EarthFall.

 

 

Episode 1 Part 1 Sight for sore eyes.

 

The stillness of space with the earth hanging peacefully filling up the entire view-screen was misleading as the ship shook from the impact of weapon fire.  The ship was the Henry Global named for perhaps the greatest captain of the Robotech age. She had watched Admiral Hunter handle the naming ceremony himself. The first Garfish class Destroyer to return to earth.

 

: Why are we still here? : Lieutenant Commander Daria Morgendorffer asked herself as she completed her defense assessment and prepared it for handover.

 

The engines kicking in calmed her for a few seconds before she realized the ship wasn’t changing course.

 

: What is he doing? : She thought as she pocketed a copy of the report and headed toward the bridge.

 

The decks of the garfish class destroyer seemed to roll underneath her and she knew what that meant.

Gravity, the ship had entered a gravity well.

 

The trip to the bridge only took a handful of seconds but the sounds of her boots hitting the deck plates seem to last forever.

 

Smoke poured out of damaged panels as a fire control team struggled to maintain the navigation system.

 

“75 seconds until PSR Captain.” One of the bridge crew stated with a shaky voice.

 

“Push forward. They won’t follow us down.” Captain Meels replied.

 

“Captain.” Daria called out as soon as she entered the bridge.

 

“Finished with your little report Commander.” The captain sneered.

 

“Why are you entering atmo?” She demanded.

 

“I have no intention of allowing these buggers to hold Earth for one more day.”Meels answered.

 

“Our orders are to engage, assess then withdraw.” Daria responded with force.

 

“I am exercising command prerogative.” He said instantly.

 

“The Mars attack group needs this information.” Daria said approaching him.

 

“No they don’t. The Invid will be pushed off Earth in a matter of hours.” He sneered again.

 

Daria turned from him and called out. “Give me fleet status.”

 

“The Young and the Porter are destroyed. The Dixon is maintaining its offensive and the Leeds is disabled. We’re at 48% hull integrity.” A young officer answered.

 

“You’ve lost an Ikazuchi class heavy cruiser and two Tristar light cruisers.” Daria swore out loud.

 

The ship shook but not from impact but from the atmospheric tidal forces as they continued lower.

“Pull the ship up. Full power to engines. We’re leaving.” Daria called out.

 

“What?” Meels demanded.

 

“I intend to follow Admiral Hayes’s orders to the letter. Get us away from the planet.” Daria order the crew.

 

The men and women of the bridge crew moved as one to follow her order but she saw bad news on their faces almost at once.

 

“Engine room reports they don’t have enough power to break free from orbit.” A voice called out.

The sound of metal sheering and twisting filled their ears.

 

“Report.” Daria called.

 

“Hull integrity down to 41 percent.”  Came the answer.

 

“We are not withdrawing.” Meels tried to regain control.

 

“Per section 41 of the Robotech Armed Forces code you are relieved of command.” Daria snapped back as she pulled a necklace off and pulled it out from under her uniform and walked to the communication controls. She inserted the key on the end of the chain into a slot and turned it causing a lid to pop open over a red button. She quickly pressed it and spoke.

 

“All hands this is not a drill abandon ship.” Daria spoke before releasing the button causing klaxons to begin sounding throughout the ship.

 

“What are you doing?” The captain demanded and started toward her.

 

Daria closed the lid and twisted the key into the locked position and jerked it down breaking it off.

“Saving as many lives as I can.” Daria answered as she dropped the now useless chain.

 

“This is my ship.” The captain roared.

 

“Then go down with it.” Daria said letting anger slip into her voice as the ship shook with explosions as the enemy continued their attack as they plummeted through atmo.

 

“Radio the Dixon and order them to withdraw and jump.” Daria called to the communication officer who was sitting in shock.

 

“Yes Ma’am.” he answered as he moved to follow the order.

Confirmation came in seconds.

 

“The Dixon is moving away at flank speed.” A voice informed her.

 

“Get to the escapes pods.” Daria ordered the bridge crew and watched as they fled.

 

“Who do you think you are?” Meels said grabbing for her.

 

“Second in command of this ship.” Daria said as she parried his attack and countered with a foot to his midsection.  “We had a mission and we failed it because of you.”

 

The captain just lay on the floor and Daria stepped over him as she headed down the main hall.

 

It took almost 20 seconds for her to reach the primary weapons control room through the violent shaking of the ship.

 

“Fire all tubes then run for the life boats.” She heard a strong female voice say. She turned the corner and saw the tall Zentraedi still at her station.

 

“Jane we’ve got to go.” Daria said entering the room.

 

“No can do.” Jane smiled.

 

“Engine room report.” Jane said as her hands flew over the various controls.

 

“Access to exits has been completely cut off by a hull breach and the suits were destroyed when we lost our weapons capacitors.” A voice Daria knew well answered.

 

“Hang on I’ll keep them off of us.” Jane answered quickly.

 

“The engine is overloading. It’s taking three of us just to keep the ship from exploding. There’s no way to get to us or to save the ship. I’m sorry Janey.” The voice said sadly.

 

“You’re not getting out of marrying me that easy.” Jane countered into the radio.

 

“Engine room this is Commander Morgendorffer report.” Daria said touching the panel.

 

“The cooling lines have been blown apart. We’re having to manually vent the engines into space. Something cut into the main entrance and exposed it to space and the damage in here is cutting us off from the other exits. The suits are gone.” He finished.

 

“John is there anything we can do? We are right next to the hanger bay. There are a couple of Alphas still there.” Daria asked.

 

“You can die with us or you can get Jane off this ship.” He answered calmly.

 

“Affirmative.” Daria answered.

 

“I’m not leaving him.” Jane spoke without her asking.

 

“I know.” Daria answered before swinging her hand. It landed on the nape of her friend’s neck dropping her to her knees.

 

“I’m sorry.” Daria said as Jane jerked her head up in time for the second strike to catch her on the temple rendering her unconscious.

 

Daria dumped Jane into the second seat of an Alpha and quickly loaded the ship with supplies as the shaking continued. The plates under her feet were trembling and she knew she didn’t have long as she changed into flight armor and climbed aboard the fighter.

 

She launched and flew away from the ship and fought the controls as reentry pressures started as soon as she was clear.

 

She switched to guardian mode and fired her reverse thrusters to slow her descent.

 

A flash of light from behind her followed by a shock wave let her know that the ship was gone.

 

“Goodbye Henry.” Daria said with a single tear rolling down her cheek.

 

Another spark that she knew as a spacefold let her know that the Dixon got away and at least some part of the mission wouldn’t be a failure.

 

“Jo..hn.” Jane groaned from behind her.

 

“I’m sorry Jane. The Henry Global exploded a few moments ago. Anyone still inside was killed.” Daria answered.

The sound of crying was the only answer.

 

Daria returned her attention forward as she piloted the fighter toward what appeared to be a safe landing zone.

 

: Safe crash zone I think. : Daria thought as she continued to struggle with the sluggish controls.

 

It had been a long time since she had seen earth having spent more time off Earth than on it. At least that’s what Lang and his bunch declared.

: Everyone I ever knew is at least 5 years older than me now. : Daria thought as she  remembered the day she had learned that the first spacefold to Tirol had been miscalculated and instead of being in seconds took 5 years.

 

“Well welcome home.” Daria said to no one as she broke free from reentry and settled into normal flight.

Landscapes she had never seen moved beneath her as she flew.

 

: How many of the farms do they need. : She thought as another Flower of life farm came into view.

 

A warning indicator started flashing and a quick check advised her that either from reentry or from debris the power generator was damaged and she was losing power quickly.

 

“Looks like a good place to land.” Daria joked as she punched in commands and started a landing run on a small field.

 

 

Daria setup camp after landing the Alpha. It would never fly again but that was fine with her.

She pulled the extra supplies and emergency transport cyclones from the Alpha.

 

: Hey Mom guess what, not only did I follow in dad’s footsteps now I’m going to ride a motorcycle. : She thought was a smirk.

She turned to where Jane was still sleeping and sighed.

: If she can’t pull it together I’m in real trouble here. :

 

She started preparing some of the rations and groaned as the smell hit her nose.

:  I can’t believe I grabbed ham and lima beans. :

Jane stirred under the blanket and Daria tensed. The other woman sat up and looked around.

 

“Where are we?” Jane demanded.

 

“Earth. I crashed us.” Daria answered nodding toward the wreckage of the Alpha.

 

“The ship?” Jane pressed.

 

“Lost.” Daria answered.

 

“The mission?” Jane continued.

 

“The Dixon jumped so hopefully it wasn’t a complete waste.” Daria sighed.

 

“John.” Jane choked.

 

“Gone.” Daria replied carefully.

 

“Now what?” Jane cried.

 

“We start moving. A lot of pods and fighters made it and hopefully we can hook up with them.” Daria shrugged.

 

“I can’t even remember Earth looking like this. It’s like Praxis or something out of a holo.” Jane said looking around.

 

“The earth was still recovering from the rain of death and the uprisings when we left.” Daria answered.

 

“So are you thinking about going to try to find your family?” Jane asked.

 

“I don’t even know where we are, let alone where they might have moved in the last 15 years or so.” Daria shrugged.

 

“Oh. I doubt mine made it out of the camps.” Jane sighed.

 

“You never know.” Daria tried.

 

Jane didn’t answer but she accepted a bowl when Daria held it out and started eating.

: Happy Birthday. : Lieutenant Commander Daria Morgendorffer thought rudely.

 

She was 29 years old.

 

 

 

 

Episode  1 Part 2 On the move.

 

“I don’t care what you might forget. That patrol is sweeping our way.” Jane said loudly as she kept watch on the patrol that searched in the distance.

 

“I’m going.” Daria answered as she tied the last of the cargo containers to the VR-052F cyclones they were riding. Nicknamed the Battler the all purpose vehicles would hopefully make the difference.

 

“At least you grabbed some Pulse Beam rifles. This thing’s missile racks are pretty meek.” Jane complained as Daria sat on hers and started tightening her armor.

 

“So glad you approve.” Daria said over her helmets radio com.

 

“Lets go.” Jane said powering up her bike and starting off away from their camp.

Daria quickly followed behind her having to push past her comfort zone to keep up with her companion.

 

“You in a hurry.” Daria said after 15 minutes of riding.

 

“That scout group turned our way as soon as we started moving. I’m hoping they won’t follow us.” Jane answered.

 

“Damn.” Daria answered.

 

They traveled as fast as Jane could push them until Daria call for her to stop.

 

“We can’t afford to sit around.” Jane scolded her.

 

“I know that. Lieutenant but I need to run a scan for beacons.” She answered flatly.

 

“Yes Ma’am Lieutenant Commander.” Jane responded formally but Daria could hear the smile in her voice.

Daria ran her scan and found what she was looking form.

 

“Looks like we got friends in grid three.” Daria said as she stowed the scanning equipment.

 

“Then lets g…” Jane started to answer before a blast sent her and her cyclone flying.

 

Training kicked in and Daria thumbed the armor mode switch and felt the cyclone start bonding to the ride armor. She jumped to the side spinning in mid air as another volley of annihilation discs slammed into the ground where she had been standing.

Daria found her attackers at once. Three Armored Scouts were moving in on her position. 

 

: Let’s see how well these missiles do. : Daria thought as she fired both of the missiles from her right arm plate at the lead scout.

The two missiles flew away and struck the scout in its eye, exploding on impact.

 

: That’s one. : Daria thought as she leapt away as the remaining two moved in closer.

 

“Move it Morgendorffer.” She heard Jane call over the radio.

 

:Jane.: Daria thought as she dove for cover.

 

Jane popped up in armor mode firing the plasma rifle at the two remaining Invid.  One dropped from a near perfect shot and the second started trying to retreat but Jane moved in until it leapt into the air.

 

“Not this time crab.” Jane shouted and Daria watched a single missile fly and strike the exhaust port for the scouts thrusters.

Flaming wreckage and green ooze rained down on them.

 

Daria quickly search for anymore but found the area clear.

 

“Nice shooting tex. I thought they got you.” Daria admitted as she changed back into ride mode.

 

“Took me a second to clear the cobwebs.” Jane joked as she did the same.

 

“You took them out clean.” Daria nodded.

 

“I’m a Zentraedi. That’s what we were made for.” Jane answered calmly.

 

“Let’s get out of here.” Daria said carefully wanting to avoid that conversation.

 

It took them well into the night to reach grid three. Jane pulled them into a small grove of trees.

 

“I think we should rest here. The Invid are too sneaky at night.” Jane informed her.

 

“Makes sense.” Daria agreed as she pulled off her helmet.

 

“Like you care.” Jane smirked. “I could stop us in front of an army of Inorganics and you would be ok with it.”

 

“Your point.” Daria sighed.

 

“You need to tell me what’s bothering you about riding the cyclone.” Jane smirked.

 

“I’ve spent the last 5 years in space. I’ve been plant side maybe once. Ever since we got back from the Sentinels I’ve been in space, gravity is not my friend right now.” Daria admitted.

 

“Legs or butt.” Jane responded.

 

“What?” Daria grouched as she removed her riding armor.

 

“What hurts? Legs or butt.” Jane groaned.

 

“I’ll be fine.” Daria said looking offended.

 

Jane took three strides and grabbed her friends butt then the mid thigh and stopped when Daria almost screamed in pain.

 

“Ok, legs.” Jane said as she released her.

 

“Go pound a Crann.” Daria groaned in pain.

 

“Look. We can’t afford to get sloppy and someone in pain is sloppy. Now hit the med kit for some muscle relaxants and chew a couple of pain killers.” Jane snapped.

 

“I can’t afford to be knocked out if they find us.” Daria argued.

 

“Yes you can. The bikes are shut down for power conservation and if they attack right now we’re screwed. At least this way you won’t feel it when they blast us.” Jane shrugged.

 

“We need more protoculture.” Daria sighed. “What we have won’t last more than a week at this rate.”

 

“I’ll start dinner, you drug up.” Jane replied, dismissing the concerns for now.

 

 

They ate in silence as Daria scanned for the beacons and sighed as it found them again.

 

“Looks like two more beacons joined the group. At least 5 escape pods and a dozen or so Alphas.” She informed Jane.

 

“Good.” Jane said looking pleased. “I’d rather be in an Alpha than on wheels.”

 

“Would be nice.” Daria groaned as she stretched out on her sleeping pouch.

 

“How many you think made it to the planet?” Jane asked.

 

“Well the Young and Porter were taken out pretty fast so most likely no one managed to get to the pods but there was time for most of the pods to launch from Henry and I don’t know about the Leeds.” Daria shrugged.

 

“I was thinking more about Alphas.” Jane admitted.

 

“Our entire wing was out when the ship blew so anyone that didn’t make it to the Dixon before it jumped would have been forced to land here or maybe on the lunar base. Aluce I think.” Daria mused.

 

“So there isn’t any way more than a couple of dozen extra veritechs could fit that leaves almost 200 fighters.” Jane said looking pleased.

 

“Not counting for any that the Invid got first.” Daria answered.

 

“How bad was it?” Jane asked.

 

“They were still duking it out when the Dixon jumped so pretty bad. You know pilots.” Daria said sadly.

 

“So what maybe 60 or so may have gotten down?” Jane pressed.

 

“Maybe.” Daria answered as the drugs started to kick in.

 

“I’m thinking we find ourselves a little out of the way spot near a target and wait for the Mars attack group and provide them with some two front action.” Jane smirked.

 

“Why does it always sound dirty when you talk combat.” Daria said sleepily.

 

“Get some rest.” Jane smirked.

 

 

Jane sat leaning against a tree watching her friend sleep.

The sounds of the soldiers moving closer made her heart beat faster and faster. These weren’t civil defense, this was the Army of the Southern Cross and everyone knew what they did to Zentraedi.

She was about to run for it when a hand reached out and grabbed her pulling her back into the alley where she was hiding.

 

“They’re looking for you.” The smaller girl said.

 

“They think I’m a malcontent like my family.” Jane admitted in terror.

The girl studied her for a few seconds before pulling her again.

 

“I’ll hide you.”

 

“Who are you?” Jane asked.

 

“Daria Morgendorffer now c’mon.” The younger Daria said.

 

: Funny how some things start. Anyone else would have turned me over for some extra rations or a pat on the head. : Jane thought in the now.

 

: Her family took me in. The real shocker was when I found about their dad. : Jane shook her head and looked around.

 

“My dad was in the RDF civil defense.” Daria explained one day when Jane pressured her about him.

 

“Oh. … Did he die?” Jane asked.

 

“Yes. He was killed in a malcontent attack a long time ago. I barely remember him.” Daria answered sadly.

 

“I’m sorry.” Jane said in horror.

 

“It wasn’t you.” Daria assured her.

 

 

: That’s when I knew I would follow her anywhere. And a Parino keeps her word. : Jane thought with a smile.

 

 

The next morning they were moving toward the beacons and despite the urge to travel hard Jane stopped for rest periods to avoid pushing Daria to hard.

 

“We’re almost there.” Daria said when they stopped for what Jane hoped would be the last time before arriving.

 

“Just wanted to get the lay of the land.” Jane lied truthfully.

 

“Liar.” Daria sighed but gratefully.

 

“I think we need to move the camp as soon as we get there. It’s way to open.” Jane said ignoring the comment.

 

“You’re right but that’s easier said than done. Lets just get there and then worry about step two.” Daria agreed.

 

“You’re the boss.” Jane said and revved her cyclone and started away.

 

“Ya right.” Daria muttered without malice.

 

 

It took them another twenty minutes to make it to the location of the beacons and the forest growth slowed then to a crawl.

 

“I could walk faster than these.” Jane groaned into the radio.

 

“Just another twenty meters.” Daria called back.

 They burst out of the undergrowth into a clearing and skidded to a stop.

 

: Well this isn’t good. : Jane thought.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode  1 Part 3 Problems.

 

Daria stepped off her cyclone and looked over across the smoldering wreckage the filled the clearing. Emergency shelters were blown to pieces and supplies were sewn around.  The mecha had been destroyed in what appeared to have been a fierce battle.

 

The hardest part was the bodies that lay among the technology and Invid. There must have been thirty or so lying around the clearing. Handheld weapons grasped in cold hands. Even the ground itself was scorched in some places, gouged in others. Smoke wafted to them along with the acidic smell of Invid weapon fire.

 

“Damn.” Jane swore as she checked an armored cyclone rider and quickly stood.

 

“This isn’t right.” Daria said looking around confused.

 

“What?” Jane said going on alert.

 

“Look. Scout and Troopers but no Inorganics. That doesn’t make sense and look no tracks.” Daria said pointing around the clear signs of a battle.

 

“That is a little strange. Normally they send them in first then hit with the big guns.” Jane agreed.

 

“Right sending in this many Invid is not standard battle doctrine for them.” Daria worried.

 

“I don’t think any were here.” Jane shrugged as she scanned the clearing with her always sharp eyes.

 

“Lets split up and search for survivors and any useable supplies.” Daria ordered.

 

“Got it.” Jane nodded. “Then we can get the hell out here.”

 

“I’ll check to see if any of the Alphas are repairable.” Daria said as Jane started away.

 

“Don’t bother looking for protoculture.” Jane said still walking toward one of the shelters. She pointed at an Alpha’s powerpack that had been ripped opened and its refined protoculture removed.

 

“That isn’t a good sign.” Daria groaned.

 

Jane entered the shelter and ignored the dead within. The attack had clearly happened in the morning while some of the noncoms were still sleeping.

 

: At least I don’t know any of them. : Jane sighed as she quickly grabbed the foodstuffs and weapon packs for the Gallant H-90s that both her and Daria carried.

 

She quickly moved to the next shelter and found more dead but she only had eyes for the wolverine assault rifles and hand pulse rifles.

 

“Goodies.” Jane would have smiled if not for the grim surroundings.

 

 

 

Daria checked the other side of camp and found plenty of parts and missiles for the cyclones but as Jane predicted no protoculture. None of the veritechs could be repaired with what they had on hand and the betas seemed to have been crushed.

 

: Nothing to do but salvage what we can. : Daria admitted defeat as the hope of crossing the landscape in the flight seat of an Alpha was dashed.

 

She moved several crates of supplies over near the cyclones then heard something behind her in the bushes. It wasn’t much, just a quick rustle but she had her Gallant in her hand before she a thought formed in her mind.

 

: Easy this isn’t Peryton. : She thought. She had almost paid for sloppiness with her life there.

Daria started into the bushes prepared for the sharp metal growl of an Inorganic. The hellcats loved to attack out of the jungle.

 

: C’mon, I’m all alone. : She thought as she prepared for the jump attack.

 

“Commander.” A raspy voice said and she kicked herself for not keeping an eye on the ground.

 

“Rorley.” Daria exclaimed and knelt to the wounded man hiding beneath the shrubs. It was the CAG from the Henry Global.

 

“Didn’t think I’d … ever see you again.” He coughed.

 

“Well I’m not smart enough to go down with the ship.” She joked as she fought from losing it.

 

“Hit us hard.” He replied with an almost amused look on his face.

 

“How?” She asked as she pulled her med kit from her pack.

 

“Run. Leave the mecha behind.” He said coughing up blood as he spoke.

 

“Why?” Daria said as she checked his injuries. His chest was ripped to pieces but it looked like shrapnel not claws or pincers.

 

“They homed in on it as soon as we powered up. Tore us to pieces.” He said growing weaker with each word. His life leaked out on to the ground in rivers pouring from the cracks in his armor.

 

“What happened?” She asked wanting to gain some information.

 

“Came from every direction. Must have been a hundred of them.” He gasped out struggling to find breath.

 

“We’ll get out of here on cyclones once I get you squared away.” Daria said but she knew he wouldn’t be traveling with them.

 

“It was like they could smell us.” He coughed and she felt something tear in his chest.

A second later he was gone and she rose, returning to the camp.

 

“Let’s get out of here.” She said as soon as Jane returned to view.

 

“Shouldn’t we bury the dead or …” Jane started until she saw the blood on her friend’s armor.

 

“I’ll pack.” Jane finished.

 

“I want out of this clearing in two minutes. In an hour I don’t even want to remember it.” Daria said firmly using her command voice.

Jane just nodded.

 

They heavy loaded the bikes and carried every possible ounce of weight they dared before leaving the slaughter behind them.

 

“Jane I need you to think. Do you remember the Invid ever homing in on our mecha back in the Sentinels?” Daria asked.

 

“All the time. It’s like they could hear the powercells warming up or something.” Jane answered after a moment.

 

“I think it has something to do with protoculture. They’re intertwined with it so closely maybe they can sense or smell it. I don’t know.” Daria admitted.

 

“Talk to Lang if you want to talk that science crap.” Jane groaned.

 

“Ok let’s dumb it down. Right now every Invid nearby is getting some kind of signal when we drive past.” Daria countered.

 

“And what can we do about that?” Jane shuddered and slowed down before checking the sky as if an attack was seconds away.

 

“No idea but if we see a patrol we need to power everything down and see if they still spot us.” Daria answered.

 

“Roger.” Jane sighed.

 

They traveled throughout the day until Daria pointed ahead of them and a shape poking out of the earth in the distance.

 

“It looks like a Zentraedi ship from the rain of death.” Jane answered over the radio. “I remember there being hundreds of them all over the planet.”

 

“Right and around everyone what happened?” Daria countered.

 

“A town!” Jane almost cheered.

 

“Which means people, which also means Invid.” Daria pressed.

 

“Which means we need to scout around before we ride into town.” Jane said almost eagerly.  

 

“That’s the idea.” Daria gave a weak smile.

 

They left the cyclones and most of their supplies a mile away from the town and started walking in, avoiding the road that seemed to be heavily trafficked.

 

“What I don’t get is why the Invid even care.” Jane said as they setup on a small hill that overlooked the entrance to the town.

 

“Care about what?” Daria asked as she sighted down and took a look around with her long range viewers.

 

“Us, the camp, anything. That pack of Alphas couldn’t have done any real damage and they hit them hard and fast.” Jane said as she laid on her stomach and spied down on the town.

 

“We’ve got Invid.” Daria said. “Left side of town.”

 

Jane looked over and zoomed in. “Damn Enforcers. Looks like a platoon of them.” She groaned.

 

“Consider it a good thing. We can take them out with our hand weapons.” Daria responded.

 

“I don’t think there are any Inorganics here either.” Jane said returning to scan the town.

 

“I’m starting to think the Regis doesn’t use them.” Daria replied.

 

“Great. That throws off everything we know about fighting Invid.” Jane sighed.

 

“So we write a new book.” Daria shrugged.

 

 

 

After getting the pattern of the Invid patrols through the town perfected they started their way closer.

Trucks started to enter and leave the town as the sun started to set. The Invid seemed to ignore the people within as what might be considered daily life went on.

As they slipped carefully through the outskirts of the town no one seemed to take notice of them.

Jane led the way and suddenly jumped backward and drew her weapon causing Daria to do likewise.

 

“Don’t mean any harm.” A scared voice said.

Jane kept her weapon trained on a target right around a corner out of her line of sight so Daria moved slowly and carefully behind Jane ready for anything.

 

“Just stay calm.” She said as she saw the man. His clothes were clean and well kept.

 

“Leave before the others see you.” He warned as Jane lowered her weapon after seeing Daria do the same.

 

“Why?” Jane sneered.

 

“I have to go.” He said and quickly turned and ran away.

 

Jane looked at Daria and asked. “What the hell was that?”

 

“No clue but we need to stay on our toes. Something about this stinks.” Daria answered seriously.

 

Whole parts of the town were in various states of disrepair owing mostly likely to the greatly reduced population after a long war with the Robotech Masters and then the Invid. The man quickly disappeared into the wreckage of an apartment building.

The pair returned to their path toward the center of the town and the hulking Zentraedi ship. They avoided most of the town’s people who hurried away after seeing them until they reached their destination and footsteps alerted them to company.

There were six of them but only one wore a uniform and Daria saw Jane tense up at the sight.

 

“Now what are you ladies doing here?” The uniformed man asked nicely.

 

“I’m Lieutenant Commander Daria Morgendorffer with the Robotech Expeditionary Force. Our ships were destroyed in orbit. We’re looking for other survivors or to contact any remnants of the RDF.” She answered.

 

“Ain’t no more RDF. They were disbanded before the Robotech Masters attacked.” The leader smirked.

“Southern cross runs the planet now.”

 

“Looks like the Invid do.” Jane said in a soft dangerous voice.

 

“Maybe but we don’t much like strangers carrying guns so you need to hand them over to Carl.” He replied.  Carl stepped forward and held out his hands toward them.

 

Daria drew her weapon and held it pointing at the ground then answered. “No.”

 

“Excuse me little Miss?” He said with a face that screamed distain.

 

“I don’t answer to the Southern Cross and I don’t answer to you.” Daria said coldly and Jane knew how this was going to end as she drew her weapon as well.

 

“We’re the law here. We keep the Invid from killing folks.” He tried a softer tone.

“And we’re here to kill Invid and we can’t do that without guns. Now as far as I’ve seen this town doesn’t have anything we need so we’re leaving. The only question is how many dead thugs we’re leaving on the ground when we do.” Daria said making Jane smirk.

 

“Wipe the smile alien. The Invid took care of your kind around these parts and good riddance. Don’t make us finish the job on you.” One of the men snarled.

 

“Don’t threaten her again.” Daria stated in a flat voice.

 

“Mike go call the Invid over here to deal wit…” The leader started.

 

He never finished and Mike never got a chance to move before a volley of fire from the two solders cut down the entire group in seconds. It couldn't be called a battle as the two battle hardened veterans wiped out the men before they even knew what was happening.

 

“That was stupid.” Jane commented as she holstered her Gallant.

 

“I think we’re going to see a lot of this. People who have come to some kind of deal with the Invid.” Daria said in disgust.

 

“We need to haul before that shooting attracts Invid.” Jane nodded.

 

“Lets get back to the Cyclones and put some distance between us and here. We need to find someplace that isn’t Invid friendly.” Daria ordered.

 

“They were going to take our weapons and just hand us over to the Invid weren’t they.” Jane shook her head.

 

“If we were lucky.” Daria answered and the two started back the way they had come, out of the town.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode  2 Part 1 Weather.

 

“I hate this planet.” Jane grumbled as the two travelers sat close to each other under a quickly set up tent as the sky rained down on them.

 

“You’re just pissed because the lightening freaked you out.” Daria smirked nicely.

 

“Well excuse me. The only time I can remember noise like that was when the Southern Cross took out the camp my family was staying in.” Jane defended her nervousness.

 

 

“This is like it was before the Rain. The whole planet is just like Karbarra or Praxis before it blew up.” Daria said almost in awe.

 

“Well give me Tirol any day.” Jane shrugged slightly.

 

“Are you still pissed that you couldn’t get to go to Fantoma?” Daria sighed.

 

“They could have at least tried to enlarge me. The code has to be there somewhere in me.” Jane snapped at her friend.

 

“You were born micronized. It was too much of a risk.” Daria replied parroting Dr. Lang’s comments.

 

“I know.” Jane said as her eyes continued to dart left and right at every flash of lightening.

 

“I remember that these storms aren’t supposed to last too long then we can get moving again.” Daria tried to cheer her companion up.

 

“Good.” Jane grumbled.

 

Daria ripped open a ready meal and handed it over before opening one for herself and trying to stomach the pseudo food.

: A week we’ve been here and so far nothing but skirmishes with Invid and their human lackeys. One burned out town after another. The farms are the key but you’d need an army to even begin to make a difference. : She thought as she tried to assess what would be the best path to follow. It had been one small battle after another since they left the first town they discovered.

 

“We either need to start building an army or we need to find someplace to lay low until the Mars group’s main attack force arrives.” Jane said reading her mind or maybe just her face.

 

“I don’t think building an army is going to work. Most people here are pushed to the limit after fighting off the Robotech Masters and then the Invid. And to be honest neither of us are very good motivational speakers.” Daria chuckled.

 

“So that leaves laying low. Any ideas where?” Jane said glad for a distraction from the storm around them.

 

“Well going off the locator beacons I think we’re somewhere in the NorEast continent. Most likely the west coast. I was thinking about heading east.” Daria admitted.

 

“Home.” Jane nodded.

 

“Been awhile and I doubt we’ll be able to find anyone we know but if we’re hiding why not there.” Daria answered.

 

“Sounds good to me. A lot of Zentraedi settled there and I’ll bet at least some of my family escaped Leonard’s purges.” Jane almost dared Daria to disagree.

 

“Then it’s off to quadrant 36 sector 12.” Daria said remembering their home from years before.

 

“I wonder if your sister fed my cat.” Jane mused.

 

“Quinn hated that cat with a passion.” Daria answered.

 

“He went to the bathroom on one outfit and she just couldn’t forgive him.” Jane sighed remembering the old tomcat she had found digging through the trash dump.  

 

 

 

They spent the next weeks traveling in skips and jumps to avoid detection from the Invid in order to conserve their rapidly depleting supply of protoculture.

Along the way they searched various ruins for any information about their exact location.

 

“Hey you know anything about Texas?” Jane asked as they camped out on the edge of a barren landscape that was littered with the remains of a battle from the Robotech Master’s invasion.

 

“Largest state in what had been the United States before the United Earth Government took over after the SDF-1 crash landed.

 

“Well it looks like we’re sitting smack dab in the middle of it.” Jane smirked as she handed Daria a piece of paper that seemed to have a crude map as well as various puzzles.

 

“This map isn’t right, where did you get it?” Daria asked.

 

“At our last stop. The restaurant.” Jane explained.

 

“I don’t think it’s accurate but at least we know the general area where we are.” Daria sighed.

 

“Any chance any of this mecha could be salvaged?” Jane said pointing over toward the closest one. It was a Logan that appeared untouched.

 

“No protoculture. Otherwise I might grab a pair of those veritech hovertanks.” Daria said pointing at the mecha she was referring to.

 

“Those things packed a punch.” Jane agreed.

 

Daria pointed to a stack of Bioroids and shrugged. “I even checked some of the sleds for them and everything has been drained. Someone has already been ‘culture diving through the old battle fields.”

 

“Why is it still like this?” Jane exclaimed suddenly.

 

“What do you mean?” Daria asked puzzled.

 

“We’ve seen everything from battlepods and veritechs from the first war to mecha from the Malcontent uprising to what’s left after the Robotech Masters. Why isn’t someone rebuilding?” Jane said clearly frustrated.

 

“Well the RDF and UPG were in the process of cleaning up from the first war and the uprising when the REF mission left. Apparently the RDF got disbanded and that would leave the Southern Cross as the primary military force and we both know all Leonard cared about.” Daria answered.

 

“Why would they disband the RDF?” Jane almost growled.

 

“Leonard wouldn’t want another military running around. I guess he was a better politician than the commanders of the RDF.” Daria just shrugged.

 

“Maybe that guy made it up.” Jane tried referring to the uniformed man they killed.

 

“Who knows.” Daria admitted.

 

 

 

The next day found them leaving the rotting mecha behind them as they sped across the landscape their questions grew larger each moment.

The Invid flew overhead but with the clear open skies they were spotted long before and the party stopped and powered down their cyclones and waited for the enemy to pass.

 

“This is going to take forever if we have to stop every few hours for them to go away.” Jane started her typical complaint when they stopped for the sixth time that day.

 

“Better than one fight after another burning up our reserves. Through I was more worried about our weapons being depleted but with all the wrecks laying around that isn’t going to be a problem.” Daria said with a shake of her head.

 

“Incoming.” Jane said quickly and both of them dived for the ground.

Daria turned her head toward the sky and saw the new mecha that was being chased by at least 10 Invid scouts and troopers.

 

“What the hell is that?” Jane asked as she sighted on the mecha.

 

“Don’t you remember them?” Daria said coldly. “It’s a stinger.”

 

“Damn.” Jane swore under her breath. “Maybe it’s not Malcontents or maybe they’re not hostile anymore.”

 

Daria just watched as the hodgepodged mecha engaged the pursuers.

It was as agile as the power-armor used by the Zentraedi in the first war and seemed to pack a decent punch.

 

“Reminds me of the ones my Mom used to help make.” Jane said in awe. It had been the last secret between them but it had come out long before the jump to Tirol.

 

“At least your people are still fighting.” Daria said and Jane heard the respect in her tone.

 

“Stands to reason that the Zentraedi would start building mecha to fight the Robotech Masters and then the Invid. They would have to get some help from the former Malcontents to do so effectively.” Jane tried weakly.

 

“Makes sense but if I ever see one flying Botoru colors then I’ll kill them.” Daria agreed.

 

“I’ll help.” Jane promised.

 

It had been a group of Malcontents loyal to the former leader of the Botoru Battalion that had killed Jake Morgendorffer during an attack on a civilian refugee camp.

 

“Jane you have to understand that we don’t hate the Zentraedi or even the Malcontents.” Helen Morgendorffer said when she pressed about Daria’s father.

 

“Ok.” A 12 year old Jane replied.

 

“He was destroid pilot with the RDF civil defense. We were in one of the camps during the reconstruction and he was on duty when one of the groups loyal to Khyron attacked. His squad was destroyed and Jake held the line with his Gladiator until reinforcements could arrive. He died from his injuries a few hours later.” Helen said with tears as she showed Jane pictures of a man in uniform standing next to one of the giant destroids.

 

 

“Most of the Malcontents just want food and medicine or not to be hunted like animals by those thugs in the south. I don’t hold an ill thought towards them but there wasn’t anything of value at that camp. It was an attack for the sole purpose of killing innocent people.” Helen continued.

 

“My mom.” Jane started weakly.

 

“It wasn’t you.” Helen said firmly and hugged the young girl.

 

: She didn’t want to know if my mother was involved. It took me almost a year to tell Daria how my mother earned a living. : Jane thought as she continued to watch the battle in the sky.

: That was hard telling her my own mother made weapons to be used against her people. She might have even made the stinger that killed her father. : Jane thought sadly glancing over at her friend.

 

“It wasn’t you and I can’t blame your Mom for making weapons to use against the Southern Cross.” Daria had answered and it formed a bond between them, one of trust that held to this day.

 

“Damn!” Daria swore snapping Jane from her memories.

 

 

The stinger had taken a hit in its power generator and was falling to the ground at a sickening speed.  The Invid broke off and headed away from the area on their original course.

 

“Lets check it out.” Daria declared as they moved back to the cyclones.

 

“No way they could have survived that fall.” Jane said confused.

 

“Maybe, maybe not but if there is an active resistance then I want to know about it.” Daria declared as she powered up her bike.

Jane nodded and mounted hers and started up its generator.

It didn’t take them long to find the crash site. The massive mecha appeared to be beyond repair but it was the pilot both were curious about.

Jane climbed on top of the mech and studied the controls next to the hatch.

 

“DARIA!” Jane cried out in surprise.

 

“What?” Daria responded by pulling her weapon and moving forward.

 

“It can’t be.” Jane mumbled as she reached down and worked the control causing the panel to slide open and lift away.

 

“Talk to me.” Daria demanded worried.

 

“I think my mom built this stinger. I remember the controls from her design.” Jane said as she started pulling the suited pilot out.

They got the dead pilot to the ground and stripped the mask off his face.

 

“I don’t know him.” Jane declared and Daria almost laughed, the pilot wasn’t Zentraedi.

 

“How old is this thing?” Daria asked pointing at the Stinger.

 

“Maybe a year.” Jane shrugged.

 

“This is a good sign.” Daria declared.

 

: It means that somewhere someone is building, funding and training people to fight the Invid. : Daria thought almost happily.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode  2 Part 2 Helping Hand.

 

They buried the pilot next to his Stinger before heading away from the crash site. Traveling through the first part of the night in order to put as much distance as possible between the battle and themselves. It was after midnight before they stopped to camp. Distance fires informed them of a nearby town.  Jane was taking her turn burning the food when the sounds of breaking twigs alerted them to an incoming traveler. Both quickly took up defensive positions outside the flickering firelight.

He arrived on foot and carried no weapons, pausing to look at the still hot food and Robotech mecha.

 

“Hello.”

 

Daria maintained her cover of the man and waited for Jane to make her move. It was only from years of combat together that she caught a glimpse of the Zentraedi before she sprang into action.

 

“ARGHHH.” The stranger screamed as Jane came up behind him and pulled his head backwards allowing easy access for the knife. It was a personal gift from Lord Breetai himself for bringing honor to Zentraedi everywhere after she volunteer to join the Sentinels.

 

“Please don’t kill me. I’m just looking for something to eat.” The stranger begged.

 

“Funny so is my blade.”

 

“Let him go.” Daria said stepping back into the light. She kept her weapon drawn.

 

“But … but.”

 

“Don’t make me make it an order.” Daria sighed.

 

“But he isn’t even crying yet.”

 

Jane released her captive and pushed him forward as she moved toward the fire.

 

“Thank you.” He said dropping to his knees exhausted.

 

Daria inspected the man; he was black and was dressed in a uniform not that different from the man they killed before. He also seemed to be slightly older than them. “Who are you?”

 

“Mack MacKenzie.”

 

Jane was pacing and Daria didn’t need to ask why. It was a sure bet that this man was or had been a member of the Southern Cross.

 

“What are you doing out here?”

 

“It’s what I do. Move from place to place to avoid the Invid or the sycophants. The Invid trade rations and freedoms for soldiers or protoculture.”

 

“Damn.” Jane cursed and quickly went through an impressive list of swearwords.

 

“What branch?” Daria demanded pointing at his uniform.

 

“TASC assigned out of Liberty Station. I was on patrol when the Invid hit the station.”

 

“TASC?” Jane asked.

 

“Tactical Armored Space Corps, Army of the Southern Cross. I was fresh out of the RAF academy when the government consolidated the two military groups. I was an Ajax pilot.”

 

“What?” Jane pressed and Daria felt relief at this information.

 

“VFH-10 Armored Gyro Assault Chopper or if you prefer the veritech AGAC. It was the last thing to come out of the mech labs. Leonard didn’t like the veritechs much.”

 

“So they didn’t disband the RDF after all. They pushed everyone into one name.” Daria said understanding the reasoning that might have been behind such an action.

 

“Yep. After we handed the Master’s their asses, the GMP, which was almost pure RDF loyalist took over the military and tried to regroup but everything was in ruins. The Invid hit hard and fast and took them all out. I lost my Ajax and spent two weeks trying to get back to base. By the time I did, the war was over.”

 

“It’s not over yet.”

 

“Jane chill.”

 

“You two are from that battle in orbit a little while back and I’ve never seen uniforms and armor like that.”

 

“Lieutenant Commander Daria Morgendorffer of the Robotech Expeditionary Force, this is Lieutenant Jane Parino Lane. Our recon mission got interrupted and here we are.” She lied easily.

 

“Second Lieutenant Michael MacKenzie.” He introduced himself for a second time.

Jane had moved back to the fire and continued in her task of making the food into something that might be edible.

 

“Feel free to eat.”

 

“Thanks Commander. You looking for more survivors or what?”

 

Jane handed a bowl to him wordlessly and held out another to Daria.

 

“No, the Invid hit every beacon from our ships we’ve seen. Any survivors have either been killed or captured or are hiding out.”

 

“Don’t mean to tell you your business but it’s pretty hot that way. A whole bunch of farms so the crabs are always on the lookout for more workers.” Mack explained as he dug in without complaint.

: Must be pretty bad off if not even Jane’s cooking gets a complaint. :

 

“We’re going back home to lay low.” Jane said, the first time she spoke since releasing the man.

 

“Don’t go into the next town. I just barely got away.”

 

Daria sighed as she tried a few bites. She knew what she needed to do and Jane’s reaction to it was going to be questionable at best.

 

“We need a guide.” Daria started and kept her eyes on Jane’s face. “You got anything better to do Lieutenant?”

 

“No ma’am.”

 

“After dinner see if we can get him out of that uniform, Jane.”

 

“We got some spares from the camp. You want him armed?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“So I’m back in the military again. Do I have to salute you?”

 

“No, just do what she says or I’ll kill you.” Jane smirked at him coldly.

 

Mack suddenly found it difficult to swallow the last bite of his food. Daria shook her head in amusement and found herself trusting the newcomer.

: I’ll go with my gut but if he takes a step out of line I’ll blast him and leave the body for the carrion eaters. :

 

 

 

They next morning the now threesome group started out with Mack riding behind Jane clutching to her armor as they raced across the landscape.

 

“We need to get this guy a cyclone.”

 

“There aren’t any on earth expect from us. Unless we find another group from our ships it can’t be done.” Daria spoke into her radio as she checked the scanner she had mounted to the control panel of her bike. They hadn’t spotted a beacon in three days.

 

“Fine but he’s going to crack my armor if he holds on any tighter.”

 

“At least we had spare armor for him.”

 

Daria heard the alert go off and didn’t even bother to check, she thumbed the armor mode switch and felt the cyclone begin to bond to her riding armor until she was standing looking around for the Invid. Jane skidded to a stop and pushed Mack off the bike and quickly transformed herself just as the shock troopers landed. 

There were three of them and they started firing with the twin pulse cannons mounted on their shoulders just as quickly.

 

“Draw their fire.” Jane called over the com.

 

Daria jumped letting the suits thrusters carry her to land directly between the Invid. Firing point blank with her right hand missiles and knocked one over before barely avoiding a claw swipe from another.

: C’mon Jane hit them. :

Almost if her thoughts had gained power pulse blasts blew out the eye of one just as the one she downed started to rise. Missiles from her left hand ended it as Jane expertly dealt a death blow to the third trooper.

 

“We’re clear.” Jane said as they both scanned for anymore hostiles’.

 

“Lets get out of here.”

 

They both quickly dropped back into ride mode then once Mack was on board.

 

“That was close.” Daria said after they were underway.

 

“He looks like he might be useful. He was trying to cover you with an H-90. Maybe being in the Southern Cross didn’t make him completely worthless.

 

“Jane, he’s wearing armor right.” Daria started. “You know that means he has a radio right.”

 

“Do I ever talk about someone behind their back?”

 

“If you want me to switch off the radio I can.” Mack inputted and the amusement was audible in his voice.

 

“Don’t. Split second information can save lives.”

 

“Yes ma’am.”

 

 

 

The small band reached a sizeable greenbelt that seemed littered with small settlements and farms.

 

“Do we need to worry about Invid?” Daria asked directing the question at their newest member.

 

“Not really but a lot of bandit gangs were going around when I passed through here before. They see these mecha and they’ll want them.”

 

“Let em try to take them.”

 

“How are they armed?”

 

“Leftovers from war mostly. Nothing we should have to worry about unless we get careless.”

 

“So I’m guessing no chance of protoculture or weapons.”

 

“None. Most of their vehicles are pre-robotechnology.” Mack explained and was rewarded with a groan from his new commanding officer.

 

“That means she’s really happy.”

 

“Sure it does.”

 

“Can it you two.” Daria almost growled.

 

“So we doing some trading or robbing?” Jane asked seriously.

 

“Trading only.”

 

The party headed toward the lights of a smaller settlement hoping that less people would mean less of an attraction for raiders. Pulling up to the ramshackle buildings didn’t give them hope to find anything of value to trade for.

 

“Jane, guard the cyclones.” Daria ordered. “Mack, with me.” She climbed off hers and started toward what appeared to be a saloon.

 

“Anything happens to her, don’t bother coming back.” Jane whispered softly as Mack moved to follow her.

 

He swallowed nervously as he followed the Commander into the building. The smell assaulted his nose at once. It was a combination of sweat and defeat, from people who stopped caring about anything a long time before. Catching up to Daria he stayed a few steps behind her and started to wonder why no one seemed to notice two armored and armed people walking in their midst.

Daria moved to the bar and waved the fat bartender over.

 

“We ain’t got anything for you. So take whatever you want.”

 

“I’m looking for information concerning possible survivors of a space battle or any military units still in operation.”

 

“Are you nuts? The Invid find out about people trying to start trouble they’ll finish the job they started.”

 

“Just answer her question and then we can be on our way.”

 

“Please.” Daria added shooting a look of annoyance at Mack.

 

“Ain’t seen no soldiers or anyone dressed like you two but people say the Malcontents are stirring up trouble all over the east coast.” The timid bartender answered.

 

“Thank you.”

Daria started out and Mack fell in behind her and switched on his radio.

 

“We’re leaving just like that.”

 

“Would you prefer I shoot a few of his patrons to gain cooperation.”

 

“Of course not but …” Mack started then sighed. “He’d start making up what he thought you wanted to hear.”

 

“Exactly.”

 

“This is why I requested space assignment. I’m no good with people.”

 

: And you think I am? : Daria almost laughed at the thought.

 

“Saddle up Jane we’re leaving.” She said into the radio.

 

 

 

 

Episode 2 Part 3 Welcome.

 

“So that’s an Earth hive.” Jane sighed as she peered through the glasses.

 

“You’ve never seen one before!” Mack said, surprised.

 

“Not since we landed. The Regent made them a lot bigger.”

 

“So isn’t smaller better?”

 

“Not if we have to sneak under it. That thing is sitting right over our route. Going around it would take days.”

 

A frightening concept arose inside his head. “You aren’t planning on attacking it!”

 

“That’s up to the Commander.”

 

“There has got to be a better way through. Look they don’t seem to stop people on the road often.”

Mack pointed at the regular vehicles that moved under the stilted hive.

 

“They aren’t running protoculture powered, armed cyclones. Lets get back to camp and report.”

 

“You two are going to get me killed.”

 

“Probably.” Jane smiled as she started creeping down the hillside ahead of him.

 

Almost reluctantly Mack followed behind the Zentraedi soldier. The crawl pace she set wasn’t hard to match as they made it all the way down and waited as Jane checked the surrounding area for any Invid.

 

“I think it’s clear.”

 

“Then stand up and check. Maybe I’ll get them before they finish you off. Didn’t they teach you any ground tactics in the Southern Cross?”

 

“Not really.” Mack said in agreement.

 

After 10 minutes of laying on the dirt scraped away his nerves Jane finally rose to a crouching position and moved slightly away, her eyes scanning the nearby tree line. After another minute she waved to him to follow her and they started back toward camp. She didn’t take a straight path back, at times he was sure they were going in the opposite way from the camp but after an hour they arrived to find it deserted.  Mack confirmed the bikes and supplies were still in place before turning worriedly toward Jane.

 

“Relax. She’s been watching us for 15 minutes.” Jane casually dismissed the concern showing on his face.

 

“Where?”

 

“In the big tree we passed. She’s listening for any signals from space. Any day now the Mars Attack group is going to try to retake the planet.”

 

“Isn’t that a good thing?”

 

“Only if they could win.” Daria said from behind them as she entered the camp.

 

Mack looked between his two traveling companions confused. “Why can’t they win? You said that you pushed the Invid off several worlds.”

 

 

“Different Invid. The Regent didn’t send if wave after wave of troops. Instead he relied on artificial troops called Inorganics. Then once they took the brunt of the attack, he would send in the scouts and troopers. The Regis just buries you under her soldiers or children, whatever.” Daria explained.

 

“So when your boys get here they’re going to be expecting a boxing match and instead are getting a judo one.”

 

“Now you’re thinking.” Jane smirked.

 

“How many men?”

 

“The Mars Attack group consists of 20 battleships and over five thousand troops. A dozen flight wings of Alpha fighters as well.” Daria answered the question as Jane moved toward the camp fire and stoke it as she prepared to start the evening meal.

 

“So with that much fire power they should blast the Invid away.”

 

“I doubt half that many will live though atmo. Most of the rest will be attacked before they ever get to the ground or a chance to regroup once they do.”

 

“So they’re walking into a slaughter!”

 

“That’s the idea. She’s hoping to pick up an early warning beacon so she can signal them to withdraw.” Jane said.

 

“Damn.” Mack swore.

 

“What did you find out?” Daria asked turning to Jane and kneeling across the fire from her friend.

 

“Invid hive, pretty small but looks fully staffed. There’s no way we can ride under without getting spotted. Going around is going to take a while.”

 

“Any chance of a distraction pulling away the soldiers long enough to give us time to get by?”

 

“Not a chance. Unless you got a spare ship we can attack them with on autopilot.”

 

“Ok lets start looking at alternative routes. We’ve come this far and I’m not turning back now.” Daria said as she sat back against an old log looking exhausted.

 

“Can we eat first?” Mack asked.

 

 

“I’ve already got a route planned out. How do you two feel about Burned Fields?” Jane said as she dumped meal rations packs into a pot then placed it on the fire.

 

“Like I should turn myself into the Invid.”

 

“You think our armor will keep the rad levels safe?” Daria said thoughtfully.

 

“Remember right before we left they were starting a cleanup in there. Stands to reason it should be pretty safe now.”

 

“It’s not. The whole area was turned into a Zen resettlement zone.  The higher rads would keep humans out and having their own territory might calm the Malcontents down.” Mack explained to them.

 

“Sounds like a plan. We leave in the morning.” Daria announced after thinking for several minutes.

 

 

The next morning before the sun rose found the group moving through a wasteland of ruins and rotting earth. Nothing seemed to live there, not even the smallest blade of grass. A trail of dust seemed to kick up behind them and it hung in the still air for minutes before settling back down. Mack rode once again behind Jane.  They only stopped to camp for the night before starting up again. On the fourth day Mack noticed something strange.

 

“Does anyone else get a warm feeling every couple of seconds?” He asked through the radio.

 

“It’s the radiation; it seems to be moving in 9 second intervals.” Daria answered.

 

“Or a tror.” Jane almost laughed.

 

“What?”

 

“The smallest Zentraedi time measurement.” Daria said.

 

“Is that weird?”

 

“Nothing in nature could hold a steady pattern like that for long. It’s fake.” Daria said calmly.

 

“What are you thinking?” Jane asked this time.

 

“I think we’re going to find out what your people have been up to out here.”

 

“Couldn’t we be riding into a trap?” Mack said clearly ill at ease at the thought of riding toward what might be an armed Zentraedi encampment.  

 

The sun burned over their heads before they stopped to check their course. Mack started feeling mildly ill and didn’t notice Daria stepping up next to him until the needle jabbed into his neck.

 

“What? HEY!”

 

“It’s a radiation treatment. It’ll keep us from getting sick.” Daria said. “We aren’t immune like Zentraedi.”

 

“I don’t want to have to drag you two’s passed out butts out of this hellhole.”

 

“You could have warned me.”

 

“Still think I’m a people person.” Daria smirked.

 

 

They started moving again keeping a sharp eye out for anything that might give them a clue as to what was occurring around them. Jane spotted the movement before the other two and signaled Daria to come to a stop and power down the cyclones. They moved to the edge of a crater stretched out on the hot sand. Within it lay an entire town that dozens of people milled around in. Daria focused on trying to identify any sign of a military presence.

 

“Look they’re using those emitters to push out the rads. That must be why the people in town aren’t sick.” Jane pointed out several towers that stood on the outskirts.

 

“Lots of people and only some of them are alien. Look aren’t those Tiroleans?” Daria said.

 

“Yep. Human, Zentraedi and Tiroleans all living together. INCOMING!” Jane ended in a shout.

 

Jane leapt on top of Daria, coving her body as the sound of mecha flying over them could be heard. Daria caught a glimpse of another Stinger flying into a large cave entrance in the wall of the crater. It was followed by a pair of Lancers clearly struggling to maintain the low flight speed that was required to enter the cave.

 

“What were those?” Mack said.

 

“Lancers, from the first Robotech war. Before they discovered that veritechs worked in space just as well as atmo. They must have stolen them from a museum.” Daria stated as she pushed Jane off of her.

 

“I think we just found resistance.”

“How far do you think we are from our target?” Daria asked.

 

“Maybe a day at most. I could see the ship that crashed from the top of the dunes when we approached.”

 

“So chances are good your family might be here.” Daria said.

 

“So do we roll up and knock. Ask for a cup of protoculture or what?” Mack looked between the two friends.

 

“I think Jane needs to make the introduction first. I’m betting her face will serve better than a REF uniform will.” Daria said.

 

“You want me to go naked.”

 

“I’ll hold your armor for you.” Mack smiled as he spoke.

 

 

 

Jane started toward the town wearing only her pants and undershirt, carrying only her knife as a weapon. As soon as she started down the crater wall she was spotted and a group moved out to intercept her. The party seemed controlled but still Daria held her breath as Jane met the group right outside the town. She started speaking to cut the tension that hung in the air.

 

“Once on Karbarra we were cut off from our line. Odeon were moving in on our position from two sides. It was me and Jane and a few others. Our Wolverines were out of ammo and all we had were our SAL laser pistols and one Particle Beam rifle.” Daria said softly. “The rifle is usually cared by a cyclone rider and it’s heavy as hell. I remember the barrel of my SAL being transparent, it was that hot. Jane held the line with that rifle. Even after everyone else had run or been wounded. I understood what Parino meant after that day, why it installs fear or respect in everyone who knows it. … Jane will be fine.”

 

“I don’t understand.”

 

“Parino is the spirit of good death to the Zentraedi.” Daria continued.

 

“Damn.” Mack left out a breath he had been holding.

 

“Something’s happening.”

 

Daria rose and lifted her Gallant, nodding as Mack did the same when one of the men from the group approached. He was a Tirolean from his skin color and the outlandish flame orange hair. He moved slowly keeping his hands within sight as he approached the rock face below them and called up.

 

“She tells us you don’t mean any harm to us. That you want shelter and that we have nothing to fear from you unless we choose to make you an enemy. She says you are her leader.”

 

“I am.”

 

“She says you are a soldier returned from Tirol and that you bore witness to the death of the Regent.”

 

“I am and I did.”

 

“She says you had family in the city around Moeri’s ship and you would seek knowledge of them as she seeks knowledge of hers.”

 

“I do. Listen I’ve danced this three hour dance with your people before and it gets old quick. I am Lieutenant Commander Daria Morgendorffer of the REF. My task force of ships were destroyed in orbit. We want to find a nice quiet place to lay low and figure out our next step, home seemed as good of place as any. I don’t care about the Stingers or that army of mecha you got stashed in that cave, unless you want to share.”

 

“And the man?”

 

“He’s with us.”

 

“Then welcome to Lawndale. I am Loog.” He said with a bow.

 

Daria moved closer to the edge and spied Jane’s smiling face in the distance before carefully finding her footing and starting down.

 

“Commander?” Mack whispered.

 

“Lets go Lieutenant.” Daria said.

 

“We’ll send someone to retrieve your mecha.” Loog promised with that diplomatic smile she had grown to hate on Tirol.

 

“Don’t scratch the paint, I just had it detailed.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 3 Part 1 Hidden.

 

 

Jane waited for Daria and Mack to be escorted to where she was waiting along with several Zentraedi. Daria found the presence of an armed escort slightly unnerving but as they still had their weapons including the ones she handed to Jane as soon as they joined her.

 

“Please follow us.” One of the Zentraedi said as he waved for them to start walking.

 

Daria and her group followed without question but something stood out almost at once. Their escort matched their pace with two ahead and four behind causing Daria to rack her brain to remember what it meant. Jane provided the answer.

“Officer escort. It’s supposed to be for the highest ranking officer at any location.”

 

“Damn.” Daria said as the realization sunk in. She shouldn’t have been surprised that a Lieutenant Commander would be high rank with everything she and Jane had learned from Mack since meeting up with him. The Southern Cross leadership had disappeared leaving the rank and file behind to be led by the Global Military Police who had suffered just as badly during the Master’s invasion. They had held the line against the Invid for two days until the protoculture ran out and the Invid continued throwing bodies against their defenses until they fell.

 

“I’m thinking they have a lot more people here than what we’ve seen so far.” Jane whispered.

 

“Judging from the trash pile I’d say a thousand at least.” Mack said out of the corner of his mouth. His head never turned from straight ahead.

 

Daria saw the garbage dump and agreed mentally. : They think they just got a military leader to help the resistance. There goes going home. :

 

Daria pushed away the ache that opened in her stomach at the thought of not seeing her mother and sister again and started focusing on what she had before her. : They’ve got a lot of Mecha and either protoculture or some other alternative fuel. Looks like the biggest problem will be seeing how well the different groups interact with each other. :

 

As they approached the mouth of the cave Jane discreetly indicated the various sentries posted around the entrance. As they entered Daria apprised the old Destroids that stood guard in the first chamber and had to fight the wave of memories of her father at the sight. The next chamber was massive and the entrance was rigged with charges, once inside it was clear why.

 

Hundreds of people milled around looking hard at work repairing and maintaining dozens upon dozens of varying mecha. Everything from first generation Veritechs to Cyclones were being seen too. The newly arrived Lancers were surrounded by several teams bent on making them combat ready.

 

“We have 16 Veritechs, 34 Destroids, 5 Hovertanks, 9 Logans, 1 Ajax, 1 Alpha fighter and 46 Cyclones. Also 24 working Bioroids and 6 Battlepods as well as 3 tri-fighters and of course 53 Stingers. Over 400 trained soldiers are currently hiding here.” Loog said as they crossed the hanger.

 

“Seems like quite a few civilians as well.” Daria said.

 

“That’s correct. Over a thousand. Most assist with the effort in their own ways.” Loog said with a smile.

 

“You mentioned Battlepods but I haven’t seen any full sized Zentraedi. Do you have a resizing chamber?” Jane asked.

 

“Yes but currently it doesn’t work. We’re hoping to repair it.” Loog said.

 

Jane glanced over to Daria and sighed as she read her friends face. Daria would never let her enter the chamber unless both of them were sure that Jane would survive the process.

 

“I am assuming officers are something of a rare commodity at this point.” Daria said.

 

“You guess correctly. Currently the Zentraedi forces are commanded by a Corporal. The Tirolean soldiers are led by a Bioroid pilot. The human soldiers have been following a Sergeant.” Loog said with a nod of his head.

 

“The three groups operate separate from each other?” Daria asked.

 

“Currently. Of course the Supreme Commander has final say in everything.” Loog answered pointedly as they entered what appeared to be a mess hall.

“Please food is being prepared and medics have been summoned to check you for any illnesses. Take rest here. I have to inform our leader you are here.”

 

 

 

Daria and her party took seats at the direction of a female clone who started bringing them food in seconds. The medics arrived shortly later and declared them fit.

 

“Ok I was wrong this was the right choice.” Mack said as he tore into what appeared to be fresh bread.

 

“Daria I think he’s going to trade up on us.”

 

“We only got him because his stomach was empty.”

 

“I’m sticking with you two. This place has too much of a disjointed feel to it. Like it was before the Invid got here. They need a command structure.”

 

“Admit it; this is where you shine Daria. Just like with the Sentinels. If you can get the Karbarrans and the Praxians to work together as a team then this should be a piece of cake.”

 

“Praxians, those were the Amazon women and the Karbarrans were the teddy bears right.”

 

“Sure if you like your stuffed animals about 7 foot tall with teeth and enough muscles to punch through an Invid exo-skeleton.”

 

“Cool.”

 

Jane rolled her eyes at Mack’s response.

 

 

 

 

 

In what looked to be a planning room just a hundred feet from where Daria was eating a meeting was taking place over a detailed 3d map of the area. Leaning over the map was a woman, more of a girl really barely out of her teens. Loog and several understood nearby addressing her with the upmost respect.

 

“So a trio of officers has arrived.” The girl said.

 

“2 from an advance group of the REF and a pilot from the Southern Cross.”

 

“One of them is a Zentraedi I believe you said.”

 

“Yes. We haven’t told her about her family here. They’ve been assigned to duties in the back cavern until you have a chance to address it.”

 

“I don’t have any objection.  Which family?”

 

“The Lanes.”

 

“Another builder!” She waited for a nod to confirm she had heard correctly. “Inform them at once.”

 

“Yes my lady.”

 

“Inform all combat personal that they now have a unified commander. I want a smooth transition to a singular command structure.”

 

“We don’t even know if they’re staying yet.”

 

“They’re soldiers with the RDF they aren’t going anywhere.”

 

“I have learned to trust your judgment.”

 

“Arrange a meeting tonight. I’ll introduce myself then.”

 

Another woman joined them carrying a tray of food. “I’ve brought you lunch.”

 

“Thank you.” The first woman said as the men started to file out of the room not bothering to hide the smiles on their faces.

 

“You need to eat better.” The almost ethereal beauty smiled as she started out of the room her light dress flowing around her.

 

“I’ll be late tonight.” The first woman said as she scratched at the collar of her bodysuit that seemed to cover almost every inch of her body below the neck.

 

“I’ll wait up.”

 

 

 

 

Back in the hanger Daria and the others were being given a tour of the different mecha.

 

“These of course are Stingers. A little more high tech and powerful then the ones the malcontents used but basically the same designs.” A young Zentraedi male that called himself Forg explained.

 

“We saw one of these in action the other day. The pilot didn’t make it.” Jane said.

 

“That would be our missing pilot. He was on a recon mission to check out some of the mech graveyards.”

 

“Saw some of those too.” Daria said.

 

“This Stinger’s design looks familiar to me.”  Jane said hope etched on her face.

 

“It should. You used to watch Mom make them years ago.” Another voice said from above them. A lanky man was repelling down off the Stinger wearing dirty overalls.

 

Jane gasped as he landed and started unhooking from the harness then removing his tool belt.

 

“Tre..nt.” Her voice broke as her eyes filled.

 

“Long time little sister.”

 

“I thought you were dead.” Jane said as her brother held out his arms for a hug which she give at once.

 

“Thought I was too for awhile. Turns out I was in Monument City. Floated around for awhile trying to find everyone. When Leonard emptied the camps out here I followed.”

 

Jane looked up, the questions burning in her wet eyes.

 

“Pennif and also Sumor’s kids. Winz died a few years ago.” Trent answered. “Mom didn’t make it through the camps.”

 

Jane tightened her grip on her older brother as she tried to maintain control of the emotions inside her.

 

“Who are your friends?” Trent asked as he looked between Daria and Mack.

 

Jane pulled away then reached over and pulled Daria next to her. “She saved me from the Cross gangs. I stayed with her family and well it’s a long story after that.”

 

“I’m just a stray puppy they picked up on the way home.” Mack said.

 

“I hear you’re in charge now. Do me a favor and get them to stop overloading the thrust circuits on these things. I’m getting tired of fixing the same thing because they feel the need for speed.” Trent said turning to Daria.

 

“Sure. Any chance of upgrading the circuits?”

 

“Only if you got 60 or so Tirolean copper crystals.”

 

“That would be a no then.” Daria looked around and saw several people standing around staring at them. “What do you do here Trent?”

 

“I’m in charge of the Stingers. We make them, fix them and try to teach the flyboys how not to kill themselves in them.”

 

“You said Lt Commander Morgendorffer was in charge?” Mack asked.

 

“Word went out around the same time they told me about Jane. She’s in charge of all military assets. One step down from the Supreme Commander.”

 

“Who?” Jane asked. “They mentioned that before.”

 

“She fought the Invid from the beginning and started gathering others. Apparently she knew about this place and setup this base. First the clones and humans then she talked us into joining her. Since then we’ve tried to fight them along with whatever military units are out there but ….” Trent paused. “The humans didn’t understand how to fight the Invid. Sooner or later they get dead.”

 

The statement hung in the air like an accusation until Jane spoke. “Daria has fought the Invid on eight different worlds. I was there, I saw it. If anyone can help here it’s her.”

 

“I hope so.”

 

Loog approached them and Daria had to fight the urge to step away when he approached even though he never got closer than five feet. “The Supreme Commander wishes you to join her for a briefing.”

 

: A woman! That title needs to go. The last thing this place needs is another Leonard or Dolza. : Daria thought as she nodded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 3 Part 2 Blood.

 

 

 

Klaxons sounded as Daria was being given a tour of the various armories scattered throughout the cavern base. The weapons were mostly Zentraedi and Tirolean augmented with various leftovers from the Army of the Southern Cross. All around her the soldiers escorting her on the door jumped.

 

“REPORT!” Daria said in a loud tone hoping someone around her was manning a radio or com.

 

“The Invid have launched a massive space attack against unidentified targets entering orbit.”

 

: The Mars group. : Daria thought quickly. “Can someone get me to a command center or a transmitter capable of earth to space communication.”

 

“Follow me.” One of the Zentraedi soldiers said before breaking into a jog down the halls.

 

Daria ran behind him as she radioed to Jane. “Mars group is coming into atmo now. Find out if any of those fighters are black capable.”

 

“I’m on it.” Jane’s voice said and Daria heard the nerves in it but only the good kind.

 

Daria followed her guide into a decent size room that was filled with maps and various equipment that seemed to be monitoring a large space battle.  “Report.” She said again.

 

“A fleet of Battleships have jumped into orbit and started their descent. The Invid have committed a sizable response.” A Tirolean answered.

 

“They aren’t responding to hails. I think the Invid are jamming the signals.” Another voice said and Daria realized they weren’t talking to her.

 

“Give me a tactical analysis on the battle. Can we make a difference?” A female voice demanded calmly.

 

Daria looked down at the screens and watched another of the REF ships blink out of existence. She knew it was too late. “No.”

 

The room got quite as the various techs and command personal turned to look at her.

 

“Your explanation for that.” The female voice behind her said.

 

“They jumped in too close. By the time we get fighters launched this fight will be over.”  Daria said as her gut twisted into a knot.

 

“How many men up there?” Another voice whispered like a ghost, barely audible in the room.

 

“Over 10 thousand.” Daria said as she continued to study the 3d map.

: Don’t try to get through the atmo. Can’t you see the numbers damn it? Jump away. :

 

“Invid suffering heavy losses. Entire squadrons of veritechs are making it through the atmosphere.” A tech reported.

 

“Where are they coming down?” Daria asked hopefully.

 

“Looks like in the southern continent. I believe they have a predetermine landing point.” Another tech said calmly as they studied their screen.

 

“Point K. It’s the staging area for the push to Reflex Point.” Daria said as she watched the last ship destroyed as it dove through the atmosphere to steeply.

 

“I want around the clock scans. If any of them head this way I want them escorted in.” The woman who still stood behind her said in a commanding voice.

 

Daria started to turn to face her new commanding officer, she froze at once. The woman could barely be called that as she appeared to be closer to a teen but that was nothing compared to the real shock.

 

Her red hair was cropped short leaving her picture perfect features exposed. She still looked enough like the little girl she had once been. : It can’t be. She’d be older than me now with the jump time. :

 

“Wait.” The woman said before pointing toward a door. “My office.”

 

Daria followed her through the doorway stunned, unable to even make a focused thought.

 

“It’s really you isn’t it. Say something Daria.”

 

“Quinn?” Daria said as she struggled with the impossible fact staring her in the face.

 

“It’s me. We can’t do this now. I can’t go back out there bawling like a baby and neither can you. I hoped when they told me Jane had been brought in that I would find out what happened to you but I never dreamed it was you.”

 

“… How? …”

 

“Let things calm down then we can go to my quarters and I’ll tell you everything and you can tell me where the hell you’ve been.”

 

Daria nodded and watched her sister walk back to the door and open it calmly. : She should be a lot older than this. :

 

 

The next few hours were filled with reports as scattered fighters abandoned the battle in space, realizing perhaps that without any ships to carry them back Earth was the only choice. The numbers equaled to a sizeable army but Daria knew it was doomed. The forces that had landed had been fighting a different kind of Invid for years and the entire concept of a large grouping out in the open stank of Inorganics defense.

: They are expecting a ground battle with some air and the Regis does just the opposite. We’ve hardly seen any ground troops here. :

 

Jane and Mack joined her in the command center and watched the reports pour in. Mack watch with a coldness that Daria envied but she knew it came from watching the Earth’s entire military force be defeated in a matter of days. Jane seemed distracted and it was clear that finding Quinn here of all places was the cause.

 

“No fighters have been spotted in 25 minutes. I think that pair was the last of them.” A tech spoke, never looking up from her screen.

 

“Alright I think it’s over but I want full staff on the sensors for the next 24 hours.” Quinn said before turning to Daria.  “Lieutenant Commander I think it’s time we had that chat.” 

 

Daria indicated with her head toward Mack and Jane relaxing when Quinn nodded.

 

“My quarters are through the main hall. Past the power generators.”

 

“We’ll get cleaned up and be there within an hour.” Daria said firmly.

 

“Good.” Quinn said before turning and walking out of the command center into the hall and turning the opposite way from how Daria had arrived.

 

Jane looked over at Daria as they followed suit and head toward the temporary quarters they had been assigned.

 

Daria just shrugged and made a short comment. “I know nothing more than what you know right now.”

 

“But that’s Quinn and she’s still a kid.”

 

Mack decided to stay out of the conversation.

 

“And hopefully when we show up she’ll explain how that’s possible but until then I have no clue.”

 

“Why can’t we just go there right now?”

 

“Because decorum dictates that meeting with our superior officer requires dress uniforms.”

 

“We don’t have any.”

 

“I’m sure that when we get to our quarters there will be three waiting for us.” Daria said without any doubt in her voice.

 

Jane sighed loudly and threw up her hands in frustration. She rarely had the patience for anything formal. Daria smirked at her lifelong friend and thought. : I remember you showing up for the Starburst of valor in fatigues. Admiral Hayes almost tossed you in the brig. She would have too if that teenage photographer hadn’t been stiffing around Rick like she was in heat. What was her name again… Graham or something. :

 

“So the big shot is your sister?” Mack said when they reached their quarters.

 

“Yes. Get dressed and met us out here in 10 minutes.” Daria said in a flat tone.

 

 

 

Six minutes later they were heading back down the hall in full dress uniforms. As Daria predicted they found 2 old REF dress and 1 Southern Cross dress uniform waiting for them. Jane found the Southern Cross dress uniform amusing and teased Mack the entire way until they stood staring at a door guard by two full armored Zentraedi soldiers. Daria willed her legs to work but found herself rooted in place until Jane pushed her slightly.  The soldiers snapped to attention as they approached. Daria pressed the call button with a shaky hand.

 

The woman who answered was a beauty of eldritch features. Perfectly sculpted limbs graced a thin but shapely body. The smile was hypnotizing as they were waved in, long black tresses fell carelessly adding to the woman’s allure.

 

“You must be Daria. I’ve heard so much about you.” The beauty said.  

 

“Yes this is Lieutenants Jane Lane and Michael McKenzie.” Daria said as the door closed after they stepped through.

 

“It is a pleasure to meet all of you.”

 

“Danni is that them?” Quinn’s voice called from an adjourning room.

 

“Yes.”

 

 Quinn hurried out wearing a robe over her clothes causing Jane to raise an eyebrow at Daria.

“I know this looks weird but you’ll understand in a few minutes. I know you have questions so go ahead and ask.”

 

Jane watched Daria flounder for a few seconds before speaking. “I was promised food.”

 

“This way. Never starve a Zentraedi.” Danni said pointing at a table where plates had been laid out.

 

“That’s what I’m talking about.” Jane smiled as she quickly took a seat.

 

“How?” Daria said suddenly as she took a seat next in between Jane and the one Quinn stood next to.

 

“How what?” Quinn said with a grin.

 

“Lets start with how are you the military leader and why aren’t you like 35?” Daria said calmly.

 

“Oh the easy stuff.” Quinn said taking her seat after removing the robe and laying it across the back of her chair. Her arms were bare and each was covered with a scar that wrapped itself around her arms. Daria gasped in surprise, she knew that scar, it was from the motion conduits that the Master’s used in all their mecha.

 

“During the Robotech Master’s invasion they started running out of military clones. There were only two options for them to replenish the supply. One was to use the large clone population they had aboard their ships and the other was to use captured humans. I was going to school in Monument City when I was taken. They wiped my mind and put me in a Bioroid. The clone masters were able to control us telepathically but I guess there was more to the process than just making us subservient. When the clone masters were killed in the last battle all of us humans regained our control but kept the abilities and knowledge given to us. I landed my Invid fighter and surrendered to the first soldiers I found. Luckily it was the GMP. They listened to my story and when the Invid arrived I was drafted. My Bioroid was designed to fight them and well I did pretty well.”

 

Quinn paused to take a drink and looked out over the table at Mack and Jane who were listening as they ate and Daria who hadn’t looked at her plate.

 

“We lost obviously. I ended up leading a small band of former Southern Cross and a lot of Tirolean clones. We ended up running from the Invid and found Lawndale. The Zentraedi here were willing to help and the caves let us hide the mecha and we started raiding for supplies. Along the way a lot of former Malcontents came this way. Before long I was in charge of an army. There are a few bigger ones out west, Soldiertown and a group up north but they avoid engaging the Invid more than we do.”

 

“So the Masters made you stay young?” Daria said confused.

 

“I guess that when they processed us it increased my life span. It’s not uncommon for them to live a few hundred years. I haven’t aged physically for a long time.”

 

“Mom?” Daria said dropping her eyes to the table.

 

“She was killed during the first wave of Invid.” Quinn said sadly.

 

“I’m sorry.” Daria said quietly looking ashamed.

 

“For what?”

 

“For not being here. Maybe I could have helped.”

 

“Where were you anyways?”

 

“We wanted to see the SDF-3 before it launched and ended up on the other side of the galaxy. Spent the last 15 years fighting the Invid out there.”

 

“We thought you two had been killed by the bull gangs or Malcontents. As much as I want to be mad I’m just glad you’re alive.”

 

“The REF is coming back. Today is just a setback. The main fleet is coming and hopefully they have a little more intel of what they have to face now.” Daria promised.

 

“Wait you said 15 years. It’s been more than twenty.” Quinn said looking up at the information.

 

“Screw up in the fold engines. The trip that was supposed to take seconds took 5 years but only took seconds for us.”

 

“I’m older than you now.” Quinn said with a smile Daria remembered well.

 

“So who are you?” Jane said turning to Danni.

 

“I’m Danni Todds.” Danni said nicely.

 

“What’s your story?” Mack asked.

 

“I don’t have one.” Danni said and looked embarrassed.

 

“She doesn’t know. We found her 2 years ago. No memory of anything before some of our scouts found her. We named her after the two men that found her.” Quinn said as she reached over and grasped Danni’s hand.  Daria noted the affectionate gesture calmly and picked up her fork.

 

“And you two are?” Jane asked with an evil grin.

 

“Married.” Quinn smiled.

 

“For over a year.” Danni said as she returned the smile.

 

“So what happened to my cat?” Jane said as she took a sip of water.

 

 

Episode 3 Part 3 Secrets

 

 

“Ok I don’t even want to move for at least 20 hours.” Mack declared before stepping into his quarters leaving Jane and Daria in the hall. Daria stretched and noticed something missing from her belt.

 

“Damn I left my com in Quinn’s room.”

 

“Well I’m going to bed and sleeping until I can’t anymore. I hope they eat like that often.” Jane said as she opened her door next to Daria’s.  Daria smiled and nodded at her friend when Jane turned to look back at her after entering the room.

 

“I’ll see you in the morning.” Daria said as she turned back down the hall returning to her sister’s quarters.  The walk through the base didn’t take her long but she made mental notes of the marked rooms. : Wouldn’t do for me to keep getting lost. :

 

 The guards nodded at her as she hit the call button. Daria was surprised when the door slid open but it didn’t stop her from stepping through the doorway. She looked straight down at the floor and called out. “Older sister coming back to get something I left. Please no amusing surprises or scenes and learning about what modern lesbian couples do isn’t on the menu tonight.”

 

As Daria moved to the table and retrieved her com and turned back toward the door keeping her head down.  She could tell Quinn and Danni were standing in the kitchen frozen in place.

 

“Daria.” Quinn said nervously. Daria stopped; something in her sister’s voice chilled her to the bone.

 

“Please.” Quinn’s voice sounded on the verge of breaking.  Daria looked up and over at her sister, it took a few seconds to understand what she was seeing. There was a bowl; that was easy. The fruit in the bowl were harder to process. Invid fruit of life were stacked within but even that was easier than what Quinn was doing with another fruit. She seemed to be slicing it and feeding one of the slices to Danni.

 

: But they’re deadly to humans even the leaves have unpredictable results. : Daria thought.  She found herself staring unable to make sense of the scene before her for what seemed like hours.  Quinn’s hands were shaking and Danni reached down to steady the knife that was waving dangerously over a wooden cutting boards. As Danni gently took the knife by the top of the blade Daria saw her grimace for a split second. The next thing she saw was green, just a single drop.

 

Daria drew her gallant and with a flick of her thumb powered it up and pointed it at the woman.  Her finger was on the firing button when Quinn threw herself in front of her wife and screamed out. “No please don’t!” Only years of combat kept Daria from murdering her own sister.

 

“Get away from my sister you freak.” Daria spoke in a deadly calm voice.

 

Danni moved to step away from Quinn but the redhead stayed between Daria’s weapon and her wife. Danni tried to push Quinn away as hard as Quinn fought to stay between them.

 

“Daria just wait a minute.” Quinn said in a pleading tone. “Please.”

 

“She’s an Invid. She’s using you.” Daria said forcefully.

 

“No. I’ve known since almost the beginning.” Quinn said as she turned keeping herself in front of Danni. Daria gasped in surprise and exclaimed. “WHAT?”

 

“I found out before we got together. At first she didn’t even know herself. When I confronted her she remembered then she tried to kill herself.” Quinn spoke quickly holding a hand out toward Daria while using the other to keep Danni behind her.

 

“So what. She’s a slug in human skin. I’ll kill her and you can get a new girlfriend.” Daria said coldly and her hand tightened on the gallant.

 

Danni suddenly pushed Quinn to the side and dropped to her knees holding her arms up. Daria could see the tears running down the girl’s cheek. “Please don’t hurt Quinn.”

 

“Daria no. Please I love her.” Quinn begged from where she leaned against the counter for support.

 

Daria looked from her sister to the Invid on the floor both begging for the other not to be hurt but their eyes never left each other. She felt her hand shake slightly.

 

“She helps us fight them. Please don’t take her from me.”

 

“Just shut up for a minute.” Daria said angrily then she stepped backward. Quinn returned to Danni and knelt next to her, wrapping her arms around the other.

 

“We found her in a city on the edge of an Invid attack. Everyone else was dead and Danny and Todd ran across her in the wreckage of a truck. They brought her back here and the medics nursed her back to health. She didn’t remember anything but we noticed she could tell when they were coming closer.” Quinn started speaking and Daria listened closely.

 

“Then she started getting sick and nothing seemed to help. One night I saw her walking through the halls like a ghost, like she was looking for something. I followed her and opened doors remotely just to see where she was going. We have a small farm and a few pollinators to study the plants and fruit.”

 

“She headed right to them.” Daria tried to speed the story up.

 

“I almost killed her right then but then she woke up and started freaking out. I realized that somehow she was Invid but didn’t know.”

 

“Then what?”

 

“After I calmed down we talked and she cut me to prove it. Anything with green blood isn’t human. I had grown to hate the Invid as much as anyone here and to discover I was one of the enemy. I tried to kill myself.”

 

“I stopped her. I thought she would be a very valuable asset if she was willing.”

 

“I thought I would be a prisoner but Quinn didn’t tell anyone else about me. We spent so much time together that after a while I started to have feelings for her.”

 

“One night after trying to see how far away she could detect Invid I kissed her. I had been having the same feelings for a while and we’ve been together ever since.” Quinn finished the tale.

 

“I love her.” Danni said smiling nervously.

 

“Daria I never thought I would find someone who could see past the things I did after the Masters took me. Until Danni.”

 

“I’m not dealing with this very well right now. She’s an Invid and you know. How many people has she gotten killed?” Daria almost growled but the real anger was gone from her tone.

 

“None and she’s saved so many. Please just give her a chance.”

 

“Does anyone else know?” Daria asked.

 

Quinn just shook her head no as her eyes begged Daria for the life of her lover.

 

“I’ll leave if that’s what you want but please don’t tell the others. Some of them only follow Quinn because she was all they had. Now that you’re here they are already plotting on removing her from power or just killing her.”

 

“WHAT?”

 

“It’s true. The humans don’t like following someone who has been altered by the Masters, the Zentraedi feel that way and don’t really like following a human. The Tiroleans are about the only group really behind me. You’re the perfect answer to the Quinn problem.” Quinn said sarcastically.  

 

“So that’s why you placed me in command of the military forces before you knew who I was. By surrendering power it makes you less of a threat.” Daria started to understand many of the things that occurred since they had found the town.

 

“I don’t want to rule anything. Please just put the gun down and talk to us.”

 

Daria had almost forgotten her weapon and she quickly lowered it then holstered the gallant still charged. Daria pulled a chair from the table and sat down with a thud before looking at Danni. “How?”

 

“I don’t know. I think I failed in becoming whatever I was supposed to be. I’m still able to link into the hive mind of any Invid that get close. We use that to trap patrols and steal protoculture.”

 

“Ok, ok you can be useful but I’m not quite ready to trust you yet.” Daria said as the weight of everything she had just learned started to sink in.

 

Quinn moved next to her sister still kneeling, looked up and asked. “What are you going to do?”

 

Daria felt pity at the terror that was clear in the girl’s voice and sighed. “I need to talk to Jane and Mack. I won’t let anyone hurt either of you.” Daria looked at Danni and said. “If I find out you are anything than what you two have told me then I will kill you.”

 

Danni just nodded her understanding.

 

“I’m going to bed. I will be talking with Jane and Mack first thing in the morning. I expect they will have some questions for the two of you. Jane might be a problem.”

 

“…” Quinn seemed to have something to say but she was unable to make the words.

 

“I won’t let her hurt you or Danni.”

 

“Thank you.” Quinn sighed in relief.

 

Daria took her leave from the room and walked back to her quarters trying to turn off the thoughts in her mind. She undressed and climbed into the real bed provided and faced the darkness with a grim cynicism. : It can’t get much worse can it? :

 

 

 

The alarms woke her up as a flashing lights went on all over the base and the sounds of running filled the halls throughout the entire base. She jumped out of her bed and quickly put on her uniform pants and slung her weapon belt over her shoulder before dashing out of the room. She entered the hall just in time to see Jane and Mack both exit his room dress in outfits part bed clothes and part uniform. Mack turned even darker, a feat she would have bet money was impossible and started to say something before she cut him off.

 

“Jane get an Alpha prepped for launch. If I need air cover I want you in the wind in twenty seconds. Mack find a Hover Tank and get ready to provide ground support.” Daria barked out not having the time to discuss whatever had occurred last night with them. “Now move soldier.”

The only response she got was their boots pounding on the floor as they ran toward the hangers.

 

Daria enter the Command and Control room and nodded to Quinn who was already there. “Report.” She called out.

 

One of the sensor techs answered at once. “An Invid patrol found the town. We’re jamming their physic communication with the hive but they aren’t leaving. The rads are taking too long to put them down. 6 scouts and three troopers, possible shock troopers.”

 

“So we engage.” Quinn filled in the last part.

 

“Jane are you ready for launch?” Daria said into her com.

 

“Fueled and being moved into position. I should be ready to launch in 15 seconds.” Jane’s voice responded through the com.

 

“Mack, where are you?”

 

“Outer chamber; powered up and ready to go.” Mack’s called through the com.

 

“We should have a response capable force in two minutes.” One of the Zentraedi commanders in the room said.

 

“Send them back to bed then.” Daria said with a small laugh. “In two minutes this will be over. Jane you are clear to launch. Mack provide cover fire. Engage at will.” Daria ignored the angry looks that crossed over several of the men in the room. : Too bad, if you want to play soldier do it somewhere else. I expect my people to be able to function at peak effectiveness at all times. :

 

“Roger that.” Jane said and the sound of launch thrusters filled the speakers.

 

“Alpha one is away. Hover one is engaging hostile targets. Stingers 3 and 9 are preparing for launch.” A calm voice filled the room.

 

Quinn moved next to Daria and watched the battle on the various screens. Daria nodded to her and spoke loud enough for everyone to hear. “So my first step will be to get everyone up to speed on combat readiness. Two minutes to engage an attacking force is unacceptable.”

 

“You’re the new head of the military. Just let me know what you need.”

 

The fight only last a handful of seconds as Mack blasted away with the Hover Tanks main gun and Jane rained missiles on the surprised Invid.

 

“First thing I need is one army, not three. I will be combining the forces to function as one group. And that’s it for the attack.” Daria said as Jane blasted away the last of the Invid seconds before the two stingers launched into few.

 

“Not bad Mack, I only had to save your ass twice.” Jane’s voice came over the radio.

 

“Wait till I get my hands on that Ajax, then I’ll show you how to fly girly.” Mack laughed.

 

“This is an open channel. I want a full sweep of the area then get back in the cave.” Daria said forcefully into the radio.

 

“Understood Commander.” Jane replied in a mocking tone.

 

“Well I believe any questions concerning your leadership abilities will be put to rest now.” Quinn said. “I need a forceful military commander who isn’t afraid to hurt some pride to get the job done.”

 

“You got it but understand, I will question everything and if I don’t like it then we talk.” Daria spoke softly.

 

“Maybe you can find out how she always seems to know that the Invid are about to attack.” One of the human officers said barely loud enough to hear.

 

“I already do and that falls under need to know. Why don’t you prepare a report on why I still don’t show a single piece of mecha ready for combat besides what’s already launched.”  Daria watched the former Southern Cross officer stomp out of the room.

 

Daria saw the look of relief return to Quinn’s face and nodded at her sister before calling for reports on the amount of time it took to mount a response to the attack. : Now I just have to tell Jane. :

 

 

 

Jane and Mack sat through the private briefing until Daria finished. “So are you talking about an Invid like Tesla or what?”

 

“More like an Invid shaped to be able to appear as human. Possibly as an attempt to infiltrate rebel bases. Tesla was a normal Invid who was evolving from eating different fruit of life. Danni seems to use the fruit to replace the nutrients that normal Invid get from the nectar of the flower.”

 

“And she doesn’t remember ever being anything but being human?” Mack asked.

 

“No but that’s normal. Invid are kept in stasis until they’re hatched and given whatever form the Regis needs. Otherwise the planet would be crawling with billions of them.”

 

“So do we believe she is really on our side?” Jane asked.

 

“Quinn does and that’s how we knew about the attack before the Invid even landed. If this bunch of slackers was on the ball we could have taken them out before they got here.”

 

“I just don’t know if it’s worth the risk.” Mack admitted nervously.

 

“There are parallels in the past. If Max Sterling hadn’t fallen in love with Miriya Parino then it would have taken a lot longer for us to find out that Zentraedi were basically human. If Breetai hadn’t joined forces with Captain Henry Global then we would have lost the Zentraedi war.” Jane said forcefully.

 

“Good points. My judgment on this area is clouded. Quinn and Danni, I truly believe are in love and that makes it a little harder to decide what to do.”

 

“I vote we do nothing. You’re the boss and all but Quinn had this place up and running and maybe it’s not up to our standard of military efficiency but it’s here. I have to think that if Danni wanted to betray them she could have done it a long time ago.”

 

“Whatever you decide, I’ll back you on.” Mack said firmly.

 

“Ok. I think Jane’s right. Our first major goal needs to be getting these people in shape for a fight. Half the pilots haven’t flown a mecha in combat. Let’s get them up to snuff. Jane I need your help in getting the Zentraedi in line. I don’t need any infighting during the switchover.”

 

“I think I can arrange that.”

 

“Mack same with the Southern Cross. I don’t think I’ll have issues with the GMP or former RDFers but I’m expecting at least some trouble from that group.”

 

“I’ll keep an ear out.”

 

“Alright then. I tell Quinn and Danni the good news. Tomorrow at 0600 I want drills on everything from alarm response to mecha fueling. By the end of the week I want a thirty second response to a pin drop a hundred miles away.” Daria said before starting out the door. “And Mack you’re responsible for waking Jane up on time from now on.”

 

 

 

Episode 4 Part 1 It’s a war.

 

 

 

Daria watched the camera transmission of the scant buildings surrounding the farm as Jane miles away crawled through the clumps of Invid Flower of Life. She didn’t like sending Jane out on something this risky but she needed to see the security that Invid had in place for locations like this one. Enforcers were patrolling the grounds but a child could evade them.

 

“I’m entering what appears to be a command room.” Jane whispered into her mike and Daria felt her muscles tighten as she watched from a first person perspective as her friend climbed in through a window.

 

“Oh hell.” Jane said loudly and pointed the camera into the center of the room. No one else in command and control had any idea what they were looking at but Daria did.

 

“Get out now!” She ordered into the radio before switching channels. “All teams we are go for hot extraction. Get her out of there Mack.”

 

“Understood.” Mack’s voice answered calmly.

 

“What is going on?” One of her officers demanded looking confused.

 

“I don’t have time to explain.” Daria bite back before calling into the radio again. “Second squad, deploy protoculture decoys in quadrant 3A.”

 

Daria typed quickly and brought up the image that had alarmed both the experienced fighters. She noticed none of the Zentraedi officers were bothering to ask, they knew what it was already. One of them started to explain.

 

“It’s a brain. It’s used to control an entire hive or in this case farm. It means there is a lot more Invid we haven’t seen somewhere close by.” No more questions came.

 

“I’ve have smoke.” Mack radioed in and Daria had to control the urge to cheer.  “I see her. Trash and Filter give me light fire at those Invid pursuing her. Fall you’re with me, I’ll need cover as she gets loaded.”

 

The team sounded off their responses at once proving the constant drilling was starting to pay off. She watched the scores of Invid that seemed to appear out of nowhere and join in the chase until.

 

“Decoys launched.” Second squad radioed in.

 

“Invid are taking the bait. Over three quarters of them are turning to go after the decoys.” A sensor tech reported.

 

“Remind me to give Trent a raise.” Daria said with a half smile.

 

“I told you she’s always right.” Quinn whispered next to her.

 

“I just couldn’t believe they would place a brain in such a small facility.” Daria said, admitting she had once again misjudged the Regis’s tactics.

 

“We’re in the air.” Mack radioed in and Daria started to relax. It wouldn’t be any real problem for the two teams to get back to Lawndale without detection.

 

: Ok so we’re outgunned even on the farms. At least Jane has the Zentraedi inline or they would be out there fighting to the death for nothing. :

 

“So what was this for? Excuse my tone Lt. Commander but it seems like a huge waste of time and effort.” One of the former Southern Cross officers spoke up.

 

“We were trying to determine if a direct raid was feasible against a farm to add to our flagging protoculture supplies. This has let us know it isn’t going to be possible.” Quinn answered first.

 

“So we just wasted more protoculture in finding it out. This was a mistake.”

 

: Fallert, that’s his name. : Daria thought before speaking. “What would you suggest? Trying to hit a shipment leaving the farm. I would have thought after watching those raiders get taken out would have drove that from your mind.”

 

“They don’t have our mecha or the training. Isn’t that why we’re doing all the drills?”

 

“Did you count the number of Invid that came out of there? Over a thousand. We would have to commit our entire force to fight off an attack that size. Then there is the Hive just a few hundred miles away. Reinforcements could be on scene in less than ten minutes. That brain just changed the rules on us again.”

 

Fallert didn’t bother answering so Daria continued. “At least until Jane blows it up. Knowing her the way I do she dropped a couple of charges in there before running for it. I’m expecting the explosion in about 30 seconds.”

 

“Did you plan that?” Quinn asked with a smile.

 

“No but Jane doesn’t like the brains too much. We had some trouble with the one the Regent left behind on Tirol.”

 

They were interrupted by Jane’s voice coming over the radio. “Have the Invid started returning to the farm yet?”

 

Daria nodded to the communications tech and listened as he confirmed they were.

 

“One farm going to matchstick city.” Jane said and all the sensor screens were whitewashed as the explosion disrupted them for almost a solid second.

 

“What did she use, a nuke?” Quinn said shocked. Several of the officers and techs present were speechless.

 

“No just a reflex warhead. I loaded up a few before leaving the Henry Global. That farm and whatever underground it had should be toast. I guess the workers will have to find new jobs.”

 

Fallert and several of the other former Southern Cross looked furious. “You should have told us you had those. I’m am tired of being kept in the dark and unless …”

 

He didn’t finish his statement because as soon as his hand dropped to his weapon there were at least 2 dozen pointed at him. Daria counted heads and sighed with relief. Even the majority of the Crossers were on her side.

 

“Sergeant Fallert, I don’t know how things worked under Leonard but I don’t take orders from my junior officers. And I don’t like threats at all, so I’m not going to make one. This doesn’t happen again.” Daria said calmly as she inspected the numbers and other various data that was streaming in.

 

“Escort them to their quarters.” Quinn ordered and Fallert and his three partners were led away.

 

Daria noticed a com on Quinn’s belt that was blinking a small light but gave off no sound, it only took her a few seconds to realize what it meant. “If you would check on that sensor in your quarters please.” Her voice as flat as she could manage it.

 

“Yes Sir.” Quinn said softly before walking slowly and calmly out of the room. Daria would have put an alpha down on the bet she started running as soon as she cleared the hall.

 

 

 

Quinn did run all the way to her quarters and found what she expected when she got there.

“I’m sorry, she didn’t tell me she was going to blow the place.” Quinn whispered as she scoped up the fallen form of Danielle from the floor.

 

“So many snuffed out in a heartbeat.  I heard the brain screaming as it melted away.”

 

“She didn’t know, I’ve never told her about this part of the link.”

 

Danielle clung to her tightly and cried. Quinn held back the joke about green stains on her shirt.

“It’s going to be ok. Just like before.”

 

“It didn’t have a chance to report. The others won’t know how it happened.”

 

“Good. I’m sorry to have to put you through this. It’s just …”

 

“What the Regis is doing is wrong. We have no claim to this planet. We could have come in peace and try to rebuild what we had before Zor stole our secrets. I get some of the memories that are stored within me, they come in flashes. It was so peaceful. Until he came with his lies and betrayals. Then the Masters sent the Zentraedi to ensure we could never challenge them. It wasn’t enough to steal the Flower from us; they had to keep it only for themselves.”

 

“Sounds like them.”

 

“That’s right you met the elders didn’t you.”

 

“Ya. They oversaw my mind being leashed to a clone master.”

 

“Please ask Daria for more warning if she’s going to kill more than a handful of my people. If I’d eaten directly before it wouldn’t affect me as much.”

 

“I’ll talk to her. But the good news is she believes in your ability to sense numbers and types of Invid even at a distance now.”

 

“Do you have to report back to her?” Danielle asked softly.

 

“No. I assume she’ll be along later for a private chat. I think I’m done for the day.”

 

“I have a few things you can do around here.” Danielle said laying back onto the bed and pulling Quinn down on top of her.

 

“Work work work. Will I ever get a day off?” Quinn said teasing before kissing her wife passionately.

 

Danielle chuckled gently before answering. “No.”

 

 

 

 

 

“You could have warned me that my entire navigation system was about to go down.” Mack said loudly.

 

“Did I forget to mention that?” Jane asked innocently.

 

“You may be the spirit of good death to the Zentraedi but I can still take you over my knee shortly.” Mack snarled as he scoped her up and tossed her effortlessly onto his shoulder.

 

“Not in front of the men I hope.” Jane countered perfectly.

 

“Laugh it up. I’m sleeping in my room tonight.”

 

“That’s not fair. It was a small bomb.”

 

“Then I don’t want to know what you think is big.”

 

“Stay in my room tonight and we can discuss it.”

 

 

 

 

“This is Admiral Hunter’s advance fleet. A direct attack on Reflex point is coming. All remaining resistance forces and military units are tasked to attack any and all communication towers or processing hives.  Repeat we need ground support to take out the enemy’s method of communicating and refining protoculture.”

 

Daria listened to the message that was being broadcast in a loop on the old RDF and Southern Cross high priority channels. Several of the communication and sensor techs looked more alert than she had ever seen them.

 

“All right people I want assessments on every target within our sphere of influence.” Daria said standing up. “It’s about time to get in this fight.”

 

Explosions of activity started all around the room. : Now this sorry bunch of slackers gets to see what a war really looks like. :

 

 

 

Episode 4 Part 2 Attack.

 

 

 

 

Quinn Morgendorffer almost laughed inside the Bioroid armor as she caught herself trying to be stealthy in the 40 foot battlesuit. : That’s Daria and her pep talk for you. : She thought with amusement as she took up a position of concealment instead. Luckily there were enough building debris to provide at least some cover.

 

“Big red are you in position.” Jane’s voice came over the radio making Quinn’s eyes roll.

 

“What did I tell you about that?” Quinn said with a frown as she activated the transmitter.

 

“Something about skinning me alive and leaving me for squirrels to pick at my bones. Are you in position?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“All right Big red. The scouts have picked up the convoy headed this way. It’s going to be about an hour so get comfortable.”

 

“I hate waiting.”

 

Jane bit back the laughter as she eased down. Quinn was the last one she checked on; despite it all somehow Jane knew that Quinn knew her job as well as any Zentraedi. : I heard horror stories about the mental training and enslavement the Bioroid pilots went through. Back on Tirol even after we took out the remains of the Master’s government  they couldn’t free themselves from it.  Maybe it’s because she’s fulfilling her purpose by fighting Invid. :

 

“Big gun, are your troops in place?” She said after turning on her mic wanting to reconfirm her firepower was in place.

 

“Hovertanks are locked into guardian configuration and main guns are ready to fire. We’ll need about 30 seconds warning to power up the protoculture generators.” Mack responded calmly but she could hear the background tone that told her they would be talking later.  Nothing to bad but like Quinn, he didn’t approve of her choice of code names.

 

 

She gently stroked the instrument panel of her cockpit in an almost hungry way. She had a debt to settle with the Invid and somehow she didn’t think there were enough of them to pay it off. : But I’ll keep trying until the scales are balanced. :

 

“God, are you listening?”

 

A few seconds of silence followed before her answer arrived. “God is listening.” Daria’s voice came to her from the speaker. Unlike the others Daria was rather fond of her call sign.

 

“We’re in position and ready to go. Scouts have the target moving on course toward us.”

 

“Don’t get itchy on me Jane. Let them get on the bridge before you blow the ends.” Daria said forcefully.

 

“Then the hovertanks will provide heavy fire while the Alpha’s will deal with the hostile air support. The stingers will close off the entrance and Quinn’s Bioroid bad asses will cover the exit. Standard pincer movement with air support.”

 

“Exactly and the reason its standard is because it works. Don’t pull another Spheris on me. We need that protoculture … and the fruit.” Daria finished at just above a whisper.

 

“That wasn’t my fault. You saddled me with a bunch of greenies that started wetting their uniforms at the first sight of Invid.” Jane said not to comment on the last comment.

 

“So you decided to take on an entire Invid air group by yourself… in my favorite alpha.”

 

“Well now you don’t get to have a favorite anything anymore. Unless it’s a chair.” Jane said playfully.

 

“I can have a favorite KP assignment roster.”

 

“Ok, ok I give. I don’t really think you want to risk killing that many people with my cooking but I’M not willing to risk it.”

 

“I knew you wou … Sensors are picking up secondary hostile force moving ahead of main group. Looks like the front escort has pulled farther ahead of the main group than could be considered tactically sound.”

 

“In English or at least Zentraedi please.”

 

“The forward guard is about 30 minutes ahead of the main group.”

 

“Which means if they don’t spot us it takes them out of the fight. If they do our day just got scrapped.” Jane said with a groan. Missing on an opportunity like this because the enemy screwed up was not going to sit well.

 

“All forces be advised. Maintain position until my order to engage. Do not fire unless fire on.” Jane said into the all channel before switching to one that only the troops under her command today could hear. “I swear if one of you pukes so much as sneezes when the first set of Invid comes through I’ll blast you myself. We wait for the main group understood.”

 

Quickly she gained acknowledgments from all her forces. : I hate waiting. : Jane thought as she pounded the side of her cockpit in frustration. 

 

Quinn didn’t smile at the new tactical data that was being sent to their computers, it made things a little more difficult to plan out. She quickly sent discreet signals to the other two Bioroids instructing them hold on her mark before they tried to take their side of the bridge. : I should have let Daria send the other two Invid fighter models instead of two blues. These guys are really low grade clones. : Quinn thought as they responded.

 

She reached up and gently caressed the necklace that hung between her breasts. It had been the only thing Danni was wearing when they first found her. It always made Danni feel better when she wore it on missions. Quinn knew it was in fact a recorder. Designed to keep a record of sudden protoculture emissions, mostly likely given to Danni by the Regis as part of the attempt to garner more information concerning the rebels. But that didn’t matter because it was for them a symbol of their love. Danni could keep herself strong knowing that Quinn would always return it to her and that meant coming home safe. : And this time won’t be any different. :

 

 

 

 

They waited.

The first group on shock troops with a scattering of human vehicles moved across the bridge and no one breathed as they passed. Jane’s finger hovered over her power on control steady and firm. : C’mon, nothing to see here just keep moving. : She thought watching the enemy move by her position.

 

Quinn was the exact opposite of Jane’s calm. Her blood boiled at the very sight of the enemy. Her fingers twitched as they ached to give the command to engage. : Oh if it wouldn’t mean tossing out Daria’s plan I would cook each and every one of you lobsters. : Quinn thought as the last shock troop moved past her without detecting her or the blues.

 

Mack sat with his feet up and his arms behind his head in the control seat of the hovertank. It was with an almost compete detachment he watched the escort go by. : Nothing we can do. If they spot us, we’re toast. : He thought almost serenely.

After the enemy passed they began to wait again but this time for real. The next group would be the main force escorting the protoculture shipment heading to several hives in the area. A convoy of 10 trucks loaded to the gills with refined protoculture and fruit of life. It was being escorted by a force large enough to ensure complete protection from conventional attack.

 

 : At least it was before Daria came up with the idea about the bridge. Almost a half mile across the span. A couple of charges on each end to blow up entrance and exit to prevent the trucks from getting off after we start attack and that’s not even the best part. With it being such a narrow area the troopers won’t be able to concentrate fire and nowhere for them to go except to try to fly. And between the wall of fire those hovertanks are going to drop on them I think my boys and me can clean up afterwards. : Jane thought with a smile. : It’s a good plan. I would have never picked up on the value of using the bridge like this. Daria really is good at this tactical crap. :

 

“Main group is entering the zone.” One of her scouts radioed to her.

 

“Ack.” Jane said as she started to prepare.

 

She watched as the convoy moved onto the bridge exactly as Daria predicted it would. First shock troopers then a few trucks then more Invid. As soon as the last group of Invid stepped onto the bridge she gave the order. “Power up all mecha. Blow the bridge in 5 . 4 . 3 . 2 . NOW.”

 

Twin explosions at each end of the bridge blossomed ripping away the connection to land trapping the land based trucks.

 

“All forces engage at will.” Jane said tensely as she started the VTOL engine causing her Alpha to lift straight off the ground.  She could see the fire start up from the secondary guns of the hovertanks, their main guns were still seconds away from being able to fire.

 

“For the glory of Breetai!” A Zentraedi voice called over the radio as the Stingers burst from cover on the entrance side of the bridge and using their rockets landed almost gracefully on the still intact portion.

 

Quinn’s Bioroid team took a less direct approach as they cut down the first wave of Invid from the safety of their positions of cover on the exit side of the bridge.  : I really need to talk to Camn. : Jane sighed thinking of the leader of the Stinger force today as she watched several Invid take to the air.

 

The sudden roar of a hovertank’s main gun joined the fray. : Time to play. : Jane thought as she activated her thrusters, exploding toward the bridge and the Invid now flying above it. She fired her first wave of missiles before the Invid even knew she was there.

 

Quinn jumped across the new divide between land and the bridge watching the Invid seemingly confused as they tracked left and right.

 : They can’t track all this new protoculture. It’s confusing them. :

 

The blues followed her without question as the three Bioroids targeted one Invid after another. Taking down one before engaging another. The Stingers were pushed back toward the edge of the bridge as a large group of Invid simply attacked the closest group of mecha.

 

“Damn it Camn. Pull back you’re blocking the line of fire for half the hovertanks.” Jane barked into the radio.

 

“I got em.” Quinn’s voice rang out. Jane watched the three Bioroids dash through the entire line of Invid firing the entire time. She noticed Quinn carried two of the disc blasters while the blues only carried one each. Quinn’s plan was obvious, by virtually engaging the entire Invid group themselves the Bioroids were taking attention away from the Stingers giving them time to pull back off the bridge.  

 

The Stingers burst into the air and started raining fire down on the Invid. Jane returned to engaging the air bourn Invid until a cry came over the radio. One of the Stingers had taken a direct hit to its thruster pack and was falling directly at the bridge.  It crashed into several of the Invid before tumbling over the side. One of the shock troopers must have already fired just as it was struck because plasma discs arced from its twin cannons striking the surface of the bridge. The blast blew away the very ground it was standing on. Jane watched as several Invid and one of the blue Bioroids fell through the widening whole.

 

The remainder of the battle took just scant seconds. Jane switched into battleoid mode and came to rest on the bridge. “Report.” She called into the radio.

 

Quinn responded from where she was working with the stingers to quickly unload the trucks. “Two Stingers destroyed. One damaged. One Bioroid heavily damaged and one hovertank disabled. We lost one of the Stinger pilots and the hovertank pilot. Mission objective secured and being stowed now.”

 

“Anything salvageable from the mecha?” Jane asked.

 

“Mack is loading the hovertank and damaged Bioroid onto its hoversled. I can pilot it back by remote. The damaged Stinger can still fly. The other two Stingers are pretty wreaked.” Quinn answered.

 

“OK blow the two Stingers and lets get out of here quickly. We’ve got about 5 minutes before either the rear guard catches up or the forward guard turns around.”

 

“We’ll be gone in two.” Quinn said as she returned to securing the cargo to a Stinger.

 

“God, do you read?” Jane said into her radio.

 

“Go ahead.”

 

“Mission is a complete success. Two causalities though.”

 

“Mission isn’t over until you’re back here so don’t get cocky.” Daria said without any emotion. Loses in combat had become a part of their lives since they had first been drafted.

 

 

“I don’t think this is the best assignment for them.” The stern sergeant said as she escorted the two girls to their new duty post aboard the SDF-3.

 

“They aren’t complaining so stow it. We’re pulling all the recruits from flight school down here to help.” A tired looking warrant officer said.

 

The sergeant just shook her head and leaned down and whispered to the two girls in their crisp new work uniforms. “Just don’t try to wonder who they were. It makes it harder.”

 

The woman straightened up and walked away.

 

“All right Cadet Lane and Morgendorffer thank you for showing up on time. As you can see no one else has yet. Remove all personal effects and place them in one of these envelopes. Please remember to label them correctly. It’s all their families are getting back. Afterwards bag them and then tag them. For the time being please put them over there when you’re done. I have MPs out rounding up your wayward working companions so you shouldn’t have to do the heavy lifting for long. Try to remember that these people deserve respect in how we treat them today.”

 

“Yes Sir.”Both girls said.

 

“Get to work.” He saluted at them; they returned the salute and started the job.

 

Daria pulled out the tablet and started recording. “His tags state his name is Lieutenant Jeff Gords, First squadron.”

 

“One wedding ring, one holo necklace. One picture.” Jane said as she quickly patted the body down.

 

Daria sealed the envelope and labeled it. With a press of a button on the tablet two tags printed out.

 

They quickly sealed him in the bag and almost gently lifted it from the ground, carrying it together over to the spot pointed out to them.

 

“That’s one.” Jane said and looked at what lay before them.

 

“It’s not going to get any easier.” Daria said with a sigh. They returned to work.

 

 

 

Jane watched Quinn as they flew back toward Lawndale. : She’s really good. That whole three acting as one is pretty wasteful but I can see how why the Master’s went with it. Those Bioroids preformed way better against the Invid then what the records said they did against our mecha. :

 

Quinn saw Jane’s alpha pacing her and sighed. She felt no danger from her; Jane like many Zentraedi had an intense distrust for anything to do with the Masters. : Maybe this will relax her some about Danni too. Maybe I could get her another cat. :

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 4 Part 3 Invid.

 

 

 

Daria sighed as the resizing chamber powered up. : I’m sorry Jane but I’m not letting you in that thing. : She thought as she mentally prepared herself for the argument that would be forthcoming.

 

“How many Zentraedi should we enlarge?”  The head tech asked her. She thought about this for a moment then answered. “We have 9 mecha and a handful of armor so lets see if we can get three volunteers.”

 

“And if it works?”

 

“At least 10.”

 

Daria saw a group of eager Zentraedi waiting, she knew they didn’t care if the process failed. : Hopefully they won’t all demand to be enlarged. : She watched three being selected before noticing Mack making his was to her.  She turned and joined him.

 

“Quinn asked me to come find you. Something about the communication tower.” Mack said discreetly.

 

“Thank you.”

 

“I needed something to do; Jane won’t stop playing with that damn pollinator Quinn gave her. That thing creeps me out.” 

 

“They’re harmless, this one was born in the orchard and since it can’t teleport, the others leave it all alone when they go wherever they go.” Daria said as she started toward the command center.

 

“She told me but the thing has horns.”

 

“I would suggest you learn to love Taylor, … a lot.” Daria offered as advice.

 

Mack spent the rest of the walk grumbling about furry alien monsters. He didn’t enter the command center with her and she chuckled as soon as he was out of earshot.

 

“I see Mack still hasn’t warmed up to Taylor.” Quinn said from her position in front of the holo monitor.

 

“That was a blatant attempt to curry the favor of Jane.”

 

Quinn just shrugged then pointed at the sensor readout. “Looks like we have a target.”

 

“Four outer towers and one large central tower. Only a few thousand Invid.” Daria said as she began to process through the data.

 

“Only?”

 

“We have two more reflex warheads, they should do some serious damage to this place. All we have to do is engage long enough to get someone in close enough to plant them.”

 

“I take it then there isn’t any chance of mounting them on to one of our available missile systems.” Quinn said looking disappointed.

 

“The only one we have that would be compatible would set off the warhead in flight. No we’re going to have to hit them directly.”

 

Quinn nodded then moved a step closer and lowered her voice so the techs manning the various stations couldn’t overhear. “We’re getting reports of another group of rebels, a small one. They seem to be making their way toward Reflex Point. Danni thinks they have another one like her with them.”

 

“So it would seem that the Regis hasn’t given up trying to gather data on humans yet.”

 

“Soldiertown is gone.” Quinn said, her voice got even lower.

 

“I thought they were a larger group than us.”

 

“They were, all RDF and Southern Cross, lead by Jonathon Wolf. The Invid hit them hard, scattered the survivors in all directions. Our intel says Wolf was killed.”

 

Daria had to fight the urge to scream at this information. Jonathon Wolf, leader of the Wolf Pack dead was something of a personal strike against her. “Damn.”

 

: I can still remember him carrying one soldier after another back to the safety of the defensive line.  Including a dumb as hell raw who managed to get herself a broken ankle from a scout. : Daria thought in amusement.

 

She watched the dashing commander continue to dash through the enemy as both her unit and his continued their defense against the attacking Invid Inorganics. Her unit had been assigned to hold this armory and they had. She saw Jane continuing in the fight along with the rest. They had easily repelled the first two waves but by the time they broke the third, their ammo was almost gone. She had gotten the bright idea to raid the armory and most of her unit that was still alive were now using native energy weapons. She had taken charge when their commander had been killed; she broke them up into teams, each guarding a different direction.  She had been engaging a group of Inorganics when the scout had landed behind them, in a matter of seconds, her fire team was dead, and she was trapped under the dead scout, cursing her failure at taking so long to bring it down.

 

The wolf pack showing up had saved the day, having to be dragged out from underneath a dead Invid coated in green blood was embarrassing to say the least.  She wouldn’t let herself get taken out of the fight. A painful crawl to the edge of the wreckage the Wolf Pack was using for cover allowed her to provide cover fire for her team. For an hour, she picked off one Invid after another as the remainder of her unit and the Wolf Pack beat them back.  She could still remember Jane coming up after the battle was over looking pissed at her. “I had that one; you didn’t need to sniper him out from under me.”

 

: I thought I was in for a court marshal when they walked me straight from Med bay to Admiral Hayes-Hunters  office. :

 

“For bravery under fire and quickness of action as well as thought that allowed your unit to maintain its position until reinforcements could arrive. It is my honor to award you the Defense Cross and promote you to the rank of Sergeant. After the loss of Sergeant Myers, your unit is now YOUR unit. We are assigning you as its commanding officer; sorry we don’t have much time for ceremony these days.”

 

Daria accepted the medal and the promotion without speaking; all she could remember was how much it sounded like the words spoken to her mother as she was handed a flag after the death of her father. She gained an understanding of him that day and carried him lovingly in her heart with the same pride she knew he would have felt for her.

 

: Jane got her medal as well. It wasn’t until weeks later I found out that half the Wolf Pack wrote up the letters of recommendations for us. Wolf put me up for the promotion even before we got back to the SDF-3. And now he’s dead like so many others. :

 

Daria shook her head and returned to studying the information. She could come to only one conclusion. “We’re going to have to go all out against this.”

 

Quinn looked up and nodded. “What’s the plan?”

 

“Hit it with everything, Veritechs, Battlepods, Stingers and the Hovertanks. Mack’s finally going to get his chance to fly the Ajax.”

 

“And the Bioroids too?” Quinn said forcefully.

 

“All of them. I’m thinking you might be needed to plant the bombs. Those suits are the fastest things we have.”

 

Quinn looked pleased then her mouth bent slightly. “If … .”

 

“No.”  Daria said leaning in so her mouth was just inches away from her sister’s ear. “You don’t make it back then Danni is all alone so you better make it back because I couldn’t even remember to feed a fish.”

 

Quinn pulled back alarmed before spotting the glint in Daria’s eye. “Have you ever considered a second career as a motivational speaker?” She joked.

 

 

 

The attack went exactly as planned until the reflex warhead went off.  Waves of Invid went up like moths hitting a bug zapper. Unfortunately there were still far more than they could handle. Daria pushed away the concern, concentrating on the job before her.

 

“Trent, activate the decoys.” She said calmly.

 

“All decoys up and screaming.” Daria watched with relief as the bulk of the enemy started to turn in different directions to engage what they now saw as six separate attack groups inbound.

 

“This is Cann, we have depleted weapon systems almost completely and are disengaging.” A voice said calmly over the radio.

 

One of the techs turned to her. “Stinger group just broke off in mass and are heading away.”

 

“What the hell are they doing?” Daria swore loudly, enough to make even the career military men to blush.

 

“Where the hell are my Stingers?” Jane’s voice called over the radio.

 

“They’ve disengaged.”

 

“WHAT?”

 

“Jane, pull all forces back, full withdraw.” Daria issued the order without a second thought.

 

“No can do, the Stingers were supposed to keep our back door open.”

 

“God damn it.” Daria said kicking a chair over. “Get Cann on the com and tell him to get his ass back into the fight.”

 

A scream called through the radio as different units reported in.

 

“Bioroid leader come again.” One of the techs requested.

 

“Quinn!” : Oh god I just found her again. :

 

“I see her.” Jane’s voice answered. “She’s alive but her mecha is heavily damaged.”

 

Daria heard the inhuman scream that echoed through the entire base. Jane’s voice returned. “Damn it, she just took a hit again. You need to come up with something quick.”

 

: Danni. : Daria thought. “Patch my hand com into the system.” She said as she took off running toward Quinn’s quarters. It only took her seconds to reach her sister’s quarters; she didn’t expect to find Danni stretched out on the floor crying as if in physical pain.

 

“Quinn.” Danni said weakly. “She’s hurt.”

 

“I know, we’re trying to figure out something to get them out of there, can you help?”

 

Danni nodded and pointed at a nearby desk. “Top drawer.” Daria hurried and quickly discovered the flask filled with an almost glowing green liquid.

 

“What is this?” Daria said as she hurried back.

 

“Concentrated juice from the fruit.” Danni said removing the lid. “It should allow me to access the hive mind.”

 

“Why am I thinking this might end up bad?”

 

“Know that I love her.” Danni said before drinking the contents swiftly. Her body jerked before it went stiff and dropped back to the floor unmoving, leaving Daria to watch and wonder as she entered her Invid self.

 

 

 

“Morgana you have rejoined us.” Danni heard the mind of the Regis call out.

 

Danni didn’t even acknowledge her mother as she found the Invid that were involved in the attack. “Retreat, leave them.” She ordered. She felt the soldiers obeying without question, so did her mother.

 

“Morgana what are you doing?” The Regis screamed in frustration.

 

“Stopping them.”

 

“Morgana, you must stop this madness. We are Invid.”

 

“My name is Danielle Todds. I won’t let you hurt her.”

 

“You have allowed the humans to corrupt you from your brothers and sisters. Turn back before you are forever lost to us.”

 

“I am as you made me.”

 

“We are meant to rule the galaxy and this world will be our throne.”

 

“Now you sound like them, my Regis.” Danni said. “Those that came and stole away Eden from us. You are the same as the Robotech Masters.”

 

“You cannot choose these humans over your own people.”

 

“I choose love.”

 

“You have betrayed us all.” The Regis appeared before her, a flaming figure.

 

“You have betrayed all that is Invid.” Danni said with a strength beyond her, she knew from where it came, the Regis’s own doubt.

 

“Goodbye Mother.” Danni said before ripping herself away from the hive mind. She felt a piece of herself try to hold on but her strength of will quickly won.

 

She opened her eyes.

 

Daria was talking into her com at light speed. “Just get anyone still alive out of there.”

 

“I’m on it. Quinn’s going to be fine; Mack might need some time off though.” Jane’s voice was coming over the com.

 

“Just move fast.”

 

“How did you manage to get them to back off?” Jane asked.

 

“I used Quinn’s secret weapon. Get her back here quick.” Daria said as she turned and saw Danni.

 

“I am fine. Please bring her home.” Danni spoke softly; she could hear the change in her voice.

 

“Double time back.” Daria said before lowering the com.

 

“Don’t be afraid.”

 

“We’re well past afraid right now, you were talking to someone.”

 

Danni just nodded as she rose to her feet. “Did you just tell the Regis off?”

 

“I couldn’t let her hurt Quinn.”

 

“Thank you. … You’re glowing.” Daria said pointing at her.

 

“It should fade in time. Your friends are coming soon.”

 

“What?”

 

“The Regis has detected a massive fleet prepping to fold to Earth. She believes they will be destroyed but she always underestimates you humans.”

 

“The REF is coming.”

 

“Soon.” Danni said calmly.

 

 

 

This story is far from done but I’m ending it anyway. Most likely I’ll continue it through oneshots at some point.