Robotech Freedom Fighters
by Naia Zifu

Chapter One: The Cave

It was a cold, crisp autumn day. Colourful leaves blanketed
the ground and crunched beneath the wheels of our ATVs. Our red Alpha,
configured to guardian mode, hovered silently a few feet above the ground at
the end of our convoy. The Cyclones we'd just scavenged, heavily damaged
from the shipwreck we'd found them in, lay hidden under a tarp on the back
of the flatbed. Everyone was on constant guard for Invid activity. It had
been just a little too quiet for just a little too long.
"Reilly to Afrifa. Sir, we've got an Invid patrol coming up at
three o'clock," Tracey Reilly's voice called over the radio. "Would you
like I should move to engage?"
We were approaching the edge of the forest. The foliage was growing
more and more sparse. It wouldn't be very hard for them to spot us from the
"Sir? Do I engage the Invid or not?" she asked again impatiently.
I had little time to consider my decision. I ordered an attack, but
with the stipulation that it be broken off at the first sign of trouble.
Tracey let out a howl of delight. It was the kind of action she
always lived for. There were three of them against the one of her, but I
felt no need to worry.
The Alpha went to battloid, deftly avoiding a volley of energy discs
and firing off two high-explosive missiles directly into the eye of one
lobster, blowing it apart. The battloid motioned to the others with a
finger. _Bring it on, aliens,_ it seemed to say. One shot grazed the leg
of the Alpha. Tracey shouted obscenities that would embarrass a sailor, not
caring that the radio was still on and I could hear every word. With the
ferocity of an animal, the Alpha pounced on one of the scouts, punching and
clawing at it, doing little real damage but venting a lot of anger. Then it
threw the scout at the other, sending both of them hurtling toward the
ground at great velocity. But Tracey wasn't finished with them yet.
Imaging the Alpha through to fighter mode, she gave chase. Six missiles
found their mark, and both Invid exploded in a white-hot fireball,
showering debris onto the countryside below.
Breathing heavily from excitement, Tracey reported, "I got 'em, sir.
Not too shabby for an amateur, eh? Eat your heart out, Rick Hunter!"
_Arrogant child._ I tried to remember that I was that young, too,
once. But that was oh so long ago. Was I ever quite as bad as that?
"Don't get so cocky, Reilly. That could just as easily have been
you, you know," I reminded her.
Tracey suddenly got very quiet. I smiled roguishly, and my wife
poked me with her elbow. But she was laughing aloud herself.
"That was cruel what you said to that poor little girl," she
scolded, still laughing.
I turned off the radio and removed the headset. "She's too cocky.
She needs somebody to scare a little humility into her before she gets
herself killed up there."
But I wasn't really worried. Tracey may have been a little green,
but she was a natural at flying and fighting in the Alpha.
"Reminds me a lot of how you were at that age, Agyei," remarked my
wife, Nyankomago.
I smiled. "But back then there weren't Invid hiding behind every
"Well, we had wild animals..."
I turned the radio back on and asked Tracey, "How's the leg? I
thought I saw it take a hit up there."
"It was just a scratch, really. Nothing major," Tracey replied.
"No, wait, I think it's leaking something."
"What's it leaking?" I asked with a sense of urgency.
"I-I don't know, sir. I'm no mechanic. It's, uh, something green.
Is that anything?"
I didn't know, either. I knew almost as little about mecha
mechanics as she did, and I'd never even _flown_ an Alpha before. I didn't
know what was in those things. As far as I knew it could have been
something combustible.
"There's a cave up ahead," I told her. "Let's get inside where
we'll be out of view in case of more Invid. We can have Yasuharu check it
out when we get there."
Sounding concerned, Tracey observed, "Then you don't know what it
is, either, do you?"
I answered truthfully, "No, I don't."

The cave was very deep and very dark. We were able to hide all our
vehicles inside easily. Portable generators powered lamps and tools as
Takeshi Yasuharu, our resident mecha mechanic, repaired the damaged Alpha.
"This green substance is not from the Alpha," he quickly concluded.
"In fact, I don't think I've ever seen this before. I don't know what it
I asked him, "Could it be from the Invid scouts?"
"It is possible. But why have I never seen any before?"
"Tracey never pounced on an Invid scout like that before," I
answered. "She must have gotten some on the Alpha then."
Yasuharu wiped his hands on a cloth and put his tool kit back into
his truck.
Tracey wondered, "Could it be blood? Could there be something
actually _alive_ inside those lobsters?"
Yasuharu shrugged. "I'm just the mechanic. I don't do aliens.
That stuff is hard to clean up, but it didn't hurt the Alpha. That's all
I'm concerned about."
Raymond Pratt and Larry Forrester ran to us, shouting about having
heard voices when they were exploring deeper in the cave.
"It was probably just your echoes, guys," suggested Henry Barlowe.
Larry snapped at him, "No, man. I'm telling you, the voices were
speaking _Zentraedi!_"

Soon I began to hear the voices too. They were indeed speaking
T'sentrati and they were getting closer. I told everyone to get their
weapons and take defensive positions, just in case these T'sentrati were
hostile. There were seven of them, all micronised, of course, and all
heavily armed.
They came into the light of the lamps, weapons at the ready. There
were five men and two women among them. They all wore miniature versions of
T'sentrati battle armour and carried miniature T'sentrati rifles. They
shouted at us in their language. I had no idea what they were saying. But
they didn't attack, that was what was so strange about their behaviour.
I asked Nyankomago if she could communicate with them. She had
worked closely with T'sentrati Malcontents during the Uprisings and had
learned to speak their language with near-perfect fluency.
"I think so," she answered. "They're asking who we are and what we
want here. What do you want me to tell them?"
"I don't care what you tell them. Just don't get them angry. I
don't want these people's blood on my hands."
Nyankomago took a deep breath and said something in T'sentrati that
seemed to amuse them. They laughed and lowered their weapons, motioning for
us to follow them.
I wondered what she had said to put them in such a good mood all of
a sudden.
Somewhat embarrassed, she replied, "I told them who we are and why
we came here. And then I asked them to take us to their leader."

©1996/1998 Naia Zifu, all rights reserved. Originally published in the
Backstabber Preservation Society publication "Sten Yar" Volume 1, Issue 1,
June/July 1996. Slightly altered for electronic use. Robotech and all the
borrowed elements thereof are trademarks of Harmony Gold, used without
permission. I'm not trying to infringe on anyone's copyrights or
trademarks, or profit from anyone else's ideas.