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

Chapter 8


The impossible brightness in the room made Ariel blink repeatedly. Slowly, sensations returned to her body; slowly, thumping pain rocked her skull. Something foreign pressed against the base of her neck. Suddenly she remembered receiving a neural implant.

Getting used to the light took her a few more minutes. After that, Ariel sat herself up. The small area spun around, her bed with it. She felt sick. The Invid felt her upper back with her hand, located the edges of an adhesive strip and something soft, perhaps a piece of gauze. Drowsy fingers explored the wound until pain shot through her, halting any further attempt at touching it.

Ariel's breathing was rapid, unnerving and chaotic, mirroring the memories that were returning to her. A heterogeneous mass of images, sensations and sounds filled her psyche. Weakened, she struggled to assemble disconnected pieces into coherence. She remembered feeling a needle in her arm, sensing a pungent anesthetic smell from a breathing mask upon her face, distinguishing the green glow of a tiny spider-like device... The line between reality and fantasy was blurry.

Before things got confusing, she remembered reading a letter from Scott. She also remembered wandering around the base unable to decide between searching for him and reporting for duty. Unsure where he was at that time, Ariel chose the latter. When she arrived to her station, she saw a row of white medical shuttles waiting. Promptly, she was ordered into one without getting the option of asking questions. The vehicles departed speedily and, minutes after, approached a medical facility. Its cavernous access area swallowed the newcomers into its halogen-lit belly. After the transport's doors opened, Ariel's memories became fragmented and distorted.

She was in a cubicle inside a larger room now; light blue curtains surrounded her. Apart from a bed, chair and monitor, the area was bare. Her head was hurting intensely, but Ariel could still distinguish voices coming closer. The long shadows of fingers danced behind the cloth walls just before a middle-aged chubby nurse traversed them.

"Take it easy," she said, indicating Ariel to lie down on her side. She took a look at the monitor and at the wound on the Invid's back. "You aren't ready to go yet," the nurse added and before the patient knew it, a needle was in her arm. Drifting back into unconsciousness, Ariel heard voices around her becoming stronger, more frantic. For a second, she thought she had heard a familiar one, yet the drug was causing her thoughts to fall into entropy. Someone was looking into her cubicle. Before she could recognize who it was, her vision had completely shifted out of focus.


"You can't be in here!" the nurse warned the young man who had gotten into the recovery room and now peered into Ariel's cubicle. He ignored her warning and continued to spread the curtain open. The annoyed woman placed herself between him and the patient, preventing him from advancing. She noted his uniform and rank and shook her head disapprovingly.

"How is she?" he asked undeterred by her attitude and trying to see the patient over the nurse's shoulder.

"Shhh! She needs to rest!" the woman sneered.

"I just need to see her for a minute," he insisted but the nurse didn't budge. Dr. Iskandar had been very clear. If she let the intruder stay, she would lose her job.

"You must leave, immediately!" She said, advancing towards him, "this is a restricted area!" However, agile beyond what the deceiving bandages around his head let on, the young man was able to spin the chubby woman around. While she fought to untangle herself from the curtain, he got himself into the cubicle. The nurse roared lowly and he continued to brush aside her demands. Once free, she decided to go and call security on him. He welcomed her departure and came close to Ariel.

Above the edge of her hospital robe, he could see the wound on her back peeking behind its dressing. About an inch of ugly green bruising surrounded it. He walked to the other side of the bed and saw her face; she was pale like snow. He leaned down to hear her breathing. It was shallow, but regular. The subtle creases on her forehead told him she was in pain. Sorrow took hold of him; he couldn't stop himself from gently touching her cheek.

Hours earlier, when he received a rejection notice for his request to transfer her from the war front, he worried. After finding out she'd been scheduled for implantation, the feeling grew tenfold. He wasted no time to find where she was. Things were happening too fast and he hadn't had time to further investigate into those devices that the Invid were receiving. Feeling her soft skin, he wished again that she hadn't come. This time the sole reason weighing in his heart was her safety.

Hushed, angry voices signaled that security had arrived to put an end to his unauthorized visit. He left without opposition in favor of not disturbing Ariel any further. They would talk when she was better and, no matter at what cost, he'd keep an eye on her.


Admiral Hayes Hunter was on the bridge of her ship. The immobile fortress was holding up under alien fire. Her squadrons played a dangerous game of cat and mouse. They got out, hit and retreated into the bays, leaving enemy pursuers to change course or crash against the ship's barriers. Timing was essential when bringing those barriers up or down. A mistake would cause a lot of destruction inside the ship. So far the risky maneuver had bought the SDF some essential time.

"Admiral," Miriya Sterling's face appeared on Lisa's screen," our long range subspatial sensors have detected unusual distortions on sector G5-23."

"What kind of distortions?"

"Dr. Einsler thinks they correspond to the movement of a rather big object."

"A mothership?"

"It could be."

Tension appeared on Lisa's face. Her damaged ship had limited odds of surviving a direct ship-to-ship attack.

"Can you tell how far it is?"

"Calculation is difficult without knowledge of the object's size. Visual observation remains our only way of detection. Lookouts were ordered to keep watch."

"Thank you, Miriya," she said, "keep monitoring and alert me of any changes."

"Will do." With that her face disappeared.

Admiral Hayes Hunter's mind raced. She needed to find a way of protecting the ship. By the time a mothership's presence could be visually confirmed by a lookout, it would be too late to take action.


The elevator door opened and the Invid found herself facing the medical facility's reception lobby.

"Ariel," someone called. Something about that voice soothed her; she raised her eyes to see Uld.

"How are you feeling?" he asked.

"I'm okay," she answered, "just a little cold." Gently, he took her hands in his. Both Invid stood close to each other.

"It is normal, in a few hours the drug the human gave you will make the discomfort go."

She nodded. The doctor had told her the same after injecting yet another transparent magical cocktail into her arm.

"I thought that Koreen and you would be out of here by now."

"We were." he replied. Short answers were Uld's favorites.

"Oh, then..." She searched his face for a clue. He was simply staring at her. "Did you return here for me?"

"Yes." His plain response surprised her.

"How did you know?"

"I felt something was wrong with you."

"Thank you for coming. That was very thoughtful." She smiled lightly, amazed at his gesture.

"Ready to go?"

"Yes," she declared and took a couple of flimsy steps. Uld noticed she needed help. Immediately, his arms surrounded her waist, unknowingly reminding her of a distant place and time, an icy street were another had held her. Ariel wished that other man was the one holding her, the one caring for her. She wished the eyes gazing into hers were blue.


Scott Bernard roamed through Hangar A looking for Captain Cooper. So far his fruitless search had taken him to the control room, the briefing room and the mess hall. The wide area ahead of him was like an obstacle course made out of mecha, equipment and personnel. He walked a winding path, looking for the missing officer or someone who could give him information about her whereabouts.

During his quest, he had, unintentionally, approached the platform where his own Alpha was stored. As the Shadow Veritech's fuselage came to full view, Scott felt compelled to stop in front of the machine for a few minutes. He fought the sudden urge to climb up and be at its controls again.

Since his injury, the commander had been grounded. The forces faced a critical situation and being unable to physically contribute bothered him to no end. Although his bruises were fading and his cuts were healing; headaches of varying intensities were a major part of the commander's life these days. Doctor Grant had prescribed painkillers and rest and, albeit the young man having plenty of the first, he was barely getting any of the second. Between his concern for Ariel, his meeting with Dana and his attempt at keeping up with his military duty, there wasn't any time for such mundane thing. Life was complicated.

His objective flashed in the back of his mind and he unglued his eyes from the fighter. He better not waste any more time finding Cooper. He turned and scanned the area, "Hey, Collinson," he said, recognizing a fellow pilot who worked on an Alpha's tune-up, "have you seen Cooper?"

"She's down in Operations," he answered, not coming out from under the mecha's belly.

"Thanks," Scott replied and promptly headed out. The captain was the only source within his reach that could have any information about those neural implants.


Operations occupied the base's central-eastern sector. The quickest way there was tunnel A33. Minor tunnels, feeders, merged into it from all directions. The Main, as it was called, had a bidirectional moving surface and had been dug deep under the Martian surface. It run north to south and had several exits near the base's epicenter. Scott walked briskly to the closest feeder, entered A33 and further sped up his march. He was three exits away from his destination when he saw Grace Hopkins emerging from another feeder; she was barely steps in front of him.

"Good afternoon, sir," she saluted when she saw him. She walked fast, like him.

"Lieutenant," he nodded; silence ensued between them. He felt awkwardness sink in. They traveled in the same direction while carefully avoiding looking at each other. To his surprise and her enjoyment, they seemed to be meeting quite often lately.

"Sir... I am really sorry about ...," she said suddenly.

"There's nothing to be sorry about," he interrupted, not wanting to go there at the moment. He remembered, however, the look on the lieutenant's face when she saw Dana and him together. Scott Bernard wasn't the best at interpreting subtle signs of interest, yet something in the way Grace looked at him made him want to set the record straight. "It... it really wasn't what it seemed," he reiterated. She was quiet. Obviously she doesn't believe me , he thought, embarrassed. The idea of his brotherly feelings towards his sister being confused with something else made him uncomfortable.

"Please, don't worry about it," she tried to calm him, "I won't say a word."

"Uh...," he muttered unsure of what to say. His face was growing red. Anything besides the truth, which he wasn't eager to share, would have meant endorsing something that wasn't. Scott Bernard didn't like deception yet, he was quiet, tacitly accepting Dana and he had something going, tacitly accepting Grace Hopkins' unvoiced offer of covering for them.

"No," he said lastly, stopping and making Grace halt her step as well. "I have to explain... Major Sterling and I... we can't... I mean, we don't have that kind of relationship," he said firmly.

She knew that. The moment that Scott had said his sister's name, her jealousy vanished. Seeing him conflicted and worried about what she could be thinking made her feel guilty.

"I..." she looked down unable to face him, the twirling patterns on the floor were irresistible all of a sudden. "...I know."

"I can imagine what you saw could lend itself for..."

"Commander," she stressed, "I know about Major Sterling." She saw the meaning of her words sink in as his crimson face went pale.

"You know?" he repeated, confused, "but... how?" A frown appeared on his forehead as his eyes pierced her. Regret for having told him assailed the lieutenant. It was, however, too late. Grace saw it would be difficult to wiggle herself out of that one and she almost made a run for the nearest exit.

No , she thought, bracing herself. She wasn't a woman to not finish what she started. A sigh came to her lips and she set her eyes on the marble-patterned floor yet again. "My work sometimes requires me to handle intelligence reports. Not so long ago, by complete chance," a mention of her research activities was unnecessary, "I learned about Vice-Admiral Sterling's missing son." Scott closed his eyes, resignedly. "At that time, Brigadier General Hunter ordered an investigation," she continued, "the results were all in the report..." She looked into his eyes. "That son is you."

Mute surprise spread across Scott's blanched face. He remembered that report. Rick Hunter held it in his hands when he had him brought to his presence. The fugitive from home was barely 18 at the time of the confrontation. Enlisting under a false name was reason enough for him to be dismissed form the forces, yet what seemed like the imminent end to Scott's hiding didn't come to pass. Rick didn't expose him. He was the first to listen to him and to understand why he had done what he did. Scott would never forget what Hunter had done for him. All these years, he thought that blasted report had been destroyed. What were the chances of it falling into the hands of the woman standing next to him?

She sensed his displeasure. What have you done? He's going to have me discharged for snooping! she thought. Her silly infatuation with him had overridden her brain. Stupid! Stupid! I shouldn't have told him! Then she saw his eyes looking down filled with sadness. Was he thinking of his past? Grace realized that this was perhaps a good opportunity to make a pitch.

"I would have never mentioned it. I just didn't want you to continue thinking I had gotten the wrong idea about Major Sterling and you. You seemed so upset about it." She sounded genuinely concerned. He was looking down now, remembering his parents, his mother in particular. "I can't erase what I learned, sir, but..." she continued as her hand searched for his and touched it lightly, "please know that your secret is safe with me. I'll never say or do something that could cause you trouble." She seemed distraught now.

He looked at her trying to figure her odd behavior out. Strange ideas were forming on the back of his head as he felt her trembling hand on his. "It is okay, Grace," he said to calm her. And he thought things couldn't get any more complicated. Slowly he turned and walked to the next exit. She stayed behind and he noticed the panicked expression on her face.

So she knows my last name isn't Bernard, he thought. It wasn't as if that was a crime, he pondered. But what about Admiral Hunter's involvement? That could have repercusions it it ever reached the wrong ears... As Operations loomed right in front of him, he wondered if Grace Hopkins would really keep her word.


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Posted on: 2005-11-18

CHAPTERS | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 |

Disclaimer: I do not own Robotech, Macross, Southern Cross, Mospeada or their characters. These stories were written for entertainment purposes only. No infringement is intended.
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Chapter Art