Robotech: Strange Bedfellows-
A Macross-Era Serial
Chapter Two: The Tithes of War!
A/N: Standard disclaimers, so if you wish to sue, go right on ahead, but you would get about the same that the Invid did when they came to collect their "just rewards"
A/N 2: Sorry this took a bit of time. As I am having to type this on the local community college computers during free spells between training sessions, I think I am doing pretty good. I do want to apologize about the un-expected hiatus, however. I do hope that every one had a wonderful holiday season!
A/N 3: You will have to bear with me, as I like the Japanese name for the Veritechs, which is Valkyries, and I will be interchanging between calling them and the RDF Destroids by both their American and Japanese designations. All of the main characters will be keeping their American names, however….although I do like LaSalle and Hayase better than Grant and Hayes.
On with the story! :
-Roll Macross Intro Credits-
Commander Rick Hunter landed his VT in Gerwalk mode, and leapt from the cockpit before his craft had even completely settled down onto the radiation and arctic blasted ground. His wing was on it's way back from an extended sortie down in the Brasilia Quadrant when the call came through that Captain Hayes' reconnaissance flight had come under fire and then had gone down with was initially thought to have been no survivors. He had left Max in charge with the rest of the fighter wing and took off at maximum velocity to arrive on the scene when he did. He ran up to the first officer on the scene who looked like he might know anything.
"What the hell happened here, Grant?"
"That is what we are still trying to figure out, Commander Hunter," the tall man responded with a calm that belied the sympathetic look in his chocolate colored eyes. Claudia Grant's younger brother knew both the Hunter and Hayes families from way back, and each time a tragedy befell them, it seemed like he was the one on the scene to be the bearer of bad news.
"Where's Lisa, Vince? I want to see Lisa. There was some kind of word over the Tac-Net that Lisa and her flight had been attacked. Where is she Vince?"
Vincent put a mammoth arm over the slender pilot and led him away from the small, but gathering group of investigators and pilots. The bigger man kept quiet as he led Rick slightly apart from everyone else. There was something in Grant's expression and demeanor that set Rick's danger senses off even before the man began to speak.
"Well, Rick, I am not exactly sure how to tell you this," Vince began, his voice low, but full of compassionate emotion. "This place was a mess. The whole flight got wiped out in less than a minute. We were only able to pull two survivors from the Valkyrie wrecks, and we aren't even sure if either of them are going to be able to survive long enough to even tell us what happened. And that isn't even the oddest part about it….or the worst of it." The last was added in a slightly lower, more ominous voice.
Rick's eyes narrowed as he waited for Vince to get to the point. He had seen the scenes of these ambushes numerous times over the last few months, and the only things that were common with all of them was that their were few if any human survivors, the attacks were surprisingly devastating and effective, and that almost all signs from the attacks appeared to have the masterwork of Khyron the Backstabber, either directly or indirectly. Part of the mission that Hunter had just returned from involved trying to cut off at least one of the larger heads of this Hydra that the Zentraedi Warlord had seemed to conjure up around him.
"Spit it out Vince. Where's Lisa? What happened to her?"
Vincent looked back towards the salvage crews working on one of the downed Diamondback Squadron Valkyries for a long moment. When he spoke next, the under-current of frustration was clearly evident in his voice and in his almond colored eyes.
"That's just it Rick. We don't know."
Rick's eyes went wide, but he stayed quiet for the moment, the wind having been blown from his sails as he tried to mentally collect what he had been told.
"We couldn't find her body anywhere, and her pilot, one Lieutenant Mauthis kept babbling something about her being carried away by giants. We are going under the impression that one of the Zentraedi might have recognized her as a command rank officer and decided to take her with them to use as a hostage or something," Grant hurried to explain before Rick could interrupt him again.
"Wait, you mean that they took her with them? Do you guys have any idea which group took her and which way they were headed?," Rick asked with a new desperate determination in his voice.
"We aren't exactly sure. It looks like a good number of their craft were actually flight capable from the burn patterns and quite a few of the impact craters."
Vincent's mouth twitched just noticeably as he looked over to the battlefield once more, and Rick decides to follow his gaze this time. The taller man's eyes seem to be locked onto a cluster of Destroids that seem to have been re-colored in Zentraedi style camo schemes and doused with Zentraedi slogans and sigils. That wasn't right, unless somehow, a bunch of micronized Zentraedi had somehow begun to get training on how to use earth mecha, or else Khyron's people were beginning to make pacts with the hi-tech bandits that had begun to spring up in the wastelands recently. Hunter knew that whatever that meant, it could not be good either. Grant, glancing down, had a feeling that he knew exactly what the fighter pilot was thinking about, but knew that he had to clarify it just to be on the safe side so Hunter could also know what they were truly dealing with here.
"That's right Rick. They used our own equipment against us, and then left it behind when they were done with it. Those particular pieces, though, aren't from any of the local bases…they are from the arsenals that were stockpiled around Alaska Base from BEFORE the "Rain of Death." They somehow found a way to get into the base, and get these, and Lord knows what else. We think that they might have found a working protoculture reactor, too."
"Is that what they used to get Lisa, Vince?"
Vince's voice was heavy as he spoke next. The sheer weight of this was not what the tall Destroid pilot and engineer was cut out for. Rick knew that Grant was trying the best that he could, but unfortunately, it wasn't going to bring back those pilots, or help get Lisa back.
"We still aren't sure exactly what happened at the moment, Rick. We are hoping that when the two survivors regain consciousness that one of them may be able to tell us something. We also might be able to piece a few things together from the three black boxes that we were able to recover, but that could take some time for us to get that data pieced together."
Rick's frustration was evident as he looked about again at the wreckage. He had understood why Lisa had insisted on doing these hopeless missions, but he had always felt that she was putting herself in harm's way needlessly. If she could have only waited another 24 hours to conduct this flight, or had sent one of the regular patrols instead of insisting on leading it herself, if only she had listen to him for once..
'Lisa, please be alright. God, if she is alive, I will go thru hell to bring her back, do you hear me!'
Vince looked away from the storm clouds that were beginning to brew in Rick's crystal blue eyes as another officer came running over to them from the area of the heavily damaged access hanger that they had un-covered a bit ago. he was being followed by one of Lang's acolytes and a pair of burly marine MP types. Tapping Rick lightly, the Destroid commander turned his full attention to the newcomer.
"Lieutenant Grant, ..huh, huh, Commander Hunter...huh... Lieutenant Commander James Evers, UN Space Global huh, huh Military Police."
Evers then pauses for a few moments as he takes a few more deep breaths, calming his breathing down to more managable levels before he can begin again. He seemed to be a bit more affected by the cold weather than even Hunter and Grant. Then again, his uniform wasn't one the insulated flight suits like theirs were, either. The GMP officer looks the two men over as he seems to catch his breath, and his steel eyes seem to pass over and thru Hunter very closely.
'So this is the man that has Lisa all up in arms..he had better be worth it, considering what we just found back there..'
"Well, sirs, we just came across something that you both might want to come and take a look at! If you two will follow me, it'll be easier than explaining it right now!"
Vince and Rick exchanged looks, but followed the spook back the way that he had came. Obviously this was something important to finding Lisa if that guy was pale as a ghost and seemed to be almost too excited about it. Rick made note that they were running, not to the command center, or even the entrance to the former Grand Cannon site, but back to the medevac area, and he had to wonder if one of the pilots had regained consciousness. What awaited them there was not quite the case, but a whole unexpected surprise nonetheless. Both men stopped in their tracks as they both thought that they were looking at a ghost.
'Omigod, she was right all along,' was all Rick could think as he saw the subject of so much excitement right in front of him.
The scraggly man under the thermal blanket and being attended to by a pair of RDF corpsman was the first to speak. If nothing else, his voice was all that was needed to confirm what the two men suspected.
"Hello, gentleman. I was hoping that one of you could tell me what I have missed for the last six months, and where is my daughter?"
-Roll closing credits-
SithKnight-Galen's parting words: And thus there's another chapter for the history books. I especially wish to thank Knight-Templar for the use of one of his creations in this work. I really enjoyed the character of Evers in his "What If" story arc, and with a few minor liberties, am glad that he gave me permission to "borrow" him for one of my little tales. I do also want to apologize for the shortness of this chapter. The next one will be longer, I hope :)
Again, this goes out to everyone on the DYRL Fan-fiction list, but especially GP PR, LisaV, and Carla Fox. I really hope that this is living up to everyone's expectations so far.