This story begins during the final days of the Sentinels proper campaign, between the liberation of Haydon IV and the final battles of the War over the Invid Homeworld, the planet Optera. It then covers the first invasion wave during the attemptive assaults on Invid occupied Earth. The groups that were chosen to be portrayed were two units that were mentioned on more than one occasion were the REF 19th ATAC Veritech Fighter Squadron, the Diamondbacks and the REF 17th ATAC Mechanized Infantry Battalion (Heavy), the IronWalkers.
The first story arc covers one of the initial drops onto Optera-space, and the fun that occurs to the REF recon team that gets the fun job of carrying out the assignment. It is a force reconnaissance that sounds easy on paper, but actually getting the mission accomplished on the ground and surviving to get that information back to the fleet, that becomes a different ballgame real quick.
Just so you know who you are reading about in the stories hereafter:
Robotech Expeditionary Force Navy= Constitute the flyers and members of the fleet. This would include the Veritech pilots, munitions handlers and flight crews, pilots and crews of the shuttles and capital ships, and command crews.
Robotech Expeditionary Force Army =The primary ground forces of the REF. These individuals include those who pilot destroids, special forces commandoes, ground based infantry (mechanized and un-mechanized), conventional armor elements, and their support forces.
REF Forces Roster:
Major General Elliott J. Caruthers (REFA) = A member of Hunter's senior staff, and the Commander in Chief of this task force. Splits his time between the combat fleet and the REF Provisional Council. A command officer who actually cares about his people and prefers to minimize the casualties that his people take during his combat actions, despite the near impossible odds that he is given for most of his assignments. His piercing steel blue eyes have been known to make more than one cocky pilot stop in his tracks. Is a true and blue combat officer and has a combat record to prove it. Was a Destroid Civil Defense Unit Commander aboard the SDF-1.
Captain Brandon Derringer (REFN) "Baelanos" = Veteran of the Malcontent Uprisings and of most of the major Sentinels campaigns under the REF. While not jaded, has had most of his idealism burned of while watching many good people over the past decade sacrifice their lives for what they felt was right. The bright spot in his life is his wife of five years and his close-knit fighting group that is like the family he lost during the rain of death. A very talented ace, he is adept at mecha combat on all levels.
Lieutenant Commander Craig Martin (REFN) "Otaku" = Another veteran of the Congo and Brasilia campaigns, Martin has been Derringer's wingman for almost 7 years. A confirmed bachelor, he enjoys throwing in his own brand of chaos into the mix of the couples around him. He has a more devil-may-care personality when on the ground, but in the air, he is literally hell on wheels. Trained in and preferring the bigger boats, Craig is usually relegated to BETA duty, although he would much prefer being behind the controls of one of the "Zentraedi Busters".
Lieutenant junior grade Steven Niequiest (REFN) "Merlin" = A talented VF pilot and squadron's practical joker. Has actually been disciplined and demoted twice for "conduct unbecoming an officer". However, he is loyal to the REF's ideals and his mischievous personality and sardonic behaviors are actually his unique way of handling and separating himself from the horrors of the war thus far. He is married to Lindsey Niequiest.
Lieutenant Lindsey Niequiest (REFN) "Firebrand" = The other of the Niequiest VT steam engine, Lindsey is also the more practical minded of the duo. She is a spit and polish officer, and a second generation VT pilot. Her father being one of the veterans of the original Skull Squadron under Commander Roy Fokker. She enlisted into the Academy and had just graduated in time for the Hunter's wedding. Originally assigned to the Ghost Squadron under General T.R. Edwards, she requested and was granted a transfer into the Diamondbacks. Once in the Diamondbacks, she was able to prove herself to the fullest of her abilities and grow as a VT pilot and an REF officer.
Lieutenant junior grade Angelina Spencer (REFN) "Primrose" = An very spirited and talented Alpha VT pilot. Comes from a scientific background, with her parents still attached to the re-building efforts on the Robotech Masters Homeworld. The youngest of three kids, Angelina feels the need to prove herself the equal to anyone else in the fleet, and most importantly, to her family. She sometimes takes risks without thinking them through, and then tries to cover up her actions by pushing herself harder, not acknowledging her mistakes in the first place. She is a good leader, and once her "ice queen" shell is broken through, is actually a very intelligent and compassionate woman to be with and around. Spencer has some great leadership qualities, however, like a diamond in the rough, she still needs time to hone down those rough edges. She oddly feels in direct competition with squadronmates Steven and Lindsey Niequiest.
Ensign Johnathon Whetstone (REFN) "Sci-fi" = Another of the new generation of fighter jocks who espouse themselves as the "Kings of the Sky." However, quite a few of his comrades actually think that jet fuel might just run in his veins after all. He is very talented, but also a bit reckless. He graduated near the top of his class and was initially selected for the Wolfpack until he found out that he might be a ground pounder, even if it were piloting a SPARTAS class hover tank. He is a qualified pilot in most Veritech styles, but the bigger, heavy hitters are his choice. Preferring the strafing style of combat and close ground support, the Beta instantly stood out in Johnny's mind. He is also almost as good in the bird as he claims to be, and if he can survive long enough, might be able to hone his raw talent into something that can match Jack Baker or Max Sterling. He gets his nickname from his odd habits of watching an old series of shows from a earth TV show from the Pre-Zentraedi holocaust called the "Sci-Fi channel", especially one show called Star Trek, which he spends a lot of his free time watching.
Commander Janine Derringer (REFN) "Trinity" = REF capital ship helmsman and captain of the Horizont class troop drop ship designated "Lightningbolt Lead". A career officer, she puts her job first as one of the top priorities in her life. She met and married Brandon right after the Tirol campaign and considers him one of her best friends. She was originally a flight control officer attached to the SDF-3's Combat Information Center. She had received pilot's training before the launch from the Robotech Factory, but didn't feel the urge to transfer to a line duty posting until they had been in Tirol space for about a year. Feeling cabin fever while stuck in orbit, Janine took to doing shuttle runs between the command centers in place in orbit and the planet and moons to relieve the monotony. Eventually she was transferred full time to the Horizont division and then given her own transport squadron to command.
Lieutenant junior grade Cynthia Mallard (REFN) = REF Mechanical engineer assigned as the flight engineer for "Lightningbolt Lead". Has been with Cartwright and Derringer ever since the boat had been commissioned and considers it her crowning achievement that she has kept the ship in the air and the top performance the entire time she has been assigned to the bird. Is a complete mechanical tech-head that really enjoys her work, despite the fact that she has been hit on by more than her share of guys and gals. She is also one of the space babies born on the Robotech Factory and thus feels more at home around the machines that she has been assigned to work on and with than the people that she has to work with.
Ensign Brody Atkins (REFN) = VT pilot currently assigned as the co-pilot to "Lightningbolt Lead." The "Greenie", as it were, of the flight crew, Brody was assigned to the Horizont detachment after losing his third aircraft in combat in six sorties. While a good pilot, he has a tendency to overextend himself. He is trained to pilot almost anything that has wings in the REF arsenal. He enjoys working with the crew and feels he is learning a lot from them, but he still wants to get back behind the controls of another VT, as soon as command allows him.
Chief Petty Officer Rico Cartwright (REFN) = Loadmaster and Crew chief for "Lightningbolt Lead". Served his entire career as either a loadmaster or on a flight line of some sort. He is a perfectionist that enjoys making sure that everything on his bird is in perfect order and by the book. Has been part of Derringer's crew since the outset and is considered the "old man of the crew". Also considered something of a good luck charm, having been on a ship that has been shot up but still made it home on at least dozen different occasions throughout the Macross conflict, the Malcontent Uprisings and the outer space border skirmishes, and the Sentinels campaigns. He attributes at least part of his uncanny luck to the fact that the people he works with actually use the stuff that he prepares for him the way it is supposed to be used. He is found constantly tinkering on the shuttles and arguing with Lieutenant Mallard, who he treats like a kid sister for the most part.
Major Ryan Darmouth (REFA) "Nighthunter" = Company Commander for the Mechanized Infantry Unit (2nd Company) attached to the 17th ATAC, the IronWalkers, one of the original Destroid units that were holdovers from the First Robotech War. Darmouth began his career as a Destroid jockey, as first a gunner on one of the old Monsters, then eventually getting his own mecha in the form of an RDF Excalibur as part of the Civil Defense units for New Macross during the Re-Construction. He then transferred to the Robotech factory as part of the first batch of Military Specialists to be trained in the then experimental Cyclone MOSPEADA system. Darmouth actually had a hand in creating the CADS system when he began to talk about clandestine operations and having a weapon system that would have been akin to the "pry bars" that the old style Gladiators were known and feared for. When the Tirol mission came up, Darmouth joined in without a moment's hesitation, even after his wife served him divorce papers for him signing up. He then took part in the initial recon of the Tirol Campaign. When volunteers were being taken to join with Admiral Hunters and the Sentinels, Ryan was talked into staying to keep an eye on things along with Major John Carpenter by Colonel Wolfe and Commander Vincent Grant, their two old unit commanders and good friends. Darmouth then served under Reinhardt in a variety of capacities, even serving as part of his bodyguard during Edward's abortive coup of the REF and resulting retreat and defection to the Regent's side of the conflict. Ryan has an extensive background in getting down and dirty when the job needs to be done, and cannot stand people who do not see things his way, the REF way. Pilots a VR-041 and has been flight qualified for the VAF-6R recon alpha.
First Sergeant Antonio Knupf (REFA) = NCOIC of the 17th ATAC squadron. Another lifetime RDF/REF member. Knupf has been in the military in one form or capacity for close to twenty years, and it shows in his words and actions. While not afraid of technology, the "Topkick" is still set in his ways, and takes a bit of time to warm up to new, especially unproven ideas. It took him a bit of time to adjust to going from being a baseline grunt to piloting something like a Cyclone, but once he got the hang of it, he will swear his life, and the lives of his soldiers by it. He treats the soldiers under his command as he would his children, and in a way, the soldiers in his combat team have become the family that he lost in the Congo when Malcontents detonated a Nuclear device over the area. He was only saved because he was in Monument City with his youngest son.
First Lieutenant Abraham Zhao MD (REFA) = REF Field doctor attached to the 17th ATAC. He feels that being in the field helping keep the injured alive long enough to get transported shipside is the most important part of him being down on the field. While does honor and respect the Hippocratic Oath, he also sees that he is in a war, and if he had to disable and enemy instrument of war, so be it, as long as the pilot inside is not killed or harmed more than necessary. He really does not like the callous way that the Robotech Masters treat their people and the Zentraedi, and oddly enough, Dr. Zhao can actually empathize with the Invid plight as he finds out more about their tragic history and what has caused them to evolve into the onslaught that they are now. Abe is a good friend with almost anyone, but is also widely, albeit quietly known, that he pilots a VR-041 Saber Cyclone for a reason, and it is not for the protection and versatility it provides him. He is considered on of the top swordsmen in the fleet, and can be a match for almost anyone with his Jujitsu and Aikido-Ryu skills.
Second Lieutenant Leon Graffson PhD (REFA) = REF Robotechnologist and Invid Xeno-sociologist attached to General Emil Lang and seconded to Captain Darmouth's combat team. He is uncomfortable with the combat aspects of being attached to an Alpha Tactical Armored Corp unit, but he does admit that it allows him to do what he loves best, which is observe, record, and analyze alien mecha and technology in the field and under their own environment. He usually rides shotgun in Tribanuiski's Destroid or accompanies the Cyclone teams when he has to travel in the field. He is cleared to pilot the REF Gladiator and the VR-052 Cyclone.
First Lieutenant Marquis Tribanuiski (REFA) "Gunslinger" = Actually a mecha pilot originally from the EBSIS. Joined the REF at the insistence of childhood friend Darmouth. Is a Destroid platoon commander and is seconded to Darmouth's Mechanized Infantry company as a heavy mobile fire support unit. Pilots an REF Excalibur, although trained in just about every style of Destroid and battloid. Prefers the duelist style of combat, selecting out and destroying opponents in a more leveled environment, usually at range.
Corporal David Scott Shael (REFA) = Another Cyclone trained mechanized infantryman in the 17th ATAC. Likes to be gung-ho about everything he does. Feels like he has to prove himself to his comrades, since his last unit was all but wiped out and he got rotated into the IronWalkers. Is very good at what he has been trained to do. Has the odd ability to make most machines dance to whatever tune he wants them to. He actually wanted to be attached to Command as an EWAC technician, but his own superior skills at handling the Cyclone systems and abilities in close-in trench warfare landed him in the infantry, much to chagrin. However, never one to be down for long, David has made the best of the situation and is hoping for a second chance to get back to his first love, Computers and their related technologies. Oddly enough, he has become friends with Major Darmouth, and the Major, knowing of Shael's abilities and his desires, is trying to help him get a slot in an Officer Candidate School rotation. Shael pilots a VR-052 with the standard weapons load-out, but his carries a custom-built enhanced sensor suite and computer slave drive.
Staff Sergeant Isaiah Fitzgerald (REFA) = The 17th ATAC's resident grease monkey for the Cyclone detachment. Pilots a VR-052 but usually prefers putting things together to taking them apart. However, when the time to make things go boom, he can get the job done on that count as well. He usually works hand in hand with Dr. Graffson when carrying out many of their more outlandish projects. Sometimes they also enlist the aid of Sergeant McClellan when it comes to the Mecha or weapons systems. He is currently waiting to be re-assigned full term with Major Richard Burke's weapon and design team back on the SDF-3. He pilots a VR-052.
Sergeant First Class Maxwell Baxter (REFA) "Bishop" = REF Gladiator Destroid pilot and Tribanuiski's NCOIC. Is the father figure to quite a few of the other destroid pilots, and usually takes it upon himself to whip them into shape. And slight oddity to the ranks, Baxter was originally a Chaplain's assistant (Roman Catholic) when he first enlisted into the REF. He then transferred to the mecha units after witnessing first hand the aftermath of some of the conflicts that the REF was trying to prevent. He still maintains his priestly calling, and leads the Destroid teams in prayers and trying to save the "wayward sheep" as it were. Due to religious differences, he comes into some conflicts with Darmouth., but feels the man has his heart in the right place. He also makes it his point to get the "newbies" in line when they are assigned to his unit. Oddly, walks with a distinct limp after having both knees shattered during the Tirolian Liberation.
Sergeant Melvin Skyefusche McClellan (REFA) "Nukem" = REF Excalibur Destroid pilot from the devastated United Kingdom region of Europe. An RDF reservist at the end of the Malcontents Uprisings on Earth, he accepted his tours to work in space during the rebuilding of the moon and mars deep space colonies. When the first calls for volunteers for the mission to Tirol came out, Mel was among the first of those volunteers. Unlike most, Mel sees himself as the descendant of his famous clan heritage, and he is among the stars to progress that heritage to the current generation and add glory and fame to that said family lineage. He sees the battles with the Invid, Loyalists Zentraedi, Robotech Masters' forces to be nothing more than the challenge that he justly deserves to test his mighty abilities. His combat style is more the "do-or-die" type, with him charging at the enemy, or singling out a single specific target and pounding at it until it does not get up again before moving on to the next one. He does his own repairs to his custom Excalibur, and has gotten a second PBC cannon appendage attached to the normal arm. His mecha tends to ride a bit hotter, and he has to spend more time keeping it in prime shape, but it is designed to put out more of what he wants it to do.
Corporal Eric Joseph (REFA) = VR-052 Cyclone mechanized infantry pilot. A quiet man who has a love for machines and freedom. Is a Linguistics specialist and helps translate for the party when they encounter various indigenous people. He joined the REF to get an education, escape the squalor of the part of America where he was raised following the "Rain of Death", and basically to see the universe on what he thought were his own terms. Has shown an aptitude for explosive ordnances, and has been taken under Sergeant Fitzgerald's wing as of late.
Staff Sergeant Hector Diaz (REFA) "Deadpool" = Military Specialist from the Brasilia sector and a child of the Reconstruction Era and the Malcontent Uprisings. Seeing how the malcontents destroyed so much of what the RDF and U.N. Spacy, he vowed to ensure that that would never happen again. He then enlisted in the REF, and during basic training and it then discovered that he had an aptitude for something he didn't think was possible, Sniping. He abhors close-combat fighting, thinking it is barbaric, and can barely pass his hand-to-hand competency drills, but at range with a weapon ranging from a pellet gun up to a shoulder mounted rocket system, he seems to be able to hit his targets with unerring accuracy. Pilots a VR-052 with the EP-40 variant.
Second Lieutenant Sylvia Voorhees (REFA) "Silver Fox" = REF Defender Destroid pilot. A cool and calculating woman who usually is paired up with the more emotionally charged McClellan. She joined the REF at the insistence of her older brother, originally as a shipboard communications engineer. After his death during the Tirolian liberation, she requested a transfer into the Destroid Corps and has been there ever since. Despite her positioning and preference with an anti-aircraft mecha, she often uses it as a heavy support platform for the cyclone units that she usually is "mother-henning" to.