Characters of Ranma 1/2 belong to Rumiko Takahashi and those of Robotech belong to Harmony Gold. References from Tenchi Muyo belong to Masaki Kajishima and Hiroki Hayashi.

Chapter 28: The Eve of Our Destruction

Lieutenant Commander Richard Hunter was spending his final hours in the nation of Japan. His rotation as a test pilot was over, and it was time to get back to Minmei. He hated being away from his wife. Minmei was supposed to return months ago, but things kept coming up that prevented her from returning. The final straw was when her doctor absolutely ruled out flying for her until the end of her pregnancy.

For his final night, he decided to spend it in Tokyo. First he wanted to take care of something. That something was waiting in room in the Hotel Nikko. Kim Young had been assigned temporary duty to Tokyo for a few weeks. The assignment was a totally unexpected, as she had already planned a vacation to the area.

It had started over a month ago, when she received an unexpected message from Nabiki Tendo. She knew on Nabiki Tendo but only as the mother of Commander Saotome's children. So she thought the massage was a prank setup by Vanessa as she couldn't see a reason for Ms. Tendo to call. However she did call and was given a pleasant surprised. It turned out Nabiki was Lynn Minmei's new manager and was calling on her behalf. Because of her association with Minmei, Km was tempted to hang up on Nabiki, but Nabiki informed her that Minmei wanted to talk with her.

Kim was surprised to hear that. Still upset that Minmei had stolen her one true love, she was hesitant to call the woman. However, when she did call her, she was given her pleasant surprise. She was asked if she would be Rick's mistress/concubine for the remaining time of his temporary duty in Japan, and in return, Minmei would compensate her. She had been conflicted by the request. Her mind had wanted to decline the request as it was demeaning to her. However her heart had jumped for joy, for she was still in love with the married man. Her heart had wanted to take any opportunity to spend time with him.

Eventually her heart won out even though it meant she was willing to do whatever Rick desired. She was fortunate to have the leave time available to spend the remaining time of Rick's TDY in Japan. While she was making preparations for her vacation, she received the shock assignment to Robotech test facilities. It turned out the Robotech scientists were working on improvements to the tactical workstations, and she had been "volunteered" to test the improvements.

When she arrived in Japan, she discovered Tokyo to be a magnificent city. It was one of the few cities to survive the "Rain" virtually intact. Somehow, she was fortunate to stay in the city instead of the base in Fussa. It made rendezvous with Rick non-intrusive. However it was weird enjoying the nightlife without Sammy and/or Vanessa because they had gone everywhere together since being assigned to the bridge of the SDF-1.

For reason Kim felt tonight was going to be special. For one, it was Rick's last night in Japan. She was set to remain until the new year, so she dolled herself up because there was no telling what could happen as the night continued. Kim opened the door when Rick knocked. He looked as handsome as ever wearing a sports coat and tie.

"Wow, you look great," he said as she walked up to him.

Captain (select) Ranma Saotome found himself in Japan for a short time. Unlike before, he was there to pick up something for his new baby girl before her first Christmas. He was allowed to do this because it was quiet on the Khyron front, and Admiral Gloval was able to afford two of his most experienced pilots being out of the country at the same time.

Tonight he was on a mission for Minmei through Nabiki. Ranma was in Tokyo on his way to meet up with Rick, with Kai Masaki. Kai was one of his many cousins that lived in and around Okayama, but they were only cousins in the sense they were part of the same clan (though Ranma belonged to the main branch).

"Lord Ranma, I greatly appreciate you doing this for me, but it's not like I have problems meeting girls," stated Kai, breaking the silence.

Ranma grimaced at the use of the title. The title was something picked up once he learned his family's secrets. Since most of his time was spent in New Macross, Ranma wasn't use to hearing the title, and when he was around his family, it seemed silly. More to the point, he was unsure how he was going to eventually bring it up to the Tendos, Lisa, and Rick.

"I know but think of this as doing me a favor. Besides, you're the only single guy I know."

Though Kai was more than capable of attracting women, he was upset to be reminded that he had been unable to find that right person, unlike his friend, Seina, who had married his sister long ago. If Ranma had been anyone else, he would have flatly refused, but since his branch of the clan was obligated to be at the beck and call of the main branch, he was with Ranma to participate in what he believed to be a blind date.

Rick and Kim laughed as they drank cocktails in the bar while waiting for a table (and other people). They reminisced on their time dating. Some of the things they did as a couple were scandalous. Being each other's first sex partner, they reminisced about the many things they've done in bed.

"Bet you don't do that now that you're married?" asked Kim.

Rick was slow to reply. "Well," he started with a grimace, "we tried it once, and Minmei's not comfortable doing it."

Kim smiled knowing there was something that Minmei was unwilling to do. Rick didn't notice it as he spotted the last two members of their dinner party. After a while Kim stated, "Do you think we should keep this secret? I mean, what would they say back in Macross?"

"Oh, I think things will work out." With that Rick announced their dining companions had arrived.

Kim turned around and saw him standing next to Commander Saotome.

Kai was skeptical at being set up by Lord Ranma. Then he saw a woman standing in the general direction they were walking.

At that moment, their worlds seemed to stop. Their surroundings faded away.

"Hi, my name is Kai."

"Hi, my name is Kim."

Yet no words were actually spoken between the two. They took each other's arm and walked to a table without receiving instructions.

"Um, did we miss something?" asked Rick, puzzled by what he just witnessed.

"Just a little Minmei magic," replied Ranma.

"Are you sure this will be okay?" asked Alex Satori to his wife for what seemed like the thousandth time. This time he asked the question as his family entered the city of New Macross, having driven from Monument City.

"Sure it'll be okay," replied Akane Satori. Since her eldest sister gave birth, she had only seen her niece through vid-phone. However there was no better time to see little Maki than the holiday season. It would also be great for the three sisters to spend Christmas and New Years together for the first time in years. "It'll be nice to surprise them for once, especially Nabiki."

For the next ten minutes they drove along the streets of New Macross, trying to find the house of Nodoka Hasegawa. Of course Alex had to question his wife why she hadn't called Ranma for directions. Akane thought they would be able to use the car's navigational system. However when reestablishing the GPS network, the new United Earth Defense Council made sure New Macross remained a dark location.

"Papa, I wants to eat," said little Nova.

"We'll get something for you when we get to Auntie Nodoka's" explained Akane.

"We should call them now," Alex stated bluntly.

"But that would ruin the surprise."

However Alex wouldn't hear it. His concern was his daughter's hunger. A look from him made Akane realize that it would be best to feed their child. It was quickly decided that they would stop for a bite to eat. After which, she would call Ranma.

"Why don't we stop at the White Dragon?" stated Akane. "I could go for some Chinese."

As they pulled into the parking lot, Akane should have recognized the name of the restaurant. However she would soon realize her fortune when they stepped through the door.

"Jason, I thought I told you to turn off the sign and lock the door," stated a female voice from the kitchen, upon hearing the jiggle of the bell from the door opening.

"But I did, mom," cried out the pubescent male voice from upstairs.

The Satoris quickly thought maybe they should have gone somewhere else. Though it was clearly time for the dinner rush, the place looked as if it was set up for a private family dinner.

"I'll go tell them that we're close for the night," came a voice that sounded oddly like Kasumi.

By this time, the sound of someone descending the stairs was audible. Alex started to usher his family out of the building but stopped at the sight of a pregnant, highly recognizable megastar stood on the stairs. His daughter screamed, having proclaimed herself her biggest fan.

Unfortunately Akane didn't see Lynn Minmei, for through the kitchen door walked Kasumi.

Two Veritechs approached the western coast of the North American continent, making their way to New Macross. One pilot had been out of country for several months. He wanted nothing more than to be reunited his beautiful wife. The second pilot was just as eager to return to New Macross but not for the same reason. He had young children, yet no wife, and he wanted to return to his newborn baby girl. Unfortunately, at the moment neither the wife nor newborn baby was the topic of conversation.

"You're serious," commented Ranma.

"Yes, Minmei asked her to do this for me," replied Rick. "I was quite surprised that she would do that. And I was quite surprised that Kim agreed. Man, she's one sex kitten."

"You can't be ignorant of the fact Kim's been pining for you for over two years."

Rick ignored that comment. "And what was with all that 'Lord Ranma' Kai kept spouting?"

"Oh, that was nothing," answered Ranma, somewhat skittishly. Even though Rick was part of the family, there were still some family secrets he wasn't privy to. For instances, how does one explain that their wife had been genetically altered to have the life span of her adopted clan?

"Anyways, it looks like my wife worked some of her magic again."

"I think Nabiki might have been involved in this, too," commented Ranma.

"Then I think she needs something for her troubles. That's a keeper there, Ranma. When are you going to marry her?"

Ranma was saved from answering by the appearance of Sammy on the vid-screen, and thus started their landing approach.

Minmei found herself on a swing in the park, which was unwise for the time of year and her present state. But she could not take it any longer at the White Dragon. She had learned to trust Nabiki in the years since she forced her way onto the SDF-1, but Akane was a totally different matter. Akane had actually done physical and mental harm to her brother. The longer she stayed in Akane's presence, the more Minmei wanted to lash out at the two-faced "whore."

She had told Aunt Lena that she was headed home; however she ended up in the park. She reflected on what she just experienced. She wanted what her aunt and uncle had formed but wondered if she'd ever get to have that. She had been away from her husband for much of her pregnancy. It could be easy to explain it as the life of a wife of a soldier. She knew that when she signed up to Rick's wife. However she, too, had a career that could keep her away from her husband. She was the world's biggest (and only) pop star, idolized by millions, and treasured by an entire alien race.

Rico, Konda and Bron made their way through the streets of New Macross on their way home. It was just another bad day of working. Having lost their jobs delivering laundry, they had taken to doing various odd jobs. For the Christmas season, they had found jobs as street vendors, selling toys. Unfortunately they weren't selling the popular toys of the season.

"What are we supposed to do?" commented Konda. "We are supposed to take the girls out for dinner tomorrow, yet we barely have money for rent."

"Hey, I hear there is a chance Minmei's latest album will be available over here soon," announced Rico. Being the one that was most up to date on Minmei news, Rico seemingly brought up the topic daily.

"That would be great!" said Bron. Like many of Minmei's oldest fans, they were upset that her latest album was not available to all. So to hear news like this would make their Christmas.

Konda didn't hear Rico's news. Instead he was focused on a person, who looked vaguely familiar to him, sitting on a swing in the park. "Say, guys, does that look like Minmei over there?"

Rico and Bron looked in the same direction as Konda, and they, too, saw an Earth female that kind of looked like Minmei. If it were Minmei, it would be a coup for them considering her location has been virtually unknown.

"Miss Minmei!"

Minmei heard name being called. Since she could not recognize the voice, she took it for a fan. She didn't feel like being bothered by fans, so she put on a pair of tinted glasses and began to waddle away. Though her get away wasn't fast, it was enough to stop Rico, Konda, and Bron.

"Nah, that can't be Minmei," said Bron. "That female's too fat."

Ranma and Rick stood outside of the squadron HQ, having been debriefed on their trans-Pacific flight (which Rick felt was pointless). They left the building and made their way to a sports coupe Ranma had recently bought.

"Nice car," stated Rick. "I'm driving."

"What makes you think that?"

"Well, you are my superior. It only natural for a Captain-select to be driven around by his lowly Lieutenant Commander."

"Is that the best you could come up with?" asked Ranma.

Rick's follow-up response was he'd never be able to afford such a car. Ranma was quick to give him some good-natured ribbing because Rick could afford it than he could. Unlike Rick, Ranma could only afford it because he had saved much of salary thanks to the benefits provided to him by being a member of the RDF.

Tossing Rick the keys, they proceeded to head to Nodoka's house. Along the way, Ranma wanted to stop by the White Dragon and pick up something to eat. Rick had to laugh. No doubt Nodoka would have a meal waiting for her son, but Ranma still felt the need for a "snack."

When they arrived at the White Dragon, they were surprised to find the Satori's eating with the rest of their families. However someone was missing. "Where's Minmei?"

In another part of town, Lisa found herself in front of Claudia's house. As they were schedule to work of Christmas, Claudia invited her little brother and his family over for Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve. Since Lisa was the only one left in her family, Claudia asked her friend to join them.

"Auntie Lisa!" screamed Achika Fokker, running from her room. Now four, the daughter of Roy Fokker and Claudia Grant was turning out to be a rather cute girl. Her appearance showed hints of her Asiatic decent. Also she was turning into quite the tomboy. Never in a dress, unless forced, her preferred choice of clothing was a jumper, such as the red one she had on today. Lisa had been told on many occasions how Achika would come home from daycare caked in dirt.

"How are you today?" Lisa asked, giving her a hug.

"I'm okay."

Claudia stated, "Jean is still getting Bowie ready. So it's going to be a little while for dinner." That was fine with Lisa, though she saw a smirk on Claudia and guessed it had something to do with parenting.

Achika, being a smart girl, took her Auntie Lisa into the living room and proceeded to tell her about everything that happened to her since the last time she saw her. She was always excited to see her "Auntie," often to the point of getting in trouble. That day ended up being one of those days as she continued to interrupt once Aunt Jean and Uncle Vince arrived. For her punishment, she was charged with keeping track of her one-year-old cousin.

After dinner and with the children watching their Christmas specials, the adults conversed about current events. There was laughter, especially when Vince mentioned listening to an imported copy of the latest Minmei album and not understanding a word of it. But he just had to buy it.

"You know, you could have just asked," stated Claudia. "I could have gotten 'Bowie' a copy."

"Well, not everyone can have an international pop star has their kid's cousin!" Vince exclaimed, not wanting to admit to his wife that she was right.

That started another round of laughter from Claudia and Lisa.

"Speaking of Minmei, how are things between you and Commander Saotome?" asked Jean. Vince took this as his cue to leave, as he didn't want to listen to "girl talk."

Her sigh pretty much told the tale. It was disheartening to hear because there seemed to be some progress made over the past few weeks. Lisa explained that she was fighting for time between a newborn, Nabiki, and recent trips to the Robotech labs in Japan. Subsequently whenever she did get some time, his kids would somehow end up joining them.

"Well, it's Christmas Eve, and I know the kids are going to be with their mother tonight," said Claudia, leaving the rest unsaid.

"Thanks for letting us stay here, Ranma," said an appreciative Akane. Somehow their hotel had overbooked Christmas Eve, and the Satoris were unfortunate to lose their room due being one of the last to check-in. So they didn't have a room until the next day. Luckily Ranma offered his place. Having only two bedrooms, Nova was given the kids' bedroom while Alex and Akane were given Ranma's room.

While Alex and Nova slept, Ranma and Akane had drinks in the living room. "You know, I always saw us with the big family," commented Akane, taking another sip of sake. This would have caused an outburst from the 16-year-old Ranma, but the 21-year-old Ranma kept it to a chuckle. In turn, Akane asked why was that so funny.

"Though I was very much in love with you, I now doubt we would have even gotten married."

"And why's that?" inquired Akane.

"I was too indecisive, letting honor be the basis of my decisions."

What's the difference now, Akane thought.

"And you had that Kuno problem. But I think the thought of me being dead caused you to mature into the woman you are now."

"No, me having sex with Alex caused that," joked Akane. However she was surprised to receive an answer like that. Gone was the brash teenager she was engaged to in 2008. What she saw now was a highly educated, highly respected man with three children, who was considered a leader in this new world created out of intergalactic warfare.

"What happened to you?" Akane followed up.


Akane explained her observations from the time he entered her dojo in 2008 to the time he stole her sister in 2010 to now, at the end of 2013. To Ranma, it should have been evident to her when he showed up after the destruction of the Grand Fleet. However she might not noticed, considering every time he stopped by, either Kasumi or Nova would take away his attention.

"Well, we Tendo women are quite forceful when it comes to one Ranma Saotome!"

To that came a hardy laugh from the two.

"Yeah, I guess," replied Ranma. " But I still never expected it from Kasumi."

Akane had a theory on why Kasumi acted like that, but she didn't want put a voice to that thought. She couldn't tarnish the perpetual saintly image she had for her big sister.

After a brief moment silence, during which Akane poured some more sake, Akane asked, "Do you think you'll ever return to Japan?"

"I'm gonna have to eventually," replied Ranma.

"I don't mean for the military. I mean for good, so our kids can grow up together. Maybe you could reopen the school."

"I don't know about for good. Probably when I leave the military. Ya know, maybe I'll spend some time at our family shrine."

Akane could never imagine Ranma working at a shrine. However she figured it wouldn't be that hard since he had once stated he had spent many times at shrines during his ten years training trip.

"You think you'll leave the military soon?"

"Maybe. My service contract is up in April." At that moment, his front door closed, unseen and unheard. "Though I might just take a sabbatical and work at the shrine before re-enlisting. I just hope this mess is over by then."

Akane's fortunes seemed to be turning for the good. She felt so alone with her sisters being an ocean's away at times.

Ranma could see the glimmer of anticipation in Akane's face. Since he was never good at reading women, he hoped he hadn't made things precarious in Akane's marriage. So he felt complied to mention that the shrine was in southern Honshu.

"If it's just a sabbatical, I guess this means you're thinkin' of being a career soldier," stated Akane.

"Yeah, I guess. In a way, it's a martial artist's duty."

Lisa walked away from Ranma's house at a quick pace. She wondered what was going on. She had been set to give Ranma a pleasant surprise. In her mind, she thought Ranma might have been expecting her because she found his door unlocked.

Thankfully she did not embarrass herself by entering upon hearing an unfamiliar female voice. Peering through the opening, Lisa froze as she instantly recognized Ranma's ex-fiancée. Her first thought was what was she doing here? It was a viable question considering Ranma had just returned from Japan.

She continued to listen in on the conversation. Then came the bombshell statement. She just had to leave. It didn't take her long to find herself in a bar. She needed to think this over. She hadn't thought about service contracts. To someone who grew up around the military, she had no concept of it not being one's career/life. What was she to do if Ranma were to not re-up his contract? If he leaves for Japan, how could she stop the person that ripped Karl Riber from her heart from leaving it himself?

The debate raged on as the drinks flowed through the night.

Christmas morning was quite noisy throughout New Macross, though it was confined to the houses because of the baby boom that occurred since its re-establishment. Lisa Hayes was happy she hadn't been caught up in the baby boom, as she woke up with a pounding headache. She was fortunate to wake up to the familiar ceiling of her bedroom, though she didn't have a clue how she made it home. She lifted the cover and gratefully found herself in her pajamas, which gave her some comfort she didn't do something foolish such as picking up some random guy at the bar.

The Hunters were also happy for the confined silence, as they snuggled up in bed for the first time in months. However it should be noted that this would be the last Christmas with such silence.

Ranma slept blissfully on the couch. It was quiet due to the fact the Satoris had made their way to Nabiki's house first thing in the morning. Granted, he most-likely would not have heard them because of the effects of jet lag.

That was not to say his night was peaceful. He didn't appreciate the drunken call he received in the middle of the night from Lisa. He could not understand a thing she was saying. Initially he thought it was because he was dead asleep, then he realized her words were slurred. Eventually the club manager asked if he could come and take her home before she did something dumb.

It was business as usual inside the SDF-1. There were various patrols out looking for Khyron. Since his retreat after the Minmei retrieval mission, renegade Zentraedi and his band hadn't been spotted. This was dangerous considering Exedore believed that he ingesting something called the "Flower of Life."

Though it was Christmas, crews were busy salvaging the SDF-1. It was being done for two reasons. The first reason was for the ongoing search for the Protoculture Matrix. The second reason was for the reuse of materials for the new fortress under construction adjacent to the SDF-1. It would resemble the SDF-1 and would include some of the technologies that the great Dr. Emil Lang didn't understand.

In the Tactical Center, it was just an ordinary day. Sammie and Vanessa were suffering another day without their friend. This was the first Christmas since meeting at the academy that they would spend without Kim.

"Hey, did you hear about Captain Hayes?" asked a female tech, sitting in while Kim was away.

"No. What happened?" asked Sammie, sitting the closest.

"I heard she has a hangover."

Sammie couldn't believe that. Though she was just a few months younger than Lisa, Sammie had grown to idolize the captain. Sammie marveled at how easy she made the job look. So the thought of Lisa coming in with a hangover was unthinkable. It seemed quite unprofessional, and Lisa was the model of professionalism.

Across a stretch of land from where the SDF-1 rested was Macross Harbor, which used to be known as the Port of Seattle. As New Macross was the biggest city on the western coast of North America, Macross Harbor was busy 24/7, though it was quiet on this Christmas. For Malcolm McGregor, it was a peaceful time to fish off the pier. He hadn't caught much over time since the fish stock was near extinction, but it was the one activity he missed most while "trapped" in space.

Unfortunately he didn't know this would be the last moments in his life. He lit his cigarette when there was a tug on his line. Feeling that he had just caught a fish, he started to real in the line. As he did this, a Battlepod emerged from the sound. He dropped his rod and screamed his lungs out before the Battlepod hopped out of the water and ended his life.

Once on solid ground, the Battleod started firing indiscriminately. It wasn't long before more Battlepods and Zentraedi Powersuits joined in on the surprise attack. Among them was Khyron, who started the search for Protoculture.

The Tactical Center became a cacophony of noise as reports of the attack started to come in. From her station, Lisa battled the headache from the blaring alarms and ordered the Veritechs to launch. Of the seven Veritech squadrons, only three were currently rotated in New Macross, Skull Squadron, Indigo Squadron (under the command of Lt. Max Sterling), and the reformed Vermillion Squadron (under the command of Lt. Miriya Sterling). Being that it was Christmas holiday, many members of these squadrons were away from the area on leave.

Knowing that Ranma and Rick were back from Tokyo, Vanessa asked if they should call them in. Lisa made the decision that this time the reunited couple should be together for Christmas. When further questioned about Ranma, Lisa believed it was best to allow him to reunite with his ex-fiancée.

As Ranma was the air group commander, Vanessa wasn't sure it was wise to exclude him.

Said CAG was finally up and about. As it was Christmas morning, he felt the need to be with his children and watch them open their presents. On top of that, he had some last-minute presents to give to them.

It was because of these presents that Ranma found out about the attack. When he pulled out of the garage, he noticed the billowing of smoke. Then he saw the telltale signs of laser fire. Putting his car in park, his eyes went to the sky. Ranma instantly saw the swarming of Veritech fighters onto Battlepods.

What the hell is going on? he asked himself. He checked his cell for any notifications. However there weren't any notifications. His mind began to think that it might be a simple drill, as he remembered the admiral suggesting they should schedule such a drill. However it seemed odd to have it today.

Then the Civil Defense sirens came on. "What the hell!"

Rick jumped out bed the instant he heard the sirens. It had been a long time since they were heard blaring through New Macross.

"Rick, where are you going?" asked his wife. Minmei was still asleep, barely registering the sirens in the background.

"I gotta call in and find out what's the danger."

"Okay." Minmei laid back down and was joined by Rick minutes later.

It seemed like it took Ranma a minute to get to the base, changed, and on the flight line, taxiing out to the runway.

"This is VT 001 requesting takeoff." It wasn't often that Ranma used the call letters to Skull One, but he did so today in an attempt to spite Lisa.

Lisa was quick to appear on his vidscreen. "Ranma, what are you doing here?" she asked in a questioning tone.

"I don't know. Why wouldn't I be here? I mean, the city's under attack, yet I wasn't called in. Just let me know if I'm cleared for takeoff!"

Lisa, realizing this wasn't the time for arguing, gave him his clearance.

Thanks to his outstanding scouting network, Khyron knew where the Protoculture reserves were. However he enjoyed the opportunity of rampaging through the streets of New Macross. In some ways, this could be seen as a continuation of his rampage of over two years ago. However this time he did it with the knowledge that Breetai wasn't going to call a retreat.

"Commander Khyron, opposition is starting to become feverish," stated one of his few remaining lieutenant.

"Then it would probably be best that we obtain our prize" replied Khyron.

Unfortunately, Khyron wouldn't be the one collect the Protoculture reserves. A familiar looking Battloid with Jolly Roger covering the canopy landed in front of his Officer's Pod.

"You have picked the wrong day for an attack, Zentraedi," said Ranma, through the Veritech's loud speakers.

"Ah, Commander Saotome, we meet once again," Khyron said to himself with a smile on his face. Commander Saotome had been a thorn in his side ever since he arrived in this system, starting with his first direct attack against the SDF-1. This would be their last meeting. He fired from his top-mounted cannon just above the shielded cockpit. Since discovering this weakness, he had killed many Micronians by this method. Unfortunately those pilots were not as skilled as Ranma.

As the bolt approached, time seemed to slow down for him. His brain went into overdrive, and his body went on automatic. For many pilots, the immediate reaction would to take off, and depending on the range, many of them would have been shot down. However Skull One took a different course of action and defied its physics by performing a move that should be impossible for such a machine. It bent backwards at the knees. Its momentum was stopped by the retro-rocket pack on its back, making it seem as if it was suspended in mid-air while the bolts traveled through the space where Ranma should have been. Then Ranma leveled his autocannon and fired upon the Officer's Pod. Khyron's reflexes were not as quick as Ranma, thus he could not avoid the left arm of the Officer's Pod from being sheared off. Once all of this had happened, Skull One slammed onto the ground.

Needless to say, it irked Khyron to no end that this Micronian pest had shot off his cannon. However he was given good news. "Lord Khyron, we've captured the storage container!" exclaimed one of the many disillusioned Zentraedi to join him.

"Good," replied Khyron. Having gotten what they came here for, it was time to leave, as much as it pained him. "Everyone, it's time to fall back." Then, with a devilish grin, he said, "However don't forget to give them their Christmas present!"

Immediately Zentraedi Powersuits and Battlepods disengaged from combat. This initially surprised the defenders of New Macross. It was a while before they realized a retreat was taking place, but once that happened, some units started following, making sure it was a retreat and not an attempt to regroup.

Unnoticed by anyone, what were thought to be several large Santa Claus statues in the business district started to move. In truth these statues were members of Khyron's band of rebel that snuck in about a week ago. In their hands were detonating devices connecting to bomb vests. They pushed the detonators, sacrificing themselves and setting the town ablaze.

Ranma quickly called off all pursuits in order to save the city.

It was late when Ranma made his way home. He cursed Khyron the entire drive. He had missed watching his children opened their presents. Though he had no history with Christmas prior to his arrival at the Tendo dojo, he was learning to appreciate the holiday because of his children. Hopefully Nabiki had recorded them.

He walked into his darkened house and, with a tired shy, turned on the entryway lights. Dropping his key on a shelf, he walked into the living room, lit by only the Christmas tree. Seeing this caused Ranma to hesitate. He realized that he wasn't alone in his house; he was positive he turned them off before going to sleep the previous night.

Before doing some stupid, he thought it would be best to turn light on in the room. Just before he could, a child's voice said, "Maywe Cawistmus, papa!"

The lights came on and Ranma was greeted by the sight of his children hiding next to the tree.

"Akito, you say it too early," whined little Sakura.

Ranma bent down to his children's height with arms wide opened. The children took that as their cue to rush into their father's arms. He took them into his arms and hugged them for all that was worth. "What you are you two still doing up?"

"They wouldn't go to bed until they opened their presents with their father," replied Nabiki, who was standing with a camera in the entryway to the kitchen.

He was touched to hear that. At such a young age, it would seem his children understood what this holiday meant for their familial unit. Before he became emotional, he let them go and said they could open their presents.

Nabiki joined Ranma on the sofa and watched Akito and Sakura tear through the wrapper. Without thinking about it, Ranma wrapped an arm around Nabiki, drawing her close to him, and kissed her, saying, "Happy Christmas."

As the snow began to fall on New Macross, anyone looking in on this house would have been given the impression of a normal family.