To all of you new readers:
First, I'd like to warmly welcome you to the beginning of my very first fanfic ever. After watching the Macross Frontier series, I began to wonder what happened to the characters after it was over. It seemed that the ending was rushed and many questions were left answered, so I decided to expand the story with my own vision. The series' ending was not so peachy-keen as I'd liked it to be. So, I turned to an unlikely source to help me out with my little dilemma: fanfiction! I had some ideas bouncing around in my head and I eventually managed to lump them all together in a seemingly-cohesive thought process, which soon congealed into this fanfic.
First up, I have tacked on something of a prologue to the original beginning of my fanfic. As I've progressed through my fanfic over the last 18 months, I've improved my writing skills by leaps and bounds. I occasionally go back to my older work and keep finding phrases and mistakes that I'd made and think to myself "Good God, I could have written this way better." But, then I realize that it's all part of the development process... So, just for those of you who might get turned away by seemingly sub-standard writing in a fanfic, just give it time. As you get farther along in the story, you'll notice a gradual marked improvement in the quality of my writing. Some day... I don't know when... I'll get around to coming back and re-writing the early chapters to put them more into line with the later work. However, I'm mostly focused on just finishing the story for now. It's been a year and a half since I started and I'm only about two-thirds through the story, as of the time that I'm posting this prologue. Essentially, part of the reason I wrote this prologue was to provide a better "hook" for new readers, since my original beginning kind of starts out slow. The other part of the reason was so that I could actually put a snippet of what to expect down the road in the story. Instead of starting out with what I now consider to be "sub-standard" writing, at least you will get a preview of the kind of quality writing you'll see later on. When you get done with the first half of this chapter, you'll notice another break in the text, followed by some of my old notes. I did go back and rewrite the first chapter, but even now, I consider my revision to be kind of half-assed. Just sayin'... :D After that break lies the original beginning of the story.
I do my best to stay as faithful to canon as possible. However, I did take a couple of creative liberties in various places of the story. There's a slew of new characters that show up from time to time, and some of them are connected to the original cast in ways that are not specified in canon material. Other than that, there is an occasional spot where I overlooked or misinterpreted official material and made a slight mistake in its inclusion into my story. Generally, only the rabid fans will catch those small errors, so I'm just putting that out there for those of you that do see them. There's nothing game-breaking that made it into the story, so fret not. Just accept my story as an AU... because, no matter how faithfully and accurately I followed canon, it would still be considered an alternate universe, right? This story is mostly geared towards the fans of the series, and there are many, MANY references to it and the other Macross series that have come before it. If you haven't seen Frontier, I highly recommend watching it. If you have ONLY seen Frontier, I also recommend that you partake of the other series. Like I said, there are a lot of inside jokes and situations that are homages to the old series. Having seen all of the other series would just help you enjoy this story a little more.
As far as the current readers go, enjoy this little bonus posting and don't forget to leave any impressions in any reviews you happen to put up. Enjoy! -(07/10/11)
The Macross Frontier armada, a menacing horde of what remains of the desperate colony's military forces, confidently approaches its objective. Though the NUNS fleet has suffered immeasurable losses during its journey through Vajra-infested space, the sheer size of its forces seems daunting even to the most formidable of adversaries. However, its strength does not come from its numbers; it comes from the sheer willpower and determination of its peoples. Soldiers and civilians, Humans and Zentrans, all tied to the same fate: succeed, or face complete annihilation.
The Frontier colonial fleet is dying. Its fragile eco-system has been rendered unsustainable, due to the damage caused by unceasing attacks from Vajra swarms. Its people, war-weary and psychologically exhausted, have no choice but to fight or die. The strengths of their spirits will not allow them to quietly burn out. They know what must be done.
In front of them lies their Holy Land, the answer to their prayers. For almost twenty years, the Frontier emigration fleet has journeyed the stars, hoping to one day find a planet they can call "home". Now, all that stands between them and the completion of their ultimate mission is a massive Vajra swarm, determined to defend their planet from the invaders. This swarm is the very reason that the colonists have been forced into their desperate situation. Feeling a sense of righteousness, the entire colony will get their vindication by wresting the beautiful planet from the bugs' control and finally bring their journey to a glorious end.
Among the countless capital ships constituting the front lines of the armada, a Guantanamo-class carrier prepares for the final assault. Its ubiquitous, diamond-shaped hull is illuminated by various sources of energy: portholes and running lights scattered all over the surface of the ship. Its name, "Normandy II", is engraved on the hull towards the rear end of the ship. Being on the front lines of the impending assault, there are few other appropriate names for the vessel.
As the first variable fighters began to emerge from its neighboring ships, the Normandy II opened its fighter bay doors to begin deploying its complement of Valkyries. The newly-minted VF-171EX Nightmare Plus fighters seemed to shine on their own, despite not having any form of illumination on their frames. Only the cockpits and running lights emitted their cold, technological energies. The trip through the ship's hull via the launch track dragged on for what seemed like an eternity to the anxious pilots. Eventually, the VFs cleared the Normandy II's outer hull, bathing the pilots in the light being reflected by the beautiful planet, which was only about a million miles away at that point. The insignia emblazoned on the hulls of the fighters revealed their identity: "Mako Squadron."
"There she is, gentlemen..." the radio crackled, "Have you ever seen something so beautiful?" The squadron's commander took a brief moment before launch to instill some words of encouragement into his pilots. "That is our new home. We need only to exterminate the Vajra vermin now standing in our way."
Somehow, the sudden mentioning of the massive Vajra swarm now staring them down from the planet's vicinity reminded the pilots of the real danger that laid before them. They'd all seen their fair share of combat with the bugs... and have lost their fair share of compatriots to the horrors of war. However, they could all feel within themselves, the undeniable desire to continue living on. They know that if they fail in their mission, the colony will die. Millions of innocent civilians will cease to exist on this dimensional plane. They can't fail; they won't fail. Each pilot gritted their teeth and tightened their grips on their flightsticks and throttle controls.
"This is it! This is our greatest moment. This... here... we fight for our loved ones, our neighbors, our fellow colonists, our right to exist! If I die here, I die so that they can live on! So shall you, should you sacrifice yourselves to protect that which matters to you most! I promise you, that if all of us in this armada fight with the same convictions, the same determination, that those lives lost in this battle will not be lost in vain." The squadron commander was certainly in the right state of mind. He had to make sure that his pilots all felt the same way. Several pilots could be heard on the comm line responding with grunts and whoops of approval.
"This time, we take the fight to those damn bugs. This time, we'll make them feel what it's like to have their homes attacked and systematically destroyed. This time, we will also have an added advantage: the songs of Sheryl Nome will lead us to victory, while at the same time disrupting the Vajra, the same way the songs of Ranka the Betrayer could do." He paused for another moment to shift gears, "Looking at this vast swarm of Vajra, I'm not thinking about whether or not I'm going to die. I'm thinking about the feeling of the sand between my toes and the cool ocean water flowing around my feet on one of the beaches of that planet... I'll see you all there after we finish this operation."
With that, the squadron commander cut his comm line, indicating that he was ready to launch. The launch signal lights projected themselves upon the Normandy II's hull, giving the pilots an initial launch vector and pausing for approval from the inspection officer perched under the glass dome next to the runway.
One of the pilots glanced towards his multi-function display to get a final look at the photo lodged behind the corner of the screen. For decades, pilots have used this space to adhere their treasured belongings for posterity purposes. Somehow, they needed to be constantly reminded of that which they considered most important to them. He pursed his lips and kissed the air behind his helmet's visor, placing two of his fingers on the transparent barrier protecting his face from the vacuum of space. He then placed his fingers on the object of his affection: a lovely woman pictured standing next to him in the photo.
"I've always depended on you as my guide, Marie. Now that you're gone, I don't have anyone in particular to fight for. I'm doing it because... well, because I've always felt like a protector of sorts. If I am supposed to give my life for these people, so be it. Now, you're my protector, my guardian angel. If I die, that just means that I will be able to rejoin you in the next life. If I survive, it means that you want me to continue my life in this existence. You've always been able to make the right decisions for us both. I want you to know that I trust your judgment, even now from beyond this mortal realm. Lead me to whatever end is best for us both..."
Almost immediately, the voice of Sheryl Nome began to flow from the speakers in his helmet. NUNS command decided to dedicate one communication line solely for the purpose of rebroadcasting the Galactic Fairy's songs of love and jubilation.
The pilots all received their launch approvals, blasting away from their positions in a staggered order and immediately falling into formation with each other. It would take a few launch cycles to get the entire squadron out, but the precision and efficiency of the Normandy II's crew would keep that deployment time to an absolute minimum.
Only a couple of minutes after their initial launch, Mako Squadron took formation in front of the capital ships amongst the thousands of other variable fighters, ready to engage the first wave of the Vajra counter-attack. Sheryl Nome's voice continued to masterfully sound over the comm lines, instilling a sense of confidence in each pilot's mind.
"Alright, guys!" the squadron commander barked over the radio, "To the pilot with the most confirmed kills, your drinks will be on me!"
With that, the massive attacking force of VFs fired off the first volley of missiles, formally initiating combat with the Vajra swarm now bearing down upon their positions. Though the missiles had thoroughly saturated the area in front of the VFs with their destructive power, a salvo of return-fire made its way through to the attacking squadrons, destroying several fighters and causing the rest to break their formations.
Swarms of large, red mecha-drones and smaller, yellow fighter-drones emerged from the firestorm raging on in the near aerospace to engage the VFs in close-range combat. A second wave of variable fighters moved in close behind the initial attack wave and unleashed their complements of MDE bombs towards the hardened Vajra defense positions. The relatively large bombs managed to weave their way through the Vajra munitions fire, penetrating deep into their formation before detonating. The furious destructive force of these new bombs managed to decimate much of the Vajra initial defense line. The offensive was already going by the numbers and the pilots of the first attack wave felt a blanket of confidence settling over them.
"I must be getting too good!" one of the pilots bragged, "These bugs just don't seem to have much fight in them!"
"Don't get too cocky, Mako-12. You've still got a lot to learn," another pilot chided.
The capital ships at the front of the attacking armada began to charge forward to take positions where the MDE bombs had sanitized the area of the bug infestation. Their deck guns fired at every possible interval, hoping to inflict as much attrition to the Vajra swarm as possible. Smaller anti-aircraft fire peppered the near aerospace to fight off any pesky drones that happened to slip through the initial VF attack wave.
"Guys, don't wander off too far," the squadron leader barked over the comm line, "The Normandy II's coming up behind us fast and we need to make sure she survives for as long as possible, now that the initial attack is over. The next wave of Valkyries will continue the attack in front and clear up some more breathing room for us."
"Roger that!" came the reply from most of the pilots.
Mako Squadron quickly contracted back to defensive positions around its mothership as another large wave of fighters sped through their aerospace on the way to the front lines to deliver their payloads. By now, there was a fairly dense field of Vajra carcasses and carrier wreckage floating around. Although somewhat gruesome at first sight, it was a sign of their successful penetration into the bugs' defense line.
Regardless of the weak Vajra response, a swarm of drones suddenly appeared from the wreckage fields, looking to remove the Normandy II and its fighter complement from the area.
"We've got incoming, pilots! Look alive, now!" the radio crackled.
One of the nearby pilots blindly charged into the formation of drones bearing down upon their position with zeal, "Oh yeah! Get some!"
"Mako-12! What the hell are you doing?" one of the pilots exclaimed as he witnessed a single fighter pierce its way deep into the attacking swarm.
The brazen pilot and his fighter soon found themselves desperately dodging incoming fire from the nearby bugs. Several clouds of chaff dispersed and the VF-171EX transformed into battroid mode to defend itself from the impending onslaught. Several Vajra missiles exploded nearby, the chaff particles doing their job of diverting the tracking abilities of the bugs' homing ordnance. It didn't take long for the first couple of Vajra to come charging at the now-isolated variable fighter. With a couple of skillful bursts from its vernier jets, the lone 171EX managed to dodge their strikes and returned fire with its particle cannon gunpod as they passed by. The white-hot energy projectiles effortlessly buried themselves within the husks of the drones, quickly causing them to explode in a violent death.
"I'm just distracting them for a moment. Don't worry, I don't plan on staying here for too long!" the pilot replied.
Right on queue, his MFD alerted him to another large salvo of Vajra missiles heading in his direction. The pilot wasted no time in reacting by transforming his VF back into fighter mode, unleashing another flurry of chaff, and punching his throttle to its maximum output setting. The pair of FF-2550F thermonuclear turbine engines on his fighter seemed ready for the task, propelling the craft out of harm's way with an impressive show of performance.
With the missiles impacting on the chaff behind him, the pilot of Mako-12 felt the sudden brunt of g-forces pressing his body back into his seat. He strained to breathe for a few moments until the EX-gear was able to relieve some of the effects of the sudden acceleration on his body. "Oh, my god! This machine is incredible!" he exclaimed with a slight laugh in his voice.
Several of the Mako pilots witnessed the rogue VF emerging from the Vajra formation, apparently unscathed. Mako-12 had done what he had set out to do, though. The bugs seemed to be completely distracted by the unexpected display of courage... or was it stupidity?
"You're crazy, man, you know that?" one of the pilots exclaimed as the rest of the squadron engaged individual elements of the Vajra swarm.
"That's two confirmed kills, though!" Mako-12 didn't really seem to care that he had put himself in harm's way rather unnecessarily.
"Lieutenant, if you do that again, I'll bust your ass back to ensign after this is over!" the squadron commander barked over the radio, "We work as a team in this squadron. That kind of flying gets you killed out here!"
The comm lines fell silent for a moment before the pilot sheepishly replied to his commander's words, "Yes, Sir. Understood, Sir." Mako-12 quickly rejoined his wingmates to help them dispatch the attacking swarm.
"Still though, you did quite a number on their cohesiveness as a unit," the commander remarked as he easily dispatched another drone with a gunpod kill, "It makes our job a lot easier here. You've certainly got some moves on you, kid!"
"Thank you, Sir."
The Normandy II soon reached its destination, accompanied by a large complement of corvettes and gunboats. Meanwhile, the radio chatter informed the pilots that the colony ships were about to attempt a bold maneuver: they were going to penetrate through the now-engaged Vajra defense line and land on the planet's surface.
"Alright, listen up! We've got new orders, men!" the commander's voice barked over the comm line, "The Normandy II is going to help make sure that these colony ships make it through the defensive line in one piece! Our job is to protect her and to help protect the colony ships, alongside the other squadrons in the area. It's going to get hairy, so make sure you watch each others' backs out there!"
"Sir!" the pilots acknowledged.
It didn't take too long for one of the colony islands to approach their position. It was their signal to proceed forward, punching their way through the vast network of Vajra defensive nodes. The Mako Squadron VFs continued to dutifully execute their orders to the letter, keeping the Vajra drones at bay with their teamwork and piloting skills.
Mako-12 returned to its mothership's vicinity, after a brief encounter with a group of drones. The pilot took up a position in front of the Normandy II and transformed into GERWALK mode to match speed. Although his VF was not much more than a speck compared to the Guantanamo-class carrier, he turned his head to see the enormous colony island behind them. Its sheer size was nearly mind-boggling from that point of view. They'd need to clear a hole the size of a small moon to maneuver that thing through. Still, even it was much smaller than the Island-1 colony ship sailing only a few hundred kilometers away.
"This is a lot easier than I thought!" chimed a voice through his radio headset.
"Don't get cocky, guys! This thing ain't over 'til it's over!" the commander replied. "We've still got a ways to go until we reach the planet's atmosphere, so stay frosty!"
Sheryl's voice continued to play over one of the comm lines, reminding each pilot that the operation was still running as planned. However, the sound of another vaguely familiar singing voice began to flow into their ears.
Narrowing his eyes as he tried to identify the voice, Mako-12 started to look around through the canopy of his cockpit, in an attempt to find the source of the signal. "Is that...? No, it couldn't be!" he exclaimed to himself, struggling to accept the truth of the situation.
A colossal image of Ranka Lee suddenly appeared above the planet, protruding from the Vajra nest like some kind of Titan god seeking to inflict punishment on an insolent group of rebellious mortals. The cold, vacuous look in her eyes gave the impression that she no longer cared, nor had feelings for the people whom she once called her "friends".
"What the hell is that thing?" another pilot exclaimed.
"Ack! These damn Vajra just got a hundred times more aggressive, for some reason! I can't get this guy off-" The message abruptly cut off, followed by a short burst of static on the line.
"Ah, shit! We just lost Mako-7!" Distress began to emerge from the voices of the pilots as they clamored with each other for help.
"Calm down, guys! Our job just got harder, but you can't lose your heads so quickly over this!" The squadron commander seemed only concerned about keeping his pilots from loosing their cool. Fear was definitely a pilot's worst enemy, when under combat conditions. "Remember your training! You knew that this wasn't going to be easy, so don't fool yourselves about that now!"
One of the Mako fighters desperately tried to shake off an attacking drone, but just couldn't seem to free himself from the sights of the Vajra mecha-drone quickly closing in on him. "I sure could use some help out there!" he exclaimed.
His wishes were quickly answered by the voice of one of his wingmates. "Hang in there for just another couple of moments, Mako-9! I've got you covered!"
As promised, the menacing drone was knocked aside by the impact of a missile on its back. The creature arched backwards to absorb the shock, but before it could recover, it was hit by three more missiles, cracking its carapace into smaller pieces and annihilating the remains.
Mako-1, the squadron commander, was having few difficulties of his own, despite the renewed fervor of their insectoid adversaries. His VF, in battroid form, held a confident stance as it fired its gunpod at a quickly-approaching drone. A charged particle, fired from the attacking Vajra, harmlessly passed by the leader's 171EX before the drone itself came into view. It had already been perforated by several rounds from the squadron commander's gunpod and was in its death throes when it passed by his battroid. The shockwave from its explosion gently pushed his battroid forward as the pilot locked his eyes on his next target. His VF quickly transformed back to fighter mode to engage another drone.
"See? These guys aren't so tough if you work together!" he declared, "Now, let's keep pressing forward. We have to clear a path for this convoy!"
His pilots gained a bit of confidence from his words, tightening up their defensive net in front of their mothership. The Normandy II charged forward into the heart of the Vajra formation, boldly drawing the ire of the drones and cruisers directly in front.
The almost-eerie songs of Ranka Lee continued to ring into each pilots' ears, attempting to drown out Sheryl's powerful voice. No matter how hard she tried, it seemed as though she could not compete with the power of Ranka the Betrayer.
With the unison and synchronicity of a single entity, the entire Vajra armada opened fire with its most powerful weapons. The pilots of Mako Squadron quickly found themselves desperate to avoid getting hit by the incoming artillery fire.
"Scatter, pilots! That is one helluva shitstorm heading this way-"
The radio cut out as soon as the area became saturated with columns of beam cannon energy. Surely, the amount of electromagnetic interference from the artillery fire was wreaking havoc with the communication lines during that very moment.
The squadron began taking hits from the barrage of super-dimensional energy, and several variable fighters were instantly incinerated. Just as it seemed like the wave of artillery fire had completely passed by, one of the beams impacted at shallow angle directly below the bow of the Normandy II. For a split second, its heavy armor resisted the brunt of the strike, but it quickly gave way to the superior energy source. The beam forced its way through the hull of the ship, taking only a moment to find its way back out through the other side. A gaping hole in the ship's superstructure briefly coursed with energy, before the reactors went critical and detonated. As the ship blew apart, several hundred lives simultaneously perished.
"The Normandy II is down!" one of the surviving pilots yelled into the radio, his voice laced with panic and despair.
Immediately, the pilots of Mako squadron felt their hearts sink into their chests. All of their fellow shipmates, no doubt, had just met a very fiery and violent death. Not to mention, their squadron was now decimated by the artillery strike.
Mako-12 checked his MFD for any signs of the squadron commander, but it reported the complete destruction of the Mako-1 VF. He clicked his tongue and gritted his teeth as he realized that he was the only lieutenant left in the squadron and he was now the ranking officer. He looked towards the rear of the formation, only to see that the island ship that they were escorting was now billowing with smoke and fire. The oxygen inside of the ship was quickly escaping into the vacuum of space and fueling the fires raging outside of the ship's hull.
He gulped before opening the comm lines to the rest of his wingmates, "Mako Squadron, sound off! Who's left out there?"
No other responses came. Only the sound of Ranka's voice could be heard. Her song now played the death knell of the brave souls on that ship and of the pilots who had just perished in combat. ...not to mention the rest of the armada that had just met their destruction elsewhere in the formation.
"That makes four of us, guys," Mako-12 said with a somber tone in his voice, "We still have a job to do, though. Form up on my wing and let's make sure to avenge the deaths of our shipmates and wingmates."
"Roger that!" they all responded.
Mako-12 took a deep sigh and quickly convinced himself of his impending fate. Things didn't look to good for him and the rest of his squadron mates. He looked at the mirrors to the sides of his MFD to see that they were now in position as ordered. There was an eerie calm at that very moment, but there was no time to ponder as to why it was so unusually calm.
Just before Mako-12 took his eyes off of his mirrors, he noticed the sudden flash of several energy-based projectiles passing through the hull of the VF to his left and rear from above their formation. The fighter's frame immediately snapped in half and the two halves exploded. Not a peep was heard from the pilot before his demise, but the agony of his death could be felt almost instantly by his wingmates.
A purple-ish blur zoomed past Mako-12's position and quickly disappeared behind the wrecked hulk of one of the nearby capital ships.
"What the...? Did anyone catch that?" he asked over the radio, whipping his body around to track the craft with his eyes..
"No! It's not showing up on the radar. It went behind that wreckage over there."
The pilots all simultaneously peered at the wreckage, hoping to catch a glimpse of their elusive attacker, but no movement came from that area. It was almost as if he was daring them to find him in that mess.
"Keep your eyes peeled. There's no way that he'll just leave us alone like that," Mako-12 ordered. The three remaining VFs cautiously approached the wreckage to pursue their assailant.
Almost immediately, they found themselves in their attacker's targets. A barrage of energy-based projectiles peppered the aerospace in front of them. The combined speeds of the 171EXs and the opposite flow of the incoming fire made it nearly impossible to dodge any potential hits. Pure luck would be needed to escape harm from this attack. Mako-11 took a direct hit on his nosecone, sending the destructive energy through the length of his fuselage and destroying the craft.
The other two 171EXs managed to emerge unharmed, but they were now down another wingman. They both sped through the debris field, desperately trying to locate the elusive craft. Suddenly, Mako-12 caught a movement out of the corner of his eye. He looked upwards through the canopy to see the mysterious craft bearing down on his wingmate, only a few dozen meters ahead.
"Mako-4, eleven o'clock high! Incoming!"
It was too late for the pilot to react. His VF was perforated by several rounds from the attacking craft's gunpod fire, causing it to break apart into a few pieces before exploding. The attacking craft brazenly zoomed in front of Mako-12's view, passing from top to bottom at its extremely high attack speed. However, the pilot was able to catch a quick glimpse of the craft's profile. Its shape was unlike anything he'd ever seen in person before, but it slightly resembled the shape of a craft that he had seen in a general bulletin to the pilots in the NUNS sent out many weeks before. All additional information about the craft had been carefully concealed by high-level classification up to that point. Rumors of a highly-advanced fighter lurking around the convoy for months had remained rumors; the NUNS and Frontier government were unwilling to confirm nor deny its existence. There were signs of a massive cover-up, but no hard proof ever came to light. The term "foo-fighter" briefly came to his mind, but there was no time to mull over the evidence at hand.
"Tch!" Mako-12 shook the thoughts from his mind and clicked his tongue as he rolled his craft over 180 degrees. He then snapped his throttle to its 45-degree position. The VF-171EX immediately responded by detaching its engine nacelles from the body of the craft and allowed the pilot to quickly pitch his fighter's attitude upwards 90 degrees, before re-entering fighter mode and pursuing the speedy craft from behind.
The 171EX furiously chased its target through the debris field. Meanwhile, its pilot patiently waited for the targeting computer to gain an aspect lock on the agile bird now in front of him. He teased his fighter's attitude to help the computer gain a lock more quickly, but he soon realized that he was not able to keep up with this seemingly uncatchable craft. Indeed, the 171EX had more powerful engines than its predecessor, but they were no match for this adversary.
Mako-12 switched to GERWALK mode to reverse thrust and slow himself down. He then switched to battroid form and drew his particle beam gunpod in preparation to defend himself from his attacker. No doubt, there was going to be another attempt on his life; pilots like the one flying this "foo-fighter" would never just give up on their attack. They always get the job done, no matter what.
The battroid floated through space, constantly turning in every direction in an effort to locate its attacker. A large piece of wreckage slowly drifted by Mako-12's position and when it finished passing by to reveal the 171EX once again, nothing remained. The pilot had taken the opportunity to shroud himself in a bit of a cloak of his own, hoping to get the drop on his attacker. It seemed that the encounter had turned into a brief game of hide-and-seek.
Mako-12 focused on the sound of his breath resonating through his helmet. Somewhat physically exhausted from combat, his breaths were short and rhythmic. The field of stars and debris slowly revolved around his position. The large chunk of wreckage was rotating on all three axes as it floated through space. In the distance, the great conflict could be seen raging on with the image of Ranka still towering over the entire battlefield. Her voice could still be heard in his ears.
Only several moments later as the chunk of debris continued rotating, the sight of a purple-ish battroid came into Mako-12's view. It appeared to be looking away from him, searching for any sign of its prey. Mako-12 gasped in surprise, realizing that he had an opportunity to dispatch his attacker with little chance of retaliatory fire. As the 171EX battroid raised its gunpod, the "foo-fighter" quickly whipped around; it seemed to have eyes in the back of its head. The trigger on Mako-12's flightstick clicked loudly as he mashed his index finger inwards to open fire on his target.
The "foo-fighter" immediately protected itself from the incoming fire with the anti-munitions shield on its battroid's left arm. With each impact from Mako-12's gunpod fire, the "foo-fighter" was pushed away further and further from its attacker, until it finally took the opportunity to transform back to fighter mode and escape unharmed.
Mako-12 continued in pursuit of his attacker, but quickly lost sight of him in the debris field. "Goddammit!" he exclaimed to himself in frustration. He couldn't let himself lose his cool, though. He quickly refocused himself and began to search for his attacker once more.
Only this time, the "foo-fighter" didn't waste any time on mounting a counter attack. Mako-12 immediately found himself under fire from the attacking craft, furiously trying to dodge every attack. The "foo-fighter" circled around him, momentarily disappearing behind large chunks of debris, and somehow emerging from a seemingly-impossible position somewhere else. Mako-12 appeared to be under attack from all sides; the battroid was constantly whipping around towards its attacker in an effort to either dodge an attack or mount one of its own. Its gunpod followed every movement possible, occasionally firing a small salvo at its target.
Just as he began to consider punching his throttle to escape, Mako-12 took a direct hit on the battroid's back. The pilot was violently jarred in his cockpit, while several of the monitors fizzled out behind him. Luckly, the energy-conversion armor was able to spare the craft from complete destruction, but it was unlikely that he would be able to take another hit like that and survive. Out of desperation, the pilot snapped his throttle stick 90 degrees to the right and shoved the throttle all of the way forward.
The 171EX quickly responded, but the "foo-fighter" continued to harrass its prey. Mako-12 dove into the debris field for cover, his heart now pounding out of his chest. At this point, only his instincts would make the decisions. Just as he made a complete turn around a chunk of debris, his attacker zoomed by directly in front of him, passing from bottom to top. Mako-12 instinctively opened fire with his gunpod, but the "foo-fighter" was well out of gunsight by that time.
As it floated up above Mako-12, it flipped over, transformed into battroid mode, and passed through the corona of the nearby sun. Looking upwards at his attacker through his canopy, Mako-12 was temporarily blinded by the light of the burning star. He squinted his eyes to restrict the flow of light passing through his corneas, but vaguely made out the figure of the battroid now about to open fire upon him. His instincts kicked in once more, subconsciously instructing him to reach down between his legs and grab ahold of the handle below his seat.
Just as the battroid "foo-fighter" cleared the star's corona, it opened fire on the 171EX. The target was perforated multiple times, causing its attitude to rock to the port and starboard in the meantime. The canopy detached within microseconds and the pilot emerged from the cockpit, fully enveloped in his EX-gear.
A moment of relief passed over Mako-12 as he cleared the ship's extremities, but that all came to a violent end when his craft detonated, sending shockwaves passing through his flesh. Suddenly, an enormous pain coursed through his entire nervous system, coincided by a large "crack!" sound reaching his ears through the fluids in his body.
There was nothing after that. The defeated pilot felt nothing, heard nothing. His eyes continued to wince while his teeth grated across each other in his mouth. Slowly, but surely, his hearing began to return to him. The sounds of the radio in his helmet were still muffled, but the voices started to clear up. Although he couldn't move his limbs, he opened his eyes to see what was going on outside of his body.
The glow of the nearby planet was hard to miss, despite the blurry images now filtering through his retinas and into his brain. For a brief moment, the colors of the bluest oceans and fertile green lands blurred into one, unmistakeable shade, that of a beautiful planet below.
Suddenly, the color was consumed by darkness. The pilot's eyes strained to focus, but the image of a large piece of debris became apparent when it got too close to him. Unable to move any of his limbs, only his face showed any sign of reaction, a look of horror quickly taking shape. A blinding flash, and then nothing.
The lifeless body slowly careened away from the massive chunk of wreckage after viciously colliding with it. Continually passing in and out of consciousness, he could hear the garbled messages sounding from the now-damaged helmet. Static would sound, then a discernible phrase could be heard, followed by more static. Several dozen moments of a semi-conscious state passed, then a particular message could be plainly heard, "Sagittarius-1 has been hit!"
A/N: Hi, and welcome to my Macross Frontier fanfic. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed thinking it up and writing it. It's my first attempt at writing, so be gentle... I spent the first few chapters reacquainting the reader with the existing characters, while also introducing a couple of new ones. Just in case things start to seem slow at first, don't worry. It will start to pick up around Chapter 5 or 6.
I invite you all to comment on my story to give me your opinions, as I'd like to know what you think. I will post new chapters regularly, so keep checking back. I am still writing several chapters ahead of the posted content, so there's still much more to come. If you see anything that needs to be fixed, let me know.
(06/16/10): For all you grammar nerds, I am currently working through the first few chapters to make some corrections. I had originally started writing this fic with the intention of using a present tense, but I later changed to past tense. I thought I had gone back and fixed the tense problem, but I guess I was wrong. Until I get everything cleaned up, just take the first few chapters with a grain of salt. This is, as I already mentioned, my first fanfic. Thanks for your readership!
(06/28/10): Chapter 1 has been altered and reposted with the corrected tense and a few minor changes here and there. I'll be working on updating the next few chapters while concurrently writing the new material to keep the story moving forward.
A lone, lifeless figure floats aimlessly through space. Wreckage and debris collide and grind against each other all around. Although this spectacular battle has come to an end, the war rages on within his subconsciousness.
As he struggled to open his eyes, he witnessed the sea of debris slowly part and a shadowy figure approached him through the rift. A voice whispered to him, "You're going to be okay." The voice is oddly familiar. "Don't give up on life, Cal. You must live on to fulfill your dreams." Suddenly, he recognized the voice and replied with zeal. "Marie? You're alive?" He frantically searched around with his eyes. The voice replied, "I'm alive... rather, I live on as your memory." His demeanor suddenly changed as he realized the reality of the situation. His eyes glazed over as he struggled to utter any more words. "I want to be with you, Marie. Why were you taken from me?" A seemingly endless pause filled the air around him. "Marie? Don't leave me again..." His voice began shake uncontrollably as he grasped at the empty air, hoping to feel her touch one more time. "You're going to be okay..." the soothing voice responded, but it transitioned to a deeper voice and the illusion seemed to shatter, "You're going to be alright, buddy."
A rescue worker tethered to his ship by an umbilical cord grappled the motionless body. He carefully strapped the body to a gurney and attached a second umbilical to it. The massive ship slowly drew the body in, while the worker carefully guided it by the floating debris so as not to cause any more harm. The injured soldier managed to open his eyes for one last look before the airlock doors slammed shut. Massive, hulking wreckages littered the space above the planet's glowing atmosphere. The floating debris formed a gruesome prison for the gorgeous blue sky.
A medical chart hung from the hospital bed. "Calvin A. Wagner" was printed at the top, followed by various charts and paragraphs organized neatly onto the top page. A television played an unintelligible program as white noise in the background. The table by the bedside was littered with various food packages, napkins, and cups. A small vase with some aging flowers managed to poke out above the garbage and looked like they were starving for water. The bed was just as much a mess as the table, with the blankets and pillows congealed together to form some kind of rudimentary covering. It looked like someone had been having a lot of trouble sleeping lately.
The patient was slowly waking up from his slumber as a nurse entered the room. "Lieutenant Wagner, it's time for your physical therapy," she said as she grabbed the nearby trash can and began to clear off the bedside table. Cal grunted in response, but remained motionless for a few seconds. The nurse attempted to cheer him up, "Remember, you're due to be discharged tomorrow, Lieutenant! I'm so happy for you. Now you can return to work and get back to protecting our new planet."
"Protecting, huh?" Cal muttered to the nurse, "I have nothing more to protect now." He quickly realized that his statement was subconsciously aimed at garnering sympathy from the nurse. It's been a long time since he's received any such attention from anyone. The nurse frowned, but before she could reply with the usual motherly response, Cal corrected himself. "I'm sorry, that was a bit harsh. I'll be fine. I've missed so much of the action. I heard that we have a colony to build now." The nurse smiled in relief. Good soldiers don't need to be propped up when they have lost hope. She stood outside the room while Cal changed his clothes. He insists on remaining independent, despite having suffered nearly-crippling injuries to his body. The last 3 months have been difficult. After a few laborious minutes, Cal emerged from his hospital room and the nurse accompanied him to the physical therapy gym.
Cal had no significant problems getting to the gym under his own power. He had a slight limp, and walked a bit slower than a normal person, but it's more than enough evidence for his doctors to authorize his release from the hospital. As Cal and the nurse reached the gym door, she turned to him while grabbing the door handle, but not opening the door. "You'll be leaving tomorrow and we'll all miss you, Cal. If I don't see you before you go, you take care of yourself, you hear? I meant it!" she said. "Such a touching thing to say, but I bet she says that to every patient they discharge," Cal thought to himself. "Thank you for all your hard work. I will miss you guys too," he cordially replied. The nurse smiled and opened the door as she guided him inside by a slight touch to his shoulder. She squeezed it before she let go, but Cal didn't turn around to look. He's not good at goodbyes.
The therapist greeted Cal with a strong handshake. "Cal, I'm so proud of how far you've come from a couple of months ago. It's not often that people recover so fast from such egregious injuries. I'm surprised there's no permanent damage," he said with a bit of awe in his voice. "When we get done here today, we'll make a few appointments in the next few weeks so I can make sure you'll recover fully. I bet it's gonna be great to be able to walk normally again, isn't it?" he asked. Cal smiled in response. He remembered how much he's missed getting around on his own, and to a greater extent, how much he misses flying. "Sounds great," he replied.
A couple of hours later, Cal returned to his room, escorted by another nurse. Before he could make himself comfortable, an NUNS warrant officer paid him a visit. "Lieutenant Calvin Wagner?" he asked. Calvin replied affirmatively. With a salute, the soldier gave him a few envelopes he was carrying. "Your orders from command, sir. Welcome back." With a slight hint of disappointment, Calvin replied, "..and I was just beginning to think that the NUNS had completely forgotten about me." "I apologize for the slow response, sir. Needless to say, the past few months have been anything but slow and steady. Headquarters is in complete disarray trying to reorganize personnel and track down lost individuals. With all due respect, it looks like you fell through the cracks," the soldier nervously chuckled. Cal looked up from his unfolded letter in his hands and shot a quick glare to the soldier. He then laughed it off, "I understand. Thank you for your time." The soldier saluted and promptly left the room, no doubt on his way to deliver orders to some other poor hospitalized soul in another room.
At last, there's that sense of purpose that has evaded him for the last few months... Looks like the NUNS at least got around to assigning Cal to the barracks at the airfield on the other side of town. As he began to gather up his belongings and pack them into a duffel bag, he wondered what kind of crappy, God-forsaken post they had lined up for him.
It didn't take him long to finish his packing. After tidying up the rest of the room, Cal laid down on his bed and flipped on the television. A news program featured a pair of news anchors delivering the day's notables to its viewers. "Today, President Mulcahy met with New U.N. Spacy top brass. They gathered to address the issues surrounding the lack of organization behind the deployment of military forces. Since the founding of the new Frontier government, the NUNS has been in a state of disorganization that has caused a great deal of security concerns amongst the citizens," the anchorette said. A video of the President played in the caption box over her shoulder. A slight chatter from the news media workers mixed in with various clicks from camera shutters opening and closing. "My meeting with the Office of the Joint Chiefs today has already ignited a response to the concerns of the people over the lack of military presence protecting our fledgling colony and planet. I stand here, assured by these fine officers that the NUNS is taking every step necessary to achieve their former strength in the quickest time possible," said the President. Among many officers, the familiar figure of Catherine Glass could be seen in the background, folder in hand and apparently talking into a headset. The camera turned its attention back to the anchor team. "The President could not divulge any details on NUNS movements, but I'm sure that his words will assuage some fear and doubt from within the people of this colony," the anchor followed up.
Cal looked at the unfolded letter from NUNS HQ on his table. "I guess the President lit a fire under their asses today," he said to himself. That might explain the look of urgency on that soldier's face when he delivered the letters to Cal earlier that day.
The news program returned to the anchor pair in the newsroom. "In our final segment tonight, we have two very special guests joining us via video phone to talk about their upcoming concert aimed at supporting troop morale. The Galaxy Fairy, Sheryl Nome, and the Super-dimensional Cinderella, Ranka Mei Lee! Ladies, I can't tell you how excited we are about having you on our newscast tonight!" The picture broke into 3 boxes showing the news anchors, Sheryl, and Ranka. "Thank you," they both replied.
The anchor started out with his first question, "Sheryl, Ranka, the buzz around the entertainment news circles is that you two share a mutual, friendly competition with each other in your careers. You both chose to play this concert together for the troops. How did you two become such good friends and why did you decide to work together on this benefit concert?" They both laughed and Sheryl responded to the question. "Well, there's a little more to the 'competition' than just music, but we're not going to get into the details on that. Ranka and I made that promise to each other after our landing onto Aimo. We both know that we can push each other to do our best in everything that we do, and that includes inspiring the people of Frontier City and the surrounding colony cities to keep working hard at building our new world into everything that we all dream of. Ranka, do you want to finish the answer?"
Ranka nodded, "We decided that we needed to properly thank the fine troops of the NUNS forces and all of the sacrifice they made to protect us during our long voyage and for giving us the opportunity to fulfill our mission of colonizing this planet. We've heard the rumors that the troop morale has gotten low and that the leadership has had its hands full trying to make sense of the chaos after their final battle with Galaxy's forces. Sheryl and I have many friends who are in the NUNS and we just want to be able to help them get through this tough time."
Sheryl and Ranka had determination written all over their faces. The anchorette followed up with another question, "Rumors have been swirling about both of you being involved in steamy romances. Would you like to let your fans know any juicy details?" A quick look of indecision popped up on Sheryl and Ranka's faces. Ranka replied, "Uh, it's probably not a good idea to bring up our personal lives in too much detail, but I will say that we do have a tight circle of friends and some of those friends have different levels of meaning to us. We love them all very much, so it's kinda moot to put any explanation as to who's who. I will say, however, that Sheryl has been especially important to me in the past few months. I can honestly say that you might not find someone more supporting and inspirational than Sheryl. Even though we frequently compete with each other, she's been nothing short of amazing in helping me get my career off the ground."
Sheryl immediately blushed in response to Ranka's compliments. "You are far too generous, Ranka," she said as she turned her statement towards the anchor pair and the television audience. "If it wasn't for Ranka, I would not be here today. Even though she's young and new to the entertainment business, she's managed to inspire me in more ways than I can describe. I look forward to seeing what content she's going to be putting out for us in the near future. I know that her talent is going to take her far and it's definitely making me push myself harder than I ever had to in my career to date."
The anchor pair was just dumbfounded by the amount of mutual respect these two songstresses had for each other. "Ladies, this is just amazing. We're so lucky to have two people like you at the helm of morale-lifting and inspiration for us all. I'm sure that the NUNS personnel will be back into shape in no time after your concert," the anchorette said. "We all look forward to this ground-breaking collaboration performance by you both and we hope that you will have much more to show us afterward. Thank you so much for taking some time to speak to us and our audience. Good luck with this weekend's concert!"
Both songstresses thanked the anchors and their caption windows closed to reveal the studio set behind the inserted caption boxes. "...and that's all for our newscast this evening. We wish you all a wonderful night and we will see you again tomorrow evening to recap the day's news. Good night!" the anchor said, while he grabbed his notes and jogged them on the desk. The anchor pair was then played off by the newscast jingle as they appeared to engage in a discussion; probably some dumb subject like the weather or some such nonsense. No doubt, it's a traditional exercise practiced by news teams for the past 100 years of broadcasting.
Commercials started to play after the ending of the newscast, but Cal turned the channel to a documentary station. He loves to study and chronicle the history of humanity... especially 20th century history and turn-of-the-century politics and culture. A show covering the Unification Wars between 1999 and 2009 was playing. He put the remote down and made himself comfortable.
Across the blossoming city, a limousine traveled through the evening moonlight along a newly constructed highway towards its residential destination. Reflections of the highway lights danced sequentially on the car's sheen finish as it pulled up to a cozy cottage-style house. Dense vegetation concealed the artificially-constructed carport covering the house entrance on the circular driveway. A lone figure emerged from the rear passenger side of the car and shut the door behind them. The car then continued forward to re-enter the highway from the driveway exit. The figure seemed to rummage around in a bag for something.
Inside the house, the atmosphere was calm. The lights were somewhat low and there seemed to be soft music playing in another room. A fireplace crackled in the dining room. There were two sets of dishes neatly spread out on the table, which was lit by a small candelabra. Two crystal goblets shimmered in the dimly lit room. There appeared to be a bucket of ice with a bottle of wine wedged in it a bit diagonally and it wore a cloth skirt to cover the bucket opening. The door unlocked with a snap and swung open.
Catherine Glass entered the house with an inquisitive look on her face. She hesitantly walked through the foyer and peered into the dining room to admire the eloquence of the table setup. A voice shot from the room next to the dining room. "Cathy? Is that you?" She put her bags down on the table in the entryway and headed to the door separating the dining room and the kitchen. It was a swinging door that was only bordered by a bright glow, no doubt coming from the lights on the other side. She pushed the door open and before she could step one foot inside, a figure darted in front of her to block her path.
"Ozma!", she said while taking a surprised, deep breath. Ozma Lee stood leaning against the wall with one hand; he held a dish towel in the other. His clothes were protected by a bright red apron, which was discolored in the center by various food residues. He wore a suggestive smirk on his face as he spoke, "You're just in time! Go ahead and make yourself comfortable; I'll be done in just a few minutes."
Cathy took a seat at one end of the table and glanced out of the dining room window, which faced the front of the house. Beyond the front yard and chain link fence bordering off of the house property, an occasional car passed by on the highway. She couldn't remember the last time she has had a whole night to spend with her dear Ozma. Work has been getting in the way every chance they have to spend time together. She's about to have dinner with the person who means the most to her... and if they're lucky, they'll be having breakfast together too. Cathy smiled as she slipped into a daydream state.
Minutes later, Ozma emerged from the kitchen with the tour de force: a carefully crafted meal complete with all the trimmings. He placed the dishes on the table with a swagger to match the beat of the faint jazzy ambience music playing somewhere in the house. Carefully and with the same swagger, he served helpings of his entrees onto Cathy's plate and handed it to her. She covered her mouth, trying to hold back any giggling in response to his slightly bizarre behavior. Ozma became more emboldened to continue his performance, as he could see Cathy's shoulders shaking to the rhythm of the laughter she desperately tried to hold inside.
After regaining her composure, Cathy just had to compliment Ozma's attention to detail, "I have to say... I am seriously impressed." "It's been too long since we've been able to spend a quiet evening together. I've had plenty of time to get everything right," Ozma said as he unwrapped the cork on the champagne bottle. "Plus, it may be awhile before we get any more time, now that deployment orders are finally starting to go out," he added. Cathy gained a look of exasperation on her face, "It's been so difficult to get anything done in the Joint Chief's office. It seems like we've just now been able to overcome the bureaucracy muddling things up between NUNS and the Frontier government." Ozma realized his statement might have rubbed her the wrong way, "Cathy, I didn't mean anything by that. Believe me, I know how hard you've been working. I'm glad that things are starting to clear up for you and I'm even more happy that you can spend the evening with me." Ozma strained to push the cork out of the bottle with his thumbs. It ejected with a hollow "pop!", followed by a foamy head of carbonation. He poured both glasses and sat down in his chair.
"What should we toast to?" Ozma asked. Cathy debated his question for a moment, "Let's just toast. I don't think we can localize any specific subject. We've been through a lot in the last few months and I would like to see this occasion as a well-deserved vacation of sorts." Ozma didn't have a problem with her answer and he raised his glass towards her, "A toast... to everything." Cathy met her glass with his; both taking a sip before they began to eat.
Cathy couldn't help but bring up a bit of work as a talking subject over dinner, "So, have you begun to make preparations for your deployment?" Ozma swallowed his bite to answer her question, "No, not yet. I wanted to focus on getting everything ready for tonight. I'll get started tomorrow. Looks like I have a lot of positions to fill in SMS now. NUNS has requested that we expand to four teams of fighters in order to help them get some pilots out of their barracks and back into service." "I saw the orders," Cathy said, "Let me know if you need any help finding good pilot replacements. It looks like what we're going to be doing, for the most part, is setting up teams of two pilots and assigning them to space combat patrols to help secure our immediate planetary surroundings. I think it would be easiest for you if we throw a handful of pilots your way and you can pair them up with your pilots so they can do a bit of talent 'scouting' for you." Ozma grinned in response, "Looks like you've made up your mind already. I like it. I'll let you know of how many and what type of personnel I'll be needing in the next couple of days. I need to get together with Klan so we can discuss the squadron's needs in detail."
Cathy looked down at her food in reflection, "That poor girl. I can only imagine what she's gone through since Michael's death. Come to think of it, I was very close to being in her company because a certain someone wasn't willing to go the hospital after being wounded." Cathy's gaze pierced Ozma's flesh. He could swear he felt his skin burning very slightly. Cathy continued flirtatiously, "I swear if you do something like that again, I will kill you myself. Your stubbornness is gonna be the death of you some day." Ozma exclaimed with a cocky tone, "I've said it many times before: I can't die! I don't know about you, but I plan on living forever!" Cathy was initially taken aghast at the carelessness of his statement, but then she realized that she's talking to the Ozma Lee she fell in love with so many years ago. By now, she shouldn't be surprised by some of the stuff that comes out of his mouth.
Ozma returned back to the subject at hand, "Klan can handle herself. She's quite a strong person. I'm not terribly worried about her, although I have noticed she's become much more overbearing than usual on her subordinates." Cathy responded, "I think making her your executive officer was the right thing. In fact, promoting Alto Saotome to a team leader was also a great move. He's become a natural leader and he's going to be a great squadron leader some day. Under your leadership, I can tell SMS is going to become the shining example of elite fighter squadrons throughout the NUNS." Ozma couldn't just simply take a compliment like that. He had to turn the attention back onto Cathy, since he doesn't like to deal with compliments. "That Joint Chief's office is getting whipped into shape, I hear. There's been talk of a beautiful, young, and intelligent officer keeping those guys in line over there. Have you met her yet?" he said. Cathy couldn't think of a witty retort and instead blushed and fumbled with her fork on her plate.
"This evening is just what I needed, Ozma. I can't tell you how much I appreciate this and how much I appreciate your words of support," Cathy admitted as she took her last bite off her plate. Ozma was already reclining in his chair, having finished eating a few moments earlier. He got up and walked around to behind Cathy and began to massage her shoulders and neck. "Just let me take care of everything tonight. It's just you and me here and that's all you need to worry about now," Ozma said gently. Cathy tilted her head to rub Ozma's hand and arm with her cheek. She kissed his hand softly and firmly embraced it with one of her hands.
The atmosphere in the city is one of relief and impending transition to the next phase, so to speak. Everywhere, people are enjoying the quietness of the evening. Tomorrow feels like it's going to be the start of a new period of construction, innovation, organization, and most importantly, the further bonding and strengthening of human relationships.