Story and contributed by: emochinchilla
Title: Star-crossed
Rating: T
Disclaimer: Chinchillas DID NOT MAKE THIS CANON, nor did they ever, or ever own Macross Frontier.
Summary: A devastated man takes the fight to the enemy.

Across the starry battlefield, littered with debris and adorned with explosions, one could make out a streak that stood out, speeding towards the Battle Frontier. A Red VF-25, with Alto Saotome as the pilot and Ranka Lee riding in the back, made a desperate flight towards the humongous battleship, rolling through swarms of Vajra and NUNS craft alike, dodging weapons and debris on the way.

"Alto...gomen..." Crackled a weakened Sheryl Nome, into Alto's ear. The idol singer, her pink hair having lost its illustrious sheen, lay prone on her belly on the bridge of the Battle Frontier, unmoving.

"Sheryl! No! SHERYL!" The blue-haired pilot screamed, and suddenly, he was in Fold space once again. Ranka and Alto both floated over to Sheryl's fold-self, who floated there in this dimension's space. She was literally fading away, and her image was starting to become translucent.

"Sheryl!" Alto yelled, floating over to her and grabbing her hand with one hand. The other arm wrapped around her waist and held her to him. She looked up at him and smiled weakly, nuzzling into his chest, squeezing his hand with her own.

" saved her...good job." She looked over at Ranka and waved lightly, with an air of frailty surrounding her. She looked back up at Alto and reached up with her free hand, caressing his cheek before her arm failed her. Alto blinked back tears as he looked down at her. She was running out of time fast, and he knew it.

"Sheryl...I'm coming...SHERYL! Ranka, can't you do anything?" He snapped, turning to face his green-haired friend.

"No...I'm sorry, Alto." Came the response, her voice filled with something resembling both sympathy and longing. "I need to get closer in order for my fold waves to be strong enough to communicate with the microbes..." She said weakly, ashamed at her limitations.

"Then we'll just need to get there..." Alto growled, frustrated with everything that was happening, and suddenly he was back in the cockpit of his variable fighter, speeding towards the Battle Frontier's hangar.

Alto and Ranka ran towards the Battle Frontier's stage as soon as they made it up to the bridge. As the doors slid open, Alto could make out emergency medical crews crowding around the prone singer. He threw away his helmet and ran over to her, pushing several medical personnel out of the way as he got onto the floor next to Sheryl, pulling her into his lap.

"Sheryl. Sheryl! I'm here now...Sheryl..." He called, wrapping his arms around her. Alto buried his face into her hair, no longer able to hold back the tears as Ranka walked over, kneeling next to the unmoving singer. She closed her eyes and concentrated momentarily, before opening her eyes with a defeated expression.

"I'm sorry, Alto. I was able to move the virus away from her brain, but the damage has been done...she doesn't have much time left," She reached up to wipe her eyes before continuing, "It's time to say goodbye."

Sheryl opened her eyes slowly, squinting, as she tried to get her bearings. She looked to her side and smiled when she caught the sight of Alto's blue mane, tied back in its signature ponytail. She turned to face Alto, sitting in his lap sideways, wrapping her arms around him in a final embrace.

Ranka stood up and shooed the emergency personnel off the stage, looking back at the star-crossed lovers one last time as she followed them through the doors.

Sheryl pushed away from Alto gently, looking into his tearful gaze, lovingly. She reached up and wiped a tear away, before leaning in for a kiss. Alto closed his eyes and leaned into it, their tongues intermingling as their time together drew closer to an end. Sheryl broke the liplock, smiling through her tears as he turned around to look out into the vastness of space, decorated by the light of many explosions occurring at any given moment. She leaned against Alto, linking her hand with his and throwing her other arm around his shoulder.

"Thank you, Alto...From meeting someone who didn't treat me like a star, to giving me the chance to finally dine with someone I loved...You gave it all to me, my hime...I love you, Alto." She said softly, growing weaker with each passing moment.

" gave me the sky, even if it was for just a little while..." The now-softspoken princess replied, referring to their ill-fated trip to Gallia IV, "And I was able to be myself around somebody, even if only temporarily. Sheryl, I love you! Don't go!" Alto yelled, now sobbing loudly as he embraced Sheryl in a death-grip.

She turned to face Alto, trying to reassure him and put on a brave-face, in spite of her tears. She didn't expect the hime to suddenly capture her lips in a kiss he initiated. She closed her eyes and kissed him lovingly and passionately, for the last time. She broke the kiss and whispered a final 'I love you' one last time against his lips, as her body suddenly went limp and slumped against Alto. Her eyes were closed peacefully, a ghost of a smile adorning her features.

Alto grabbed her tightly, burying his face into her still body as he tried to hold back his sobs. He failed, and as the emotional wall the actor built up around his heart finally crumbled in upon itself, he reared his head back and unleashed a heartbreaking scream of pure anguish and sorrow.

He screamed and sobbed until his throat had become so raw that he coughed up blood.

Some time later, when Ranka had taken up a position on the Macross Quarter's bridge, to replace Sheryl's role as a singer on the frontlines, Alto stood in the hangar of the Battle Frontier, watching as the crewmen loaded up his VF-25 to the brim.

On the bridge of the Battle Frontier, Sheryl's body lay upon the stage undisturbed, out of respect for the young woman who literally sung herself to death for the sake of the colony fleet.

Alto leaned against the side of his Messiah as the hangar crew started to load reaction missiles to the hardpoints of his variable fighter's armoured pack, having replenished all his missiles and filled up his gunpod with all the ammunition it could carry, along with some extra clips in case he needed it.

The chief crewman looked at the stony expression of the bereaved young man, and gave him a reassuring pat on the shoulder, as he looked to the side. One of the crewmen gave him a thumbs up as the last reaction missile was loaded. He looked at Alto and gave him a thumbs-up. "Okay Hero. Go give those Galaxy bastards hell." He said, giving the pilot a salute, which was reciprocated.

With more vigour than could be expected of a man in mourning, he practically leapt into the cockpit, and taxied onto the ramp that would take him to the launch catapult. Once there, he set his face in stone and said one thing into the radio as he launched on his final sortie.

"Skull -- No, Sagittarius-1, heading out." And the red spacecraft launched headlong into the battlefield.

The cyborg pilots of a trio of Galaxy's VF-27s smirked as they easily made short work of the NUNS VF-171EXs. The inferior craft, along with their pitiful unenhanced pilots were nothing compared to the technological might of the Macross Galaxy fleet. Their belief in this fact would soon be shattered as they heard a raw scream over the open radio, transmitting itself over all channels.

"Huh? Who the hell is that?" One pilot asked, as his green Lucifer suddenly went up in flames due to gunfire from a lone fighter.

"You bastards! You killed her. YOU KILLED HER!" Came the cry of a pilot in a lone VF-25 as he launched a volley of missiles, arcing and streaking towards the remaining two fighters. One pilot was unlucky and despite his efforts to outmaneuveur the missiles, juking and banking throughout space, he was eventually taken out in another series of explosions as several missiles impacted against the hull of his fighter. The lead pilot dodged all of the missiles, only to be met with the fist of Alto's battroid form just as he thought he was safe. As he tried to regain control, his fighter spinning throughout the vacuum of space, the former kabuki actor lined up the VF-27's cockpit in his gunsights. The Galaxy pilot screamed in pain as his cybernetically-enhanced body was perforated by a streak of blue fire from Alto's gunpod. Alto then transformed back into fighter mode and sped towards a cluster of Galaxy warships near the Vajra Queen as the VF-27 sparked, then exploded.

After all, he had to make every one of those bastards suffer.

Alto now rolled and carefully maneuvered his fighter between the rivers of anti-aircraft fire from the Battle Galaxy, as he flew at top-speed in-between its turrets and structural components as he made his way towards the bridge.

A combination of adrenaline, sheer recklessness, quick thinking, and good use of his reaction missiles left an abudance of VF-27 wreckage floating around space, and a number of broken husks that used to be ships from Battle Galaxy's escort fleet. He got up to the hole that he rescued Ranka through, and fired his last remaining reaction missile as he turned around, weaving through swarms of missiles and streams of gunfire from Battle Galaxy's defenses as the missile detonated, lighting up the purple battleship from the inside.

The battleship wasn't destroyed, but it was definitely less of a threat, and Alto turned to fly past it as he made his way towards another group of Galaxy warships forming a protective picket around the Vajra Queen. Suddenly, his radio came to life, bringing a message that he would not like.

"Calm down, Saotome Alto. Your reckless rampage of revenge isn't going to bring her back. In fact, it's going to get you killed." The stern voice said.

Alto sneered as he heard that voice. He could recognize that voice anywhere. "Brera Sterne..." He growled in response, turning to see the same purple VF-27 fly next to him on his wing.

He let out a gutteral roar as he suddenly turned towards the purple Lucifer and charged at it, firing his gunpod all the way.

Brera's eyes visibly widened in response as he banked hard, barely avoiding the gunfire as his flight path took him above Alto's Messiah.

"Calm down, this isn't going to solve anything!" The cyborg calmly stated, despite the turn in the situation.

"Calm down? Who's feeding this bullshit to you? Your handler, that damned O'Connor woman. SHE INFECTED SHERYL WITH THAT VIRUS! SHE KILLED HER, AND YOU'RE WORKING FOR HER!" The blue-haired man screamed, as he transformed into Gerwalk mode, chasing after the purple variable fighter, firing his gunpod and missiles. In response, the blond transformed into battroid mode and boosted out of the way of the gunfire, using his quantum beam rifle to fire smaller blasts at the missiles, taking them out. He then replied to Alto's attack by firing a few easily-avoidable shots at the hime, forcing him to move out of the way and halt his attack.

"My implant broke and I'm free from her control! Listen to me! Don't needlessly slaughter Galaxy personnel just because Sheryl's dead. If you need to shoot someone, shoot Gra --" He was cut off by Alto's accusing scream of "LIAR! I'll take her out after I KILL YOU!". He grunted and transformed into fighter mode, flying away from the enraged pilot of the Messiah, also in fighter mode, who was in hot pursuit.

Brera suddenly used his neural connection with his fighter to initiate Pugachev's Cobra maneuver. Without an atmosphere present, he had to carefully use his fighter's thrust vectoring abilities in order to succesfully perform this technique and get behind the hime and counterattack. Talking was doing no good and in the long run, Frontier wouldn't really suffer from the loss of one man. The battle was already essentially over, in favour of the NUNS fleet. Besides, there was no way Alto could keep up. The G-forces would still act on him, and only Brera's enhancements allowed him to do this without discomfort.

He audibly gasped and his eyes widened in complete shock as the VF-25 behind him started to pitch upwards, using its own thrust vectoring to compete with the VF-27. "Are you mad!? Don't do it, you're going to kill yourself!" The cyborg yelled into the network.

Alto gruntled as the forces of his thrusters and counter-thrusters pushed him into his seat, hard, as he manipulated the pedals and controls of his variable fighter to follow the VF-27 in front of him. He coughed up blood as the G-forces abused his lungs, opening his helmet's visor in order to let it float out into the cockpit. As both fighters reached their limit and were on the verge of changing direction in zero-gravity, Alto screamed "NOW!" And transformed into Battroid mode. He quickly fired a long burst from his gunpod into Brera's fighter. Brera winced as the bullets pierced his fighter's hull, destroying its engines and disabling several systems with a series of sparks and small explosions.

Alto was sure that an errant spark or explosion must've killed the blond cyborg. If that didn't do it, perhaps life support system failure would. A slow painful death suited his purposes just fine.

Satisfied, Alto transformed back into fighter mode and sped up towards the Vajra Queen. "Sagittarius-1 to Skull-1. I'm going to take out the Vajra Queen. Take any NUNS and SMS fighters you can and take out the escort fleet. Clean up any survivors." He said, voice shaking with barely concealed rage.

"Roger that." Came the reply from Ozma Lee as he sighed, watching Alto's fighter fly towards the Vajra Queen, alone. He saw the entire exchange between Alto and Brera, and his former subordinate's descent into blind fury. He transformed into battroid mode, and issuing an order for all available SMS and NUNS squadrons to attack the Galaxy fleet, began to tow Brera's devastated VF-27 back to the Macross Quarter.

After all, enough people have lost one or more loved ones. What kind of older brother, even adoptive, would he be, if he let his little sister's biological brother die?

He just hoped that Alto would find peace one way or another, whether through recovering and moving on, or the escape of death. He couldn't imagine what kind of hell the former Skull-4 was going through. God knows what he'd do, himself, if he lost Cathy.

Alto jettisoned his armoured pack as one of the VF-27's defending the Vajra Queen scored a lucky hit, piercing the weapons system with a shot from its quantum beam rifle.

He quickly retaliated with a swarm of missiles, which the slow-moving Battroid jet away from, only to dodge into the blue tracers of Alto's gunpod, exploding from the damage shortly after.

Alto opened his visor once again and shook his head, throwing sweat into the cockpit, along with the odd droplets of blood still floating around, as he flew towards the neck of the Vajra Queen. He knew what he had to do. Ranka told him earlier as he walked from Sheryl's current resting place towards the hangar, so he was ready to kill Sheryl's killer without killing the Queen itself.

Still, it hadn't been an easy fight. He met increasingly difficult, desperate resistance in greater numbers in the form of the Galaxy's remaining fighters, as he got closer to the Vajra Queen. He had taken several hits, several systems were operating at reduced efficiency, and he had just lost his armoured pack.

He locked onto the large hulking creature's neck and fired his remaining missiles at it, the explosions separating the head from the rest of the body. Alto quickly entered the head through the hole he made in its neck, transforming into battroid mode along the way, floating up to face Grace O' Connor. She was connected to the Vajra queen, but was now withered and decayed as she lost her connection to the rest of the queen's body.

He smiled in dark satisfaction as he lined up the former manager in his gunsights, pulling the trigger. Blue bullets flew forward and tore apart the woman's body, a mixture of blood, organs, and cybernetic mechanical parts flying out.

Alto quickly left through the hole he made previously, and transformed into fighter mode, just as a pink beam lanced throughout the midsection of his fighter, setting off a small explosion that knocked Alto around in the cockpit. His radar picked up a damaged VF-27 that had survived his attack, and had ambushed him as he escaped the floating queen's head.

Alto transformed into his fighter's Gerwalk form and fired the last of his gunpod's rounds at his would-be assassin, hearing the click that signified the end of his rampage just as the green sniper went up in flames.

His critical systems damaged, his fighter drifted into the orbit of the Vajra homeworld, unable to move under its own power. He turned off the radio, cutting off the concerned cries of his comrades. 'Klan, Luca, Ozma, Ranka...Sorry, but I just can't go on...' He thought to himself, as his shattered VF-25 entered the planet's gravity well. As red flames started to surround his wrecked craft, and the temperature started to rise in the cockpit, he took off his helmet and let his hair down. He closed his eyes as his blue mane floated about in the cockpit, waiting for the end.

"Wait for me Sheryl...I'm coming." He whispered, as the increased heat caused one of the damaged systems from the lucky shot through his fighter's midsection to ignite.

Alto smiled as his entire world turned to white, and the first thing he was greeted with was the sight of a particular young woman with pink locks running towards him, tears trailing from her eyes as she jumped into his arms.

And so, Alto Saotome died as his VF-25 Messiah exploded in an almost beautiful red flash in orbit, the debris of his mechanical steed streaking across the planet's sky like shooting stars.

One day, Ranka Lee came across a certain purple earring lying in a field, as she explored her new home alongside Brera Sterne and her pet, Ai-kun.

She still keeps it, to this very day.