Chapter 6

Skull Leader and The Monument

"Well, there's no doubt about it now, he really is Roy Focker," said Aisha, turning in her seat to face Leon. They were in the ship's lab, which was next door to the sick bay.

"But how is that possible? Roy Focker died… well, 50 years ago. Could he be a clone?" asked Leon.

"There are none of the markers for genetic manipulation. He really does seem to be who he says he is. I wonder…"

"What are you thinking?"

"Ever since I came here to Ouroboros I've heard stories from people saying that during Auras of years past that they met people who've seemed to be lost in time. I wonder if this is somehow related to the Aura? We should ask Major Focker about it," she said, getting up from the computer station and walking to the door.

Leon followed her out and into sickbay where they found Roy in the midst of telling some story to Mina.

"And then she said to me, 'Roy Focker, you pig!' and then slapped me hard enough that I swear I could see little Valkyries floating around my head! I had to do a lot of apologizing to Claudia after that one."

Mina was holding her hands over her mouth to stop from bursting into laughter.

"Mr. Focker that was horrible!" she giggled.

"What's this hmm? You're not corrupting our poor Mina are you Major?" asked Aisha with a wry grin.

"Naw, just telling stories to pass the time. So what's the verdict miss Aisha? I don't have any alien diseases?"

"That wasn't exactly what we were looking for. Major, do you know where you are right now?"

"Well, I know it definitely ain't Earth. That ship looking like and not actually being the Macross was proof enough of that. I had just gotten there searching for answers as to where this place is and how I got here.

"Well, you're right, this is not Earth. This is actually an Earth-like planet called Ouroboros. The city-ship was the SDFN-8 Britai Kridanik," said Aisha.

"So they made more than one Macross, eh? Well that answers another question I had. Better just give it to me straight. I did more than just travel through space didn't I?"

Aisha and Leon traded looks.

"Yes, you did Major. It's currently the year 2060."

As much as Roy had braced himself for something shocking, he hadn't been expecting fifty whole years. His faced paled considerably.

"Fifty years?! But… how?"

"Well Major, that's what we were hoping you could tell us," said Aisha

Over the next few minutes, Roy explained to them how he'd been on a patrol in his Valkyrie when suddenly his instruments had started fluctuating wildly. The next thing he knew, he'd blacked out and then found himself and his Valkyrie inside what looked like some ancient ruins. He'd found his way out and had just been wandering around trying to find out where he was and how he'd gotten there when he'd stumbled upon the SDFN-8 and the bandit attack.

"Hmm, that's very interesting. Very interesting indeed," remarked Aisha, he hand cupping her chin thoughtfully.

"So now I'm in the future eh? Well, I hope you can figure out a way to send me back, don't much like the thought of outliving all of my friends. Personally I always thought that I'd go down in a blaze of glory…"

"It may be kind of difficult to do that," said Leon, "see there's this phenomenon going on right now called the Ouroboros Aura that's messing up lots of stuff and…" he was cut off as Aisha cried, "That's it!"

"What's it?" asked Roy, Leon and Mina all together.

"I've had my suspicions but now I'm beginning to really think that there's a connection between the ruins, the Aura and Major Focker being here! Major, can you remember where the ruins are that you woke up in?" she asked excitedly.

"Sure, they're not too far from here, I think."

Great! Well, what are you all standing around for? Let's go!" she said and immediately spun around and headed at the door.

"Is she always like this?" Roy asked Leon, with a grin.

"Very," he replied.

After pinpointing the coordinates, Aisha, Roy, Leon and Mina got suited up. Roy was pretty impressed with the facilities of the Gefion, noting that it was a pretty big improvement over the Oberth-class space destroyers from his day. When they entered the hangar, Roy was even more impressed by Aisha's VF-19E Excalibur but also by the three VF-0 Phoenix fighters they had.

"You even painted the VF-0S in my colors!" he guffawed when he caught sight of it.

"Oh yes. Gerroll, my head mechanic, is a BIG fan of that Bird Human movie, so he painted the S to look like your old one."

"Bird Human? You mean the AFOS? Wait, they made a MOVIE of that?" asked Roy, slightly dumbfounded.

"Yeah! The documents were finally declassified back in '58 and they started making the movie in '59. It was Suuuuper romantic too! I felt so bad for Mao! She made a much better couple with Shin than Sara did, although that may have just been the actors during that one scene…"

"Ah, Aisha, maybe we shouldn't be telling him this? You know, seeing as how he's from the past?" said Leon, uncertainly.

"Aw don't worry about that," replied Roy, slapping Leon heartily on the back, "even a loudmouthed fighter jock like me knows when to keep his trap shut. But you know… we never did find out what happened to that Kudo kid…" Roy trailed off his he gazed at the white and yellow and black striped Phoenix.

"You know, I think I'm going to take this one up. It'd be nice to fly a Phoenix again."

"Does that mean I could fly your Valkyrie, if you don't mind?" asked Leon, half hoping to fly something that wasn't as "slow" as the Phoenix and half because when else were you going to fly the Valkyrie piloted by THE Roy Focker? Roy favored him with a bemused, sidelong glance.

"Not on your life kid."

Just as they were about to board their planes, Roy in the VF-0S, much to Gerroll's ecstatic joy, Aisha in her pink VF-19E and Leon and Mina in the VF-0D, Mina said to Aisha and Leon, "Um, there was something I wanted to ask you."

"Go ahead, Mina," said Leon, smiling at her.

"I… I want to learn how to fly a Valkyrie!" she blurted.

Of all the things they expected her to ask, that had not been one of them.

"I think this would be the best way for me to help Leon and all the members of SMS!"

"Whoa, Mina, hold on there. Flying a Valkyrie is a very challenging thing to do. You can't just climb in and expect to be able to pilot just like that," said Leon.

"That's right! Mina, if you're really serious about this, we can have you go through the simulator when we get back," added Aisha.

"I see… if the two of you think that's best," replied Mina.

"Aw, she's really disappointed she can't do it right now. We'll have to fix that, won't we 'papa?'" said Aisha, nudging Leon in the ribs.

"Who're you calling 'papa?'" he shot back.

"He he he, don't worry Mina, I'm sure we'll have you trained to fly in no time."

"Really?" she asked, excitedly.

"Sure! Now, let's get going to those ruins!"

They found their way into the ruins easily enough as there were no bandits guarding the entrance this time around. These ruins looked to be in much better condition than the ones where they found Mina, with most of the architecture intact and unstained by the passing of time.

"Wow! These ruins are a lot more impressive than the last ones!" exclaimed Leon.

"Yeah. You could pack a few platoons of Zentradi in here and still have room to maneuver," remarked Roy.

"I'll bet. Hey Mina, are you feeling ok?" said Leon.

"Yes, but… I feel something familiar… like I've been here before," she said, eyes closed as she tried to sort out just what it was that was making her feel this way.

"I'm sure we'll find out as we get deeper in," he offered.

As they traveled into the deepest parts of this particular ruin they did encounter some Dyaus Guardians but nothing that three well-armed Valkyries couldn't handle. At one point, they discovered that one of the walls had some crude glyphs carved into them that definitely didn't look like they had been there originally.

"Where do you suppose those came from?" asked Roy.

"There was a native culture on this planet besides the Protoculture," replied Aisha, "I'm sure that Mina is one of them. Perhaps the Protoculture used them to help build these ruins?"

"Maybe. This jogging your memory at all, Mina?" asked Leon. She silently shook her head. As Leon flew onwards, Mina contemplated what Aisha had said. Did this then mean that she was the last of her kind? It wasn't a pleasant thought.

At last they entered a chamber, which Aisha determined was at the lowest level. Right in the center of the massive cathedral-like space was a large… thing. Leon didn't know what else to call it. It sat in a depression in the stone floor and sat upon a circular base. Its shape was circular at the base but fanning out into a half-moon crescent at the top. Triangular and circular markings adorned its face, dark and glass-like. To Leon, it looked as if it were molded from the stone, instead of carved.

"What is it?" asked Roy, bluntly.

"Let's get a closer look!" suggested Aisha.

They put their Valkyries in GERWALK mode and tipped the forward fuselages down enough that they could then climb out of the cockpits. Leon and Roy both offered hand to help Mina down, something she blushed at profusely. Aisha meanwhile had already gone over to where the monument's base sat.

"This is fascinating! I've never seen something like this down here before!" she exclaimed.

"Do you think it was made by the Protoculture?" asked Leon.

"It's possible but I'd need to examine it more closely. It could have also been made by the native inhabitants."

"Yeah, maybe. Mina, does this seem at all familiar to you?" Leon asked, turning to where Mina was standing beside him. She had been gazing up at the monument but now had her head bowed and eyes closed in an almost prayer-like attitude.

"Oi, Mina? Did something happen?"

Still she didn't respond.

"What happened, Mina?" asked Aisha, a note of fear creeping into her tone. There was another pause where Mina didn't move or say anything and then she murmured, "The ruins… start-up… song?"

Suddenly, there was a flash of light from above them, drawing Leon, Aisha and Roy's attention. A triangular indentation at the very top of the monument now glowed with a soft green light. Their attention was brought back to earth when they heard a thud next to them and looked down to see Mina collapsed on the floor.

"Mina! Dammit! What the hell just happened?" cried Leon.

"I don't know! Here, let's get her away from this… whatever it is," said Aisha. All three of them grabbed hold of Mina and set her down where they had parked their Valkyries, against the foot of Leon's VF-0D. Mina stirred and at last opened her eyes.

"Leon… Aisha? Mr. Focker?"

"Don't call me 'Mr. Focker.' You're making me feel old," said Roy, half-joking, half-apprehensive.

"Do you feel alright? Does your head hurt?" asked Aisha, worry etched across her face.

"No, I'm alright…" said Mina, now struggling to get to her feet. Roy and Leon helped her up.

"Mina… what just happened back there?" asked Leon.

"I… I remembered…" she said breathily, her eyes looking beyond the three to something else only she could see.

"You remembered? Mina, are you saying you got your memory back?" asked Leon, astonished.

"I… I…" Mina tried to see but her voice broke and tears began to gather at the corners of her eyes.

"It's okay, just take your time. We'll head back to the ship and we can talk there," said Leon.

"Right. Does that sound good, Mina?" offered Aisha, kindly.

"Yes," replied Mina, quietly.

Once they had gotten back to the Gefion and changed out of their pilot suits, the four of them gathered in the ship's lounge. Unlike the lounge on a NUNS ship, this one was much more lushly appointed with a fully stocked bar but still retained a military feel to it. Roy tried to pour Mina a tall glass of Vodka but when Aisha threw him a dirty look he said he was kidding and put on a pot of coffee.

"Mina, back there you said you had remembered something?" Leon prompted.

"Yes…" she said uncertainly, "I only saw a few things but I think I remembered what I'm supposed to do."

"What you're supposed to do?" echoed Aisha.

"And what's happening on this planet of Ouroboros," said Mina.

"The Ouroboros Aura, the rogue Zentradi, the strange appearances… I can see how they're all linked."

"I thought so," said Aisha, "I've heard from many of the guild members that the symptoms appeared and began to spread at that time."

"When we went to the ruins, I felt that machine awakened a memory engram that I've carried with me. The memory doesn't tell me much, just that I'm somehow linked to the computer system within the ruins. But I don't understand why! Why am I linked with the ruins? Why… why can't I remember anything else? What if… what if I CAN'T remember anything else? And where are the others who are like me? What if I'm… the only one left?"

"I suppose it's possible…" said Leon, thoughtfully. When Mina and Aisha looked over at him in shock, he continued, "But no matter what happens, you're with us now. Even if you can't remember, you are you. And that's all that matters."

"Leon… but…"

"That's right. You're part of our SMS family now. Even if you never remember all of your old life, you can make new memories with u," added Aisha, smiling warmly at Mina, who was brushing aside the tears that were beginning to trickle down her cheeks.

"A family… do you really mean that? Leon? Aisha?" she said.

"Of course we do!" replied Leon, heartily.

"Count on it!" added Aisha.

"Thank you so much…" began Mina, but her voice broke before she could finish and she began to sob softly.

"Now, there there," said Aisha softly, patting Mina gently on the back. Roy pulled out a handkerchief from his pocket and offered it to Mina.

"I got that from an old friend of mine I used to fly for so I'll need it back some time, OK?"

Mina nodded in response, dabbing at her eyes with the folded square of cloth.

"Everyone, I'll do my best for you!" she said, the tears gone now, replaced by a determined gleam in her eyes. "And together we'll figure out what's going on Ouroboros. Together with Aisha, Leon and Major Focker!"

Now Aisha looked like she was going to cry.

"Mina… saying things like that, it's like you're our kid who's all grown up!"

"I don't see any two people here that could be parents," Leon said flatly.

"If I were you I wouldn't object too strongly, Kid," said Roy, with a shark-like grin.

Mina giggled a bit at that, now much happier than she had been a moment ago.

"I'm really glad I got to meet you all. Leon, Aisha, "uncle" Roy."

"Uncle?! So, wait, now I'm part of this too? I dunno if I'm quite old enough yet to be an uncle…" grumbled the elder pilot.

"I'm glad too, Mina," said Aisha.

"Me too," added Leon.

"A toast to our new family!" said Aisha, walking over to the bar top and filling coffee mugs for the three of them, as Roy was already sipping out of his own. They clunked the mugs together and took deep pulls… until Mina choked on the hot liquid and spilled it all down her front.

"What is that stuff?" she spluttered, "It tastes terrible!"

"My fault! I should have known you might do that if you never have had coffee before!" said Aisha as she led Mina towards the door and the nearest bathroom.

"I've got a feeling that my life is going to be a whole lot more stranger," remarked Roy as he turned his head to look out the big window.