As the Super-Dimensional Fortress-1, with its hold full of human refugees, continues its return journey to Earth, Rick Hunter, newly enlisted as an ace Veritech pilot, defends the ship from the giant Zentradi aliens that seek to capture it. The book opens with Rick Hunter trying to chat up Minmei yet again, this time in his new Robotech Defense Force uniform. He is blocked by his friend and mentor Roy Fokker, who informs him that they are in a red-alert scramble, and also that Rick has been assigned to Roy's elite Skull Squadron. The fighters and ships deploy in the rings of Saturn in an attempt to turn the tables on their Zentradi pursuers. However, the Zentradi commander, Breetai, has anticipated the human strategy and attacks the SDF-1 with only a token force, putting the majority of his troops into an occupation of the human base on Mars, under the brilliant but unstable command of Warlord Khyron.
Click here to see the rest of this review
The Earth ships battle their way through the Zentradi and set a course for Mars, hoping to use the planet's base, dubbed "Sara," to resupply. Lisa is anxious to arrive, for Sara Base is the home to her fiancee Karl, and communications with the red planet have been cut off since the invasion began. The battlefortress lands on Mars, reaching solid ground for the first time since they left the Earth. Parties leave the SDF to explore the base; Lisa heads over as well, to check Karl's quarters, which she finds as abandoned as the rest of the base. Celebrations are cut short when the Zentradi battlepods attack. The ship quickly recalls all hands, but Lisa refuses the order, until Rick takes her out of the base against her will. The SDF launches and slips the Zentradi noose once again.
Rick is promoted to Lieutenant and given two subordinates, the brilliant but nerdy pilot Max Sterling and the oafish but loyal Ben Dixon. They get to know each other at a party thrown by Minmei for a brief time before the fighters are scrambled one again. Khyron has launched another offensive against the SDF-1, and, disobeying orders, he is using sufficient force to destroy the vessel. Breetai uses a remote override to force the errant warlord back into his place.
In New Macross, the town's mayor decides to hold a beauty pageant to lift morale. As Minmei is on stage singing, a Zentradi Cyclops scouting vessel is intercepting the transmissions. Rick, on patrol, manages to fend off the ship, which makes a puzzling report to the Zentradi high command; clearly, the sight and sound of a singing Minmei has perplexed the aliens. Breetai forms a plan to capture some the humans, called "Micronians" in their own language, for interrogation.
Rick, Ben, and Max escort Lisa in a Cat's Eye reconnaissance vessel during the next Zentradi attack. The Cat's Eye is shot down and crashes inside a Zentradi warship, and Rick's squad moves to help. Ben, Rick, and Lisa are captured and presumed dead, but Max manages to sneak away, in his intact Veritech. During their interrogation, the SDF crew learn that the Zentradi seek the return of the SDF-1, a ship they claim was stolen from them by a "Zor;" they also discover that the Zentradi armada is far vaster than initially thought, and that the giants are capable of reducing themselves in size using special chambers if the need arises. The session gets weird when the Zentradi, who live in a gender-segregated society which reproduces via cloning, demand that the humans demonstrate the "love" that the human transmissions speak of; when Rick and Lisa kiss, the Zentradi, including Breetai, his advisor Exedore, and high commander Dolza, flip out, believing it to be a secret human weapon.
Max rescues the others, but his Veritech is destroyed in the process. The four manage to work together to operate a battlepod. Meanwhile, female Zentadi ace Miriya inserts a set of "micronized" Zentradi into the SDF-1. As the humans on the battlepod approach their home ship. they are surrounded by Veritechs in attack formation. The book ends with the cliffhanger of whether or not the frantic communications attempts by Rick and crew will let their comrades know that they are friendly.
Best part of story, including ending:
Again, McKinney writes a well-paced mass-market action story, taking the rigid constraints of adapting a plot arc from the television program and adding details beyond what the reader would already know. The cliffhanger ending is super-cheap, though.
Best scene in story:
The episode on Mars, with Lisa's absent and dead fiancee, helps her character move from the rather shrewish and hectoring portrayal in Genesis to more of a rounded human being.
Opinion about the main character:
Rick's character continues to grow; although in Battle Cry he has accepted the necessity of using his talents for war to protect his friends, he is still rather callow, joining up at least in part to impress Minmei. Over the novel, he comes to grasp what is at stack in the existential war between the SDF-1 and the aliens.