The ship rocked as it collided with the disembodied Macross Island. The SDF-1’s own space fold field had ripped the island off the face of the earth and carried it to the orbit of Pluto.
The flight crew in landing bay seven was dropped to the floor from the impact. Several of the crewmen had to crawl away from falling mecha, others had to rush to their feet to keep ammo racks from falling. The chaos subsided as the last of the tremors stopped.
Treize has held on to the hatch door of Tallgeese through the impact. The Gundam itself, amazingly, had stayed upright. Instructor H had held to the gantry beside it. The older man was now trying to get his breathing under control.
Treize released his white knuckled grip on the Tallgeese. “What the hell just happened?!” He shouted to no one in particular.
Lady Une was just finishing bringing her veritech guardian back to its feet. “I don’t know, sir. I’ll get a report from the bridge.” She switched over to the tactical communication network. “Commander Hayes, what just happened?”
A confused face of Lisa Hayes came up on the comm. “Macross Island was caught in the space fold. We just impacted with it.”
“Where are we?”
“We’re currently in the orbit of Pluto.”
Lady Une relayed the news to Treize and Instructor H. Treize switched over to the tac net himself. “What happened to the Prometheus?”
“Damage and casualty reports will be ready within the hour. Right now, we’re dispatching recovery teams to pick up the civilian shelters.” An alarm toned sounded from Lisa’s board. “We have enemy craft attacking! We need you to launch as many troops as you can as soon as possible. Bridge out.” The transmission was cut off.
Treize clenched his fist, but restrained from hitting anything. He turned to Instructor H. “Must be the dropships that launched from the ocean. Are there any other weapons on the Tallgeese? It will take a while for the veritech’s to reload.”
Instrustor H smoothed his mustache. “There is one last weapon that has yet to be tested…”
“Like the Buster Rifle?”
“Not anywhere near as powerful. This one is called a Beam Saber. It’s housed inside the shield of the Tallgeese.”
Treize raised an eyebrow. “How long will this one work for?”
Instructor H chuckled. “Well…Theoretically it will last until you reactor runs out of energy.”
“Which means what in reality?”
“It could blow up when you fire it up. It IS experimental.”
“I guess that’s as good an option as any. How is it activated?”
Instructor H leaned over into the cockpit and pointed to a switch to the side. “Just press this button and the Tallgeese will automatically draw the saber and ignite it.”
“Ignite it? You’re starting to worry me.” Treize shook his head and switched over to his squadron’s frequency. “Everyone reload, and scramble as soon as possible. I’m taking the Tallgeese back out, clear the launch area.”
The veritechs cleared the path to the launch area of the landing bay. Treize closed the hatch of the Tallgeese and powered the reactor. He switched back to the tac net. “Tallgeese requesting permission to launch from bay seven.”
“Tallgeese cleared for launch.” The reply came from Hayes.
Treize walked the Tallgeese past the forcefield that held the atmosphere in the bay. He throttled up the engines and took off from the SDF-1. His display told him where the enemy craft were. He moved the throttle to half and was quickly pushed forward, faster than a standard veritech.
As he passed the wreckage that was Macross Island, he noticed a small fanjet trying to make its way back to the SDF-1. He recognized it as the one from the airshow earlier. Hang in there, Mr. Hunter. We’ll have someone available to pick you up after we have these enemy craft taken care of.
Trieze pulled back on the throttle as he entered the engagement zone. He pressed the button for the Beam Saber release. The Tallgeese’s right hand went to the shield on its left. A bay opened, and the handle of the saber extended out. The right hand pulled on the handle, and a blade of pure energy came out. Treize smiled at the fact that it hadn’t exploded. I knew I kept those engineers around for some reason.
The Tallgeese charged into the middle of the remaining battlepods. Laser blasts and missiles shook the frame of the Gundam, but the craft remained intact. Treize smiled again at the machine that he new would make all the difference in the universe.
He made his way into the line of battlepods and slashed through the one that appeared to be the leader. He only assumed it was the leader because that craft had arms. With a single swipe, the enemy craft was cleaved in two. The battlepod formation broke up, as they realized they had lost their commander. Treize charged after each, one at a time, and gave them the same treatment that he had given to their leader.
Other veritech from Skull squadron joined the fray. They helped corral the battlepods back towards the Tallgeese. Treize chased them down and dispatched them as soon as possible.
“We have a group breaking off toward the SDF-1!” One of the Skulls reported. “We can’t intercept!”
“Don’t worry about it.” Lady Une’s voice came over the tac net. In short order the remaining enemy craft were destroyed.
“Everyone back to the landing bays and reload. We don’t know when we’ll have to fly again.” He switched over to the command frequency. “Hayes, there was a fanjet on its way to the SDF-1 a few minutes ago, was the craft recovered?”
“We did get a small craft inbound to the SDF-1, but we could not bring it up on the radio, it disappeared off the scope near the hull. No debris was found so we believe it may have found a way into the ship in the fight.”
Treize frowned at the potential loss of an excellent pilot. “Thank you. I’m going to check on something before I land.” He put away the Beam Saber and checked his power level. He was only down to eighty-six percent. Other craft at the same usage were usually running on a quarter tank after this much fighting. He was amazed at what his engineers could do with this Robotech.
Treize maneuvered the Tallgeese through the debris of Macross Island. He searched around until he found what he was looking for: the Prometheus. He tried to hail the aircraft carrier. Nothing. He brought the Tallgeese forward for a closer look. The decks were completely clear. His sensors didn’t detect any heat other than the main nuclear reactor. He realized what the battle had cost them. It had cost them the hundreds of lives on his carrier and the lives of his troops of his squadron. He hung his head as the true cost took its toll.
He didn’t even have to check the com to know who was there. There was only one person who called him that. “Yes, Lady Une.”
Lady Une’s veritech transformed into Battloid mode and fly up beside the Tallgeese. “I’m sorry.”
Treize could hear the sorrow that had overtaken her usual unshakable voice. “There is nothing for you to be sorry about. There was nothing you could do.”
Her voice quickly shifted to anger. “Captain Gloval should have…”
“He couldn’t have known what would happen. No one on earth had witness a spacefold. He couldn’t have known that it would sweep the island with it. He was obviously trying to lure them closer to the planet and then drop in behind them. A tactically sound plan, but the spacefold could not have been depended on.”
“His only fault was not anticipating the nature of spacefold and banking his plan on it. No one was to blame. These soldiers were sacrificed so the rest may live. They also serve as a living example of the nature of spacefold. They will be remembered. They did their part…”
“For soldiers of the future.” Lady Une nodded her head as she remembered the mantra of her commanding officer and love. She knew that he felt that each person should work toward the betterment of those who come next, for the people of the future. Her com beeped, and text started to scroll across her screen. “Sir, I have the reports.”
“Five-hundred dead. The complete crews of the Daedalus and Prometheus were killed in the space fold. Civilian casualties were few thanks to the shelters. We lost almost half our squadron.”
“The carriers themselves are in perfect order. The SDF-1’s automated repair systems took care of itself. Macross Island is going to be salvaged, and materials brought on board the SDF-1.”
Treize raised his head and looked out at the aircraft carrier that filled his viewscreen. “Tell them to clean and seal the carriers. See if the engineers can attach them to the SDF-1 in place of Armor Zero-One and Armor Ten.”
“And Lady Une.”
“This will not happen again. I swear it.”
“You don’t have to worry about it.”
Treize blinked in surprise. “Why not?”
He heard Lady Une take a deep breath. “The SDF-1’s fold engine has disappeared. It just vanished from the hold.”
Treize’s expression fell. “It’s going to be a long trip.”
“That’s what Captain Gloval said, sir.”
Later, back on the SDF-1, the Tallgeese was returned to its original bay and diagnostics were started right away. Treize approached Dr. J. “How is the Tallgeese?”
“Besides a few scorch marks, perfect.”
“Except for the Buster Rifle.”
Dr. J laughed nervously. “Yes, there is that. The next one will not be that large.”
“The next one? Have you already begun the new rifle prototype?”
Dr. J. smiled. “Better than that. We’ve all started our individual Gundams. We expect the new models to be done within the month.”
Treize frowned. “You started the new models before the first was tested?”
Dr. J. continued to smile, unshaken. “We were so excited about the possibilities that we began several months ago. We expect to have them done soon.”
“Very well. Have you all selected pilots?”
“Yes. I’ve selected Heero to pilot my Zero-One. The others have selected theirs as well. You will have the reports soon.”
Treize gave a confused look at the mention of the name of Dr. J’s Gundam. “Why did you call it Zero-One? Shouldn’t the Tallgeese be Zero-One?”
The smile dropped off Dr. J’s face. “The second Gundam was going to be the pattern for the production models. It was called Wing-Zero. We abandoned construction because it was too overpowered. The designs were finished, but construction was abandoned. The production models are patterned after Wing-Zero, but none will be that powerful.” Or have that accursed system. Dr. J shuttered.
Treize nodded his head. “Very well.” He looked over and saw Heero leaning against one of the walls. “Where is Relena?”
“She’s sleeping comfortably in Heero’s room.”
“What kind of knockout gas did you use?”
Dr. J held up his hand and his prosthetic in a defensive gesture. “It not the gas this time! She heard what had happened to us and feinted.”
Treize narrowed his gaze. “Are you sure? And Heero?”
“He suggested putting her in his bed since it was the only bed in the bay. He thought she would wake with a crick in her neck or misaligned spine on the couch.”
“So he’s developing feelings for the girl?”
Dr. J laughed. “Not at all. He’s just carrying out your orders to the fullest extent, like he always does. You tell him to ‘protect her’ and he will, from all directions. He is the perfect soldier. He takes orders to their fullest. Imagine what would happen if you told him to destroy the Romafeller Foundation.”
“He’d destroy them totally, no survivors.”
Dr. J smiled a toothy grin. “There wouldn’t even be any buildings left.”
“Well, tell him to return her to her group when she awakes, but still keep an eye on her. I want her alive, but he doesn’t have to watch over her every minute of the day. We still want him to pilot the Gundam.”
“Have the Tallgeese re-equipped and find a suitable replacement for the Buster Rifle.”
Later on, Relena awoke to an unfamiliar room. She looked around and saw Heero leaning on the wall, watching her from the side. “Heero? You watched over me?”
Heero just stared at her with a look of indifference. “I’ll be taking you back to the Council of Unification delegation now.” He stood up and walked to the door. Relena just stared at him. He turned his head. “Follow me.”
Relena got up and followed him dumbly. She was trying to figure out what this boy was about. He was obviously trained, but he didn’t wear a uniform. She just had to figure out what his story was.
They walked out of the bay and through the corridors. Relena turned to Heero. “Are you a soldier?” Heero just continued to walk, totally ignoring her. “Are you with the RDF or one of the world factions?” Still no change in Heero. “Are you protecting someone?” Heero just looked at her a second, and then went back to staring forward. “You’re protecting me? Why?”
Heero turned to her again. “Enough with the inane questions. I’m just doing my job.” They started to walk into a more spacious compartment.
“But who for?” Heero stopped and glanced back and forth. “What?”
“Stay here.” He said flatly and took off running.
Relena just had a lost look on her face. “Why? Heero!” She looked around and couldn’t hear anything.
“Hold it right there, princess.”
Relena’s eyes went wide as she turned around to see two men standing there with guns leveled at her. “Who…Who are you?”
The one that had spoken before laughed. It doesn’t matter because in two seconds you’ll be dead.”
“Crack! Crack!” With the sickening sound of broken bone, both men went down. Standing behind them was Heero.
Relena ran up to him. “You saved me!”
Heero grabbed her and threw her to the floor. “Get down!” He rolled down on top of her. Bullets ricocheted off the concrete beside them.
Heero pulled a gun out of seemingly nowhere and pointed in the direction of the shots, but before he could fire, a body fell from one of the rafters.
“Who’s there?” Heero shouted, gun still at the ready.
“The God of Death!” Came the cocky reply.
Heero put his gun away. “Duo! Get down here and stop screwing around!”
A boy Heero’s age dropped easily and silently to the floor. He stood around Heero’s height but had long brown hair braided down his back. He smiled when he saw Relena. “I see you’ve been busy Heero. I bet you’re the only one that managed to have a girlfriend in the middle of all this training.”
“She’s not my girlfriend. I was told to protect her.” Heero said matter-of-factly.
“Suuuuure.” Duo helped Relena off the floor. “Don’t mind Heero, he wasn’t around when personalities were handed out. Me, I got the double helping. Duo Maxwell.” Duo held out his hand.
Relena took the hand and shook it. “Relena Peacecraft. Pleased to meet you.”
“Yup, it’s always a pleasure to meet me.” Duo smiled a wide grin.
“Duo, what are you doing here?” Heero said the words in his usual flat voice, but it carried something with it.
Duo picked up on it instantly. “Hey! Hey! No point having a temper tantrum…in front of a girl no less. I’m just here to pick up some stuff for G-man. I saw those snipers in the rafters and thought you could use a hand.”
“I could have handled it myself.” Heero glared at him.
“Yeah, Yeah, your welcome. See’ya later pal.” Duo turned and waved at Relena. “Nice meeting you lady. Don’t keep him out too late.” He smiled and walked off.
Relena just stared after Duo with a confused look on her face. “What was..?”
Heero just turned around back to the direction they were heading. “He’s an idiot. Let’s get going.”
In another part of the ship several of the other civilians were being transplanted from their shelters to the main hold of the SDF-1. A group sat off to the side. They were obviously circus performers who were in the middle of a performance when they were interrupted by the enemy attack. They had managed to save most of the animals and had them caged. The only exception was a lion that had almost attacked several of the panicking crowd. That lion was now sleeping right next to a young boy, outside of a cage. The ringmaster and one of the female performers sat and watched the marvel.
The girl looked the boy over. “How do you suppose he did that?”
The ringmaster looked over at the sleeping pair. “I don’t know. I’m just glad he could calm the lion before it ran wild. He obviously a trainer.”
The girl tilted her head. “He’s a little young to be a trainer. He has to be with another troop, but I didn’t know any other circuses were performing on Macross Island.”
The ringmaster shook his head. “There wasn’t. We were supposed to be the only one.”
“But how do you explain how he just reached out to the frightened lion and calmed it like a puppy?”
“I don’t really know.”
The boy stirred and looked around and saw that everything was as he left it. The girl noticed he was awake and walked over to him. “Hello. My name is Catherine Bloom. What’s your name?”
The boy looked up at her. “I have no name, but you can call me Trowa Barton.”
The girl sat down in front of him, opposite the lion. She had a bright smile on her face. “Oooh. Mysterious. So how did you manage to capture this lion?”
“I didn’t. He is still free.”
“I mean, how did you calm it?”
The boy reached over and petted the loin. “Animals only bear their teeth at enemies. They are true to their friends and feelings.”
“So are you some sort of trainer, or are you a performer?”
“I’m neither right now, but I would like to be a performer.”
The girl winked at him. “Well, I’m sure that once we get the circus back underway, you’ll have a job with us. Just being able to calm lions like that would be good enough to please a lot of crowds.”
Trowa continued to pet the big cat. “I think I would like that.”
In another section of the ship, another delegation was meeting. This one was not one of peace. This was a meeting of the Maganac Corp, an elite troop of soldiers from the Middle East. A man named Rasid Kurama led them. That same man was pacing back and forth with a stern look on his face. “Where is he?” He repeated as he stepped back and forth in the hold.
Just then, a boy with blonde hair came running up. “I’m sorry I’m late, Rasid, but I was excited about the new destroid!”
Resid just shook his head. “It’s okay, Master Quatre. Just don’t make a habit of leaving us here and running off by yourself. We’re sworn to protect you.”
The boy humbly bowed his head. “I do apologize and I realize my father would be very upset if something were to happen to me.” He brought his head up and looked at Rasid with a gleam of joy in his eyes. “But you should see this thing! It’s great! It’s the best destroid in the universe! Instructor H said I would get to pilot it when it’s finished!”
Rasid couldn’t help but smile at his tenderhearted charge. “I’m sure it’s a wonderful machine, Master Quatre, and I’m also sure that you will pilot it with the greatest of skill.”
The boy stood up with a confident posture. “I will, and I know just what I’m going to call it!”
Rasid scratched his chin. “Yes?”
“I’m going to call him, Sandrock!”
Finally, in Master O’s manufacturing bay, a Chinese boy sat watching the robot before him take shape. He had watched this machine since its inception. This would be his companion this would be a proud warrior. The boy smiled at the Gundam. “We shall show them that we are the strongest in the universe. We shall show them that they cannot underestimate the power of Wufei and his partner, Nataku!”