal. He tried the vulcan gun, pressing the trigger on the joy stick and watched another craft get shredded to flaming debris as the other craft flew outward and away from him when he got close, their AI determining that he was too close to be attacked effectively, and the pilot could get a good look at them; they were long and slender, with only a pair of wings, a fuselage, and twin barrels that reached outward from the fuselage, an apprent variant of the Lancer-class space-superiority fighter. Unmanned, of course. "Careful, those drones are mighty expensive."

"Not as expensive as this prototype."

"Well now it's time to see what that protoype can really do!"

"You got it!" The pilot felt a wolfish grin play on his face when he tapped the middle of three small levers just above his throttle. Just then, the craft seemed to sprout arms and legs: arms and hands popping out from under the wings, and the legs forming from the afterburners and air-intake. In one of the hands, a rifle-shaped pod was held and aimed at one of the drones. It fired and the drone was torn to pieces from the rapidly-fired projectiles. Another of the drones flew above the modular craft and fired its primary weapon; the long barrels fired rapidly-shot projectiles of their own, but they failed to hit the craft as it dodged and juked out of the way before returning fire in the form of missiles that were stored under the wings. The projectiles promptly destroyed the drone as the craft selected another target. At least the GERWALK mode is also functioning.

"Heads up, Van. I'm sending another wave at you."

"The more the merrier!"

"Good! The data we're getting on this is incredible! It's speed is almost twice that of the Thunderbolt! How's she handling?"

"Like a dream! Much more smoothly than the Thunderbolt."

Unknown to the ship, another had arrived in the solar system, this one arriving through a shimmering emerald portal. It was smaller than the first ship, sporting four large wings at the base, two at the bottom and two at the top and a stabilizer at the top, with a neck-like protuberance coming from the top of the base, an arrow shape at the end of it. At the bottom of the base were a pair of turrets, like the barrels of a large gun, and beneath them was a small opening. On the side of the base was a large symbol, like that of a winged fox. From the opening, four craft flew out and towards the other ship that lied just out of orbit of the large planet. They stopped when they felt they were close enough to observe the activity and started to communicate with one another.

"Who are they, the natives?"

"Can't be, there isn't supposed to be any intelligent life in this system, at least none that we picked up when we probed it last month."

"Yeah, certainly looks like there's intelligent life right in front of us, unless they sprung up out of nowhere."

"Or, most likely, they're not from this system. I don't think they'd be doing this kind of thing if they lived here."

"What are they doing? Looks like some kind of dog-fight and the big one there is just watching."

"Maybe it's some kind of test? Let's take a closer look!"

"Slippy, wait!" One of the craft raced towards the apparent dogfight, followed by its companions.

Five more drones were launched, and these were even more persistent than the previous ones. They actively tried to surround the craft and blow it out of the cosmos, only for the pilot to react just quick enough to evade the oncoming fire and return fire, destroying two with quick bursts from its rifle-pod. It was then that the pilot, Van, decided to further test the prototype: he pressed down on the third lever, and the craft changed again. The whole fuselage seemed to split and fold over the canopy as it slid backwards, the nose cone folding downward as the legs fully straightened and formed while the arms were pushed forward. The craft pulled up, the nose cone now partially covered by the transformed fuselage and above popped out a kind of head-like piece, complete with a visor and a singular, fin-like antennae on the top of the head. With the transformation complete, the craft looked radically different: It was now humanoid in shape, with the point of the nose cone being in the center of the "chest", the legs now fully formed from the air-intakes and afterburners while the wings were folded against the "hips". The arms and hands were now on either side of what is now the chest, formed from the fuselage of the craft and sporting shoulder guards. On the left arm was a kind of shield that covered the forearm and hand, while the rifle-pod was held in the right hand. In its new modular form, the craft was more nimble and avoidable, but lost much of its flight power, but that didn't bother Van, who now sat confortably in the newly-reconfigured cockpit. The transformation had the cockpit be buried in the chest of the craft, protecting it from harm while the interior changed, the control console shifted to be almost in his lap while the canopy showed a complete 360 degree image of the area around him. His controls shifted to where there were twin joy sticks on either side of him, both meant to control the arms of the machine while the foot pedals still controlled the afterburner, and the legs. In this form, he had no problem taking out the drones, using his rifle-pod and the missiles stored in its legs and shoulders, and he was beginning to enjoy it. He always preferred the Battloid form of a variable fighter; it made him feel like a giant among insects.

"Fox, I was right! They are performing some kind of test. Looks like it's some kind of weapons' test. This guy, whatever he's piloting, is shredding these fighters to pieces, it's incredible! Even the machine looks advanced. Only Andross built anthropoid war machines but they weren't anything this advanced!"

"Slippy, get away from there before you're spotted!" The winged fighter hovered there in space, watching and observing the dogfight with interest while its companions had caught up with it.

"Slippy, we're too close! We have to pull back now!"

"Hey, Mike?"

"Yeah, Van?"

"Did you send out any more drones?"

"No why?" Van could see the four craft floating just outside the debris field, seemingly watching him.

"Oh, no reason," he replied. "I'm gonna call you back."

"Wait, what are you-" Van cut the transmission and turned the machine to face the four craft as time seemed to stand still for them. None made a move as they stared at one another, not a transmission was made, and none dared breathe a word. After a seemingly endless moment, Van sent a transmission at them, a general hailing transmission meant as both greeting and inquiry.

"He's hailing us!"

"I know he's hailing us! Can anyone decipher it?"

"It's a simple numeric code, should be easy to decipher once I reroute it to the Great Fox, have the computer and ROB decode and decipher it and resend it back to us."

"How long will that take?"

"Doing it now!"

"Well hurry! I think he's getting antsy!" Indeed, the machine got closer to them, its rifle-pod in both hands as the signal was being sent over and over again. "Can we send a reply?"

"We could, but it would seem like jargon to him. We need time to decipher the signal so we can get a handle on the type of language these guys use."

"Let me try something," one of the craft moved closer to the machine, slowly and as non-threateningly as possible.

"Krystal, get back here!"

"Van, what's going on?!"

"Nothing right now, I sent a general hailing and it seems like they're mulling it over."

"They're probably deciphering it. Don't move, don't do a damn thing until I send word back to the Macross 3 and we can get some experts out here!"

"Sure thing, but I don't think they're going to do anything…wait, something's happening." One of the craft was getting closer to his Excalibur prototype, and he grasped the joy-sticks in response, the machine gripping the rifle-pod in response.

Krystal nudged her fighter as close as she dared to the other machine that loomed over her. It was then that she let her mind go, and reached out, seeing the pilot of the other machine in her mind's eye. She sensed that the pilot was not too different from her, and was as curious as she was. But then, he became aware of her, and her mind was flooded with images, impressions, and emotions, mainly shock and surprise.

"Who's in my head!?" Van grasped his helmet while images flooded his brain, a sensation like someone was physically rummaging around in his mind, impressions being forced on him. He groaned as he tried to sort them out, but they flashed too quickly. "Stop it, stop it, STOP IT!"

"No, wait!" She didn't intend this, but Krystal's mind was now linked with his. She only wanted to feel out the pilot, not form a bond. Then again, she hadn't the time to properly train her mental abilities. This was something she had hoped to avoid, as it was akin to forcing oneself unto another. But it seemed the damage was done, as the mental link exchanged ideas, emotions, and images between persons as fast as the speed of thought, the other machine reacted by raising its rifle-pod threateningly. "Stop, we're not here to harm you!"

"Who are you?!" Van felt an intense fear as he felt the images almost burn themselves into his brain, unable to make heads or tails of them and reacted instinctively, gripping the controls and aiming the rifle-pod at the craft. "WHO ARE YOU!?"

"Van, What's wrong? What's going on?! Can you read me?"

"Krystal, watch it!" Another fighter craft struck Krystal's, knocking her away from the oncoming spray of fire from the rifle-pod. But this didn't stop the other machine as it reconverted into its fighter configuration and bore down on the two craft, firing on them as they evaded. "Are you alright?"

"It's all my fault, Fox. I tried to get a sense of the pilot, but I accidentally created a mental link instead. He can't handle the amount of information that's being shared."

"Can you make it stop?"

"Normally, but he's in such a frenzied state right now that I can't reach him!" The craft fired missiles at them, but they narrowly evaded them as they exploded harmlessly.

"That's not necessarily good news for us!"

"Get out, get out, GET OUT!" He was driven by his war instinct, to find the thing that caused him pain and to eliminate it. He ignored the transmissions from the brick-shaped ARMD, and from his friend Mike, as he pursued them doggedly, firing both the vulcan and missiles at them, all four of them. They scattered and tried their damndest to avoid him.

"What's this guy's problem?!"

"He's gone nuts! The Arwings are barely able to keep up with this guy!" In the cockpit, Fox thought furiously on how to handle the situation. He thought about shooting him down, but it wasn't necesarrily his fault, it was all a misunderstanding. And if he were to let him head back to his ship, what he might have to say could probably damage any chance of a dialogue between Lylat and whoever these people are. He came to one conclusion.

"Peppy! Bring the Great Fox around!"

"What do you have in mind, Fox?" he heard the oldster reply.

"We're going to try and restrain him aboard Great Fox!"

"Are you crazy?! He'll tear the ship apart from the inside!"

"Not so fast, Falco! We have EM conductors in the hangar that we can use to set up an electronic net! It should be enough to at least render him immobilized!"

"Yeah? And then what?!"

"We let Krystal do her thing and calm him down, and hopefully explain ourselves!"

"You mean this was her fault?!"

"Not now, Falco! Alright, so who's going to lure him in?"

"I will. I was the one who established the link, so he'll follow me in!"

"Too dangerous, Krys."

"We have no choice, Fox. I'm going for it!" Krystal's Arwing peeled away from Fox's, and the fighter craft followed after her as she headed for the Great Fox, with Fox, Falco, and Slippy bringing up the rear to ensure that he doesn't veer away from his present course. Like a dog after a rabbit, the fighter craft followed the Arwing right into the hangar, where it reconfigured into its half-fighter/half-robot form, aiming its rifle-pod in one arm at the Arwing in front of it. It was then that the machine seemed to seize up, paralyzed as three modules placed at certain spots started to glow and hum, producing waves of electro-magnetic energy at the machine. The rest of the Arwings flew in as it tried to reconfigure itself into its robot form, barely achieving that as it was brought to a knee, unable to raise its rifle-pod as the Arwings surrounded it.

"Alright, we got 'im!"

"The EM net is holding steady, no abnormalities so far. He's not going anywhere." The cockpits of the Arwings opened and their pilots jumped out to inspect their catch. Fox walked up to it with Krystal next to him, Falco and Slippy walking around and inspecting the machine. Fox looked to Krystal as she looked up at the machine that loomed over them, like a giant looking at an insect.

"Can you reach him?"

"I'll try." Her eyes closed as she looked out her mind's eye at the pilot inside.

This was the worst situation possible he could be in. Not only was he mentally assaulted, but he allowed himself to get captured by apparent enemy forces, his Excalibur prototype immobilized by some sort of magnetic force. He was rooted in his seat as he looked at the canopy that showed the image of the pilots of the craft. "They're….they're animals?!" he asked aloud. Indeed, the two that stood before him bore a striking resemblance to animals, primarily a form of canine, or vulpine. One had bright red fur with white covering its face while a small snout jutted from its face with a black nose, pointed ears perched atop its head with a white strip going between them, while piercing emerald eyes were set in its face. It was dressed in a green flight suit with a vest, boots and a belt. The other, looking like a shorter version of the other with feminine curves, had striking blue fur with apparent hair braided in different places, a silver tiara on its forehead with an emerald in its center, and softer green eyes. She was dressed similarly to her apparently male counterpart, save that she was dressed in a blue flight suit. "What...is this?! Just what the hell is this?!" he shouted at the screen. He still felt the presence in his mind, but when he saw the blue alien's eyes close, the sensation changed. He thought he heard a voice in his brain, but couldn't make it out or understand it. But, it was the sensation he felt, a calming presence that lessened the intense feeling he experienced before. He felt himself finally relax, the feeling lessening to where he no longer felt like someone were in his mind. He let out a heavy sigh, perspiration running down his face and body as his hands slid from the joystick, lying back as he suddenly felt tired for a moment, then fought to keep his senses about him. He still saw that the aliens were still out there, and still looked like Earth-like animals. Then again, the Zentraedi were human-like themselves, so who was to say that there were other forms of life that mirrored other life forms on Earth? He saw that one of them was moving its mouth, as though speaking, and when he turned on the audio sensors, he heard a voice.

"No moud 0ei de xuhm! Fcouji, semo eik je no sud kucb!"

"What the hell?" he asked aloud. The one who spoke, the feminine one, stepped forward and seemed to be reaching out, towards him, making what appeared to be a "come here" gesture. "She wants me to come out?"

"You think he understood?" Fox asked.

"Maybe not my words, but the intent should be clear. At least, as clear as I could make it." They stood as nothing happened, and Falco and Slippy joined them finally after their own inspection of the machine.

"Find anything?" Fox asked.

"This machine is using a different type of power source than we're using, some sort of fusion reactor, kind of like the what we used to use before we shifted to using the G-Diffuser system. But this one's much more advanced than the ones we used. Man, I wish I could take this thing apart!"

"How 'bout you, Falco?"

"Eh, I guess it's cool looking," Falco replied with a shrug.

"That's it, "it's cool looking"?" Fox asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Hey, I'm not the mechanic. That's his gig," Falco replied, gesturing to Slippy.

Now two more joined them, one was in the form of a kind of frog or toad, or some sort of squat, amphibian-looking creature, and the other looked to be a kind of bird of prey with blue feathers, both dressed similarly to the other two, and both also humanoid in shape. This was getting to be too much for Van. Every instinct in his body told him going out was a bad idea, but what choice did he have right now. He couldn't even move the Excalibur as it is now. With a heavy sigh, he tapped in some commands and the cockpit shifted. The screens on the canopy fuzzed and then blinked out as his seat was raised and the top of the canopy opened.

The head of the machine shifted forward and lowered from the shoulders. And then, something rose between the shoulders, behind the head. It looked like a seat with a figure sitting in it. It then got up and jumped off the seat and landed in front of the surprised team, taking the 20-foot jump relatively easy. The team gave the pilot a wide berth, taking his form in: He seemed to wear an almost all-gray flight suit with a harness attached to his chest, and matching gloves and boots. His helmet matched his suit as it was gray and black and angular in shape, and covered his face. "Anatahadare?"

"Did he just speak?" Fox asked.

"Seems like it," Falco replied.

"Anatahadare?"

"Is it a greeting, or a question?"

"I think he's asking who we are," Krystal replied.

"How do we answer him?"

"How's the translation going, Peppy?" Fox asked into his headset.

"We've translated the signal, but it's only a numeric code, not sent in his language."

"Someone has to reply." Falco commented.

"Let me try," Krystal started.

"Last time you tried, you nearly drove him insane, remember?" Falco interjected.

"I know what I'm doing, Falco!" Krystal shot back, making the Avian flinch somewhat. With a heavy sigh, Krystal closed her eyes and this time, only tried to feel his mind and get the impressions from him. "I was right, he's only asking for our identity."

"Then tell him that we're friends, we're just scouting this place."

"I'll try." A moment passed before the pilot spoke again, and Krystal seemed to to translate. "He's asking where we're from."

"Tell him from a system that's far from here." She pictured an image of the Lylat system, a binary star system with twelve planets, and three surrounding nebulae. She felt he could see it in his mind, and he reciprocated. "How's it going?"

"He's shown me a solar system with a single sun and nine planets," Krystal replied.

"That's probably where he's from. Did he tell you where it is?"

"I get the sense it's far from here, but that's all."

"That's fine, so long as we're getting everything on the monitors around the hangar, this won't be in vain. Tell him we'd like to officially meet somewhere, start a dialogue, stuff like that." Krystal sent her thoughts out again, and felt them recieved.

"Fox, we got a problem! A large ship and several smaller craft are heading right towards us!"

"We hear ya, Peppy!" Fox responded before turning to face the team. "His friends have come to pick him up, let's hurry this up!"

"Sore wa watashi shidaide wa arimasenga, watashi wa sono messeji o tsutaemasu." the pilot states, his arms were folded across his chest as he spoke.

"What was that?"

"I'm not sure. I think he understood and will relay the message."

"Alright, let's deactivate the net."

"Are you sure about that, Fox?" Falco asked.

"We've said our piece, that's all we can do." He nodded at Slippy who tapped something on a plastic tablet. The modules ceased their hum and glowing. The pilot noticed this and stepped back to his machine. He tapped something on his wrist, and one of the machine's hands lowered to the floor of the hangar, allowing to step onto it as he was lifted towards the head of the machine, stepping off on the shoulders and taking his seat once more. He was lowered into the body of the machine as the head returned to its place, the visor flahsing to life when done. It reconfigured into its intermediate form and rocketed out of the of the hangar, turning into its fighter form and flying away from the Great Fox and towards the brick-shaped ship. He linked up with the other craft and they turned to follow after him while the other ship held its position.

"ARMD Lexington to Excalibur prototype, can you read me?"

"Loud and clear, Lexington," Van replied.

"Van! What the hell happened?! Why'd you take off so suddenly like that?!"

"Don't worry, Mike. I'll explain everything," Van replied taking off his helmet as he headed into the hangar of the ARMD, short dark hair brushed over a young face that seemed to belong to a predator, angular and sharp-featured with blood-red eyes belying his ancestry. When fully docked, he jumped out of the cockpit as one of the technicians walked up to him. "Make sure this ship is reloaded and resupplied!"

"Right away, sir!" As he walked out of the hangar and down a corridor, His mind was still back on the alien ship with the walking, talking animals. At least, that's what they looked like to him. Taking a lift at the end of the corridor, he was taken to the bridge of the ship where several people worked at various stations while a figure in a slightly disheveled uniform sat in the central command seat, looking at the various different screens. He got up and looked at the newcomer, and Van could see the slightly older man standing before him, a scruff of a beard on his face while his blonde hair was kept short, his steel gray eyes seemed to brighten upon seeing him.

"Van, glad to see you!" He stuck out a hand, which Van took heartily.

"Same to you, Mike."

"What was it like on the alien ship?!" he asked excitedly.

"Very...weird," Van replied.

"Weird how?"

"Well they weren't Zentraedi if that's what you wanted to know. They were unlike most life forms weve encountered so far."

"What were they like?"

"I think it's better if you looked over the footage from the Excalibur prototype's cameras and you'll find out."

"You sure it's a good idea to send them information on Lylat, and an invitation?" Peppy asked, the elder hare looking at Fox. The main screen on the bridge showed the other ship leaving the vicinity, becoming smaller by the second.

"That is part of the reason why we're out here, right?"

"Really? I thought we were out here to collect a pay check, like we usually do," Falco commented. "That is why we're here, right?"

"We're here to investigate this place because we're not only best suited, but because General Pepper wanted to make sure it was safe to send out a scientific team to do a thorough survey," Peppy replied. "What we got instead, was something rather unexpected. The first contact with an alien life form in who knows how long."

"Alert, alert, alert! Proximity alert activated by a large mass coming at us from behind!" ROB was busy at a console while stating the emergency, shifting the image from the alien ship to another craft appeared, this one vastly different from the other: It seemed to be arrow-shaped with two large booster-engines at the rear, an oval-shaped gray protuberance on the side to stand out against the smooth, lime-green hull. Along the hull were several turrets that seemed to be gun-emplacements.

"Is that another ship?" Fox asked.

"What the hell is this, some sort of alien convention? First those...alien guys and now this!" Falco commented.

"Maybe they're related?" Krystal replied.

"Hail them, all the same," Fox replied. A moment after sending out the signal, activity was happening as several points of light flew from the ship and were headed for the Great Fox.

"Now indicating several small craft headed for our location," ROB commented.

"I doubt it's a welcoming committe. Let's head back to the Arwings!" No sooner said, the red alert sounded as the team ran towards the hangar, the ship rocking as though struck on all sides. When the Arwings launched, it was in the middle of a battle as fighter craft in the shape of pods with triple engines on the end and a single triple-barreled turret on the other with a canopy on the top. They were larger than the Arwings themselves, more than twice their size, as they swamred over the Great Fox and blasted at it with laser fire and missiles. The Arwings bobbed and weaved, reacting with firepower of their own, twing and single laser bolts of emerald danced across space and struck the enemy fighters, doing damage and destroying them. But there were simply too many, as many as twenty enemy craft swarmed over them and poured their firepower upon them.

"Sir, a new vessel just arrived in our vicinity!"

"Where?" Mike almost ran to the console where the techie worked.

"Close to the alien ship," the techie replied.

"Maybe it's their support," Van replied with a shrug.

"We just identified the ship! Putting it on the screen now!" The image shifted to an image of the two alien craft, one swarmed by smaller craft, but the image held the entire bridge almost spellbound as they looked at it in shock and recognition.

"Is that a Zentraedi ship?!" one of the techies asked.

"Worse, it's a Zentraedi scout ship!" Mike replied. He felt his hands tremble into fists upon seeing it. This was bad, if a scout ship were here, then does that mean that there were more not far behind. Van looked at the image, shock turning to resolve as he turned and headed off the bridge, but not before Mike turned and called to him. "Where do you think you're going?"

"To battle!" Van replied simply.

"You must be kidding! Even if it is just a scout ship, you're going to be hopelessly outgunned and outnumbered!"

"Not gonna stop me," he said simply before heading out the door. Mike sighed in frustration, rubbing his face with a hand before turning to navigation. "Turn us around and head back."

"Fox, we're not putting much of a dent in these guys!"

"How many fighters does that thing hold?"

"We can't even attack their mother ship, not until we can clear the space around us!"

"Peppy, how's the Great Fox doing?"

"Taking heavy fire. Shields are barely holding but they won't last long under this assault! We're going to try and face their mother ship if you can try and thin their numbers a little more."

"We're gonna try, Peppy! But at this rate…" Fox was beset by a couple of enemy fighters, both firing with their main guns and their missiles. He was able to deflect the oncoming laser fire with a barrel roll, but the missiles were harder to avoid. They were not able to hit directly, but as they exploded practically next to him drained his shields. He open fired on a pair in front of him, taking them down with a charged shot while he saw falco down one and chasing after another, Krystal having one on her tail before performing a loop and shooting him down. Even Slippy, the least capable pilot, was able to down a couple by firing a nova bomb at a couple and rendering them to space dust. Yet even then, the enemy fighters poured themselves onto them from their mother ship, and it too took action as it targeted its guns on the Great Fox, firing upon it, the Dreadnaught-class ship answering with firepower of its own. As Fox was evading more of the fighters, he saw some of them explode around him, turning into flaming debris as missiles were fired from a distance to deal death to the aggressors. Confused, Fox looked back to see the recognizable fighter craft seemingly fly from the glare of the star and into the field of battle, reconfiguring from its fighter form to its more robotic one, weilding its rifle-pod in one hand, and a shield on its other forearm. "Well, look who decided to join us!" Fox exclaimed with a laugh.

Van could feel the warrior's blood in him be brought to a boil at the sight of the battle, and then to a raging roil as he unleashed the first salvo and watched the cheaply-made Zentraedi Gnerl Fighter Pods explode in a macabre of flame and death. The Gnerl were meant to swarm over their opponents and overwhelm with sheer numbers. Because of that, they lack any decent defneses aside from armor that can withstand the rigors of space travel and planetary reentry. As Van whirled his Excalibur prototype about, he bore a demonic grin best suited on a predator, firing upon them with near-reckless abandon that one would almost deem it a miracle that he did not hit the Arwings. His rifle-pod sheared the Gnerl apart as easily as tissue paper, watching them fly uncontrollably before exploding in space, scattering metal and body parts everywhere. Behind him, the unmanned Lancer-class fighters took their own targets, wiping them out as they evaded them with apparent ease. Van chanced a look back and saw the alien fighters, the Arwings, seemingly pause in their combat to take the sight in.

Krystal took notice of the war machine as it unleashed its fury upon the other alien fighters mercilessly, and swiftly. Indeed, the showing of this craft, and the others, had provided much relief to her and her friends, greatly thinning their numbers as they seemed to fall back towards their mother ship. It was then that the machine seemed to take notice of her and drew close, feeling a link rekindle in her mind as the alien's thoughts touched hers. Impressions were made; deadliest of enemies, the need to wipe them out before more come, and a way to beat the mother ship. "Krystal, everything all right?" she heard Fox's voice crackle in her headset.

"Just fine, Fox. Out mutual friend just shared with me something interesting."

"What's that?"

"A way to beat the mother ship. First, we have to destroy the ship's guns and render it weaponless."

"Sounds good to me!" With that, Both Fox and Krystal followed after the Excalibur towards the alien ship, the unmanned craft providing mop-up as the brick-shaped ARMD Lexington brought up the rear behind the Great Fox to provide additional support. As the fighters bore down on the large alien ship, its guns reacted in defense, pointed right at them as they unleashed their fury, either bright blue beams of light that pierced the blackness of space like blades, or a flurrying storm of missiles that lit the very space around them in hell fire with intent to burn away to ash. But even then, the trio were undeterred as they flew past them and along the hull of the ship. The Excalibur reconfigured to its robotic form, standing upon the ship as it fired its rifle-pod upon the turrets, destroying them while the Arwings bombed the turrets from above. In short order, the beastly craft was rendered toothless, its guns falling silent as the Great Fox and Lexington fired upon it with their own weaponry, damaging it extensively as the trio flew away from it. Yet, even as the ship died a fiery death, another craft left from one of its hangars, this one more nimble than the Gnerl pods and bearing a distinct anthropoid, almost humanoid, shape as it flew about the battlefield and fired upon the Lancer drones, destroying them.

Van watched the newcomer wipe out the drones as easily as he had. He focused the image on his canopy, and what he saw almost made his breath catch in his throat. It wasn't any just mecha, it was a power armor, specifically a female power armor, as indicated byt the large round pods on the back of the suit where the missiles were stored. Seeing it, his blood was once more ignited and he flew his Excalibur right at it with little forethought. The armored enemy took notice and flew out of the way of the fighter before it reconfigured itself into its Battloid form. Both combatants regarded each other and began to circle one another, and it was Van who acted first in firing his rifle-pod at the other Zentraedi. It avoided him as easily as the Lancer drones and responded with fire of its own, launching its missiles at Van. Remarkably, he was able to shoot them down before they got too close before pursuing the power armor among the still burning wreckage of the dead Zentraedi scout ship, breaking apart as fragments floated in the cosmos while Van searched for his enemy, his blood roiling in excitement. He felt his craft lurch forward and struck from behind, whirling in time to see missiles headed his way and evading them as they struck the burning wreckage, destroying more ruins. He reacted by firing from the missiles' point of origin, but struck nothing but debris. He was struck again, this time from the side and he reacted in the same way again, knowing that this was a losing battle. He reconfigured the Excalibur into its fighter form and flew out of the wreckage as more missiles pursued him. He unleashed flares to attract their attention and watched them explode as he reconfigured into its Battloid form, and from the flames came the power armor, firing its tri-barrelled wrist guns while he fired his rifle-pod. Both struck the other. The female power armor was pierced in the torso, arms and legs, leaking what he hoped would be blood, while the Excalibur took shots in its body and shield arm. But his guard was not quite good enough, a ricochet actually pierced the chest of the Battloid and the canopy, leaking atmosphere and striking him in the side, tearing the suit and the flesh deeply enough to make him groan in pain and grasp it, his eyes taken off the image for a moment before returning to face it, seeing the power armor was gone. Still gripping his side, Van reconfigured the Battloid to fighter, wincing and trying to stop the blood flow before he passed out, either from blood loss, shock, or lack of oxygen. He saw both Arwings next to him as his vision swam, and darkened as he found it harder and harder to breathe before his eyes beheld a blackness even darker than space.

He did not know for how long he was in the black void, but when he could see he saw a blinding light that gave way to blurred shapes that gradually became more defined. When he blinked the blurriness away, he found that he was looking up at a familiar, furry face. It was the blue-furred one, with the feminine curves that seemed to look down and smile at him. Quickly drawing his breath, Van sat up quickly from the floor of the hangar and found that his helmet was missing, overtaken by a sudden panic as the blue-furred one reached out and spoke in her language, imploring. He paused and looked about, seeing the other aliens look at him as though as an oddity. "Don't be afraid, Van Eldo Qaras." He paused, and turned to face the blue-furred one, hearing that its voice was female to his ears.

"How do you know my name?" Van asked, puzzled.

"Our mind-link, which I unintentionally caused. We shared information between one another and it took me a moment to sort it all out, including your name and language, as you should know mine," she replied simply. "Do you know my name?" When asked, it didn't even take him a moment to recall the information, along with a flurry of information.

"Krystal, from Cerinia." She seemed to smile at that while her friends stood looking somewhat confused, no doubt unable to understand the alien-sounding conversation, yet the gravity of the momentous situation was felt by all, including by those on the ARMD, and possibly beyond as a pinpoint of light danced and hid amongst the debris of the dead Zentraedi ship.