By: Lady Iapetus
Almost the whole of Breetai's flagship was quiet, a fact for which Exedore Formo, advisor to Breetai Tul, was grateful. It gave him the space he needed to do some thinking, and Exedore had a lot to think about.
He kept running over the events of the day in his head, trying to make sense of it all. That Miriya Parino had micronized herself to seek out the Micronian pilot that had defeated her in combat came as no surprise to him. It was the only way for her to regain her honor as the Quadronos' top pilot. But that she had not killed him when given the chance, and instead turned around and became his mate had shocked him more than the earlier troop defection had.
Taking a break from his thoughts, he looked up and surveyed his quarters. They weren't all that fancy or home-like when compared to the quarters of the Micronian forces, but by Zentraedi standards they were almost a five-star hotel. It a bed and sink, and a food dispenser that supplied him with the standard fare the Zentraedi had eaten for countless years. He had also been supplied with a desk and a chair, privileges of his rank.
And then there were his books.
None of the other Zentraedi had books; not even Breetai himself. What need would a warrior have for them? But these just weren't any books. These tomes contained all of the Zentraedi laws and codes set down by the Robotech Masters. They also included the history of the Zentraedi race, written down by Exedore himself. More often than not, Exedore found himself quoting some law or history tidbit from those books to counsel Breetai. And there were times when Exedore would read through one of those books late at night, just for reading's sake. But nothing in those books could put Exedore's mind at ease tonight. The events of this day were to fresh in his mind for anything to be a distraction.
Instead, the Eldest Zentraedi focused his gaze out the window, in the direction of the SDF-1. He wondered what Miriya Parino was doing now that she was…married.
In his own quarters, Breetai Tul was also deep in thought. But his thoughts weren't focused on Miriya Parino, and her living together with that blue-haired Micronian pilot. Instead he was ruminating over the battle that had interrupted the wedding. Somehow the Micronians had learned of a spot on the undercarriage of the battlepods that when hit would only disable the pods instead of destroying them. Countless warriors had been defeated in this manner, and it was the first battle in Zentraedi history that had been fought with little to no bloodshed.
It had Breetai seriously considering entering into what the Micronians called "peace talks."
The tone of the intercom in his quarters brought him out of his thoughts. "Sir, we're receiving a communication from Lord Dolza," said the communications technician; Rop, if Breetai remembered right.
"Hail, Dolza!" Breetai proclaimed automatically.
"Lord Dolza would like to speak with you concerning today's events," Rop continued. "Should I patch him through, Your Lordship?" Breetai gave permission, and the communiqué was patched through to his quarters. He knew he was correct in assuming that the supreme commander of the Zentraedi would not be pleased, if the expression on his face was any indication.
"Breetai, I know I have no need to ask if you are aware of what happened today," Dolza said.
"I am, sir," his subordinate confirmed.
"Micronians humiliating our warriors by disabling their pods instead of killing them. Part of the fleet defecting to the Micronians' side and taking their way of life. Our ace Quadrono m-m-marrying a Micronian. Such things have never been heard of in our history before!" the gigantic Zentraedi roared.
Breetai nodded. "I know, your Lordship, and I believe I have a solution." Dolza arched an eyebrow, and Breetai took it as an indicator to continue. "I believe we should send a representative of our forces, an official representative, over to Zor's ship. The Micronians would accept it as a gesture of peace, and we could observe them better and learn what they have done with the Protoculture Matrix."
Dolza considered this for a moment, stroking his chin in thought. "That sounds like a very good plan, Breetai. Tell me, do you have anyone in mind for this position?"
The one-eyed Zentraedi was about to reply in the negative when he recalled a snatch of conversation from when Bron, Rico and Konda had returned from their mission aboard Zor's battleship. "In fact…"
If it were at all possible for Exedore's eyes to go any wider, they would have. "You want me to what?" he asked, certain that he had misheard Breetai.
But the green-skinned commander wasn't kidding. "Dolza has chosen you to go over to Zor's ship as an emissary to the Micronians. You will observe them, much like our spies did, and also try to discover the location of Zor's matrix."
"I understand your reasons, Sir," Exedore said. "But…why me?"
"Why not?" countered Breetai. "You have more diplomatic training than any of the other officers in this fleet, myself included. And you've been studying the Micronians; you know more about their ways. Besides, didn't you say that you wanted to observe the Micronians for yourself?"
This last comment caught Exedore off-guard. Indeed he did remember making such a remark, after the debriefing of the spies Rico, Bron and Konda. At the time he'd been caught up in what the three spies had to say about Micronian culture; curious about it. Then other things happened, including Miriya's going over to the SDF-1, and he had forgotten about it.
"Yes, sir, I did," he admitted.
"Then, it's settled," Breetai said.
Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the Zentraedi, Miriya was becoming a member of the Robotech Defense Forces. Because of her former experience as a pilot with the Quadronos, she needed little basic training. In fact the only training she needed was to relearn who her allies and who her foes were.
But while her days were devoted to training, Miriya's nights were left to her and Max alone. They spent the time talking mostly, Max telling her more about Micronian life, and about his own past and his family. The green-haired warrior was especially curious about that, and how close some families seemed.
One night found the two Sterlings sitting on the couch watching the news report on television. This got Miriya to thinking of their wedding, which had been broadcast through the SDF-1 and even down on Earth. Which made her remember that the Zentraedi frequently listened to communications on SDF-1 frequencies. Which made her start to laugh.
"What's so funny?" Max asked, shooting his new bride a Look.
"I was just thinking," Miriya said between giggles "about the television broadcast of our wedding."
"Yeah, so?" he said. "I'll admit it was a little much, but what do you expect from the big deal they made out of it?"
"But," the former Quadrono continued "Breetai's fleet normally picks up any audio and visual communications from the ship that he can. Which means that he probably saw the wedding." Miriya started to laugh again, envisioning Breetai and Exedore standing on the bridge of Breetai's flagship, watching the broadcast of her wedding to Max in confusion. Max blinked at his wife, then started to laugh as well.
3 weeks later…
Exedore stared at the resizing chamber uneasily. It wasn't the micronization process itself that bothered him; after all, who taught the technicians how to run the chambers but the Eldest Zentraedi himself? And being resized to Micronian size wasn't a bother either; he was counting on the possibility that there would be at least some micronians that he would be taller than.
It was going in the chamber itself that made him uneasy.
He didn't understand it fully, but for some reason the thought of being enclosed in a fluid-filled cylinder was not particularly attractive. There had been one attempt at his micronization the week prior, but it had been halted when Exedore had begun having respiratory trouble while in the chamber. Fortunately he was still at full-size, so there was no permanent damage done. It had just taken Exedore this long to get up the courage to try again.
And he had to try, or else Dolza's mission would be a failure and he would face dishonor.
"Are you ready, sir?" asked Lurida, the technician that had replaced Karita. Fighting the urge to make an escape, Exedore nodded. He removed his uniform and stepped into the chamber.
Calm down,he berated himself as the resizing chamber began to fill with Protoculture. You know the entire procedure by heart; you know what's going to happen to you. There's no reason to be acting like…well, a chicken as the Micronians would say. This led him to musing just why their tiny foes likened each other to this flightless avian when they were afraid.
So deep in thought was he that he almost didn't notice when he started getting smaller.
It was an odd feeling, being micronized. His skin was tingling, like he'd been on the receiving end of a shock from a faulty wire somewhere. The tingling began to grow in intensity, until Exedore thought that every molecule in his body was on fire. All the while he was aware of his DNA breaking down and recompiling itself.
Exedore fought to stay conscious, forced himself to see this through. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity the chamber opened once again. He stepped out, a little shaky on his feet. He looked up, but the sudden change in perspective brought on by the micronization process caused everything to shift. The newly micronized Exedore tried to support himself on something as he felt himself begin to pitch forward.
The last thing he heard before blacking out was the alarmed cry of the chamber technician as he hit the floor.
Breetai sat on the bridge and for the first time in his career Exedore was not at his side. It was odd not having him there; Breetai would turn to ask him a question only to realize that the spot he usually occupied at his side was empty.
Right now, Breetai had a little more to worry about than the absence of his advisor. Rop had made contact with the SDF-1 and informed them that they would be sending an emissary over and that they were unarmed. And then Khyron had to send in his forces, intent on destroying Zor's battlecruiser. Breetai had immediately ordered them all destroyed.
As if on cue Khyron's visage sprang up. "Breetai, have you gone mad?" he demanded, furious.
"Your forces were interfering with a diplomatic mission," was the other commander's answer. "So, I took care of them. I'll ask you not to interfere again." With that he cut Khyron's communication off without a second thought.
Breetai hoped for peace after that interlude, but it was not to be as someone from the chamber room arrived with a message. He read the message, then ran from his command bubble as fast as he could for the chamber room.
When Exedore came to consciousness, it was to find himself lying on his back on a hard, flat surface. He could hear Lurida speaking with someone; Lord Breetai, and he didn't sound too happy either. For a moment Exedore forgot that he had been micronized, and wondered why Breetai's voice sounded so loud and distorted.
Then memory came flooding back to him, and he opened his eyes to find the ceiling much further away than it had been the last time he had looked at it. Chiding himself for passing out like that, Exedore sat up. He discovered that he was lying on a push cart, and that while he had been unconscious someone had taken the liberty of dressing him in the blue sackcloth robe that was standard issue for all micronized Zentraedi. That thought was kind of unsettling.
Breetai ceased his lecture of Lurida when he caught movement from the cart out of the corner of his eye. Turning in that direction, he was satisfied to see Exedore getting to his feet. His now Micronian-sized advisor looked at him as he approached and offered a stiff salute.
"It's good to see you up and around, Exedore," Breetai greeted him. Although he would never have admitted it, he'd felt something run through him when he'd heard of Exedore's collapse after exiting the resizing chamber. He'd never experienced something like it before, and even wondered if it was what the Micronians called 'fear.'
But he put that in the back of his mind for now. Exedore was fine, and the mission could continue on as planned.
"Thank you sir," Exedore replied. He tried not to let the awe and surprise he was feeling show. Now that he was looking at things from a Micronian's point of view, he thought he knew what the three Micronians they had captured a few months back had felt when they had been looking at him, Breetai and Dolza at the conference table.
"Well, if you're ready, the pod is waiting to take you over to Zor's ship," Breetai told him. Exedore managed the barest of nods. To his surprise, the commander walked along side the cart as it was pushed to the launching bay. He told Exedore of what had conspired while he was unconscious. Exedore sighed; what else could he have expected from the Backstabber?
They arrived at the ship's pod bay. A pod stood ready and waiting to be launched, its weapons systems removed to prove that they really did mean no harm to the Micronians. Its pilot stood outside the pod, saluting his two senior officers.
"Well, this is it," Exedore said. He and Breetai looked at each other, and suddenly both were stricken with the realization that they might not see each other again. With as much contact with the Micronians as they'd had, Breetai and those under his command stood a very good chance of being exterminated in the name of racial purity. And after Exedore's stint as an observer was finished, it was impossible to tell what Dolza would choose his fate to be.
Breetai looked at his advisor calmly. "Good luck, my friend," he said lowly. The redheaded dwarf appeared taken aback by this obvious confession his commanding officer was making. But he nodded, and with a nearly inaudible, "Thank you, sir," was helped into the pod before the pilot climbed in himself.
Exedore looked around the inside of the pod. Now that he was micronized, the fear that had plagued him in the resizing chamber was gone. Outside he heard what sounded like engines; the pilot explained that a squadron of Micronian aircraft had come to escort them to the battlecruiser.
The pod touched down in the hangar deck of the SDF-1, a fair distance away from some Battleoid-mode Veritechs. The back hatch of the "headless ostrich," to use the term that RDF pilots had coined for the battlepods, opened and the pilot got out. Exedore waited impatiently for a few minutes before asking tritely, "Aren't you forgetting something?"
Immediately the pilot put his hands in the pod, and Exedore stepped onto them. "Please forgive me, Your Excellency, I'm sorry."
As Exedore Formo was lowered to the floor of the SDF-1's hangar he muttered something to himself that he had been wondering for the entire trip over:
"How do these micronians survive with such frail little bodies?"
Oh, come on. How many people didn't expect me to end with that (in)famous line? And as for my making Exedore claustrophobic…he just kind of struck me as the kind of person who would suffer from that. Before I forget, Cynthia and KrazieKat get credit for "Rop."