breathing in a vacuum
part three
      Daniel stuffed the rest of his clothes into his duffel, zipping the bag up tightly as he finished. It was nearly nine thirty and his shuttle was leaving shortly. He had a couple of things to do before he left. First, he headed to the cafeteria for breakfast. Dan's mom had been a firm believer in the principal of Traveling with a Full Stomach, and Dan agreed.
      After a quick meal, Dan returned to his room to get his bags. He found a note, handwritten, from Sakura, sitting on his bag.
      "Sorry I couldn't see you off, but I've got duty in a few minutes and you aren't here." He grinned, knowing full well how much Sakura hated morning duty. "I'll be leaving tomorrow for Earth, you know the address. Drop me a line if you can. Kick a little ass for me, 'kay? And keep your eyes open. Sakura." He stuffed the letter into his backpack, glancing at his clock.
      He left in a hurry, his final duty before leaving waiting for him in the fighter bay. When he burst through the door, he glanced at his plane, Tiger 3. One of the techs stood along side the cockpit, scraping off the decals that reported his kills. His name was already removed, leaving the pilot unknown for the first time in a year and a half.
      "Good bye girl," Dan said, still convinced that it was indeed a female plane. Then he left for lock 4, begging lateness as an excuse to brush off the few people who came to see him off. The one person he really wanted to see wasn't there. He boarded the shuttle, nestled himself into his seat and opened his back pack. While he was digging his MD player out of it, he missed a lone Valkyrie fly by the shuttle, barrel rolling as it passed by.
      And then he was pressed gently into his seat by the half gee acceleration that would last for at least an hour. Daniel passed slowly into sleep as the low rumbling of the rocket engine resounded in the empty cabin.
      He woke up an hour later, weightlessness gripping his stomach. His heavy breakfast tumbled in his stomach and he began to disagree with his mother's advice. The shuttle was in the midst of turnaround, bringing the big fusion drives into alignment for slowdown with the Damocles. The engine roared back to life, delivering more than twice its original acceleration.
      He seems to be in a hurry, Dan thought, switching mini discs. It suited Dan just fine. Despite his disappointment, he was enjoying the prospect of another tour of duty as a pilot. Despite his opposition to the idea of command, he felt a pressure onboard the Vendetta to turn everyone over to command staff. He was glad to get back to the simple routine of fighting.
      "As a note of interest," the pilot said over the intercom, "the Damocles is off the port side of the vessel. We'll have a good view of it all the way in to docking."
      Dan looked out his window, curious about the vessel he was joining. The limited time he had between assignments prevented him from checking up on the Damocles so he knew nothing about the ship he was about to see.
      His first glimpse was unimpressive, as the Damocles looked more like a large bulk carrier than anything else. The hull was dull gray, riddled by micro-meteorite scars and seemed to be held together with duct tape and glue.
      "That's the Damocles?" Dan asked, amazed by the state of disrepair the vessel appeared to be in. He could detect no fighter bays nestled in the numerous structures that dotted the hull but served no visible purpose. As the distance separating them closed, he picked out more and more details about the ship. What he thought were reaction mass tanks were actually fighter bays, one each along the dorsal and ventral stretches of the vessels. The useless looking structures that dotted the ship were a mix of baffles to protect the main hull and house point defense arrays.
      "A Q-ship?" Dan exclaimed as the docking umbilical extended out towards the ship. He picked out the small flashes that marked the vernier thrusters firing. The two objects met with a soft thud that went no further than the cabin.
      "All set sir?" the copilot asked, poking his head out of the cockpit. "We need to get you off as quickly as possible, since the Damocles is burning out system in a couple of minutes."
      "Sure," Dan replied.
      "All right then. Right this way," the copilot said, pointing out the rear exit. Dan walked quickly off the cabin grabbing his bags from the storage rack and crossed into the umbilical. A second after he exited the umbilical it retracted and he saw the flame through the airlock window.
      His first sight was a man dressed in a captain's uniform, complete with commendations for valor and injury in the line of fire. He stuck his hand out and greeted Dan in a familiar voice.
      "Daniel Fisher, First Lieutenant. I'm Captain Jonah Fitzroy newly of the Damocles. I think you deserve a thank you from me for your actions at Orbital Ring Engagement."
      "First Lieutenant?" Dan wondered as he contemplated his new rank.
      "Sure, you'll be in command of Shrike Flight. Can I take you to your cabin?"
      "No thanks. I'd actually like to see the flight deck if I could. I was under the impression that the Damocles was a carrier, not a Q-ship." Dan ignored the question of his new rank for the moment, more interested in the ship.
      "You know as much as I do that the brass doesn't like to name its really expensive toys the right way. Follow me?"
      Dan shouldered his duffel bag and followed the man down the narrow, hallway, walls slightly rusted. The passages followed no understandable pattern, and Dan soon found himself thoroughly lost. The Captain opened a door, apparently at random, which widened into a full sized fighter bay, filled with six matte black Shrikes.
      "How did you fit all this stuff in here? Shouldn't you need more reaction mass?"
      "Not with reflex drives. You'd be surprised about all the stuff they managed to fit in here. I'll have the full tech readouts for both the Shrikes and the Damocles on your desk by the end of the third shift."
      "Those are Shrikes?" Dan asked, staring at the new Shrike Mark II.. It was bulkier than the old Shrike, and colored flat black with gunmetal gray trim. A vicious looking beam cannon sat under the ship's chin, and the outboard hard-points were no where to be seen.
      "I'll have to check those readouts out," Dan said, strangely interested in the new fighter. "Could I find my room now?"
      "Sure," Fitzroy said. "I have to apologize for the size though. We'll try and clean out one of the officer's rooms, but some of the space is taken over with the lab."

      The man's breath quickened as he recognized the image before him. It was his father, hovering threateningly over him. He couldn't understand the screams of his father, but they were all loud, immediate. His lungs heaved as his breath came in ragged gasps, a purely irrational fear filling his soul. He jerked up just before his father's hand connected with his face, eyes opening and stinging from the sweat that dripped into them.
      "I killed you," he whispered hoarsely. "I killed you both."
      "Mr. Alpha!" a voice called from outside his room. "We've gotten a report from our mole. He couldn't tell us too much, but he managed to get onboard the investigation vessel."
      "Fine," Alpha said, hating the sound of his name. It was his father's only gift to him, picked for its superficial similarity to a Zentradi word meaning strength. "Leave me!" he belted.
      As the man left, Alpha walked to a cold locker on the floor of his room. He opened it, reveling in the white light released. He reached into the locker and pulled out a vial, clutching it tightly.
      "Half of my revenge is at hand. Only a little more time until it's all there."

      Sakura put her bags down on the front stoop of her parent's house.. She knocked politely, vaguely surprised at the lack of a call button. Her mother had always been traditionalist, and the front of her house was done in traditional Japanese style.
      Sakura's mother opened the door, dressed in full kimono with her face painted pale white. She bowed to her daughter, greeting her formally in Nipponese.
      "Hello Daughter. We have some things to discuss."
      "Certainly. Is father home?" Sakura asked, wondering how her father and mother managed to stay together all these years.
      "He's out right now, getting the final prints of the last issue of his manga in to the publisher. I need to introduce you to someone."
      "Oh? Who?" Sakura wondered, her mental alarms going off.
      Her mother gestured inside the house. A man, rather well dressed compared to what she was used to, stood inside, nervously waiting. "Sakura-chan, this is your fiance, Mokoto Mizuhara."

Copyright reserved 1999 Jerico Mele []

Disclaimer: Robotech is Copyright 1985 Harmony Gold, U.S.A, Inc./Tatsunoko Prod. Cp., Ltd. All rights reserved. No infringement is intended.

back   index   more fics   sailormoon   next