EMISSARIES WEEK (and then some) - The Devil's Hunters Squadron Bk. 1
Robotech: The Devil's Hunter Squadron
Book 1: Squadron of Relics
"I seriously doubt she'll be pleased with the replacements you are sending him, Admiral." Tristan Moore placed the mug of coffee on the table in front of REF Fleet Admiral James Murdock. "Matter of fact, Director Sabarra was very adamant that you send in a more veteran squadron to deal with not only this raiding threat, but also to assist in the new Veritech development program. And here you are telling me this fresh squadron is all you can send?"
They were in the small kitchenette area of Moore's Tirol apartment that he used while acting as envoy for the Liberty II Space Station. The newly created station was also being used as a testing ground for new Veritech Fighter designs to replace the aging Alpha and Beta fighters used during the Sentinels war. So far the testing had been successful and the designs and prototypes were now ready for trial runs. The only thing the project lacked was pilots. Liberty II director Joanne Sabarra had requested that Murdock supply her with a veteran Alpha squadron to use as not only a defensive unit, but also as test pilots for the new fighters. She was about to not get her way.
Admiral Murdock took a drink of his coffee and gave Moore a stern look. "Unfortunately, Mr. Moore, the REF does not have the resources since the Zentraedi attacks to support ALL of her requests. She will have to make due with what we can supply." The fact of the matter was, the REF was extremely low in men and material since the Zentraedi raid. The fact that High Command even allowed a new squadron to be assigned to Liberty II was taxing to the REF defense line.
"I understand your position, Admiral Murdock. And I do thank you for your candor in this matter. As you said, we will have to make due with what we get for the time being. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to pack for my trip back to the station."
Murdock stood up and headed for the apartment door. On his way he dropped a data disc on the counter. "That is the dossier on Lieutenant Harris and his squadron. Attached you will find all the material he will be bringing along. Good day, Mr. Moore," he added as he slipped quietly into the hallway.
Moore grumbled under his breath after Murdock left and opened the dossier. Skimming through the personnel files he came to the equipment manifest that this squadron would be bringing with them. He looked twice before slamming the dossier down and calling Liberty II. "This is Moore, get me Director Sabarra. She's not going to like this."
Lieutenant Justin Harris walked down the halls of the REF command center on Tirol towards the loading bays where his new fighters were to be claimed by his squadron. Along with him, Sergeant Mitch Forbes, a friend of Justin's since childhood. "I can't wait to see these new fighters, Mav. I wonder if we'll be getting Shadow Alphas or the new Mark II Standard Alphas?"
Harris simply laughed and looked to Forbes. "We'll get whatever the REF gives us and no complaints. I've been waiting for this for a long time."
Justin had been one of the first recruits out of the rebuilt Robotech Expeditionary Force Academy after the assault on Tirol five years earlier. While he had not been top of his class, his merits did earn him the rank of Third Lieutenant after graduation. He had spent the last two years in officer training classes and pilot training. His instructors had been impressed with his ability to pilot the Alpha Veritechs so smoothly. One even told him his skills came near to Max Sterling's abilities. He was a large man for a pilot at 6' 2" tall, but he had made himself at home in the cockpit of the fighters of the REF.
"Yeah I know that, Mav, which is one reason I'm thrilled. How come you picked me to be your first officer for the squadron anyways?" Forbes had much of the same story as Justin, although he had scored lower than him in the academy and eventually dropped out of the officer-training program to become an enlisted soldier. "You do know that regs specify a second or third lieutenant should really be in command behind you. So why choose me for it?"
"Easy." Justin smiled at Mitch as they neared the entry to loading bay thirty-seven. "You have skill in an Alpha and served time with an active duty squadron. Those are things we won't be seeing in the pilots that wil be with us." Justin grimaced at the last comment. "The REF has left us with a bunch of raw recruits out of basic training. You and I, Mitch, are going to be playing babysitters along with combat trainers."
Mitch began laughing hysterically and looked to Harris. "So you're telling me the great Justin 'Maverick' Harris has been reduced to watching over kiddies? Oh this is too good to pass up. Prepare to recieve endless pranks, Lieutenant." Forbes would have continued had Justin not been at a dead stop twenty feet back with a look of pure pain on his face. "Oh come on Mav, it was a joke! Besides we'll get these kids trained in no time. Oh yeah, speaking of which they are due to report to us in an hour."
Justin said nothing for a moment, then raised his finger and pointed behind Forbes. It took him a moment to ralize he had been laughing so much he had walked into loading bay thirty-seven. Forbes turned around and looked at the contents of the bay. Twelve fighters all lined up in launch readiness position. "Mitch, tell me this is a mistake. Tell me we are in the wrong bay."
Forbes looked down at his data pad and looked to the door. "No mistake, Mav, these fighters are ours. Can I say now I hate this assignment and request a transfer, sir?" Forbes looked to see Justin walk up and smack him upside the head. "How could they leave us with these?"
Justin just shook his head and looked to the dozen VF-1 Veritech Fighters in the bay. "I don't know Mitch. But these were in the simulations in training so at least we know how to fly them." He looked to see each fighter had been equipped with Super Veritech armor and boosters. "And we'll be going suicidal speeds. This is going to be interesting."
Forbes came up to Justin and handed him the pad. "Just one problem Lieutenant, none of our kiddies has been certified in these."
Justin slammed the pad on the ground and walked out of the bay muttering "Great ... just great. Let me know if anything else goes wrong will you?" He left Forbes to check the fighters out.
To be continued in Emissaries Vol. 2 Issue 2 ...
This is a side-story to my own ongoing Emissaries fanfic feature, Robotech: Conqueror. The Devil's Hunters Squadron storylines features the members of the title squadron before they joined the tossed salad that is the cast of the Conqueror saga. The backstory you should be aware of going into this is that just as the Invid Regess departed Earth, a mysterious fleet of upgraded Zentraedi warships folded over Tirol and blew the better part of the remaining REF into spacedust. Five years later, the Expeditionary Force is on the mend, but they're short on manpower and supplies, and the SDF-3 is still M.I.A. This is the world that Justin Harris has been thrust into, and I'm interested in seeing how Chris deals with this dangerous time -- a time where an increasingly paranoid REF Command keeps stamping out unruly Zentraedi outposts and colonies as their true foes sit back and cackle wildly, a time where the defenders of Tirol and the Sentinels Alliance are stretched nearly to their breaking point across the cosmos -- and what the nature of the threat he'll be throwing these untested heroes and their relics against will be.
I haven't kept up with Chris Crosetto as much as I have with some of my other old RTMB compatriots, but I'm glad to have him writing for Emissaries -- very nice to see all the old familiar names throughout the 'zine. These days he can be found on the interweb at http://www.myspace.com/devilshunter_01. I'm also glad to hear from him that he really liked the issue. Those of you who've gotten it, what do YOU think? Drop me a line in the comments or send an e-mail to emissaries [at] hotmail.com.
Oh, and subscribers, remember, deadline for next issue is Saturday, April 8.