The Lost Stars
The All Consuming Night
Robotech is the property of Harmony Gold
Star Wars if the property of Lucasfilm Ltd.
I own neither, god I wish I did.
Terminology, Ship specs and Persona dramatis at end of chapter
"Mustang, Raven Six! Kitchen! Kitchen! 242 by positive 17!"
The call of an incoming capitol ship missile strike from one of the fighters came over the bridge's squakbox, and instantly the crew leapt to action.
Captain John Preston bellowed out in his thick Welsh accent, "Roll hard port twenty degrees! Starboard lateral thrusters hard burn!"
ARMD-07 had been through hell after three Robotech wars. She had been torn down, refitted, rebuilt and even if she was the last of her kind still in service she was still one of the toughest ships in the Expeditionary Forces. Now as her bulk shifted in space to avoid the long range strike her crew was already plotting a counter attack.
The old ship had not earned the name 'Victory' without reason.
As the enemy missiles streaked through the space that the warhorse had just been in targeting lasers were already locking on to the pirate Zentradi cruiser.
Captain Preston glanced at the repeater displays in front of him and called out, "Missile battery one, salvo fire, reciprocal course. Helm, ahead flank, evasive at your discretion. Flight, have Talon squadron disengage air-to-air and start an Iron Hand run on the enemy ship. And find out why the Desrtroids still aren't on deck."
Lieutenant Pavil Vochenko answered quickly, "The main elevator's actuators failed, Sir. Lieutenant Bates can only bring up one unit at a time."
"Damnation," grumbled Preston as he ran one hand through salt and pepper hair.
"Defold! Second ship at 10 plus 50! Two theater scouts," came the call from CPO Emi Kanzaki. Her face was shrouded by the sensor screen hood and bathed in a pale glow as she ran dozens of calculations of vectors and velocities through her head. "Estimate ten minuets till they are in firing range."
The Captain didn't let his frustration show, but he did feel it. This was supposed to be a simple patrol in friendly space, and only a week in it had gone straight to hell. Haydonites were nowhere near this sector, and the Invid fleet was nowhere to be seen at all. Word from Moon Base ALUCE was that it was going to be a milk run.
Just their luck to stumble on this small renegade Zentradi fleet that was trying to sneak into Sol through the theoretical back door. A Cruiser, close to five hundred Battlepods, and now two of those gunship scouts.
The Victory was a good ship, and had fairly modern equipment, but two dozen mixed Alpha and Beta Veritech fighters and six forty year old Destroids were simply not enough to fight off the force they faced. Preston was even forced to put the ships four old Valkyrie series Veritechs into the air.
"We are not getting out of this easily," he said quietly to himself. Making a decision the Captain turned to face his XO and navigator. "Commander Hammond, spin up the FTL. Jump us to Rodenberry Station."
Rebecca Hammond nodded, "Aye, Sir. Beginning the plot. Helm, start the clock."
"Flight, recall all fighters, they have five minuets to get back here."
"Ravens, RTB on the double. Jump in four twenty"
"Raven Lead copies, Mustang," Lieutenant Commander Frank 'Muck' Murray called in. He then switched to his squadron channel and spoke, his Boston accent barely noticeable, "All right kids. Mommy says it's time to come in out of the rain. Break loose and head back to the barn."
"Thank goodness, the neighbors are getting rowdy out here."
"Cut the chatter and burn like you got a purpose. Victory Jumps in four minutes." Muck snapped off one last burst from his GU-XX gunpod and then toggled the switch on the HOTAS that sent his Alpha twisting in on itself changing from humanoid Battleoid configuration to a pure fighter that lit its engines as he pushed the throttle to the stops and bolted back towards the Victory.
Looking down at one of his MFD screens he checked on the status of his squadron. Glad to see only a few splotches of red and yellow indicators on the group he sighed in relief. No losses today, and even if it was a retreat that made it a good day to him.
Looking at his scope, Muck saw that the 'pods hadn't given up and were in pursuit of his group. Clicking back on the comm., he ordered, "Beta fighters, we have bandits in pursuit. Shotgun. Shotgun. Shotgun."
The order was simple, and the four Beta fighters in his command wheeled about hard and opened their numerous missile bays. Sixty four missiles burned into space towards the enemy, and as the Battlepods began to evade it gave the Robotech fighters the time they needed to truly disengage from the fight and bolt for the carrier.
Muck was the last of the fighters to touch down, with only moments to spare before the jump but even as he caught the Victory's second arrestor wire he saw a glint in the corner of his eye."
Clicking on his comm, he almost yelled, "Mustang, Raven Lead! Kitchen, high off the bow!"
"Confirmed incoming," Kanzaki called. "Impact in twenty seconds, Turrets are offline for Jump. Zero chance of intercept."
Hammond looked over at the Captain and added, "Jump in fifteen seconds. It's gonna be close, Skipper."
"Brace for impact," Preston ordered.
"Radiation alarm! Missile may be a nuke!"
The Captain clinched his teeth and listened as his XO gave the countdown. But something drew his eyes forward and he saw the black Alpha fighter with blue trim of Raven Lead shift into Battleiod prone on the deck, roll on to its back, and bring its gunpod up. The cannon started spitting hot tungsten into the black sky, and pilot and Captain both gave the same prayer that one of the 55mm shells would hit the incoming missile.
Space twisted, shifted colors, bubbled around the carrier and the spherical explosion of the missile less then five hundred meters away, wobbled, and knotted itself out of existence.
No, he took that back. It was beyond cold.
For a farm boy who had grown up on a desert planet Hoth had to be one of the worse places for Luke Skywalker to be. And keeping the hanger doors open to that cold was just making things worse for him.
Push it aside, Luke, he thought to himself. Ben probably would have shrugged this off and called it 'bracing' or something.
The young aspiring Jedi allowed himself one last shiver, and then dove back into his limited Force training to resist the low temperature as he helped out in the hanger bay of Echo Base. Picking up another small crate from the sled in front of him he turned to pass it off to the next man in line, his best friend and fellow Rebel, Han Solo.
"I can't feel my fingers," the former pirate grumbled as he took the box.
Luke smiled, "Could be worse you know. The outpost stations only have survival shelters and half charged fusion coils right now."
"Believe me, Kid, I'm glad I'm not them," Han retorted. "I just wish I could tell if I still had all ten fingers, that's all."
"Captain Solo, Commander Skywalker, to the command center."
"There's a change," Han smirked at the voice that came over the PA. "The Princess saving the roguish knight and his young squire."
As he and Han stepped out of the line Luke retorted, "I think you're mixing up who's the sidekick here, Han. As I recall you were the one to…" He stumbled, his eyes going wide as the color in the ice cave blurred from white to red, green and blue. His head spun, and for a moment he heard voices.
"Anti-Gravity drives offline! Fold system down! No response from helm!"
"Emergency thrusters! Run helm through engineering if you have to, but get us into a stable entry vector!"
"Captain, no sign of Rodenberry Station…Where the hell are we?!"
"I don't know but we'll find out soon Luke? Luke, are you all right?"
Luke shook his head and looked up to see Han with a face full of concern.
"You spaced out for a minute there, Kid. You alright?"
Luke nodded slowly, "I felt…a disturbance in the Force. Something out of place…like a puzzle piece that doesn't fit…"
"Putting your mystical Jedi stuff aside for the moment, we should really get in there before her Highnessnesss throws a hissy over the intercom."
"Right, Han. Just keep your eyes open, ok?"
The smuggler nodded and the two entered the control center to an atmosphere of worry.
"Good, you two are here," Princess Leia Organa called as she waved them over to where she and General Rieekan were hovering behind a sensor operator. The screen before them showed a decaying orbital track that would end only a few dozen kilometers away from Echo Base itself.
The tired looking base commander glanced at the newcomers, "Solo, Skywalker. Take a look at this. Something seems to have dropped out of hyperspace almost on top of us, and now it's falling like a brick. I doubt that the Empire has found us so quickly but we need to be cautious. I want whatever is ready in the air to meet them if they are a threat."
Luke answered quickly, "The speeders are still being unpacked, and I may take days to get them running in this cold. Only half of Rogue Squadron is here right now. I can get four, maybe five X-Wings up."
"How about the Ion Cannon," Han added. "That could slow them down."
Leia grimaced, "We're still connecting the control systems."
"I guess I'll take one of the spare X-Wings up then," Han sighed. "The Falcon is still too beat up after that last party we had at Ord Mantell."
Luke gave a smirk of his own, "You sure, Han? An X-Wing is a little tricky to handle…"
"I was flying Headhunters when you were still in diapers, Kid. I think I can handle their offspring."
"Six fighters then," Luke said.
The General nodded and the two ran out of the command center. If it was an Imperial attack then seconds counted. Soon six red trimmed X-Wings were rocketing out of Echo Base's hanger and falling into formation.
"Han, you're Rogue Zero for this, copy."
"Got it Kid…Rogue Leader."
"All right, let's go see what we have." With that the six fighters lifted their noses and shot skywards. At his right Luke had Han and Wedge Antilles, and on his left he had Wes Janson, Derek 'Hobbie' Klivian and Dack Ralter. It was a good flight of pilots, and he knew they were some of the best in the galaxy.
"Han, you and Wes go high, get an angle and swoop in if we need it. Wedge, you and Hobbie swing south and come up from behind. Dack, you're my wingman."
He received a chorus of acknowledgments, and the fighters broke off into pairs, turning away to approach the incoming object from three angles. Flipping a toggle, Luke activated the servos that gave the X-Wing its name, and his wings split in two, giving him greater maneuverability and a wider range of fire.
"Artoo, we should be coming up on the target. Anything yet?"
The blue trimmed astromech droid snuggled into the socket behind the cockpit of the X-Wing whistled a short string of notes that translated to an affirmative and Luke activated his targeting scope to get a look at the computer generated outline of the unidentified object.
Blinking, he pulled his head away from the scope, looked out his canopy and gasped as the shape came through the clouds.
"What in the Force is that thing?"
"Anti-Gravity control circuits are rebooting. Helm is sluggish, but responding."
Captain Preston sighed in relief, but only for a moment, "Get us leveled out and stable. As soon as we have settled I want a full damage report."
Commander Hammond added, "Flight, what is the status of our mecha?"
Vochenko responded quickly, "Talon three and seven lost. Raven five lost. One of the Gladiators got shook loose during the Fold. Raven Lead…holy cow, Raven Lead is still active and clinging on to the deck!"
"What," the Captain and XO yelled at the same time and moved forward to the rail in front of the bridge view port. At the end of the carrier's runway they saw a single black Alpha fighter in Battleoid mode gripping into the deck plaiting with its strong mechanical hands and attempting to pull itself back onto the relative safety of the ship. Getting one leg up, it managed to roll onto the deck and lay on its back, looking as tired as its pilot probably was.
"Raven Lead…Raven Lead, please respond." Vochenko looked up from his board and reported quickly, "I'm getting intermittent telemetry. I think that Lieutenant Murray may have gotten a shot of that radiation even through his shielding. Raven Lead, come in."
The bridge speaker suddenly came to life, "Are we there yet, Mommy?"
The Captain chuckled as he walked back to his chair and picked up the handset from the armrest, motioning for it to be connected to the fighter, "Damn, Muck, you sure know how to make an entrance. You had the XO and I white as ghosts when we saw you dangling off the deck like that."
The Alpha's head turned to face the bridge and Preston could here the smile in the pilot's voice, "Bulletproof Becky, worried? I guess I did cut it a little too close there. Permission to go below and pass the hell out, Skipper."
"Granted, but do your passing out in sickbay."
"Aye, Skipper." The Mecha rolled onto its hands and knees and stood, walking to the functional secondary elevator and was slowly lowered below deck.
"I really hate that nickname," Hammond growled under her breath. Out loud she spoke, "Kanzaki, are sensors back up yet?"
"Finishing self-test mode now Ma'am," the tech answered as she leaned forward to gaze into the hood. "Altitude fifty thousand meters and dropping. Fall rate slowing."
"Helm confirms. I should have us steady and holding at forty thousand."
"Good," nodded the Captain as he settled down. "Any sign of our Zentradi friends?"
"I read six bogies, two at zero by three, two at one seven seven by five and two more at two six zero by fifty five."
The XO took up her station at the holographic chart board and asked, "Any transponders?"
"None on our channels, Ma'am. They don't appear to be Zentradi either." Kanzaki looked up and pinched the bridge of her nose. "Their silhouette doesn't match anything in the warbook, or civilian reference." She leaned back to her screen and added, "I'm tentatively tagging them as fighter class craft by size and thrust."
"And we're in no condition for an air to air battle right now," the Captain concluded. He thought for a moment and then ordered, "Ready point defense turrets, but hold fire. We are not where we were hoping to be, and I don't want to start a new fight without some information first. Give me an open channel, please."
"Channel open, Sir."
The Captain lifted his handset again and spoke clearly, "This is Captain John Preston, commanding the REF Victory to approaching fighters. Identify yourselves and break off your approach or we shall interpret your intentions as hostile and defend ourselves."
He waited a moment and was about to send out a second warning, but heard a voice respond over his handset, "Victory, this is Rogue Leader. Please state your origin and intent."
Preston considered his next words and answered carefully, "Our home port is the Sol system as part of the Robotech Expeditionary Force. We seem to have executed a mis-Fold during combat and are currently trying to reset our navigational system."
Again a wait and the young voice over the comm. Responded, "You're currently in the Hoth system if that's any help."
Hammond skimmed through the listings on her board and looked up at the Captain, shaking her head.
"I'm afraid that doesn't help at all. Our charts are not showing the name Hoth."
Luke continued his orbit around the unusual ship as he considered this. It was a brick in the sky, long flat and bulky. It had what seemed to be a flight strip running down its length and several bulges that seemed to be weapons emplacements, but according to Artoo it had no shields at all.
Luke thought for a moment, letting his mind drift into the early meditation that Ben had shown him. It only took a second for him to decide to follow his instincts and he opened a channel again, "Captain, I'd like permission to come aboard so that we can figure this out face to face."
"Kid, what the blazes are you thinking?!"
Luke looked down to make sure that had come in over the squadron only channel and switched over to answer Han, "I have a feeling. Just trust me Han and keep the rest of the squadron orbiting this ship, just in case."
"Oh no, Farmboy. I'm going with you. Someone needs to be there to make sure you don't get your thrusters shot out."
Luke sighed, but with a smile, "Alright Han, you're on my wing. Wedge, take over, and keep your distance."
"Copy that, Luke. May the Force be with you," the veteran pilot answered as Luke and Han joined up.
"Rogue Leader, this is Victory Flight Control. You have permission to land. Say mass and thrust capacity on your craft for landing."
The touchdown had been very smooth thanks to the Victory's guidance system and the strange fighter's hovering capabilities. The two odd craft had touched down with less then a meter of error on the secondary elevator and were slowly lowered into the bowels of the ship.
The Captain had called up two squads of Marines in CVR-3 armor just in case as he and Lieutenant Commander Paul "Eye-Full" Towers, the ships CAG, waited to greet their guests.
As the angled canopies on the craft opened the first thing they saw as the pilots pulled themselves out was the bright orange of baggy flight suits. But that was nothing surprising. Orange was high visibility, and probably good for a busy flight line.
What was surprising was when they pulled off their helmets and the shorted one extended his hand in greeting.
They were human.
"Commander Luke Skywalker of the Alliance to Restore the Republic," the young sandy blond said.
"Preston took his hand and responded, "Captain John Preston of the Robotech Expeditionary Force. Welcome aboard."
To be continued…
Endnotes: This one struck me out of the blue. An idea that started percolating when I was watching Macross Plus and reading an X-Wing: Rogue Squadron novel in the same week (great books, by the way). It got stuck in the back of my mind for a few years and didn't come out again until Robotech: Shadow Chronicles came out. I didn't want to get into the argument of whether or not Max and Wedge were on the same level, and I won't now, so it took me a while to really put this together. But now I bring you this catastrophe. Please tell me what you think. If you like it then it will continue. Until next time…The Force is strong in me…actually I just had the garage door opener, but I won't tell if you don't.
Timeline: Post Shadow Chronicles, Pre Empire Strikes Back
A Note on Callsigns: You never get to pick your own, and they usually wind up being lightly insulting or a joke among those who gave it to you. To my knowledge the cooler a name sounds the less likely it is to be used. (i.e. Maverick, not a chance, Eggplant, very likely)
Battleoid- humanoid soldier configuration for a transformable mecha
Battlepod- primary Zentradi attack mecha, non-transformable headless ostrich armed with energy and projectile cannons
CPO- Chief Petty Officer, a Navy rank for a non-commissioned officer
CVR-3- a modular suit of body armor used by the REF, most notable for it's ability to link up with the Cyclone Veritech Motorcycle/Power Armor units
Desrtroid- a giant, roughly humanoid non-transformable combat mecha typically used in ground actions as walking tanks
FTL- Faster Then Light, a designation for a fold or hyperspace system
Haydonites- a cybernetic alien race that was at one time allied with the REF but are currently at war to wipe out humanity and all 'Protoculture Addicts'
HOTAS- Hands On Throttle And Stick, a control layout that places toggles for secondary systems on the primary flight controls of a fighter
Kitchen- A term used to designate a missile attack on a ship
Moon Base ALUCE- Headquarters for the REF Fleet in the Sol system
MFD- Multi Function Display
RDF- Robotech Defense Force
REF- Robotech Expeditionary Force
RTB- Return To Base
Veritech Alpha- primary transformable fighter for the REF armed with a gunpod and many missiles, able to link with Beta Fighter to form one superior combatant
Veritech Beta- primary transformable bomber for the REF armed with internal cannons and massive missile payloads and a modular bomb bay for cargo, bombs, passengers, or a Marine squad for boarding actions
Veritech Valkyrie- venerable first generation transformable fighter of the defunct RDF armed with gunpod, light lasers and externally stored missiles, larger and less maneuverable then the Alpha but with longer range and easier controls, used for training in the REF
XO- Executive Officer or second in command
Zentradi- a giant alien humanoid race of clones used as a slave army by the Robotech Masters, a portion of which have defected to Earth and reduced to human size
ARMD-07 'Victory'- the only Armor Class carrier to survive all three Robotech Wars. Technologically outdated at the end of the first Robotech was it was pulled by Doctor Lang as a platform to test new equipment. After this it was also used to prototype armor and propulsion systems that would be used on the Garfish Class light carrier. After forty years of service it was waiting out its last few years in the REF Long Range Patrol Group. Two mecha bays have been removed, taking away the ships unmanned fighter complement replaced by a Fold Drive and hydroponics bay have been added along with additional cargo space.
Mass: 175,000 tons
Dimensions: 430m x 172m x 48m
Crew: 1700 including officers, flight crews, and two Marines platoons
Armaments: 5 Heavy Beam Cannons (4 forward, 1 aft), 2 Anti Warship Torpedo Tubes (forward), 6 Ten Tube Retractable Multi-purpose Missile Batteries (top), 48 Point Defense Laser Turrets (24 top, 24 bottom)
Mecha Complement: 28 Veritech fighters (16 Alpha, 8 Beta, 4 Valkyrie), 6 Desrtroids (2 Gladiator Close Range Combat units, 2 Excalibur Mid Range Combat units, 1 Raider X Anti-aircraft unit, 1 Spartan Missile Support unit, 48 Cyclone Veritech Motorcycle/Power Armor units), 2 Searcher AFV workpods, 1 Shuttlecraft
Persona dramatis: notes on the original characters in this story.
Captain John Preston, age 45, commander of the ARMD-07 'Victory'. Vocal opponent of Admiral Hunter's 'Scorched Earth' policy concerning the Invid. Father was a Whelsh fishing vessel captain. Graduated the Southern Cross Navy Academy but resigned his commission in protest of civil restrictions by the military government. Left Earth with the 15th Platoon ATAC and joined up with the REF.
Commander Rebecca Hammond, age 29, XO of the ARMD-07 'Victory'. Born in Macross City during Reconstruction. Led a small resistance force during the Invid occupation. Considers discipline to be necessary for survival above all else. Earned the unwelcome nickname 'Bulletproof Becky' after rejecting numerous romantic advances.
Lieutenant Commander Paul "Eye-Full" Towers, age 32. A lifetime Marine who commands the detachment aboard the 'Victory'. Gruff with his troops, but considers each one a member of his family.
Lieutenant Commander Frank "Muck" Murray, age 20. Commander of Raven Squadron aboard the 'Victory'. Born in space during the Sentinel Campaign he grew up around Veritech fighter craft. Brash but capable, and notorious for his sophomoric sense of humor. Was the one to give 'Bulletproof Becky' her hated nickname.
Lieutenant Paula Bates, age 26. Commander of the Destroid contingent on board the 'Victory'. A former artillery spotter who was promoted in the field during the Sentinel Campaign. Still unsure of her capabilities.
Lieutenant Pavil Vochenko, age 24. Bridge officer in charge of Flight Operations aboard the 'Victory'. Intellectual and well read, he is also a qualified shuttle pilot.
CPO Emi Kanzaki, age 19. Bridge officer in charge of sensors aboard the 'Victory'. A mathematical prodigy able to compute complex equations mentally. A warm personality that sometimes reversed into cold distance when frustrated. Has a small cybernetic implant that acts as a mathematical sub-processor to increase her natural abilities.