EMISSARIES WEEK - Robotech: The Regulators Chapter Seven

Robotech: The Regulators
Book 1: Legacy
by Ian Melton


“When you stare at the mirror, whatever is behind your eyes stares back.”

Admiral Instinct, when asked about
Earth Security Telepath Coordinator Dr. Gerring

How does a man see himself when he sleeps? Often visions of his perfection and idealized goals can materialize, but the ruin and failure he carries with him can also appear. For Zol it was always both. He saw himself at the beginning, before the Masters, before the Elders, before Robotechnology. He remembered his small beard, how it had itched. He remembered his wife, her beauty. He remembered his son, his precious Zor. His perfect son still echoed in his mind from before. Before the fall of the Republic, before Protoculture, before his death ... his mind could be found there, and after that? He could be found there too. The experiments, the cloning, the clone bodies ... Zol could look to his hands, feet, bald head, but he could not remember which clone body this was. How many had he had? How many times had he been reborn? How many had he killed since then as the Elders’ “joke”? Questions like this kept him eternally awake, except for those instances where “death” forced him to a new home, a new body. During that time while the new body adjusted, and as insanity dulled, his mind was forced to recall the past. It hurt, so he tried not to recall the pain, but focus on the hate. It was all he had left that was tangible.

* * *

The hatch opened slowly, dreadfully slow to Mara, like Zol wanted them to wait. When she arrived to accompany Kang he had been quick to greet her, brief her, and go. She liked that about the Commander, especially since he was male. While the concept of love was foreign to Mara, what she felt for Kang was close, and also close to immense respect. Such feelings did not have a sexual connotation; sex was something she did with inferiors. Her feelings for Kang were more pure, as were her feelings for Zol.

Zol was as Mara always remembered him, dark and bald, but unlike the Robotech Masters his features were more rounded and somewhat angled in the ears and around the eyes. His eyes, though, were always surrounded by shadows, and Mara had never once seen the color of his eyes. His garb was more Zentraedi-like than Tiresian-like, tight to the body, black, and with no capes. Practical clothing, like a warrior should wear.

“Kang. Mara. Why are you here?” Zol spoke with scorn.

Around Zol stood three eight foot tall clone Terminator units, each carrying a large rifle, swords at their sides. Besides being notable for their height, for Tiresian clones, they wore black angular armor with large visor-domed helmets that were open in the back, allowing their long purple hair to hang out. Mara wondered how Zol thought these “ants” would protect him from Kang or herself if they took Zol’s tone seriously, but she dismissed the thought as Kang lowered his head.

“We have come to report.” Kang’s slow words and bowed head were not meant to show true respect but to feed Zol’s ego. As turbulent allies that needed each other, Kang was willing to be humble to the little idiot ... if it would win the war.

“Report what?” Zol raised his eyebrow. It was very noticeable with his shaved head reflecting the light of the room.

“The location of the son of Zor, and what his plans are.” Kang smiled, his head facing down but his eyes peered up to try to catch Zol’s face.

Zol sneered. “Why would I care to be told what I already know?” Mara’s shock and Kang’s disgust amused Zol so he continued. “I am well aware of his location. My soldiers reported it as soon as he broke orbit.” Kang remained irritated; Mara became angry. “In addition I know where he is going and we’ve been able to predict when he’ll make it to Tirol.”

Kang gritted his teeth, he knew what was coming next.

“Kang, I want you and your subordinates--” Kang peered an eye toward Mara and then looked back at the bowing Zentraedi, “--to join me in Tirolian orbit. I want a larger compliment of ships then what we normally send to subdue a planet.”

“Your men alone can’t handle the Son of Zor?” Mara asked.

Zol whirled around and screamed at the Zentraedi duo. “Do not refer to him as my son’s son! He is a curse, a freak ... an abomination!!”

“Aren’t we all?” Just because it was the truth didn’t stop Zol’s anger.

“It won’t matter once we destroy them and retake the SDF-5!”

“That still doesn’t answer why you need both our forces ...”

Zol smiled. “We have intercepted another communication to Karbarra from Earth.” He stopped speaking and turned away from Kang and Mara and waited for the knowledge to sink in.

“The Son of Zor left Garuda to come to Tirol because ... the humans are coming here!” Mara’s eyes seem alit with joy and malice.

The tone pleased Zol enough he did not scream again about the choice of words. “They come here ... with their new ship. What they hope to find--” Zol’s eyes gazed toward the screen where Fantoma shone with brilliance in the background. In the foreground though, dominating the screen was a broken and battered orb. Marks and devastation were visible on Tirol from orbit. Large craters could be seen outside the former capital. Zol looked away. “--I doubt they will find.”

* * *

Tirol had nothing left. The cities were mostly craters now, scenes of great destruction; the roads led nowhere. The planet was marred. No Tiresians could be seen on its streets. The once proud cradle of one of the greatest spacefaring races--or butchers, depending on who you were--had no one left to call it home.

They did not call it home. It was theirs’ to protect, but they did not allow themselves to call it home. They had not yet repented enough. The Traitors kept their eye on the husk of Tirol, waiting for their pardon. When the time had come ... it seemed so long ago ... they had chosen badly, and paid the price. Now they were the lone sentries, the few remaining Tiresians, who still stood on its shore. But they did not call it home. They were not allowed.

Before, when Zol had come, they had chosen to rally back to the banner of conquest that the Robotech Masters had held so high. In doing so they had lost all individuality, been reduced to mere clone stock for Zol’s Bioroid army. The Son of Zor had freed them and told them that they were traitors with a chance to atone. They adopted the name the Traitors and promised to defend Tirol to the death against Zol ... until the Son of Zor returned to liberate the planet.

They were still waiting while Zol’s ships hung in orbit. At least three large orbital ships were always visible from the surface, low enough to retaliate against any presence on the surface. The Bioroids were often dispatched when the Traitors’ presence was spotted. They had gotten good, though, at avoiding the Bioroids, at hiding and waiting. When they had to, they would attack, blow the Bioroids from the skies and watch their giant red frames crash to the ground, the clone pilots’ screams always audible. They tried not to think about it; tried not to dwell on whether they were clones of themselves or whether they were just clones. It made the fights easier, but the high-pitched clone screams were always haunting. Only one had killed himself because the screams were too much. The rest hung on, endured the high pitch wine every time they went into battle, and waited for the day the Son of Zor would return.

Continued in Emissaries Vol. 2 Issue 2 ...

Ian Melton was the first friend I made on the internet, thanks to the magic and wonder of the ol' Robotech Message Board, as well as the fact that he had some ROBOTECH comic back issues I desperately needed. Over the course of the past several years, he and I have racked up considerable phone bills chatting about ROBOTECH, Transformers, comic books, and our personal miseries and triumphs. We spent two or three glorious days wandering the streets of Tokyo together, gleefully browsing through manga shops and toy stores, piling up stacks of Japanese-language artbooks and manga. We watched Transformers: The Movie together on a laptop in a cramped Japanese hotel room, probably the hundredth time both of us had seen the flick, but hey, any excuse to do it again is a good excuse. Over one spring break, we jointly jammed the complete history of the Transformers franchise into my friend Levi's brain during long car rides throughout Ian's neck of the woods up in the Pacific northwest. I suffered some overzealous hospitality to attend the man's wedding; I was happy to be there for such a joyous occasion in his life, but on top of that it was worth it to go to a real life wedding and hear "Together" from Robotech II: The Sentinels during the reception. Good times, man. Good times.

Way back in the distant past, when I was in high school and the only way I knew Ian was through words on a computer monitor, he mailed to me a rough printed copy of the first chapter or so of The Regulators, his fanfic sequel to the ROBOTECH novels by Jack McKinney. Taking their lead from both those novels and the comics derived from them, specifically Jason & John Waltrip's Legend of Zor and Bill Spangler & Tim Eldred's Invid War, Ian has brilliantly set the stage for a new conflict by identifying and drawing out the remaining loose ends of the ROBOTECH saga as chronicled by Daley & Luceno, liberally throwing his own mad ideas into the pot, and doing a nice slow burn on the whole thing that intrigues as things escalate out of control and the ROBOTECH universe so many of us are familiar with from those twenty-one novels is shaken to its core. Seven chapters in, and already the playing field has changed -- relationships have been tested, a world has fallen, the government has proven its incompetence once again, and numerous new players have joined the action. It may seem all new and strange to you, but there's a recap to get you up to speed in every issue of Emissaries, and besides that, when was the last time you jumped into the deep end of a fiction pool, picking up names and relationships through context, laughing as you make foolish assumptions and are proven wrong? I don't know about you, but I always found that fun when I was a carefree youth. Honestly, I think we could all use a little more of that. Trust me, so far this has been a blast, and every time I get another chapter, it never disappoints.

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More tomorrow!


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