Love Looms In Times Of War
Set after Robotech New Generation. With the SDF-3 trapped held captive by a mysterious new enemy, this story explores what would happen if Marlene Ariel took a more proactive role at finding Scott
He remembered her. He often did, ever after he left Earth. Sometimes, he would see her face in a passing stranger. Others, he would recognize her voice among random whispers.
A year had passed. He pictured her happy, with a good guy, not one as stupid as him. The bitter pain of knowing that it was his fault stung him. She probably had forgotten about him by now. Could he blame her? He should probably try to do the same: forget.
Before the war started anew, he had dated once or twice. But it always ended the same way. He couldn't keep pretending he was interested. He told himself he hadn't tried, really tried.
Inadvertently, imaginary sights and sounds of her came to him again. It was nonsense. He pushed the thoughts away. He had to leave when he did and fulfill his military duty. She was an Invid and he couldn't have those feelings for her. It could not be. He felt the pull of mistrust and revenge engulfing him, and also memories of his deceased fiancee.
Mars Base was a pocket full of mementos. Everything there reminded him about the original Marlene. The taste of a furtive kiss, stolen at a random corner or the sensation of her tiny figure against him still lingered in his mind. He had been sure that they would build a life together. No one could have predicted the tragic end to those romantic plans.
She died while he watched, in agony. And the pain was still there, but Scott knew it had diminished over time. A day would come when he would truly feel it was behind him. That was, of course, if death didn't get him first.
The group swam and played at the beach. Earth's beaches were one of the most breathtaking things the humanoid Invid Ariel had ever seen. She loved being there and best of all, surrounded by good friends, yet she felt lonely. She always did. Sera's presence helped her, especially after she became competent enough with her Invid abilities to communicate telepathically with her.
When she decided to stay behind and not follow her race, Ariel tacitly accepted a life of loneliness -loneliness in the Invid's sense. The comfortable numbness of the collective Invid conscience fell out of her reach. She told herself she could bear that. What she couldn't deal with was his departure. Now she was lonely in the human sense as well. She sighed. Scott .
In between her thoughts about him, Ariel got pieces of the conversations going on around her. Annie was excited. Sera had caught the teen admiring "the scenery", an assorted variety of local "specimens". Elsewhere, Rand and Rook seemed to fight and make up in a series of rapid successions. Ariel smiled. Lunk and Lancer had been discussing politics. She wasn't paying much attention until the conversation shifted to the ongoing war near Mars.
"The REF is loosing men by the hundreds. I've heard that the enemy comes out of nowhere and blasts our mecha before the instruments can even detect them."
"Well, I've heard no current technology is really capable of detecting them."
"That's what I heard, but I hope it's just a rumor."
"One thing's for sure, they attack mercilessly and are impeding the rescue of the SDF-3."
"Yes, but why? What could they be after?"
"Power. Domination. A mysterious and unknown energy form." Lunk snorted, catching on Lancer's sarcasm. "Who really knows? Anything could be used as an excuse."
"Without reinforcements, I don't know how long Mars' gonna hold."
"Yeah, I wonder how ol' soldier Scott's doing up there."
That last phrase wasn't lost on Ariel. Scott could be hurt; worse: dead, floating adrift in space. She stood up abruptly.
"I think I'll go for a jog, I need some exercise," she said and took off. She set course following the water and ran until she was breathless. Her friends knew what had just happened, but didn't stop her, she needed to be alone.
She sat on the humid sand gasping. As her breathing gained normalcy, she forced herself to think about happier times. Nothing came to her. Hadn't there been any happier times?
Images. Situations. Laughter. Yes . From the well of her distant memory, remembrance crept to the surface. Like that time when Rand dragged Scott to swim while the latter was in his space-suit. He sat next to her on the beach after stumbling out of the salty water. He was completely embarrassed. Helpless. Cute . She smiled softly. It had been on another beach like this one, white and warm, so long ago.
The wind toyed with grains of sand, eroding tiny dunes. Ariel's smile dissolved as well.
He might never come back.
Death's terrible halo sparkled on the collection of robotech mecha. Metallic fuselages reflected a battle's bright signature. Smoldering beams came at them one after another, hitting and missing their intended targets. Yet the ships where they had originated kept invisible. Barely escaping the unrelenting enemy attack, Commander Bernard was in the midst of a losing situation.
It had been weeks and no instrument was able to track the the enemy. Not a blip on the radar. Not even a dot on the screen. However, for the bare eye, the adversary's ships were visible, if only as starless shadows in the vacuum. Every pilot was flying in the dark, relaying solely on the accuracy and speed of his or hers nature-given vision.
Regardless of the disadvantage, the soldiers of the expeditionary forces faced their foes and suffered heavy loses each time. As Scott dodged the deadly fire one extra lucky time, he wondered when would it be his time to go?
Rook found her staring blankly at the ocean. The blond knew what or whom Ariel was thinking about and she was sick of seeing her friend like that.
She approached and sat next to the red-haired woman.
"Hey, Marlene," she said startling her lightly.
"Hi, Rook," she replied thinking of the name Rook had just called her. Marlene. Scott had given her that name when they first met; when by a twist of faith, she couldn't remember who or what she truly was.
"The guys are worried about you. You've been gone for more than an hour. Are you okay?"
"Was it that long?" Rook nodded. "I'm sorry, I lost track of time. I'm fine, I was about to come back."
"Sure," said Rook unconvinced. "Don't you take long, all right? We'll be leaving soon. Rand says a storm's coming."
"I wont, I promise," she smiled weakly. Rook started to walk back but suddenly, she stopped.
Okay, enough of this! "Marlene," she said backtracking on her steps. "Why don't you just go find him?"
"What?" Marlene was shocked.
"Well, I know what's happening to you. It's been a year and you are still thinking about him! I've seen you turning down every guy that asked you out. Your last excuse was something: 'I only date vegetarians.' Give me a break!" the blond said laughing. Marlene smiled. "Not that the neighborhood is thriving with cute guys, but there have been some... Anyway, if you can't stop thinking about Scott, hell, just go after him! Who knows, there's a chance the trip shook some sense into him."
"Rook, I..." stammered Marlene .
"You're seeing life pass by you instead of living. I can't see you like that with my arms crossed. You gotta do something, Marlene! Take that nail out of your life or push it deeper, but don't stay in limbo. Who knows when that dense-headed Scott's gonna get his ass down here." If he ever does . "Don't wait anymore!"
"What should I do? I mean, what can I do? He's on Mars... maybe married for all I know."
"I doubt that," replied Rook quickly. "He has it in for you as bad as you have it for him."
"You really think so?" The blond nodded.
"Enlist Marlene, that for sure will get you a trip to the red planet."
"Uh, I guess I could try to get there... But me, enlist! I couldn't... I can't..." babbled Marlene.
"With the huge losses the REF is taking up there, the military is desperate for new recruits. I've heard anyone willing to enlist is accepted. Anyone, Marlene, even Invid."
"Well, I'm not certain, but a friend of mine told me the REF is particularly looking for Invid recruits for a special project. He said that the few that came forward were granted freedom from prosecution. If it is true, it can be your chance!"
"I... I don't know... I'm not sure I can fight."
"We'll help you," insisted Rook.
"But there is a war going on. Scott is busy there, Rook. Seeing me is probably the last thing on his mind."
"Humanity has been at war for more than thirty years. And by the way things are looking, it might be thirty more before we enjoy some peace and quiet. Who knows if we'll survive. Stick-in-the-mud and you will have to find the time to deal with your feelings when you get up there. It could be your last opportunity."
Marlene appraised Rook's words. Our last opportunity. She looked at the ocean, blue and endless. While her eyes absorbed the sight, she wondered what did his eyes see on Mars? Was it possible that he thought about her at all? What would he say when they met again? What would she say?
"Now come on, it's time you stop lamenting. Let's go," she added and dragged Marlene back to the others.
As Rand had predicted, it started pouring.
"I'm glad we're all together," Rook announced. Her friends were drying from the soaking rain inside a cabin. "Marlene's gonna enlist and we have to help her," she blurted out as if there wasn't anything particular about it.
"What?" let out Annie.
"She's joining the REF, basically to go to Mars, Annie. Right Marlene?" she said looking at the woman in question. Marlene was too surprised to answer.
"What are you talking about, Rook?" pressed an unbelieving Rand.
"She... she can't go there! She could be caught!" said Annie worried.
"Not necessarily, Annie. The REF is recruiting Invid," put in Lunk.
"So you've heard that too?" asked Rook. Lunk nodded.
"All this for Scott!" complained Rand. "He hurt you Marlene. You'll be putting your heart on the line again!"
She looked down. "Uh... he had his reasons, Rand."
"Do you think those have changed?" Rand continued.
"Rand, leave her alone! Scott is in love with her, you know it. He just wouldn't admit it," said Rook.
"Scott forgot about us, Marlene." offered Lunk.
"You truly don't think that, Lunk. Scott's a good friend, he's just too busy with what's going on," countered Lancer. Rook agreed. "And besides," he added, "I myself wonder if some of us shouldn't be joining him up there." Sera gave him a significant look.
"More fighting? You must be kidding, Lancer?" Rand shook his head. "We got more than our share during the Invid war."
"We didn't go out there looking for trouble, Rand. This new enemy is keeping the SDF-3 hostage and menaces to bring violence to Earth once more. At some point it will become our duty to defend the planet. Maybe it'll be better to do it sooner rather than later."
"No, no, no! Someone say something! You can't be thinking of leaving!" Annie pleaded, but no one replied. "Sera! Marlene will listen to you, you gotta say something!"
"She should go," the green haired Invid declared simply. Maybe we all should. She held Lancer's hand. Then in a mental whisper: Let your body join your thoughts wherever they have wandered, sister.
All eyes were on Marlene. "Do you really want to go?" asked Rand.
"Uh-huh," she declared lastly, while a hint of hope shone in her eyes.
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