"Dynamics of Holding a Grudge" by Karen
The game tokens kept piling up inside the till near by and below his left hand, and when they reached more than two hundred Max Sterling stopped keeping a running tab. It was a moot point anyway because his total was by far the highest of any of the other players in the arcade. He had been wavering on whether or not he wanted to go, but his friends and fellow pilots in the Vermilion Squad, Ben Dixon and Rick Hunter, had insisted, and a little R + R never hurt anyone, right. It was a gaming arcade near the military base, so it had not taken much twisting of his arm by Rick and Ben to get to agree.
The game he played drew spectators the way nectar draws bees; a mock-combat dogfight game, one that required attention to detail and pinpoint accuracy; something he excelled at. The game was tough at first but gradually it became almost too easy, second nature.
Several hours, his friends were making motions that they had had enough and wanted to leave, that was Max came out of his concentrated dazed and looked idly around for any takers that might offer some serious completion; that was when he caught the gaze of a green-haired girl with intent stare in her green-eyed gaze.
Max did not know what it was about her, sure, physically he was attracted to her beauty, but maybe it was the challenge he could read by less obvious means. He immediately left his game console and introduced himself, brushing his own odd blue-tinted dark hair away from his eyes, as he stuck out free hand, the other resting inside of his uniform jacket pocket. "HI, I'm Max Sterling," have I seen you here around somewhere, for you look awfully familiar." As pick up lines went, Max knew it was pretty lame, but he was not above eating a little crow, for just a little while.
She met his gaze as boldly and unselfconsciously as she had caught his gaze across the expanse of the crowded arcade, and for the passing of a matter of heartbeats and hasty breaths, he could have sworn that that it was only the two of them. When he registered other sensory, tastes, smells, sounds, in the back of his mind he realized that his friends, and the gathered crowd wore varied expressions of curiosity and good-natured amusement on their faces. The green-eyed girl seemed a little taken aback at the extended hand that he held out to her as if she were unsure of what exactly she was supposed to do with it, finally extending her own hand to shake his.
"I couldn't help but notice that you were doing quite well at your own game console and I was wondering if you might like to play two on one, and I think it might give us a chance to get to know each a little better"
"I will take you up on that offer." Miriya Pirino, the best pilot, female or otherwise of the Zenetreadi fleet, at the might on a risky, dangerous and rash gamble. She had herself Micronized so that she could slip unnoticed and undetected among the miniscule humans, understood a challenge when she heard one.
Her purpose for being aboard the enemy space craft, the SDF1 was not for the purpose of reconnaissance, it had been for the stated purpose, one she had boasted of in the presence of the top-ranking Zeneteradi Warlords, Khyron and Azonia, that she had grown profoundly tired of being bested by as yet unknown Micronian ace pilot and warrior, and formulated a plan to unmask him, then finally kill him for his temerity in humiliating her. In theory it was a wonderful straight forward and satisfying course of action, in practice it proved much more difficult.
At the arcade she agreed to play with a young Micronian male dressed in the uniform of one of the military pilots, thinking she would handily and decisively defeat him at whatever game he chose to play. Several hours later, she thought "So much for that idea, she thought with some disgust, she was defeated the entire time.
At the end of the twelfth game and he and his friends made to leave, to return to base, he arranged to met up with her later that evening in the park, and despite her better judgment, she had agreed. Miriya, was a warrior, a pilot, one of strange and violent passions, but experienced and disciplined to not allow those emotions to get in the way of the mission.
So as she left the arcade and back onto the main thoroughfares of the city of Macross, somehow transplanted from the surface of the planet Earth and onto and reconstructed aboard a space-going vessel, she was feel and thoroughly confused. For the first time and not for the last, she felt, she felt ambivalent about whether or not to carry out her self-appointed mission, whether this Sterling-fellow was the ace pilot she had been searching for and sought to kill, the fact that he could make her doubt herself, confuse her senses and make her feel anxious, could and would not be tolerated. Ignoring the inquiring looks and stares of the passersby, Miriya kept walking aimlessly, until almost it was time to met up with Sterling at the Macross park.
In the interval of waiting for the promised rendezvous time and the time he had to spend filing reports and the time in his quarters, Max felt much like a race horse chomping at the bit before the big race, his heart beat triple time and the time could not go by quickly enough. 'Was this what being in love felt like?" he asked his reflection in the mirror. "Does she feel the same way." Max wondered.
He turned around and around all the while trying to see whether or not the loose-fitting pair of heather blue slacks he had selected for his date with the intriguing and beautiful new girl looked okay. The shirt he left tucked in, a pale pastel green, too light to match the color of her hair. Max raised his hands above his head and made one last final adjustment to his wavy hair, turned around and headed for the door.
At the park, an artificial moon hung low in the sky casting a pale but highly revealing illumination on the green expanse of carefully planned out lawns and paths that wound through them. There were even trees of a type that Miriya had never seen before, some had trunks that were too exposed, others too broad to provide effective cover for an ambush, as she had planned as soon as Sterling arrived on the scene. Ultimately she decided that a frontal direct approach was the best way, so she waited, with her back resting against the trunk of the nearest tree, the knife in its sheath resting comfortably and reassuringly in the pocket of her shirt.
Max arrived at the park about ten in the evening by his watch, he always had been meticulous about being prompt no matter what the event entailed. His heart beat had slowed down somewhat on the walk from the base to the park, but he was still anxious, when he had belatedly realized that he had never even asked the girl her name.
To say that Max was taken by surprise when Miriya darted out of the park at a full out run, shouting something about Zenetradei and vengeance, and getting even, would be an understatement.
She let out a ear-piercing shout and ran toward him with her arm at full extension, armed with a wickedly sharp looking aimed at his face and then another darted another glancing blow at his unprotected ribs.
That was when his whole attitude, body language and stance, training and survival instincts kicked in and Max drew his own knife that he wore at his hip, below his belt buckle. Suddenly what had been until this instant, a blind date, turned into a fight for his life. He didn't have the chance to tell her that was all a big misunderstanding, that she was making a mistake, and that he was not her enemy.
"I am Miriya Pirino! Ace Pilot of the Zenetreadi Fleet, time and again, you have made seem to be a fool, well, Micronian, this is the last time, the last time, do you hear me!"
In betweens parrying and thrusts with his own knife, Max had just time to choke out, "I hear you, but I still do not understand what this is all about? I don't think I'd ever met you before earlier tonight at the arcade, and I would have remembered you if I had."
For a moment she seemed more interested in talking than fighting; "You can not understand, for a honorable, blooded Zenteradi warrior, suffering a humiliation in battle is worse than death."
"Why do you know so much about what the Zenetradei do or don't do?" Max asked, worried. "Maybe she was a shell-shocked civilian and the trauma had unhinged her senses; it would not be the first time in the long, seemingly endless war that they had been fighting.
"Fool, I am Zeneteradi!" I must kill you to restore my honor. I can not will not be defeated! I Miriya, I am the best!"
"Miryia, what a beautiful name," Max mused, knowing in the back of his mind what an inappropriate response that was under the circumstances but not caring, well not much anyways.
With that Miriya resumed her attack, and in some ways, as his training and instincts took over, Max would have preferred the verbal fight to the physical one, but at the moment, he was not in any position to debate the issue. With a lunge and a dart at a quick twist of his wrist, the motion almost too fast to follow, Max came around on her blind side, lunging out with his own knife and knocking her blade away from her grasp. He tracked its movement, while trying to keep an eye on her, and watched as the knife cartwheel through the air, and wound up blade-first in the thick trunk of a tree.
When he turned his attention back to Miriya he was surprised and shocked to see her on her knees, he had not hit her that hard. "Get up, it's over. It's okay," Max said as soothingly as he could under the circumstances.
"End it." Miriya said in a miserable and defeated sounding tone. "You have defeated, and I cannot live with this shame."
"I can't stand to see you like this," Max replied, moving forward, dropping his knife to the ground. "Come on, whatever it is that's eating away at you it can't be that bad. Hey, for what it's worth, maybe I can help you, just trust me, okay."
"I don't know. Miriya shook her head, her green hair falling down around her face like a curtain. "This is not my world, these are not my people. I am afraid."
Max drew closer extending a hand to lift to her feet, and suddenly without much rational thought behind the feeling, slipped both hands around her waist and planted a kiss on her lips. "Well, too bring up a time-honored cliché, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
"I have no objections, but I think we are both insane." She reached up, brushed her hair out of her face, looked into Max's intent face, and felt an overwhelming urge to return his kiss, and he returned the kiss in kind. They stood together, locked in that position for a long time.