ENGLISH: EPISODE #6 READINGS

Hi guys and girls!

Ok, as promised, it is now time to give the listeners of Robotech: The McKinney Project Podcast a chance to become the STAR OF THE SHOW!

Following this intro will be all TWENTY FIVE reading that have been chosen for Episode #6. Some are short, some are a medium sized but ALL of them are important! And yes, I have included the EPIGRAPHS will be used too!

Each excerpt is NUMBERED, including the epigraphs. I also do indicate the Chapters. It's a lot, so I hope you will be choosing more than one! =)

Now, we covered this in Episode #3 on how the submission of readings will work, but I will cover it again;


You will need your PC and a recording device. (Microphone/Headset Microphone).

(I have not tested this on a tablet, IPAD or IPHONE, if it works for you, let me know PLEASE!)


Go to SOUNDCLOUD at www.soundcloud.com and register an account. You get TWO HOURS of recording time FREE. (MORE than enough!)

Pick your readings......AND RECORD! Either through Soundcloud or separate recording software. (try http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ 
.......it's a great program and it's FREE!). If you record outside of Soundcloud, you must upload it to their website.

Email me at robotechnovels@gmail.com your Soundcloud page. (EMAILS WITH SOUND FILES ATTACHED TO THEM WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED!!!!)

Keys to a good recording:

CLARITY - People have to hear you clearly!

IDENTIFICATION - Your name, location and which reading you are recording. I want to give you FULL CREDIT!

VARIETY - Record MORE than one reading, it betters your chances of getting on the show.

Now I want to be real.....not EVERYONE will make it to Episode #6.....however.....I WILL do an entire separate Episode with ALL the readings submitted!

EMOTION: You don't have to be a voice actor for this....but you have put that vibrancy behind what you are reading! I know you are all talented and I want to showcase that on the podcast!


SO.......................ARE YOU READY????????????

LADIES AND GENTLMEN, BOYS AND GIRLS, CHILDREN OF ALL AGES.....YOUR OFFICIAL ROBOTECH: THE MKCKINNEY PODCAST EPISODE #6 ROBOTECH NOVEL EXCERPTS!!!!!


Episode #6

Chapter #19

***#1***

Heroism? Perseverance? When it comes to the story of Macross City and its citizens, we're talking about a whole lot of new superlatives for those concepts.
Mayor Tommy Luan, The High Office


***#2***

"What d'you mean reopen the restaurant?" Uncle Max exploded, though she could hear the sudden hope in his voice.

Minmei gestured around at the stacked chairs and boxed flatware and bundles of table linen. The White Dragon, which originally stood at the virtual center of Macross City, had served as a kind of field test for the engineers seeking to help the Macross City survivors rebuild their lives, an experiment to see if a piece of the city could be reproduced down to the last detail. There were working dishwashers and ovens and sinks and rest rooms, freezers and refrigerators, lighting and a sound system.

The only thing that was different was that there were no garbage pails or dumpsters. A system of oubliettes was being built into the new Macross City because everything-everything-would have to be recycled and reused. It made perfect sense to Minmei, who'd known thirst and hunger and other privations well in the past two weeks; anyone who couldn't see that was just being stupid.

"We have everything we need," she pointed out. "It'll be fun!"

She saw a rekindling in Uncle Max's eyes, but he said slowly, "Maybe so, but it'd be awfully difficult to run a restaurant when these are all the rations they give at one time." He shook the book-size box. "For four of us, for today."

"But you kept your place open all through the war!" Minmei cried.


Uncle Max ran his hand through the tight black curls on his head. Aunt Lena looked shocked, but happy. "Whff! That was much different," Max said. Then he reconsidered.

"Well, the army had imposed rationing then too..."

"But-we're living inside a spaceship, Minmei," Lena said.

"But the main problem right now isn't shortages, right?" Minmei reminded her. "It's distribution and control. We've got thousands of people spending half the day on line! How's anybody gonna get anything done? That's the ultimate in stupidity!"

She saw that they were getting the point. "Aunt Lena, once the authorities know you're reopening the White Dragon, they'll give you all the supplies you want! And it wouldn't surprise me if they put us all on salary as food distribution specialists!"

"And people can pay us with their ration cards; the army pays at least part of the overhead; there's room for a little markup, I would think; the tips are pure profit, whether they're in military script or in goods or service IOUs; and we'll get that new bookkeeping computer they're setting up to keep track of cost/profit margin!"

***#3***

Three Veritech pilots sat there, gazing at the restaurant as if it were a three-headed dinosaur. "We saw it but we couldn't believe it!" the jeep's driver said. "Are you really open?"

"We certainly are!" Minmei said proudly.

They looked a little dazed as she led them inside, seated them, and brought glasses of ice water. "Welcome to the first Chinese restaurant in outer space," she beamed, distributing menus.

"Thanks; it's an honor to be here," the driver said. "Hey, you're that girl Minmei everybody's been talking about, huh? I'll bet you had some incredible adventures."

"Sometimes it was pretty scary," she admitted.

The biggest of the three, the one who'd been sitting in the back of the carrier, said in a sly tone, "I heard it was just you and whatshisname, that kid, alone for two weeks. What'd you do all that time?"

She blinked. "What do you mean?"

"Oh, I think you know," the big guy said.

"C'mon, it's obvious," the third one said.

"You make me sick!" she fumed, turning her back on them.

"You mean nothing happened?" the big one persisted. "Nothing at all?"

She whirled. "Yes, that's exactly right!"

"Speaking of whatshisname," the driver said, "is he still around? I mean, I heard he was living here or something."

Minmei answered carefully. "Yes, he's renting a room upstairs from my aunt and uncle. Why?"

The driver shrugged. "You're saying that with all you two went through together, nothing happened? You didn't fall in love or anything?"

"Don't be ridiculous! Rick is just a friend! Now, are you three gonna order or are you gonna leave?"

Rick, poised on the stairs, had heard enough. As the pilots hastened to order chow mein, he turned and went back up to his room.

He sat on his bed and stared glumly at the wall. So, we're just friends, huh? He remembered the feel of her in his arms, the electric thrill as they kissed.

After everything that happened, the next day we're just friends. He knew Minmei could be stubborn, but on this subject she was just going to have to change her mind.

***#4***


The engineering section was a hive of activity where every tech, scientist, and specialist available was working twelve-, eighteen-, sometimes twenty-hour days.

Gloval, by his own order, was ignored as he entered, not wishing to break anyone's concentration even for a moment. "Doctor Lang, what do you think? Is the main gun usable or not?"

Lang gave Gloval a brisk salute from habit. The strange whiteless eyes were still mystical, dark. "Look at this schematic, sir."

Lang projected a diagram of SDF-1 on a big wall screen. "This is a first-level depiction of the primary reflex furnace, our power plant. And there you see the energy conversion unit for the main gun. Between the two is the energy conduit for the fold system."

He gave a bitter smile. "Was, I should say."

"Which means that after the fold system disappeared, the gun's power source was separated from it, correct?" Gloval asked. "What are you planning to do, since we haven't much spare conduit left?"

And, ironically, conduit was one of the very few things the fabricators couldn't reproduce with materials at hand. But the main gun was SDF-1's hope of survival; Gloval studied Lang, hoping the man had an answer.

Lang assumed the tone he'd used in his lectures back on Earth. "The SDF-1's construction is Robotech construction, sir. That is, the ship is modular, as our Veritech fighters are modular. Variable geometry, you see."

Lang ran a series of illustrations to show what he meant. "So, simplistically speaking, we should by all rights be able to reconfigure the ship, altering its structure in such a way as to bridge the gap that now exists between the main gun and its power source."

It was all a little breathtaking and bold; the proposed reconfiguration, with modules realigned in new shapes, was radically different from the SDF-1 as she now existed.

Gloval felt very uneasy. Lang went on, "The problem, very simply, is that until this modular transformation is completed, the main gun cannot be fired."

Lang gestured to the diagrams. "There are going to be major changes, both internally and externally. Of course, the rebuilding of the city and the other modifications made by and for the refugees were never planned for in the ship's construction. I anticipate considerable damage. It's going to be quite a mess for a while."

Gloval was staring at the diagrams, haunted by the awful scenes he'd been forced to witness out the SDF-1 bridge viewport after the spacefold. Mention of structural conversions and damage automatically made alarm bells go off in any seasoned spacer's head; despite Lang's cool calculations, the risk wasn't just of damage-it was of utter disaster.

"Don't we have any other way to fire the main gun, Doctor?"

"You mean besides a modular transformation, sir? No other way that I know of."

Gloval turned away from the screen angrily. "We just can't! The people are only now getting used to being here, trying to patch their lives back together. To subject them to such chaos and perhaps lose more lives-no, it would be just too much."

But a small part of him feared that the decision wasn't that simple; events could force his hand.

CHAPTER #20

***#5***

The Rick Hunter who crashed in that hold would never have listened to Roy Fokker. The one who came out...

Well, it's just funny how things happen sometimes, isn't it?

The Collected Journals of Admiral Rick Hunter


***#6***


From the lounge of the officers' club, Rick found himself looking down on the Daedalus. "Wow! An aircraft carrier connected to the Robotech ship?"

There was a long elbowlike housing holding the carrier fast. Rick could see that the ship had been patched and made airtight and was in service. All six bow and waist cats appeared to be in operation. As he watched, an elevator brought up two Veritechs for launch.

The Thor-class supercarrier, almost fifteen hundred feet long, had undergone a lot of other modifications. Most conspicuously, its "island"-the towerlike superstructure that had once dominated the flight deck and been the Daedalus's bridge-had been removed to leave the deck perfectly flat. All flight operations had been combined in the SDF-1's command center, and the salvaged materials and equipment had been used in the design changes.

The Veritechs spread their wings, not for the sake of aerodynamics but rather because the wider placement of thrusters gave them better control. The hookup men and cat crews, now spacesuited and still color-coded according to their jobs, went through the time-honored routine.

As Rick watched, a bow cat officer pointed to his "shooter," the man who actually gave the order to launch. The cat officer signalled the Veritech pilot with a wave of a flashlight, pointing toward the bow, dropping to one knee to avoid being accidentally hit by a wing.

The fighter was accelerated off the flatdeck's hurricane bow at almost 200 knots-not because airspeed was necessary in the airlessness of space but to get the Veritech launched and clear of the ship in a hurry, as it would have to be in combat, so as not to be a sitting duck for alien pilots.

The Veritech banked and soared away. Rick had to remind himself that it was flying in total vacuum; Robotech control systems made the operation of a fighter very much a matter of thought, and the Veritech pilots were used to thinking in terms of atmospheric flying. And so the Veritechs flew that way; it was wasteful of power, but power was something Robotech ships, with their reactor drives, had in great supply.

Rick watched longingly. "Terrific."

"How'd you like to fly one again?" Roy clapped Rick on the shoulder.

Rick spun on him. "What are you saying?"

"Join us, Rick. Become a Veritech pilot and stop all this moping around."

Rick's expression hardened. "I don't want to be a fighter pilot."

"Oh? You'd rather drag yourself around the SDF-1 like a lovesick idiot? Well?"

Rick broke loose of Roy's hand, turning away. "Roy?" he said over his shoulder.

"Yeah?"

"Roy, I think I'm-I mean, do you think it's possible for girls to change overnight? Completely?"

"How's that again?"

"Can a girl simply change from what she was the day before?"

"I don't think you have to worry about that. Minmei thought you were depressed, and it was her idea for me to bring you up here and have a tittle chat."

Roy slapped him on the back, knocking a little of the breath from him. "So just cheer up and go back to Minmei, kid; she's waiting for you."

He walked off, chuckling to himself, but paused to call back, "Oh, one more thing: Girls like her can be sort of flighty sometimes, know what I mean? You better be careful some guy in uniform doesn't catch her eye. See ya."

***#7***

Across the solar system, maintaining position relative to Earth's nearby moon, the Zentraedi armada hung like a seaful of bloodthirsty fish.

Breetai returned to his command post in response to Exedore's request. "Traps-vid records of the aliens, you say?"

Exedore kowtowed to his lord. "Yes, they were just recovered from a disabled scout pod. And they confirm absolutely the eyewitness accounts of our warriors. If you would care to study them, Commander..."

A projecbeam drew an image in midair. The recorder's point of view was a fast-moving, almost bewildering sweep through the carnage and fury of the battle in the streets of Macross City. Explosions and fire were everywhere, but now and again there were split-second glimpses of the aliens, mostly fleeing or falling.

"I believe you'll find this intriguing," Exedore said. Then suddenly a pod loomed close by one of the inhabitants of the planet, and for the first time Breetai got a feeling of scale.

His voice reverberated in shock and anger, a guttural to shake the bulkheads. "So! It's true! Micronians!"

The traps-vid record cut to another shot that left no doubt: a human figure falling to its death from a high building, knocked off along with debris by the enormous foot of a pod.

"Precisely," Exedore said delicately.

"So the inhabitants here are Micronians, eh?" Breetai scowled. The conflicting emotions held by the Zentraedi toward normal-size humanoids-'Micronians,' as the giant warriors contemptuously referred to them-welled up in him. There was disdain and hatred but also something strangely close to fear.

"I brought the traps-vids to you as soon as I saw them," Exedore said. "They present us with a very unpleasant new situation. During my researches into the origins of the Micronians in our most ancient records, I encountered a decree from our dimmest histories.

"It directs us to shun contact with any unknown Micronian planet-and threatens disaster if we do not heed it."

Breetai's face looked like a graven image. "So I'm to keep my hands off this Earth, eh? Bah!"

"It is my considered opinion, m'lord," Exedore insisted, "that we must cease hostilities with this planet immediately. We now have a fix on the battle fortress; I consider it prudent counsel that we make its capture our priority." The pinpoint pupils bored into Breetai, unblinking.

Breetai knew that Exedore would drop his usual deference only for a matter of vital importance. Breetai, like all Zentraedi, had absorbed his race's legends and superstitions along with its lore and warrior code. Like them all, he felt a twinge of apprehension at the thought of defying his heritage.

It was in his mind to object-to say that Exedore's stricture came from the days when the Zentraedi's numbers were fewer, their ships less mighty, their weapons not as powerful. But he considered Exedore: the repository of most of the lore and learning of the Zentraedi race. In a way, the diminutive, physically weak Exedore embodied his people. And Exedore seemed to have no doubts about the correct course in this instance.

"Very well, then. We will execute a spacefold, immediately and pursue the dimensional fortress."
Exedore bowed. "It shall be done."


"And see to it that an appropriate reconnaissance vessel is sent out at once upon completion of the fold maneuver."

Exedore knew what "appropriate" meant; they had discussed Breetai's strategy for dealing with the SDF-1. Exedore bowed again. "Yes, m'lord."

***#8***

He did. It took him a minute to figure out what he was looking at. "What's this all ab- A singing audition? It says you, um, got to the preliminaries."

Her eyes were dancing. "That's right! I can hardly believe it!"

He read on. "This says you were accepted for the Miss Macross competition. Miss Macross?"
He wondered for a moment why she'd never told him about that in the long imprisonment they'd shared down in SDF-1's sealed nether regions. But then, he realized there were things he'd never shared with her, either.


"Uh huh!" Minmei was giggling.

Rick put the letter down slowly. "Well, I guess it's no surprise. Minmei, you really sing well."

"Thank you, Rick." But the joy abruptly changed to a faraway look, a sadness. She rose from the bed and went to the window to look out on Macross and the bulkheads and overheads that hung in the distance like the end of the world.

"But this isn't the Earth, and people there have forgotten about this contest, so it's all kind of pointless, isn't it? Who cares if I'm a star here?"

It was the first time he'd seen her great thirst to be famous and successful; in their imprisonment it had seemed such a distant, implausible thing. But now it was clear that it was what she lived for.

He looked at the letter again. "Minmei, don't be sad. You can always audition again when we get back to Earth."

"If we get back to Earth."

He had no ready comeback for that. They both knew how desperate the situation was, how terrible the enemy. As they gazed at each other a skycrane went by the window, floating a prefab condo module toward its destination. The illusion of home all around them only made them that much more homesick.

"Rick? Do you ever dream?"

He was surprised, answering hesitantly. "I used to have a dream. Now it's a pile of junk in a hangar bay up on the flight deck levels."

"Mockingbird."

"Yeah." And I won't let my father down! I'm not going to be part of this war or any war! So-I guess I might as well get used to being a passenger.

"I'm never gonna have another dream again, Minmei. They hurt too much when they die."

She hung her head. "Oh, Rick."

He wondered if it had occurred to her that he wasn't just talking about Mockingbird, wondered if she ever remembered that one kiss...

Chapter #21

***#9***

They still thought of mechamorphosis, of transformation and in fact transfiguration, as an unlooked-for last resort and a sort of desperate aberration. There was no point in my telling them that it was all in the nature of Robotechnology; they would come to understand that for themselves.

Dr. Emil Lang, Technical Recordings and Notes

#10

The information was pouring in quickly; Lisa correlated it at her duty station. "Enemy starships," she confirmed.

Gloval rose slowly and crossed to peer over her shoulder. "So, they've come at last." He stood looking down at the huge "paint," the wide splotch on the radar screen that indicated the enemy.

Claudia and the rest of the bridge gang took a moment to gaze too.

"All right, then," Gloval said. "Prepare to repel attack and launch an immediate counterattack."

"Aye-aye, Captain." Lisa moved with precision, sounding the alarms that were her province, speaking into a handset.

"Enemy attack. I say again, enemy attack. This is not a drill. Scramble all Veritechs. Scramble all Veritechs."

As general quarters sounded, the SDF-1 and its attached supercarriers became scenes of frantic activity. Men charged to their planes, some of them to fly combat for the first time, as plane crews and launch crews, flight controllers and cat crews, all braced for the manic haste.

The hangar decks and flight decks were in a well-ordered turmoil. Elevators raised flight after flight of fighters to the flatdecks' waist and bow cats, and even more Veritechs blazed angrily from SDF-1's bays.

Roy Fokker pulled on his helmet, checking out his own ship's status and the rest of Skull Team's as well. It so happened that they were taking off from Daedalus after a familiarization mission; Skull's usual berth was in a bay on the dimensional fortress.

But they were all experienced naval aviators. The hookup man had made the connections to the bow cat, and the blast deflector had been raised from the deck behind Roy's Veritech. The cat officer had her right hand up high, two fingers extended, waving it with a rapid motion.

This particular catapult officer, Roy knew, was a good one: Moira Flynn, who'd been reassigned to SDF-1 from the Daedalus and had thus been spared the horrible fate so many of her shipmates had suffered in the wake of the miscalculated spacefold. Moira and the other old hands had worked like coolies in the reorganization, training new crews for the fearsomely dangerous job of working a flight deck.

***#11***

Troubleshooters made a last quick eyeball inspection of the fighter in a fast walkdown along either side and found no reason to abort launch. The cat officer registered their thumbs-up reports; some things hadn't changed much since the early days of carrier flying and visual signals were the communication of choice, even though the suit helmets had radios. Verbal communication among so many people would have made any communications net chaos.

The hookup man was clear, and Moira Flynn pointed to Roy. Fokker replied with a sharp salute to signal his readiness, cutting his hand away from the brow of his helmet smartly.

The cat officer turned to point at her shooter to alert the man for a launch, then turned as in some punctilious dance to make a last check that the deck was clear for launch. Roy felt his stomach get tight, as it always did.

The cat officer turned back to the fighter, kneeling in what looked like a genuflection so as to be clear of the launch in case of catapult or Veritech malfunction. Lieutenant Flynn gave final, ritual clearance, pointing along the track of the cat, with her flashlight, into the void, in a pose like a javelin thrower who'd just released.


Her shooter hit the button, brought both hands together in signal, and ducked, as per procedure.

Roy felt himself shoved at 200 knots along Daedalus's deck. All the catapults had had to be recalibrated because, while there was gravity on the flight decks now thanks to equipment from SDF-1, there was no air resistance.

Skull Leader's fighter shot forth over the ship's hurricane bow, going out straight as an arrow to avoid a collision with ships being launched from the waist cats. Another Veritech was about to be launched from the center bow cat, and it would bank starboard. A third was about to be guided into the slot of the third bow cat; a fourth was about to be guided into the slot Roy had just abandoned.

The Veritechs launched, one after another, all over the reconfigured SDF-1. The blue novas of their drives lit the darkness of the solar system's edge as they formed up and went to meet their enemies once again.

***#12***

Rick grunted, shuffling along behind her with his hands in his pockets. He supposed that she was right; the city lay at their feet, and there probably wasn't a better vista of human-type scenery within a billion miles. He sank down on the wide railing, looking at the ground rather than at the city.
Minmei didn't notice his depression, too taken with the scene. "It's so-" she started to say, just as the general quarters alarms cut loose and Lisa Hayes started making her announcements. Rick recognized the voice and decided he disliked it more than he'd thought possible.


"Will we be all right?" Minmei asked him as another voice started to yammer about air raid warnings.

He kicked a bit of dirt. "Don't worry. Roy'll take care of it. As usual."

She put her hands on hips. "How come you're always talking about Roy's flying? You're just as good a pilot as he is, any day!"

He looked away at that, up to the ceiling lights. Alarms wailed, and he wondered what Big Brother was doing.

***#13***

Just then, Roy was leading Skull Team in the most furious dogfight he'd ever seen, as wave after wave of pods came in at the SDF-1. Zentraedi energy blasts and missiles flashed in all directions as the dimensional fortress's defensive batteries blazed away. The special Veritech autocannon ammo, designed to fire in airless space, was even more powerful and accurate there than in atmosphere.

There were explosions and more explosions, all in the eerie quiet of vacuum. Except the tac nets weren't quiet; if the explosions emitted no sound, the screams of dying men made up for that.

Every Veritech squadron rehearsal and drill went out the window; in the utter madness that swirled around the SDF-1, the pilots found that they could keep tight with their wingmen and engage the enemy only as the opportunity arose. It was a cloud of dogfighting like nothing that had ever gone before it in human history-fireballs created by exploding spacecraft, perhaps a half dozen of them at a time, and the relentless lancing of beam weapons and autocannon tracers.

"These aliens are a lot better up here than they were back on Earth," Roy told Skull Team, although they were all painfully aware of that already. "Looks like a real rat race this time."

He led his wingman onto a new vector and headed for a cluster of pods that threatened to break through SDF-1's defenses at a spot where two gun turrets had been knocked out.

Pods began erupting in flames as the VTs' shots rained on them; the sally was turned back, but in the meantime three more cries for help came in. Roy told himself to ignore the big picture and just tend to his flying.

***#14***


Breetai, arms folded across his immense chest, contemplated the screens. After a lifetime of soldiering, after uncountable contests in battle, he'd come to appreciate a shrewd enemy, and he'd begun to conclude that this enemy commander was either quite shrewd-or insane.

Still, a warrior fought to win. To meet a foe worthy of respect was a thing to be wished for but also a thing to ignite caution in any wise commander.

The metal and crystal of his headpiece caught the light. "What are you planning, my dear Micronian friend?" Breetai murmured.

"Perhaps we should offer them another enticement and see what they do," Exedore suggested.

"Mmmm." Breetai's metal-sheathed head inclined.

"Very good idea. Tell the recon ship to open fire, but it is not to do serious damage to the battle fortress. Is that clear?"

Exedore bowed and hastened to obey.

***#15***

But the Zentraedi overlords cared little about that; their warrior code held that lives were expendable. Without warning, a terrible volley hit friend and foe alike and holed the battle fortress.

A pod was blown apart just before two converging VTs could make the kill themselves; another Veritech was singed along a wing surface by the barrage. Attempting to switch to Guardian mode so it could cope better with damage to itself, it was hit by another blast, flying to pieces in a bright globe. Secondary explosions blistered from the SDF-1's hull. Wreckage flew, and precious atmosphere puffed into space.

***#16***

Vanessa was back to her station before he got to his feet.

"Captain, damage control reports that the second and fifth laser turrets have sustained heavy damage. They'll be out of action for seven hours minimum."

"Number four thruster is almost completely destroyed," Claudia declared grimly.

"Subcontrol systems report heavy damage and heavy casualties," Lisa added.

Another close hit jarred the ship, lifting a missile-launching tube away from it and scattering wreckage and pieces of human bodies.

Gloval reared up angrily. "That's the last straw! We're firing the main gun!

Lisa heard herself gasp along with the rest of the bridge gang.

Gloval was stone-faced. "Stand by; upon my command, we will execute Dr. Lang's designated modular transformation!"

Kim couldn't keep herself from protesting. "But if we do that, it means the whole town might-"

"Yes, that's right, the damage-" Sammie agreed, breathless.

Gloval glared at them. "I either take this risk or see the SDF-1 completely destroyed. I have no choice! I have to do it.

Outside, the sinister festival of lights grew more intense. Another nearby hit shook the bridge again. Lisa whirled back to her duty station. "All systems attention, all systems attention! Begin preparations for firing the main gun!"

***#17***

"I guess that Roy must be out there in the middle of the fighting," she said sadly, looking out at the city.

"You mean-you think I should join the defense force?"

"No, I didn't mean that at all. It's just that airplanes are your dream, aren't they?"

He could see that the war didn't matter very much to her; that wasn't the way her mind worked.

But she'd seen that he was sad and saw what she thought to be a remedy to that sadness.

"I guess so. But if I go and join the defense forces, Minmei, I won't be able to see very much of you anymore." Painful as seeing her under present circumstances was, he wasn't willing to give it up.
She was suddenly smiling. "Rick, we're on the same ship! On your days off or furlough or whatever it is, we can see each other whenever we want to."


"If I survive."

"Oh, how can you talk that way? All the soldiers who come to the restaurant are in exactly the same position!"

"The same position?" He smiled bitterly. "You'd be the one to know, now, wouldn't you?"

She started as if she'd been slapped. "What?"

Up on the bridge, Claudia watched her monitors. "Ten seconds to transformation."

Chapter 22

***#18***

And so, my preliminary conclusions lead me to believe these creatures harbor certain unpredictable impulses of a nature as yet unknown to us. It seems obvious that this irrational side to their nature will impede their war-making ability and work in our favor, assuring us the ultimate victory.

Preliminary findings summary transmitted by Breetai to Dolza

#19

"All sections on execution standby?" Gloval demanded.

"D and G blocks are running a bit late but they'll manage," Kim sang out.

"Good; continue," the captain said.

"Counting four seconds," Claudia resumed. "Three... two..."

"Commence full-ship transformation," Gloval ordered.

The bridge crew took up the quiet, critical exchanges of the transformation, listening to their headset earphones and speaking into their mikes. What would have been soft-spoken bedlam to an outsider was instantly intelligible to Gloval.

Sammie: "Commence full-ship tranformation. J, K, and L blocks, stand to."

Kim:"Number seven reflex furnace, power up. Seven-eight section start engines. Not enough power, J block!"

Vanessa: "Activate main torque-sender units."

And the ghostly voices came back, complaining of trouble with substrata plasma warps, of injuries in a hundred different locations, of machinery that was being asked to do too much, of overtaxed components that simply could not do their jobs, and of civilians who, confused and disoriented, were not prepared for the upheaval that was about to take place. Through it all, the bridge gang worked selflessly, concentrating on their jobs and their responsibilities.

Gloval knew that no matter what was about to happen, he was proud of them, proud to serve with them.

"Full-ship transformation under way, sir," Claudia relayed.

With the ship trembling and vibrating all around him, Gloval drew on his reserves of inner calm, clasping his hands behind his back. Now, what would happen would happen; he'd done all he could, and the odds of numbers or the vagaries of engineering or happenstance or some higher power-or all of the above-would make the final judgment.

"Very good," he told Claudia.

***#20***

Rick didn't particularly care, didn't feel any urge to find refuge. "Y'know, Minmei, sometimes I wish they'd never found us."


"I can't believe I'm hearing that from you! How can you be so spiteful? Oh, l hate you!"

He looked back at her. "The same goes for me. If it doesn't mean anything to you that you and I were-"

The vibration had reached a level that nearly knocked him off his feet as enormous pylons, each as wide as a city block, began descending from the gigantic compartment's ceiling. The grinding of the monster servomotors that moved them became deafening.

Rick and Minmei barely had time to get an inkling of what was going on, barely had time to begin to cry out, when the ground at their feet split apart, he on one side and she on the other.

The tower on which humans had so tentatively begun a garden had functions none of them had foreseen. In answer to the reconfiguration order, the tower halves swung away from each other.
Minmei lost her balance and fell, barely catching the brink of a metal ledge that jutted out a few inches below the soil level. The tower part to which she clung pivoted on its supports out over the roofs of the city; screaming, she kicked and scrabbled for purchase against a sheer cliff face of technical components, systemry, and equipment modules.


"Minmei!" Rick fought for balance as the tower segment on which he was standing shook, moving into place with a grinding of massive gears. The gap between the halves was growing wider. He took a running start and hurtled out over empty air, barely making the other side.

Rick knelt to where Minmei hung, legs kicking, hundreds of feet above the roofs of Macross. She'd lost one hand grip, and her fingers were slipping form the other.

He threw himself prone at the brink of the abyss and grabbed her wrist with both hands just as she let go. He gritted his teeth and pulled, but the leverage was difficult, and he hadn't had time to get a firm hold.

***#21***


Roy bagged another kill, a pod that had very nearly bagged him, and brought his fighter around to locate Captain Kramer, his wingman, and get his bearings. Then he saw the SDF-1. "What in the..."

The Daedalus and the Prometheus were in motion, swinging on the giant elbow moorings that joined them to the dimensional fortress. In the blizzard of explosions and ordnance and fighter drives, the supercarriers swung from positions more or less alongside the SDF-1's stern, port and starboard, to a deployment that left them angled out from the hull.

Roy got a confused impression of movement along the hull, of realignment, of major structural features disengaging and then reshaping themselves. The entire midships area was turning. The great forward booms that constituted the main gun were on the move, and the bridge itself was shifting position. And the overall effect was-Roy stared, trying to believe it-the overall effect was of a human figure, a giant armored warrior something like a stylized Battloid.

The flattops resembled pincer-equipped arms, the tremendous aft thrusters were like legs and feet, and the bridge and the structures around it were a blank-visored helmet. And standing high above either shoulder, like uplifted wings, were the booms; with the shifting of the entire midships section, they were now in position to receive energy.

Somehow, Roy found himself accepting the strange apparition as a logical thing; Robotechnology seemed to have, as a primal component, a quality involving shape shifting, and anthropomorphic structures.

"So, that's the transformation," he breathed. Now, if it only works!

***#22***

"Modular transformation completed, sir," Lisa announced. "SDF-1 is now in Attack mode."

"Captain, another enemy assault wave is approaching from one-zero-niner-three."

"Disregard," Gloval ordered. "Fire main gun at designated targets."

"Yes, sir." Claudia thumbed the safety cover off a red trigger button and pressed it with her forefinger. There was a fateful little acknowledging click.

Out between and around the forward booms, the red flash flood of energy began building again, just as it had that day on Macross Island. A wash of energy a quarter mile in diameter sprang across space, instantly destroying all the alien pods in its path as well as pods on the periphery of the beam, out to a radius of a mile and more. They lit up, superheated by the eddy currents, their shields overpowered in seconds, armor heated to cherry-red and then white-hot before the occupants could take any evasive action or retreat.

They simply blazed in the stream of the main gun's volley for an instant, giving off trails like meteors, then disappeared.

The beam hit the decoy reconnaissance vessel and its escort ships, making them pop open like chestnuts in an arc furnace, then run like quicksilver and vaporize.

The glare of it lit Breetai's Breetai's command post. "What's happening?"

Exedore looked out on the carnage, thinking of the strictures from the Zentraedi ancients. Try as he might, he couldn't fathom the workings or the strategies of these Micronians. He was intrigued, as he always was when he found something new to study, but he was also beset by doubts and misgivings.

Somewhere, somehow, Micronians had evidently given the Zentraedi good reason to shun them. But why?

"I wonder..." he said aloud, only partly in reply to Breetai's question.

***#23***

"Enemy ships disintegrated!" Vanessa cried. The bridge was in a joyous uproar.

What those people at NASA used to call a "whoopee," Gloval reflected, recovering his hat from where it lay on the deck.

He cleared his throat, and the "whoopee" was over. "Get me a full damage report on all sections immediately," he said. As after-action reports started coming in, the thought of the losses the people in the Macross hold had suffered seriously dampened the festive mood.

***#24***

Minmei stood beside him. Her brush with death had left her in a strange state-flushed with life and yet remote somehow. Rick knew the feeling, knew that all he could do was wait for her to come out of it before they started the long descent to Macross.

"Well, Rick," she said softly. "You said once that you wouldn't mind if the whole town were wiped out of existence, remember? How d'you like it?"

He stared down at the ocean of human suffering before him. "I didn't actually want anything to happen! I never wanted this."

She tried to identify city blocks from the fallen remains of buildings. "I wonder if the White Dragon is still there."

He turned to her. "Minmei, I'm gonna do it." He drew a deep breath. "I'm gonna join the defense forces."

"What?"

"You're right. It's no good, my moping around, especially when we're in the middle of a thing like this. I don't know if my father would understand; I think he would, though. I'm gonna enlist."

They turned to take a last look at the shattered city before going down to be of what help they could. Minmei took Rick's hand.

***#25***

Roy had Skull Team back in some order, and the other surviving VT teams were forming up too. Instruments indicated that the aliens were withdrawing. Roy didn't blame them a bit, after that shot from the main gun.

Human losses had been considerable, though, and that was from an attack that could have involved no more than a tiny fraction of a percentage of the enemy forces. It was a sobering thought, and he tried not to think too hard about what the next set-to would be like.

No time to sound doubtful now, though. "Awright, boys," he drawled over the tac net, "let's head for home."

Yessir, mosey along. But as the other Veritechs formed up on his ship and their drives lit the eternal night on the solar system's edge-as they returned triumphantly to a ship that was now an armored techno-knight dominating its part of space-Roy couldn't help wondering how many more miracles were left in the magic hat.

Luck doesn't hold out forever; it never does. There were too many gaps now in the elite ranks of the Veritechs. Too many; filling them must be top priority, starting today. The very best of the best had to be in those seats.

Roy knew who it was that must be persuaded to join the Robotech warriors. Even if I have to ram his head against a wall!

The surviving VTs sped home; the Zentraedi paused for cold calculation. Decisions were made, and all eyes looked to the overwhelming distance SDF-1 would have to cross in its journey back to Earth.

Unknowns... the situation was filled with unknowns. And the only good thing about unknowns was that they allowed marginal room for hope.

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