ACES OF HEARTS
Introduction: This is another one of my Non-Ranma storylines and the first one that deals with one of the first animes I fell in love with, Robotech! I've always loved Max Sterling and Miriya Parino of the Macross Saga of Robotech. After reading the comic miniseries Love & War, plus the fanfic: To Dream With the Stars, by Berzerker Prime, I decided to do my own take on the lives of Max and Miriya. This will be based on the comic series with my own details on the parallel adventures of the two best fighter pilots of the first Robotech War, leading up to their famous duel and union.
Disclaimer: The characters of Robotech belong to their respective creators and I am making no money from this.
Genesis of Two Legends
Earth, 1999 AD...
At the end of the 20th century, the planet Earth was ravaged by the Global Civil War, which had been going on for over a decade. As the climax of the worldwide conflict neared, mankind prepared itself for total annihilation, which would most certainly be the outcome once the opposing sides let loose with their most powerful of weapons. Then... it came.
Nicknamed the Visitor, when it first arrived from a fold in hyperspace, the super dimensional space-battle fortress, (the final and greatest creation of Zor), crash-landed on the tiny island of Macross, causing massive loss of life and worldwide disasters. However, in reality, it was a Godsend as its appearance had forced humanity to stop in its self-destructive path toward Armageddon. Soon, the greatest minds the Earth could offer would begin exploring the ship and the secrets of the technology known as Robotech.
In a small home in Iowa, a slender, young boy with dark hair and large, oversized glasses sat in his room. He was the only child of Michael and Donna Sterling and was considered delicate by his parents. However, unknown to anyone at the time, the youth possessed a hidden talent, which would one day make him into a legend.
Ten-year-old Maximilian Sterling watched in fascination at the images on the television set in his room. He had been watching his favorite cartoon show, when the program was suddenly interrupted by a news bulletin. At first, he had become dismayed when Bugs Bunny was replaced by a grim-looking newsman, but his irritation turned into curiosity as the public got its first views of the inside of the Visitor.
The newly formed United Earth Government had kept the alien vessel under the tightest of security and no one besides the highest military and government officials had been allowed inside it. Now, after twelve months of secrecy, the rest of the world was going to be able to glimpse the interior of the vessel from the stars... at least the first few sections.
As the cameras began focusing in on the entranceway, Max played a bit with the toy space fighter in his hands. He had always loved looking up into the skies, especially during starry nights and imagined himself flying in space like Buck Rogers or Luke Skywalker. Though for the most part, he was a quiet, shy little boy, his mind was often filled with daydreams of space adventures and fighting the bad guys. And when the Visitor had arrived, his imagination had taken on new heights and he had often dreamed of being in that alien vessel when it was finally repaired and sent back to the stars.
Meanwhile, light-years away on the Planet Tirol...
The Robotech Masters were not pleased. They had the key to their ultimate plan to dominate the universe within their grasp, but Zor's battle fortress and its Protoculture Matrix had slipped through their fingers. However, their ultimate destiny as rulers of the cosmos will not be denied. They would find the battle fortress and its precious Matrix and they had the perfect tool to do the job.
Initially, the race of cloned giants known as the Zentraedi had been intended only as a mining labor force, but their innate aggressive behavior and great physical strength had made them into the ideal weapons to carry out their plans. They had already proven themselves capable of protecting their masters against the savage Invid. Surely a simple retrieval mission would be no problem. And even if another race had found the battle fortress, they would be of no match against the fury of the Zentraedi.
Deep within the chambers of the cloning matrices, a new batch of Zentraedi clones was being prepared. In one particular cloning matrix, a certain individual was well on her way toward maturation. Once she was fully developed, she would be trained in the most lethal of battle techniques and be given the most advanced weapons the Robotech Masters could provide for her. If she achieved or exceeded her expectations, then she and others like her would become the ultimate killing machines, efficient, calculating and absolutely merciless.
On the side of her matrix was a word in the Zentraedi language. It was the name that she would be given once she awakened.
Earth, 2004 AD...
Max Sterling sighed as he walked home from school. It had been three years since his family had moved to Macross Island. The novelty of living near an alien spaceship had lessened, than it had been when he first arrived. After all, no one but the military and the topmost government officials were allowed to go inside it. That brief look into the ship's interior during that news report four years ago had piqued the curiosity of multitudes around the globe. However, with the airtight security surrounding it and the military base that had been built nearby, no unauthorized person was able to come within half a mile of the craft. This included a blue-haired, fourteen-year-old with glasses.
His parents had a fit, when Max had decided to dye his hair blue. A lot of his classmates had taken to wearing wild colors. There were so many different hues to choose from and he had thought that a change in appearance would make him more with the 'in-crowd,' as he had always had a quiet and shy personality. His favorite color was ocean blue, and he even had his corrective lenses tinted to match the pigment that he now sported on his head.
As he neared his house, he decided to take a slight detour. Going up a dirt pathway, he made his way up a steep, hilly incline, which led to a cliff that overlooked the city of Macross. From there, one could see just about everything on the island, including the alien battle fortress. Though most of the secret stuff was conducted either within the depths of the ship or at the base, curious spectators could look at the ship's exterior without any fear of being arrested for espionage. The place was a popular spot for tourists.
When he came to the edge, he sat down and took out a pair of binoculars from his backpack. Looking through them, Max noted that the ship's hull had gotten smoother and much of its original olive drab coloring had been scraped away. He was beginning to see what appeared to be a command tower and reasoned that the military had begun constructing it. The officials had estimated that it would take at least another five or six years before the ship was considered space worthy.
The young boy sighed as he put his binoculars back into his pack. For years, he had dreamed of seeing what it was like inside that ship, but he knew that it was only a dream. The only way he could even get a chance was if he were to join the armed forces. His eyes turned wistfully skyward as he saw a group of fighters streak overhead. In addition to wanting to see the inside of the ship and going into space, he had also wanted to become a pilot. His bedroom was crowded with various plastic models. He knew all the basics about flying and aerial combat by heart. The excitement of soaring through the heavens had always held his interest.
However, his dreams seemed to be only just that, dreams. Pilot candidates with glasses were usually rejected and his parents were dead set against him enlisting in the military. It seemed that his destiny would only be as a spectator.
Speaking of spectator sports, on Tirol...
And to think that we were originally conceived to be nothing more than an off-world labor force, eh Lord Reno? The forty-foot woman remarked.
The Zentraedi commander of the Robotech Factory Defense Armada nodded as he and Azonia gazed upon a maturation chamber where another of the giant clones was gestating. Working at a mushroom-shaped console were two of the technicians who monitored the process. Both were human-sized and clad in armored body suits.
But of course, Azonia. Reno then gave the two diminutive technicians a condescending smirk. How fortunate for the Robotech Masters that we Zentraedi proved so formidable that we're now being relied on to fend off the Invid.
The first technician snarled behind his helmet at the subtle insult, but had to agree. We admit, we were initially surprised that the clones retained a penchant for individuality.
His cohort nodded. Indeed. It was our intention for the Zentraedi to simply be a functional workforce. By steering that trait towards competitive achievement in combat, we've managed to convert a potential problem into a bonus.
Reno's expression hardened. We are only too happy to be of service to you.
The first technician then said, Now, let us see this Quadrano Battalion you've been telling us about.
The two giants led the technicians to a balcony, which overlooked a huge area that was shaped like the Coliseum, (and was probably the same size). As the group took their seats, Reno began explaining the latest exercise in making the already fearsome warrior race even more deadly.
You spoke of the Zentraedi's ability to excel. Well, you are about to witness another pinnacle of Zentraedi achievement.
His copper-haired companion nodded as she continued with the explanations. I've taken the initiative of aggressively applying the principles of natural selection to create an elite fighting force. This is a demonstration of that process.
In the center of the arena stood a lone figure, surrounded by six heavily-armored soldiers, each equipped with a polearm-type weapon. The person in the middle however, was wearing nothing but a skintight outfit that resembled leotard, leather gloves and boots. On her left breast was the Zentraedi insignia. Her long, emerald green hair reached down toward the small of her back, and her large, bright green eyes were set in a penetrating stare that could burn through the hull of a cruiser. Her form was lithe and slender, but she cared not for her appearance as she waited for the signal to start the demonstration. In her right hand was a sharp but short knife.
Reno snickered as he gazed upon what he believed was a ridiculous display. What a foolish waste of resources! Why squander a perfectly functional unit on this exercise?
Azonia however, took on a smug expression. Watch and learn. She then cried out to the figure below.
As soon as that order was uttered, the green-tressed giantess sprang into action, moving with all the speed, agility and grace of a jungle cat. In less than a heartbeat, she cut down her first adversary before he had a chance to raise up he weapon to defend himself. The knife in her hand flashed like a bolt of lightning, severing the soldier's arm before ripping into his chest.
Her five other opponents quickly began advancing on her before she could defend herself, but she easily swerved and dodged their attacks and proceeded to cut them to pieces. The soldiers had the advantage in raw power and numbers, but the female's speed and utter viciousness was awesome to behold. The arena echoed with the sounds of bones being crushed, limbs being quartered and the spattering of blood and other bodily fluids.
Four of the woman's opponents fell to the floor in dismembered ruin in under a minute and the last combatant received a thrown knife through the faceplate of his helmet. As the corpse dropped to the floor in a bloody heap, the female warrior simply took a deep breath and then just stood motionless, awaiting her next orders. Her expression had not changed throughout the carnage.
Reno's eyes nearly bugged out of their sockets as he had just witnessed the decimation of six armed and capable soldiers by one female. A small bead of sweat rolled down the right side of his face. Azonia's smug expression became more smug.
That... that was astounding! Reno remarked.
You have just witnessed the selection of the newest member of the Quadrano Battalion. Azonia announced proudly.
The two technicians were equally impressed, although they did have some misgivings.
Integrating women into the Zentraedi forces is EXTREMELY dangerous. The first one said.
But a necessary risk to address the dire predicament that Zor has brought upon us. The second reminded.
Reno gulped as he continued to gaze upon the green-haired destroyer. So, why are they all females?
Azonia's expression became deadly as she replied. Because there is NOTHING more fearsome than an angry female.
You did well today, Miriya. Azonia said as she congratulated the newest addition to the elite forces of the Zentraedi War Machine. Both women were in the command center of Azonia's cruiser.
Thank you Commander. The warrior woman was now dressed in a more conservative outfit, which consisted of a lavender military dress coat and utilitarian slacks and boots. However, the new and simple ensemble hugged her body's curves and still made her quite fetching.
I knew you had great promise when I first saw you. Azonia said as she motioned for her newest subordinate to follow her. And I expect you to perform equally if not better in combat.
I shall endeavor to meet all of your expectations. Miriya vowed as she walked with her superior.
I should think so, considering that you shall be among the very fortunate few who will pilot the best fighter in the Zentraedi Air Force.
The blue-haired woman led her charge to an enormous hanger. There were rows of the standard Tactical Battlepods, as well as the Heavy and Light Artillery versions. There were also a few Officer's Pods, Tri-Thruster Fighters and Reconnaissance Pods. However, it was in a far corner of the hanger, which caught Mirya's attention.
Though she had been trained under the strictest of regimens in discipline and mental control, she was still in awe at what stood there. Its huge, top-heavy form seemed to invoke a feeling of overwhelming superiority as it towered over the two giantesses. Armed with a staggering payload of short-range missiles, twin auto-cannons mounted in the chest, a pair of triple-barreled particle cannons in the arms, and a navigational system, which gave it far superior maneuverability than all the other Zentraedi mecha combined, it was with little wonder why the Quadrano Unit was considered the cream of the armada's fighters. With its huge, back-mounted thrusters, it could outrace just about anything it went up against. Ironically, before being modified for combat, it had been originally designed for heavy mining on Tirol. Now, it had been transformed into a lethal suit of death.
With her superior's silent assent, Miriya immediately climbed into the open cockpit and began familiarizing herself with the controls. The arms of the mecha began moving as she worked the coarse and fine manipulator controls. The entire machine became an extension of her own body as she put it through some movements, ranging from the simple to more complex.
Azonia smiled as she watched Miriya figure out the Quadrano's mechanisms with surprising ease, and without referring to any kind of instruction manuals. There was no doubt about it. Miriya was a natural and would be instrumental in all of the Zentraedi's future battles, especially with their lifelong enemies, the savage Invid.
Currently, the Zentraedi's main forces were searching for Zor's battle fortress as it contained the last known Protoculture Matrix in existence. It was imperative to secure it as their own supplies were now limited, and the attacks from the Invid had been growing more frequent as of late. They were going to need all the Protoculture and ace fighters they could get and woe to anyone who got in their way! With warriors like Miriya on their side, nothing could stop them!
Wow! That kid's totally unstoppable!
He's already beaten a dozen challengers!
Whoa! I never seen anyone play the game like that!
At the local arcade, Max Sterling smiled as he continued to push the fighter simulation game to its limit. Whenever he was feeling depressed about not becoming a pilot or seeing the inside of the alien vessel, he would always come to this place and lose himself in that loud, blinking bleeping world. In here, he could at least pretend that he was flying a real fighter. He liked this particular game as it allowed the player not only to fly through various landscapes, but also through space as well. There was a head-to-head option and Max usually beat any who challenged him.
Max didn't consider himself as an expert and his modest personality always led him to believe that all of his wins were nothing more than luck. However, what he didn't realize as he continued to play the game, was that his hidden and strangely given talents had begun to emerge.
I got you this time! His opponent said as he worked the control levers feverishly and continuously pressed the fire buttons, launching everything he had against his blue-haired adversary.
However, Max remained calm as he easily evaded each of his opponent's wild attacks and maneuvered his craft into position. His motions became even more finely tuned, as his reflexes began working on a level that was near-inhuman.
The holographic screen suddenly flashed in a bright nimbus of light as Max's opponent was clipped by a flight of missiles and was then struck by a blast of autocannon fire. The enemy fighter de-rezzed into nothingness as the computer announced Max to be the winner.
Max's opponent, a large, stocky boy with spiky, brown hair grumbled as his fighter disappeared. However, unlike most of Max's previous challengers, Ben Dixon was a good loser as he stood up and extended his hand toward him.
Aw, I guess even the best fighter pilot has an off' day. Good game buddy.
Max smiled as he stood up and shook his opponent's hand. The larger boy's grip nearly made him wince as he nodded to him.
Thanks. And I guess I was just lucky. The name's Max Sterling. What's yours?
To be continued...
As some Robotech Fans may have noticed, the scene of Miriya in the arena was taken directly from Issue #2 of Robotech, Love & War by Wildstorm Comics. Don't get me wrong, I love the series, but I feel that it's a bit short and there were a lot of possibilities for some more Max and Miriya scenes. I also feel that the original Robotech storyline also left a few gaps that could be turned into some untold stories and such.
I strongly recommend reading the fanfic Robotech: To Dream With the Stars by Bezerker Prime as it has been my inspiration as well as the original Robotech Series. My favorite part is of course the Macross Saga.