To The Stars
The radar-operator flipped a few controls as she fed the information to Lisa's screens while giving a running commentary. "A single battle cruiser. 10 degrees southwest. Present position 27 miles but closing in very fast."
"Uh-huh," replied Lisa. <This is bad,> she thought. <With the SDF-1 a sitting duck we don't stand a chance.>
Out into space, just on the other side of the Moon, a Zentraedi Cruiser moved stealthily towards its target. Using the Lunar contours, the cruiser rapidly closed the distance between it and the Lunar Dry Docks. Agar, the Cruiser's captain, ordered the screen to zoom in - there, in front of his ship, was the accursed Humans and their newly-built battlefortress... unaware of the approaching danger. <Success, My Lord Khyron,> thought Agar. <Soon, the only obstacle between yourself and the Masters will be no more.>
Smiling, Agar awaited Khyron's command.
"SDF-1 now coming into range sir," Grel informed his superior.
Azonia checked the readiness of the newly-repaired cruiser. "Main Gun at full power and standing by." A shiver of exhilaration went through her spine. She had always prefered naval combat. Let others take care of the human mecha - this was what she prefered.
"My revenge is well worth waiting for," gloated Khyron. "Admiral Gloval is going to wish he'd never heard of me."
"Enemy ships still closing fast," reported Sammie from her console below Lisa and Vanessa. She and Kim were busy trying to co-ordinate the Veritechs into some sort of coherent defence. "Range now 20 miles."
Suddenly, Kim's head shot up. "I'm getting high level radiation readings!"
Lisa turned to the radar station. "Vanessa?"
"They're firing on us, Captain!" came the reply.
All in the control room screamed as Khyron's cruiser fired upon the lower torso of the SDF-1.
Agar smiled. "Fire." A beam of light sprang from the front of his ship and sped past the building forming the periphery of Apollo Base. The beam connected with the dormant colossus that was the SDF-2 and penetrated deep into its engine section. For a moment, all on the Zentraedi ship held their breath. On the screen, the SDF-2 trembled then erupted as its engines shaterred. The Zentraedi bridge errupted in cheers. "Enough," shouted Agar over the din. "We still have to deal with their defence."
Back over New Macross, Rick circled the damaged SDF-1 in an attempt to gauge the destruction wrecked upon it. As he neared the front, the tactical comm continued to chatter, but this time a new message was added to the already bewildering noise - a message from Apollo Base. "SDF-2 has taken a direct hit. We've lost communications. It looks pretty bad."
"Yeah, pretty bad alright," Rick muttered to himself. With both the SDF-1 and SDF-2 hit, the onus of defence now rested squarely on the shoulders of the Veritech Squadrons.
One of his men broke through his reverie. "Sir, they're listing! They're sinking, Captain!" As he looked over his shoulder, Rick saw that the SDF-1 had indeed started to shift.
Down near the shelters, the Macross civilians looked on as their home - no, their symbol - poured forth smoke as it started to fall sideways to the Lake's shores. Minmei gasped in disbelief. "Oh no!"
Switching frequencies frantically, Rick was desperately trying to contact Apollo Base to get an update on the situation there. "Come in SDF-2. SDF-2, do you read me?" In frustration, he switched back to Terran Command channels. "Lisa! Captain Hayes! Lisa, it's Rick. Answer me!" No-one from the control room answered his call - only static. <The control room must have been taken out,> Rick realised grimly. "They'll pay for this. Grrrr..." Switching on the after-burners, Rick re-joined the battle.
"Fire control teams need on levels 4 through 20." Lisa pushed back a strand of moisture-laden hair. The control room's sprinkler system had been triggered and was spraying a non-conductive liquid over all in the area.
A medic below looked at the casualty listing on one of the screens in front of him. He turned to one of his aide. "Tell them we need more help on the flight deck," he yelled over the din.
"All system commanders file status reports as soon as possible," Vanessa informed Lisa.
"Computer's dead," reported Kim. She was having trouble seeing her console through the rivulet of fire-proof liquid pouring down her hair and into her eyes. "No manual override. It's no use, Captain. We have no control whatever."
"We're losing power," concurred Vanessa. "Captain, we'll have to abandon ship immediately."
Lisa had only been vaguely listening. With the crippling of the SDF-2, New Macross could not expect any help from aship large enough to take on Khyron's cruiser. <Think! What would Admiral Gloval do at a time like this?> Why could she not be like him? He always seem to know everything as he sat there in his command chair. Suddenly, the solution hit her. "Of course! Admiral Gloval!"
"huh?", asled Vanessa.
"Come on!" cried Lisa, grabbing her by the arm and pulling her towards the room's exit.
Sammie looked at the upper level in dismay. "Where's she going?"
Kim snorted in frustration and started to push her out the door. "Oh, don't ask questions! Just follow her!"
Outside the control room the damage from Khyron's attack was less prominent. The sprinkler system had already been shut ofRf, leaving only a slightly slippery residue upon the floor. As the lift reached the top of the SDF-1's control tower, the girls ran towards the SD-1's old bridge. The door to the bridge opened, flooding the dimly-lit corridor with bright light.
"Huh?" grunted the Bunnies in surprise.
From inside a voice beconned them in. "Welcome aboard, Ladies. What took you so long? Now get to your positions."
"It's Claudia!" Lisa suddenly realised.
"And Admiral Gloval!" Vanessa chimed in. Already, the morale of the group had increased.
"Don't just stand there," Gloval growled with a certain bonhommie. "We have a job to do."
Kim blinked. "You mean...?"
"Sir," interrupted Sammie, "will the ship still fly?" No-one had tried nor tested the ship's system since the end of the battle with Dolza's aramda, when the SDF-1 had returned to Earth and settled inside a large blast-crater. Lake Gloval was in fact an attempt to keep the Fortress upright without using other stress-heavy methods.
"Well now..." Gloval replied, clearing his throat. "There's only one way to find out, isn't there?"
Lisa allowed herself a small ray of hope to shine. "Yes, but what about the weapons, sir? Will they work?"
"They should. As long as the power supply holds up."
"What about the Main Gun, sir?"
"Enough power for one firing. We'll have to make sure it's effective." GLoval paused for a brief instant. <Here we go again> "Okay, battle stations."
"Yes, sir!" chimed the bridge crew as they headed towards their stations.
Out in space, Agar retreated from Apollo base. The ship's radar had picked up two Ophelia-class Terran ship approaching from Earth Orbit. The Ophelias were not atmospheric crafts and thus could not help the SDF-1 in New Macross - but they could engage Agar's cruiser. With his supply of Protoculture running low, Agar could not afford a protracted engagement if he still wished to make the Jump to Tirol-space. With the prudence necessary in this situation, Agar's cruiser withdrew towards deep space.
"Computer countdown is already programmed, sir," Claudia informed Gloval.
"Give me maximum power on all thrusters."
From behind him, Sammie acknowledged. "Power levels at maximum capacity, sir."
"All systems are go," reported Kim. "Ready for immediate liftoff on your mark."
Claudia flipped a final bank of switches, diferting power to the gravity engines. "Drive system is operational and the clock is running. 4 seconds to ignition... 3... 2... 1."
Gloval's breath caught. "Take her up."
The SDF-1 shuddered in its sideways list. The water around it churned and boiled as the ship's main engines were fired. Slowly, majestically, the ship rightened itself.
By the shelters, the rumbling had been noticed. "Hey, look! The SDF-1 is taking off! It's taking off!"
Minmei gasped, not believing her ears. She had been praying for salvation. <Could it be true?>
"It's true!" continued the man at the entrance, as if he had been reading her toughts. "The SDF-1 is taking off! Come see for yourself!" The populace of the shelter ran towards the opened blast- doors and looked upon the spectacle that was the SDF-1 rising from its watery grave.
"He-ey!" exclaimed the Mayor. "That's wonderful! I've never seen anything like it."
"Look at it go!" said Minmei, tears in her eyes. "Our prayers are answered!"
"Main Gun in ready position, standing by." Claudia shifted her gaze to another readout. "Energy reading at present niner-five-zero."
Lisa winced internally. "The Admiral was right. That's only enough energy for one shot, so make it a good one." She glanced at her radar display. It would not do to have friendly forces taken out by the Main Gun's firing. As she started clearing the picture, her eyes were drawn to a particular blip - one with an instantly recognisable tag. "Rick!" she shouted into her mike, "Rick Hunter, is that you?"
The voice that came back was hesitant, almost disbelieving. 'Lisa! I must be hearing things!"
Lisa wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. She swallowed hard to rid herself of a lump in her throat. "No you aren't. I'm aboard the SDF-1, Rick. We're preparing to fire the Main Gun, so I strongly suggest you get out of there."
Rick's voice was full of mirth. "You don't have to tell me twice." Outside, Skull-one flew alongside Khyron's ship. Behind him two more Valkyries came into line as Miriya and Max's voice filtered through the Comm channels.
"There's Rick. Let's fly cover for him, Max."
Lisa glanced at her controls, a sense of urgency building. "Hurry up, Veritechs! The firing sequence is already engaged!"
"Come on, Rick!" yelled Max over the Comms. "Let's get out of here!"
"Right behind you." came the reply. All three Veritechs went to Fighter mode and kicked in the afterburners, propelling them away from the targeted cruiser.
Gloval waited a few more seconds to ensure their safety, then "Now fire!"
The SDF-1 fired its main gun. The beam started building up, but instead of lancing out it blowtorched, causing most of the destructive power of the beam to miss Khyron's cruiser, merely crippling it. Worse, the blowtorching had melted most of the SDF-1's gun assembly. Wounded and weaponless, the SDF-1 fell back into the lake.
Aboard Khyron's ship, things could have been better. Grel laid on the floor, his head at an impossible angle. Both Khyron and Azonia had sustained head injuries. But still, Khyron was ecstatic. "Alright! They've had their fun. Now it's our turn! Now I'll show them."
"Now what?" asked Azonia.
"They cannot erect a defense barrier without any power, correct?"
"Right!" answered Azonia. The beating of her heartbeat was in her ears, the heat of battle upon her cheeks. "They're helpless. Get them!"
"Hmmm... we both will." Khyron looked around him. "It requires a sacrifice. Are you willing to face it with me Azonia?" He grasped her hand and waited for her reply.
"It will be glorious," she answered.
"Yes..." smiled Khyron. "Glorious."
Khyron's cruiser accelerated toward the SDF-1. It plowed straight into the Fortress's left shoulder, shearing it from the rest of the ship. Thrown off by the impact, Khyron's cruiser twist slightly along the horizontal, its engines smashing against the side of the SDF-1's command tower. The cruiser continued on its descent once past the SDF-1 and plowed into the ground, erupting into flames as explosions racked it. Inside the control room, hand in hand, Khyron and Azonia met their end shouting victory.