To Dream With the Stars
By Sarah Bloy

Chapter One: Catastrophe

    "Of course everyone praises Captain Gloval for his control of the [Macross City] situation. The whole island was decimated by the disastrous fold to Plutospace and its inhabitants left completely homeless. Rebuilding the city within the ship was a stroke of genius on Gloval's part; not only did it give the civilians a place to go, but it served to keep morale up and remind the officers of the RDF what they were fighting for.
    "But in all the rush, very few people thought of those who lost everything."

                - Altaira Heimel, Butterflies in Winter: Human Relations and the Robotech Wars.

    Last time on Robotech: In the year 1999, high above Macross Island in the South Pacific, a phenomenal event occurred in the skies which altered the course of Human history. Ten years later, the ship that had crashed landed on this tiny island was repaired and ready to launch in the service of Humankind.

    Max's arm was almost numb. He couldn't help but think that this Lieutenant Commander Fokker was a bit long-winded.
    Anna was starting to get heavy on his shoulders.
    "Today, ladies and gentlemen, you'll see how we've applied Human know-how to understanding and harnessing a complex alien technology," Fokker was saying on the stage.
    Max bounced his younger sister slightly so as to change positions a bit. He was becoming more and more uncomfortable with each moment.
    "Anna," he pleaded, "the real action is going to be straight up anyway. Can't you come down?"
    "I like his uniform," the eight-year-old commented.
    "Aren't you a little young for that?"
    "For what?"
    "Keep your eyes on planes two and four," Fokker commanded the crowd as a squadron of fighters flew overhead. Max struggled to see around his sister. Two and Four peeled off from the formation and did barrel rolls.
    "Hey, Max, what kind of plane is that?" Anna asked, pointing a way behind the RDF formation.
    An orange fanjet went thundering after the fighters. Around Max and Anna the crowd was beginning to laugh.
    "Oh, no," Fokker moaned from the stage, "Rick! Is that you Hunter?"
    So Fokker knew the guy. Whoever was flying the little orange circus plane sure had a wish to be arrested.
    "Hey, there's mom and dad," Anna suddenly exclaimed pointing to the back of the crowd.
    Max let Anna climb down from his shoulders and he barely managed to grab her hand just before she went racing toward the back of the crowd to their parents.
    "So, did we miss anything?" their father asked, allowing Anna to climb him instead of Max.
    "Just some yahoo in a circus plane," said Max.
    "It was really funny," Anna embellished, "he and the guy on stage were talking over the radio, but it was left on so we could all hear what they were saying."
    Mr. Sterling laughed out loud. "I imagine he'll be hearing about that later."
    "It's eleven o'clock," Mrs. Sterling commented glancing at her watch, "the exposition grounds should be open now."
    Max brightened. A chance to see the new planes up close! That was what he'd been waiting for. The things had been classified until that day and Max was itching to see them.
    "Yeah! I'm there!" he exclaimed.
    "Maxie, can I come, too?" Anna inquired.
    "Do ya' hafta?" Max appealed, sighing the sigh that older brothers do when younger siblings want to tag along.
    "Max, behave yourself," his mother scolded, "your father and I are going to go catch the ground base tour. Take care of your little sister."
    "Oh all right," Max ceded as Anna climbed down again, "but you're walking."
    "Okay," Anna agreed, "see ya' later," she added to their parents and bounced next to Max as they walked off.
    "C'mon, Fuzzhead," Max commanded.
    "Don't call me that!"
    "Well, that's what you are."

    "Try not ta drool, four eyes," a pilot said as he spotted Max staring intently at one of the new fighters.
    Max barely cast a glance at the larger, arrogant man. "Who says I'm drooling, moron."
    "Ooh, little four eyes fights back," cooed the pilot.
    "Hey, dork," Anna spoke up, "why don't you find one of your own to pick on."
    "Wasamatter kid? Your brother ain't got no guts?"
    "C'mon, Anna," Max commanded leading his sister away from the audacious pilot. "But Maxie-"
    "I said, c'mon."
    "Maxie!" the pilot teased.
    Out of the corner of his eye, Max spotted an object flying toward them. He acted on reflex, striking out with a fist and knocking it aside. A moment later, he heard the shatter of glass on the ground. He turned back to the pilot with steady eyes. "Watch it, you sonofabitch."
    "What're you gonna do, call me names?"
    The mounting tension was suddenly broken by a rising, Earth-shaking pitch coming from the general direction of the SDF-1's bow.
    "What the-" Max got out just before the entire world turned blazing hot around them. He dropped to the ground, pulling Anna under himself and covering both their heads.
    Later Max would recall that this was the moment he'd prayed the fastest.
    Then, it was over. Slowly Max and Anna rose and looked around. Max's shirt felt ten times more itchy, as though he had a bad sunburn.
    "What was that?" Anna breathed.
    "I dunno," said Max. He looked to the pilot and fount that he, too, was slowly getting up and looking around. All three started when they heard the unmistakable whine of sirens blare across Macross Island.
    "Better get to the shelters, four eyes," the pilot threw over his shoulder while running in the direction of a certain building.
    "Dweeb!" Anna called after him.
    "C'mon!" Max commanded, yanking her arm and running toward the nearest shelter.

    Fifty-seven. That was the number of cracks in the cement floor of the shelter. Max wished he could fall asleep as easily as his sister had. But cement wasn't a very comfortable sleeping surface and, unlike Anna, Max didn't have a lap to sleep on. He sighed and gave Anna's head a quick pet.
    Anna awoke with a small moan. "You woke me up."
    "Sorry, Fuzzhead."
    "Don't call me that," she said, sitting up, "what's going on outside?"
    As if to punctuate her question, the rat-tat-tat of gun fire could be heard through the door. The RDF officer in charge of the shelter looked around a small curtain and glanced outside. Apparently finding nothing of consequence to them, he flipped the safety of his gun back on.
    "Maxie, where's mom and dad?" Anna asked.
    "I wouldn't worry," said Max, almost as much to clam himself as to calm Anna, "they're probably in a shelter closer to the ground base. They're somewhere safe, they aren't too stupid after all."
    The whole shelter started to rumble and sand started to flutter down upon them. Everyone in the shelter covered their heads reflexively. The rumble lasted a good long time, even coming to a peak with what sounded like a very large crash. Then it stopped and a moment later, started up again and faded off.
    The RDF officer put a hand to the headset he was wearing and listened for a moment. After taking another glance out the window, he turned to the group and said, "All clear, we can leave now."
    There was a collective sigh of relief from the shelter's occupants as they all rose and crowded near the door. The officer opened the large, heavy-duty lock and swung the door open. Everyone flowed out and surveyed their surroundings.
    "Max, look!" Anna exclaimed, pointing. "The SDF-1's gone!"
    Max looked toward the center of the city and found a gaping hole where the massive ship used to sit. "That must have been that big rumble."
    "Woah," breathed Anna, taking a few more steps out into the light. "Look at that!" she said pointing to a spot on the horizon. Max looked to it just in time to see a blaze of light go streaking across, like a shooting star. "What do you suppose that is?"
    Max didn't answer, eyes transfixed on the landscape and unmoving. Everyone else around him was beginning to move into the light and look around.
    Suddenly, the rumble returned and everyone looked to the sky.
    What they saw was the dorsal side of the SDF-1 descending toward the island.
    "Shit!" The RDF officer exclaimed. "Everyone back in the shelter!"
    An overeager woman near Anna whipped around and knocked into the girl. Anna went tumbling to the ground.
    "Anna!" Max exclaimed, trying to get to his sister. He found himself entangled in a mess of Human bodies, being pulled toward the shelter door.
    "Max!" Anna called, trying to get to her feet but finding she could not stand on an injured ankle.
    Max struggled with the crowd, a sudden panic welling up from somewhere inside. Frantically, he tried to break through both the crowd and the panic and get to Anna, but he soon found himself inside the shelter and heard the RDF officer slam the door shut.
    "My sister's still out there!" Max shouted.
    The officer glanced out the window. "Oh my God!" he exclaimed.
    Just then, all weight seemed to leave Max and he found himself floating in the air near a wall. He pushed off and floated toward the officer.
    "What's going on out there? My sister's still out there!" He reached for the curtain and tried to pull it aside so he could see out, but found that the officer was pushing him back and holding down the piece of cloth.
    "Back off, there's nothing you can do."
    "That's my little sister out there!" Max shouted shoving the officer aside and pulling back the curtain.
    His eyes were greeted by a black star field, broken only by floating debris. He gasped as he identified a hand behind a piece of cement. A body floated into view and Max could only stare at it, breath caught in his throat.
    Max suddenly found himself very ill and turned from the window in shock, placing a hand over his mouth to keep from vomiting. The officer pushed him away from the window, toward a corner where he came to a stop with a small thud which he hardly noticed.
    "What's out there, anyway?" asked the woman who had knocked Anna over.
    The officer hesitated, then pulled the curtain back so everyone could see. "Outer space."
    The shelter went deadly silent as various people glomed on to others.
    Max, alone in the corner, simply curled into a ball and allowed the tears to come unbidden.

    He didn't know how long he stayed like that. The next thing his mind registered was a hand on his shoulder. He turned and found the RDF officer looking at him intently.
    "Hey, kid," he said, "I need to know the name of your sister."
    Max didn't retract from his ball in the slightest. "Sterling, Anna Dana," he stated with a small, trembling, yet strangely monotone, voice.
    The officer punched a few keys on a small palm top. "Listen," he said, "I've noticed you're alone. Do you have any other relation in Macross City?"
    Max didn't answer for a moment.
    "Hey, kid?"
    "James William Sterling and Allegra Philby Sterling. They're my parents."
    The officer punched a few more buttons. "I'll see what I can do about finding 'em." He left and Max retreated back into his emotionless void of a world within his own mind.
    After another indeterminable amount of time, Max felt the officer's hand on his shoulder again.
    "Are you Maximilian Anthony Sterling?" he asked.
    Max nodded, slowly.
    The officer looked to the floor of the shelter and Max obtained an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach.
    "I'm sorry," said the officer, "you're parents were killed when one of the shelters was blasted open by enemy fire."
    Max looked away from the officer and tightened himself further into his ball.
    "Kid?" he vaguely heard.
    Max drew into himself and allowed everything else to fade into the distance.
    He was truly alone.

    Max awoke in a room that was too white. He connected a sharp sting in his arm to his awakening and started. Two faces were leaning over him, looking down.
    "Well, welcome back, Mr. Sterling," said the bearded man, "we were beginning to wonder about you." He nodded to the woman next to him, who silently left the room.
    "Where am I?" Max mumbled, trying to sit up.
    "You're in the infirmary aboard the SDF-1. I'm Doctor Cokott. You've been in a severe state of shock for the past twenty-four hours and we had to give you a shot of adrenaline to wake you. Here, drink this."
    Cokott handed Max a glass of water. Trembling with lack of food, he took it and downed it without stopping. When he was finished, he handed the glass back.
    "Would you like something to eat?" Cokott asked.
    Max nodded, somewhat numbly.
    "All right. I'll go find you something. You just get some rest," Cokott stated, leaving the room.
    A moment later, Max heard a voice through the door. "Well, doc'? How is he?" It was the RDF officer from the shelter.
    "He'll be fine," Cokott responded, "he's just in shock."
    "Is there anything I can do? I feel terrible, the kid lost his whole family on my watch."
    "Well, Lieutenant, I think he could do with a friend right now. He's not strong enough now, but why don't you come back in a few hours and visit."
    "You got it doc'."

    Max was just finishing his meal when there was a knock on the door and Cokott entered.
    "Max, you have a visitor," he said, "shall I let him in?"
    "Sure," said Max, indifferently pushing aside the tray.
    Cokott opened the door further and allowed the Lieutenant to enter. "This is Lieutenant Machlis. He tells me he was in your shelter."
    Max nodded. "Thanks doc'."
    Cokott nodded and left. There was an uncomfortable silence in the room as the two young men regarded one another.
    "So," said Machlis, "feeling better?"
    "As well as can be expected, I guess."
    "Yeah, about that. Look, I just wanted to apologize for yesterday. I know that sounds shallow and all, but-"
    "Forget it," said Max, looking away and trying not to burst out crying. "There was nothing anyone could do. If it's anyone's fault, it's mine; I should have stayed closer to her."
    Machlis sat down on the end of Max's bed. "Look, Max. Can I call you Max?"
    Max nodded.
    "You want a piece of advice, don't beat yourself up over things you couldn't change. Sure, feel bad about them, but don't go looking for blame. You get enough of that from everyone else."
    "Thanks for the advice, Lieutenant, but-"
    "Please, call me Jeff."
    "Jeff, but how can I not feel guilty? I was supposed to look after her."
    Machlis sighed. "I can see this is going to take a while. Do you have anyone else in the city you can go to?"
    Max shook his head, silently, looking down at his hands.
    "I thought so. The doc' said I was the first person to ask after ya'. Listen, I'll have to clear it with my superiors, but why don't you stay with me for a while? I've got two person quarters all to myself."
    "Don't you have a roomie?"
    "No," said Machlis, somewhat sullenly, "he was in your parents' shelter when it got blasted by the XT's."
    "Oh," said Max with a start, "I'm sorry."
    "He knew the risks like the rest of us. You just worry about your own problems and I'll deal with mine. But, you know, maybe we can get it together, you know, together."
    Max pondered for a moment, regarding the Lieutenant. "All right," he said, finally, "it's a deal."
    "Great," said Machlis, "they're gonna let you out tomorrow morning. I'll come by then."

    Machlis shrugged at Max's sudden inquiry. "That's what they tell me," he said, "that something went wrong with the fold engines and that we're all the way out by Pluto. And it'll take us at least two years to make it back to Earth."
    "Why's that?"
    "The fold engines are gone."
    "Poof, just like that."
    "What about the rest of the Macross people? Where will they go?"
    "They're rebuilding the city down in the cargo hold. The thing was standing empty enough."
    "It's that big?"
    "Makes you feel insignificant, doesn't it? Here we are." Machlis motioned to a door and whipped out a key card. He slipped it through the scanner and the door obediently unlocked. "Welcome to my humble abode," he said, opening the door.
    They both went inside. Machlis' quarters were somewhat stark, having only been moved into recently.
    "I was going to get some more of my stuff from my old quarters, but well, you know, shit happens," Machlis explained, "we got a saying in the Force; 'Snafu.' "
    "Situation normal, all fucked up?"
    "How do you know that?"
    "Memphis Belle," Max answered, "it's one of my favorite movies."
    "I bet you're one of the type who'd be a pilot if it weren't for the glasses, am I right?"
    "Planes have been a hobby of mine for years," Max said, blushing slightly, "but when I got the glasses, that kinda ruined my chances. So what's the inside of the Valkyrie look like?"
    "Wouldn't know. I'm with the Civil Defense unit. Centaurs, not Valks. That's why I was in the shelter."
    "Right," sighed Max, "the shelter."
    All at once there was a knock at the door and Machlis sighed. "Dammit, not now." He made his way over to the door and opened it.
    On the other side was Roy Fokker wearing a look of controlled concern.
    "Hey, Jeff," said the Lieutenant Commander, "I was wondering if you've heard about a pilot in an orange circus plane, Rick Hunter? I haven't seen him since the fight yesterday."
    "You mean that punk that found his way into a VT?"
    "That's the one."
    "No way!" Max exclaimed. "You're joking, right?"
    "Who're you?" Roy asked, noticing Max for the first time.
    "It's okay, Roy," Machlis cut in, "this is Max Sterling. He lost his whole family yesterday and has no one among the city people to turn to, so he's shaking up with me for a while."
    "You clear it with the Captain?"
    "Yeah, I did. No prob."
    "And the Commander?"
    "She had a prob. Captain Gloval told her ta deal with it."
    "That's the Captain for ya'. Look I gotta go. If you hear anything about Hunter, you tell me right away, all right?"
    "You got it, Lieutenant Commander."

    Two weeks later, Max found himself aimlessly wandering the streets of inboard Macross City. It was amazing how close to the original it was. Even more amazing that they had enough space to do it. But Max couldn't help but marvel at the uselessness of some of it. Everything had been rebuilt, even the restaurants. He was presently passing a little Chinese one called The White Dragon. Except for the owners, it was empty.
    He rounded another corner and was greeted with a site of mayhem.
    A large converter subunit had fallen from the ceiling level and crashed right through the street.
    "Hey, there's somebody down there!" Someone exclaimed, peering into the hole with a flashlight. Others joined him momentarily.
    "It looks like a coupla kids!"
    Upon hearing the commotion, Mayor Tommy Luan made his way over and peered in.
    "Why that looks like Minmei down there!"
    A few moments later, a young Chinese girl was being lifted out of the hole in the street and helped up. After her came a young man dressed in an orange flight suit. Max made out a few words and phrases here and there and pieced together that the two of them had been stuck in the lower decks of the SDF-1 for almost two weeks. In fact, when congratulated by the mayor with a manly pat on the back, the boy fell to the ground, exhausted.
    "Well, well, well," said a voice behind Max, "if it isn't four eyes. Gaping seems to be your best talent."
    Max started, turned, and found himself face to face with the arrogant pilot from the exhibition grounds of two weeks prior. He gave the pilot a glare, then turned on his heel and walked away.
    "What's the matter?" the pilot called after him. "Going home ta get your sister ta help ya'?"
    Max stopped short and clenched his fists tightly.
    "Is that it? You need the help of your little wuss sister? Eh, Maxie?"
    Max whirled on the pilot. "No one calls me that, ya' got it! No one!"
    "What're ya' gonna do? Tell mommy and daddy? Afraid you'll get those glasses broken? Or do you just wanna spare little Anna the sight of seeing her big brother hurt?"
    Max launched himself at the pilot and followed through with an upper cut that sent the pilot to the ground. "Shut up!" He bellowed. "Don't you ever talk about my family like that, you goddam bastard!"
    The pilot knuckled a small drop of blood from the corner of his mouth. "So, you wanna play it like that huh?" He dove for Max's legs and brought him to the ground. Max moved aside just in time to avoid a fist in the nose. He kicked his leg into the pilot's stomach and sent him to the side. Taking the chance to regain his feet, Max saw the pilot doing the same. He sidestepped a clumsy haymaker from the pilot and planted an elbow in his side. He suddenly found a head firmly planted in his chest, starting to cut off his air.
    "Ewing!" a familiar voice called. "Back off, Ewing!" A pair of strong hands pulled the pilot off of Max and got in between them.
    It was Roy Fokker.
    "Ewing, what have I told you about fighting with the townies! Cool it, I mean now, or you're gonna have latrine duty until we get back ta Earth! You got it!"
    The pilot, Ewing, straightened to attention. "Sir, yes sir!"
    "Good!" Fokker snapped. "Now go get yourself cleaned up. Dismissed!"
    Ewing crisply turned and marched away from the Lieutenant Commander. Fokker turned to Max. "You okay, kid?"
    "Yeah," Max said, regaining breath.
    "Sorry about him, he seems to go looking for trouble. Hey, you're the guy who's shacked up with Machlis, aren't ya'?"
    "Yes, sir," said Max, "we met the day after the SDF-1 got out here. You came looking for some guy, Rick Hunter?"
    "Yeah, have you heard anything?"
    Max simply pointed toward the mayhem occurring on the street behind Roy. The Skull Squad leader turned around and witnessed the destruction.
    "Rick?" He exclaimed, then ran off to the crowd. "Rick! My God!"
    Max watched as Fokker cantered away to his seemingly long-lost friend. As he watched their reunion, he couldn't help but feel a pang of jealousy.
    It was followed by an uncontrollable flood of memories; his failure, his fault, his loneliness. He couldn't stop them from coming back to him, no matter how hard he tried. He concentrated on a familiar song, anything else. But everything brought him back to his family and life he'd known before. Finally, unable to stand the sight any longer, he turned away and raced out of the street, leaving the happy reunion far behind him.

    "Hey Max," Machlis called upon entering his quarters, "hello in here! Heard you had a dust up with some pilot!"
    A pillow came flying at him and he barely had time to dodge it. The CD Lieutenant turned to his distraught friend and found him laying on his bunk, head buried in a pile of blankets, glasses having been discarded on the floor. Machlis sighed.
    "Let me guess, you saw a couple ah buddies findin' each other again?"
    Max pushed his head further into the blankets.
    "Look, you can't keep lettin' that stuff get ta ya'. You'll flip your wig, kid."
    "I'm not a kid!" Max snapped, suddenly. "Not anymore!"
    "Huh?" Machlis puzzled. "Whadaya mean by that?"
    "I mean I'm not a kid! I'm a goddam adult!" Max sat up and tried to gain some control. "My eighteenth birthday was yesterday. So why do I feel like a frightened five-year-old? Why can't I get control?"
    "Know what I think? I think it's 'cause you never got to pass into that stage of your life with you family there to push ya' through."
    "How'd you get so smart, anyway?"
    "Eh, it's somethin' my pop once told me. Eighteen's the time when you're an adult, so the adults have to push ya' through that last day. You're going to have to do that on your own, Max. I know it's gotta be tough, but judging by what you did ta' Ewing, you're a fighter."
    "You heard about that?"
    "Yeah, the Skulls are happy ta see the guy cut down a notch, finally. He's not the play nice type, if ya know what I mean."
    Max punched a fist into the pile of blankets. "He's a jerk! No, that's too weak a word. There isn't word for him! He's... he's a jerk!"
    "Whoa, Maxie calm down!"
    Max was suddenly on his feet facing Machlis, glasses in hand having been retrieved on the way up. "Don't call me that! I'm not Maxie any more and I never will be again! That part of me died with my family! You, of all people, don't have the right to call me that!"
    Machlis stared at Max with a look that Max had never seen on the Lieutenant's face before. "That was low, Max," Machlis stated, "even for a person who's as mixed up as you are right now, that was low."
    "You don't know how I feel, so just spare the fraternal advice," said Max plopping his glasses on his face and turning away from Machlis.
    "Don't I? Think, Max. Is this who you are? Is this who you wanna be? Do you wanna lash out at everyone and everything just because you think they don't know how you feel? I got news for you, pally, there are other people aboard this ship in just as much pain as you are. So get over it and live your life."
    Max hit the wall with his fist and made his way over to the door.
    "Where're you going?" Machlis asked.
    "To live what remains of my life!" Max snapped just before slamming the door after himself.
    "It's about time," Machlis mumbled, a slight smile cracking across his face.

    Saturn. Three months' travel had only gotten them to Saturn. And at this time of the year, Earth was on the opposite side of the Sun from it.
    Needless to say, they still had some time left on their journey.
    Despite the propriety of its citizens, Macross City was a veritable rumor mill. Gossip was flying about this scheme by the mayor or that incident in a lingerie store and many, many others.
    But Max never cared much for rumors. The whole he-said-she-said routine bored him, quite frankly. So while a table in the White Dragon was laughing uproariously with some amusing anecdote, Max simply ignored it and sat at his own table near the wall, munching on a plate of moo-shu.
    The laughter dissolved, however, as the sirens began to blare. Various pilots sprang from their seats and zipped out of the building. Max observed a fair number of them managing to pile into one small taxi.
    RDF clown car tactics, he couldn't help but think to himself as the car drove off.
    "All civilians to the shelters," Commander Hayes' voice came over the PA, "repeat, all civilians to the shelters."
    The ship began to rumble somewhat with the all too familiar shake of the SDF-1's modular transformation. The remaining White Dragon patrons hurried themselves out the door and down the street to the nearest shelter. The ship rocked with a large blast. Max looked up and out the main hold's skylight and saw a rather large warship within range of the SDF-1. He hurried himself into the shelter without another moment's hesitation along with everyone else around him and moved into a corner he claimed as his own for the time being.
    Little did anyone there know that one of the most creative offensive maneuvers was being planned at that very moment.
    The Deadalus, one of the aircraft carriers that had gotten folded out to Plutospace and had subsequently been grafted onto the ship, would moments later plunge into one of the attacking Zentraedi warships like a fist and blow it apart from the inside out. Countless mecha were allotted to the task and many would be lost. But the battle ultimately belonged to the SDF-1. It would later be hailed as one of the most ingenious maneuvers of the First Robotech War.
    And Max Sterling was stuck inside a shelter feeling nothing but the ship's shudders.
    "I've never heard the ship do that before," someone commented.
    "Suppose it has something to do with that new pinpoint shielding?" another hypothesized.
    The ship gave another tremendous shudder, shaking the little tiny box of a room they were all crowded into. There were a number of creaks and groans and suddenly the world went black.
    The next Max knew, he was slowly coming to in that all too familiar, too white room with a screaming headache.
    Back in the infirmary. Most likely after having been knocked out by a falling something-or-other, by the feel of it.
    "Well, now," the all too familiar voice of Dr. Cokott said as he entered, "welcome back again, Mr. Sterling. Once more in here and you'll be a regular." He picked up the clipboard and wrote a few notes. "Nasty bump on the head you got there. How do you feel?"
    "Do ya' hafta yell?"
    "That bad, hmm? I'll prescribe a pain killer for you for the next few days. But there doesn't seem to be any concussion or anything, so there's no reason to keep you around here any longer. You can sign out whenever you're ready."
    Max nodded. Cokott was all business today, like he was in a hurry. That's not to say his bedside manner was bad, he just seemed rushed. Max wondered if it had something to do with the attack.
    He shrugged it off for the time being. Spotting his clothes folded up on a nearby chair, he slowly got up and changed out of the annoying hospital gown he'd found himself wearing. Those things were always designed to provide maximum, unwanted "air conditioning" so the patient wouldn't leave. It was simply too damn cold!
    He was on his way out of the room when he passed a mirror and spotted the mess his hair had become. His grandfather was right. A haircut was needed. Max's hair was almost to his shoulders. And worse, his roots were beginning to show; he needed to find some blue hair dye.
    Ah, screw the haircut. He looked dumb in a crew cut anyway.
    Max checked out of the infirmary, picking up the pain-killers on the way.
    On his way back to Jeff's, he passed through Macross City. The place was in a considerable state of disarray. He came across a number of couples and families doing the best they could to clean up their belongings and make semblance of their lives again.
    Abruptly, he ran into someone. Startled, he turned to find a girl about his age staring at him about a foot away. Her brown eyes looked into his for a moment, and Max realized she had been crying. As Max was beginning to fumble through an apology, she turned, flashing a whip of red hair in his face, and ran off down the street.
    He was about to follow to see if there was anything he could do. He somehow felt strangely linked to the girl in a way he couldn't quite describe. He wondered if they had something in common.
    His thoughts were interrupted however, by the passing of a so-called "death bed" carrying a totaled mecha to the recycling plants aboard the SDF-1.
    It was a Centaur.
    Jeff piloted a Centaur.
    Max's gut tightened as he watched the thing retreat away into the other areas of the ship to be recycled. After a moment of looking after it, he broke into a run toward Jeff's quarters.

    He skidded around the corner and into Jeff's quarters. Sitting on the couch, blond head hung, seemingly in thought, was Roy Fokker. He was still in his flight suit, having just come in from the battle. He looked up at Max, a look in his eyes that said he wished he didn't have to say what was coming next.
    "No," Max breathed as Fokker stood, "no, not Jeff."
    Roy sighed. "I'm sorry," he said, "Lieutenant Machlis was killed while fighting off enemy forces that were attempting to enter the ship. His Centaur was totaled and..." Roy trailed off and looked at Max who was standing in the doorway as though he were a statue. "I'm sorry," he repeated.
    Fokker pushed his way past Max and out into the hallway. He was starting to walk away slowly when Max said "Lieutenant Commander Fokker."
    The leader of Skull Squadron turned around to face Max.
    "Where do I sign up for the RDF?"
    Roy stared at Max for an indeterminate amount of time. Satisfied that Max was lucid, he nodded. "Meet me at the White Dragon in a half an hour."


Coming soon: Chapter Two of Robotech: To Dream With the Stars!
    Max begins Robotech Defense Force flight school and finds himself strangely singled out. But he's not alone. He begins to live his life again against a background that feels too much like High School for his liking.
    Be here for Robotech: To Dream With the Stars Chapter Two: Flight School!