Episode 5: Goodbye, Blue Earth.

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This was the day so many people had been looking out for for so many
years. It was the day the largest expedition ever in Human history
would set out on its voyage. Inside the giant Robotech Factory,
thousands of people were hurrying to their assigned quarters on board
the SDF-3.

"Goodmorning, Miss Hunter." a happy Rick Hunter woke his wife. Lisa
opened her eyes and saw Rick's face. "Hmm, goodmorning indeed, Rick."
Rick already had fixed breakfast, and offered the plate to Lisa. "That
looks good." she said and sat up in her bed. She took a loaf of bread
and made a sandwich. "Did you sleep well?" Rick asked from the
bath-room. "Very well. And you?" "Same here, only now I wish we hadn't
put the wedding the day before we leave." He yawned, which sparked a
joke from Lisa:"Well, general, you must make a good example to your
men." she finished her breakfast. "Not to mention, your commanding
officer." "Oh, now that's going to be a tough task, don't you aggree?"
Rick played along. Lisa entered the bathroom. "Hmm, you do have some
pro's, honey." She kissed him. "I guess I have."

"Well, we better hurry, or we're going to be too late for the
shuttle." Max said to Miriya. This was going to be a difficult day for
them. Due to the importance of the mission, and her descendance, it
was not possible for Dana to join her parents . "Oh, Max, look, she
looks so peacefull." Miriya walked over to Dana, who was sitting on
the floor, drawing a picture of what looked like a rabit, but showed
some technicall parts. "See, mam, it's RABIT-technology!" Miriya and
Max laughed, and Dana cheered.

In the bay where the SDF-3 had been build, Dr. Lang and mayor Willis
looked at the gigantic vessel. "This is going to be our home for quite
a while." Willis said. He was given the post of mayor of the city that
had been constructed inside the SDF-3. Pioneer City, named after the
mission. "Should everything proceed as planned, and our diplomatic
efforts succeed, the mission could be finished within the next
decade." Lang stated, with a fair amount of certainty in his voice.
Lang never questioned his own observations. And so far, he had never
neen been wrong. So far...

The corridors where the quarters were, were filled with people,
members of the Robotech Expeditionary Force, who had been carefully
selected from the personel of the RDF. Every single one of them had to
have shown their capabilities. One of them was Jack Baker, the
Alpha-pilot, who still could not beleive he had been chosen by major
general Hunter to join the REF. "It's got to be a joke." But he knew
it wasn't, since he had been assigned new quarters in the SDF-3. Well,
not exactly quarters, a new home was a better description. He was
reading his new address and studied the map of Pioneer City. He was so
tied up by the map, that he didn't see the girl appearing from the
corner. They bumped into each other. "You idiot, look where you're
going!", Karen Penn yelled. Her papers lay scattered over the floor,
together with Jack's. "Oh, I'm very sorry indeed, but hey, it's not
the end of the world, is it? Besides, isn't this a great moment? We
meet again!" he replied, teasing Karen. He started to pick up the
paper from the floor. "Don't get any bright ideas, Baker, I just
happened to be passing here." Karen defended herself. "Sure, and my
quarters just happened to be in this corridor, right?" "WHAT?" Karen
exclaimed, "Oh, you must be seeing things." She got up,"Do you really
beleive that I came over here hoping to run into you? Boy, talk about
your over-confidence." "Sister, I don't beleive in coincidence." Jack
sorted out the papers. "This looks interesting, your new quarters on
the SDF-3." He quickly searched for the location. "Hey, what'd you
know? You and me, in the same street." A grin formed on his face. "Oh,
this cannot be." Karen thought, and grabbed the paper from Jack's
hands. "I need to report to general Hunter, so if you'll excuse me."
Jack couldn't remove the joyfull expression from his face. "Well, I
guess I'll be seeing you again, neighbour." "Oh brother." Karen
thought. "Why me?" picking up her pace, "Still, he is cute."

"Cadet Baker reporting, Sir.", Jack said as he entered general
Hunter's office. "Please, be seated." Rick looked at the young pilot
in front of him. "I hope you aren't too surprised to have been
selected, since your last test didn't work out too well." Jack didn't
feel comfortable. "To be honest, Sir, I am." He felt as if he was
facing a firing squad. "I never thought you would accept me for the
mission." "Maybe the test wasn't perfect, your record so far is
outstanding." Rick tried to decrease the tension he noticed in the man
in front of him. "You see, we don't only need just pilots that can
handle a Veritech well, but we also need pilots that can handle a
situation well. Now, you disobeyed orders in your test, which isn't
something to do. But, you showed a dedication to save your commanding
officer." Jack raised his eyebrows. Rick continued."You have been
assigned an Alpha, but I also assigned you to the role of
shuttle-pilot." Hearing this, Jacks mouth dropped open. "Sir,
shuttles?" He was baffled."Why shuttles?" Shuttles were to
fighter-pilots what carriages were for race-horses. "Don't worry,
you'll get to fly the fighter all right. But I need a pilot that I
know, so, given your qualifications I mentioned, you are the best I
could think of." Now his surprise was complete. HE, Jack Baker, he was
going to be major general Hunter's personal shuttle pilot? This had to
be a great joke. The box Rick gave, convinced him it wasn't.
"Congratulations, sergeant Baker." Jack blinked his eyes, then got on
his feet, and saluted. "I will serve you the best I can, Sir!" "I'm
sure you will, sergeant." Rick answered the salute. "You're
dismissed." "Thank you, Sir." Jack left the office. "Yahoo!" he yelled
once he got to the corridor. Several other pilots looked at him, and
thought he'd gone nuts.

In bay 12, a shuttle was waiting for it's passengers. Also waiting
were Rico, and his wife, Sara. Once a Zentraedi warrior, Rico had
become an example of the perfect intergration of Zentraedi in Human
society. He had married a woman, and had a job as manager of a store
for audio and video supplies. Yes, Rico had a good life. His friends
Max and Miriya Sterling had asked him to take care of Dana for the
time they would be gone. Rico had accepted, as he felt it a great
honour. "Hi, how are you." he said, shaking hands with Max. "I'm all
right. But Miriya isn't all that great." The 2 looked at the former
Zentraedi fighter-ace. She held Dana in her arms. So far, she had
dealt with her separation from Dana very well, but now the moment was
there, her mother-feelings were stronger than she had expected. "Oh,
my dear Dana, I'm going to miss you so. I promise you, we won't forget
you." She hugged the yellow-haired Dana, and the young girl embraced
her mother. Miriya wiped the tears away, and put Dana back on the
ground. Max kneeled and put his hands on Dana's shoulders. "Listen,
uncle Rico will take good care of you. You'll be safe with him and
aunt Sara." Max knew Dana's foster parents would look after his
daughter very well. Rico, a Zentraedi himself, was aware that certain
individuals back on Earth didn't take to kindly to Zentraedi.

And Dana? Dana cried, as any child would when it has to leave it's
parents. But she was old enough to see the impossibility of staying
with her father and mother on the mission. And she knew her uncle Rico
was a kind person. And that she would be reunited again. But she
didn't know how long she and her parents where going to be separated.

Sara took Dana's hand in hers, and tried to comfort her. "This is
shuttle-controll, all passengers, please take your seats. We'll be
leaving in 2 minutes." Max and Miriya hugged Dana one last time, and
then she went up the steps, together with her new foster-parents.
"Goodbye, my darling. I love you." Miriya said. "Now, you grow and be
a big girl when we return. Bye, Dana." Max said, and put his hand on
 Miriya's shoulder. The shuttle's entrance-door slammed shut, the
 gravity was
lifted and the shuttle left the bay. From the observation-room, Max
and Miriya watched the shuttle glide out of the bay, it's engines
started and it flew away. Little did they, or Dana know, they would
not see each other for a very long time, because no one knew, the
mission would last much longer than anticipated. Much, much longer.

Rick closed the door of his office. He had cleaned out his desk, and
carried his case with his belongings. Through the halls, he walked to
his and Lisa's quarters. An aide was waiting outside. He saluted and
Rick greeted him. "Well, Burt, this is the last time we see each other
here on this station." "Yes, Sir, I guess it is. I'll take your case,
Sir." The door opened and Lisa appeared. "I've packed everything. You
can bring them to our home on the SDF-3." she said to Burt Dougall.
"Yes, mam!" He entered the door to get their things. "Right, let's
go." And so Rick and Lisa went on their way to the SDF-3.  On board
the SDF-3, the bridge-crew was running over the last checks to make
sure, the departure would proceed as planned. Mary Wood, a girl in her
early twenties, was the first officer. She went over her controlls
time and time again. "Mary, would you stop that. You're getting on my
nerves." Sussanna Hill looked at her colleague, hanging on her
console, one hand under her face and the other at her hip. Sussanna
always acted a bit more casual than Mary. "Oh, I beg your pardon, I
guess you don't have anything to check?" Mary snapped back. "I do, but
you are studying your controls like it's the first time you see them,
and need to figure them out within 20 minutes. Come on, we all
graduated with honours, remember? We know our jobs." She walked over
to her assistant. Sussanna's task consisted of monitoring
communications. "Are all systems on line?" Patricia Anderson, her
assistant, punched up the systems check. "All systems on-line and
running. All communication channels are clear. No problems." "See,
everything is going as smooth as possible." Sussanna boosted in
confidence. "Mary, colonel Stuart wants to know when the last cargo is
on board." Francis LaRue, a young French bridge-officer, with an
attractive accent, swiveled her chair to face Mary. "I'll check that."
Mary went over the list. "Tell him, he can expect it a O nine-hundred
hours." At her console, Francis relayed the message to colonel Stuart.
The bridge door opened and Julie Michaels entered. "Well, well, look
who finally found the bridge. Julie, you were supposed to report in
about half an hour ago. Where were you?" Mary's eyes were piercing
Julie's. "I'm sorry. I overslept. I er, had a guest last night."
"WHAT?" a surprised Mary couldn't beleive her ears. "The day before
our departure? I don't beleive what I'm hearing." She shook her head.
"I guess you spent another night alone in your quarters?" Julie didn't
like the way she was treated by Mary. Francis and Patricia looked at
each other, and they knew this was going to be bad. "Now what's that
supposed to mean?" Things like that hurt Mary. "Nothing. Just that you
don't know what it means to have a person who's special to you."
Sussanna interfered:"All right you two, knock it off. We need to work
together here." she stood between the 2 bickering girls. Sussanna
always had a natural ascendancy. But she also was aware that Mary and
Julie were rivals. Julie had a relationship with David Marks, a young
man, who had been Mary's friend untill the 2 were stationed on the
SDF-3. There he met Francis, and he left Mary for her. "This is not
the place to settle your differences." Sussanna was playing
arbitrator. Julie took her position at the radar-station. Sussanna
leaned over to Mary. "There are other guys on board, you know." Mary
just nodded, "Uh huh...." "Poor thing, that this happens to her just
before we leave." Sussanna thought.

"Look at her. Isn't she amazing?" Vince Grant still got impressed by
the sight of the SDF-3. "Hmm, I can't wait to see our home." Jean, his
wife, opened the door of the small car that had brought them to the
bay of the SDF-3. "Vince, it's just a space-ship." She couldn't
understand how anyone got so exited over a piece of robotechnology.
Even her husband. Although she was a member of the REF, she didn't
feel any bond between her and any ship she served on. But this one was
different though. This wasn't any ship. This was going to be home for
several years to come. She tried to see it as such, but it didn't work
for her. "Are you getting ready to leave?" Rolf Emmerson asked. At his
side was Bowie Grant. "Where's Dana?" the young boy looked around.
"Oh, Dana already left, Bowie." Jean said to her son. "What? She
didn't even say goodbye." "She probably thought the 2 of you will see
each other on the base, back on Earth." Rolf explained. Bowie folded
his arms and looked angry:"She still could have said she was going."
He and Dana had been friends for years. Their friendship would help
them for the time to come. As their parents would be away, Dana and
Bowie could find support with each other. Several years later, the 2
would have to face a very different crisis. They would have to fight
the Robotech Masters. The Robotech Masters, supreme rulers of the
Zentraedi and creators of Robotechnology, who had left their homeworld
of Tirol in search of Zor's battlefortress. So, although nobody of the
REF knew, their initial goal for the mission had already failed before
they even had left Earth. The effort to enter talks with the Masters
failed, because the Masters had made other plans.

Rolf Emmerson, general in the Army of the Southern Cross, had been
chosen by Vince and Jean to guard their son, while they would be away.
The last few days, he had tried to spend time with Bowie, to get him
to know the boy. That seemed to have a good result. Bowie trusted him,
and had said:"Uncle Rolf, I'm going to enjoy my stay with you." His
optimism would help Bowie through the time before he would see his
father and mother again.

Not only members of the military forces were moving their possesions
to their new homes inside the SDF-3. Many civilians had been selected
to join the REF during it's mission to Tirol. Most of them had lived
inside the SDF-1 after it made it's fold-jump to Pluto. One of the
most prominent citizens of that time had been requested by Dr. Lang to
travel along with the REF to Tirol. Lynn Minmei had pondered about
that for quite a while. She knew the trip was going to be a long one,
but remembering the time on board the SDF-1, she decided to accept
Lang's request. He thought it would boost the moral of the inhabitants
of Pioneer City, and should it be neccesary, they could utilize
Minmei's singing as a disruptive tactic. Nobody knew exactly what to
expect once they reached Tirol. Exedore and Breetai considered it a
possibilty that the fleet could run into a very warm welcome. Or be
totally ignored. Their uncertainty gave evidence of the great gamble
everybody was taking in the REF. Minmei, however, didn't think about
that. "Well, here we are!" she said, trying to disguise her
nervousness. Janice, her good friend and singing partner taxed the
appartment. It was fully equiped with everything you could dream of.
"It looks all right. No place like home, I say." Janice's optimism
even superseeded that of Minmei. Minmei on the other hand, had changed
in the last 10 years. The events surrounding her, the fighting, her
becoming a big star, the near total destruction of Earth and most of
all Rick Hunter. She had lost him to Lisa Hayes. Now, she had to go on
without him. From the first floor, Janice called Minmei. "Come and
look at this! Oh, these rooms are perfect. I'm going to enjoy this
trip for sure." Below, Minmei thought:"This isn't a cruise. Who knows
what might be waiting for us in the future."

"Attention!" a voice shouted. "Admiral on the bridge." Lisa entered
the bridge, and all 5 bridge-officers saluted. Lisa saluted, and
looked around. It reminded her of the bridge of the SDF-1, which was
no surprise, since it's lay-out had been retained for the SDF-3. Only
the systems were updated. She walked over to the front of the bridge,
to the window. Now she looked at the closed baydoors, but soon,
thousands of stars would be seen through that window. She turned and
faced the bridge-crew. As first officer, Mary spoke for the
bridge:"Bridge crew reporting, admiral." Lisa greeted her, and went
over to her position. "Thank you, lieutenant Wood." Lisa shook Mary's
hand. "Major general Hunter will be here soon. I'm sure he will be
pleased to work with you." "We'll do our best, admiral."

Just a few hours remained before the SDF-3 would leave it's bay and
set out for it's voyage. Aboard the cruiser Tirpitz, colonel Edwards
requested a status report of his aide. "Yes, and I want it within 20
minutes." He didn't like the reply. "I don't care, just do it." And he
disconnected. "Idiots, we've only got a few hours, and there still are
problems with the second thruster." He left the communication console
and stepped over to the captains seat, and sat down. "I don't think it
would take this long to repair on Hunter's ship." Rick Hunter, the man
he hated ever since he saw him leave the Grand Cannon, together with
Lisa Hayes. He blamed him for his injuries, for the loss of his eye,
for his long recovery. However, he had his duty to perform, and that
was what he would do. At least, he would make sure it looked that way.

"Sir, all personel are aboard." Colonel Reinhard informed Rick.
"Right, how are the supplies progressing?" "Colonel Stuart said the
last batch is now being loaded aboard." Reinhard replied. "I'm going
over to the bridge. Tell Dr. Lang I want to meet him there." Rick left
and went to the bridge. "Max. Hey Max.", the blue haired leader of the
Skull squadron turned his head. "Hi Rick." Together they continued
their walk. "How are you? Must have been difficult to have to let go
of Dana." Max nodded. "Yes it was, Miriya,... I think she hadn't
realized how much it would mean to her." They reached the entrance
that lead to the City. "Boy, it feels weird, having to live inside a
spaceship again." "Sure, but this time, it was meant this way." They
greeted and Max took a cab. Rick took the elevator to the bridge.

Max reached his new home. "It beats standard issue quarters, that's
for sure." he mumbled as he entered the appartment. "Miriya, are you
home?" he called. "I'm over here, in the kitchen, Max." Miriya
appeared from there, and it was clear she had been crying. "Oh, Hey,
come here." he whispered, trying to comfort his wife. Miriya put her
face on his chest and wept. Max caressed her. "It's better for her
this way. Living here, among all these hurried people. Rico will see
to it that she has a good time." Miriya sniffed. "I know, Max." she
took a handkerchief. "I'll be fine." Tomorrow, the REF would be on
it's way to Tirol. Miriya knew, she had to do her duty. As leader of
the Red Hearts squadron, she was responsible for all that served under
her. She couldn't let her feelings put them in jeopardy.

When he entered the bridge, Rick was surprised to see Lisa was still
there. "Oh, hi Rick, I was just telling your crew about the SDF-1." 5
young female faces looked at Rick. Then looked at each other, some
gigled. He felt foolish:"Hey, what's going on?" "Oh, come on Rick, I
just told them how we first met." Lisa smiled. "Oh brother," Rick
thought, "I'm in trouble. They'll never forget those things." Sussanna
received a message. "Admiral, the commander of the Tirpitz let's you
know the repairs will be completed in time." Lisa acknowledged it.
"Thank you. Well Rick, it's your bridge now." She walked to the door.
"Don't make it too rough for them, Mr. Lingerie." On the bridge, 5
girls laughed. Rick wished he could sink through the floor. "THAT's
what she told them? Now I'm really in trouble." He scratched his head,
then sat down in the commanders seat. He shrugged, then took on his
task as commander of the SDF-3. "We should begin take off procedures,
don't you all aggree? So, let's do it!" First officer Mary Wood
remarked:"All preparations have been carried out." "All right." Rick
paused, "Notify the Factory that we are going to depart."

Outside the SDF-3, all air-locks disconnected and were retracted.
Nobody could enter or leave the ship any more. The Robotech
Expeditonary Force was ready to leave. "This is moon base Luna,
calling SDF-3. All vessels standing by for take off." "Roger, moon
base Luna, message received and understood." Mary checked her monitor,
and one blip appeared over the moon, then 2 more, soon it were 10, 20,
50. "Sir, all craft of moon base Luna are leaving the base and en
route to the rendez-vous point." "Thank you, signall the fleet to
proceed as planned." He got up from his chair and walked over to Lang.
"This must be a very special moment for you, not?" The German Lang
studied some of the monitors. "Everything runs beautifully. I see no
problems. We can leave any moment." "Bay controll, this is SDF-3.
Requesting opening of baydoors." Mary's heart pounded in her chest.
"This is bay-controll. Request granted. Baydoors opening." The doors
rumbled, then split and moved apart. Stars became visible. "Outside
gravity 0G. Disconnecting mounts." For a moment, the great vessel
shocked, then it floated. "All right. Start all engines, we are
leaving." For nine years, Rick and many others had worked for this
moment. It was a moment that would be a bookmark in history. The
Robotech Expeditionary Force went on its mission to Tirol.

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Next on Robotech II: Sentinels, Guardians of Earth: The REF enters
orbit around Mars. There, Mars Division joins the fleet. From that
location, the fleet will fold to Tirol. Tirol, homeworld of the
Robotech Masters, but now a planet, ravaged by the Invid, a vicious
race, whose sole objective is to recover the Flower of Life. The
survivors of the Invid invasion of Tirol are desperately trying to
elude the hordes of biomechanical creatures, that patroll their
planet. Little do the Tirolians know, that a vast force is headed
their way. A force, lead by survivors of another Robotech war.

Be watching for Rendez Vous, the next thrilling episode in the epic
saga of Robotech II: Sentinels, Guardians of Earth.
 

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