As the Earth reels from the destructive force unleashed in the last moments of the Zentradi invasion, rebellious aliens square off with Rick Hunter and the other defenders of the Earth. The book opens with the distant Robotech Masters, learning of the failures of their Zentradi servants to defeat the Earth. They prepare their own fleet to mobilize, and begin the long voyage to Earth (which will not end until the next book).
Back on Earth, Rick Hunter attends a meeting of high-level Earth authorities and Zentradi officials. Tensions between the giants and their human counterparts begin to manifest, as the warrior Zentradi culture chafes against the Earth's desire for peace. Some of the aliens have a harder time than others, as Rick observes. A seed of rebellion begins to grow...
Under a sheet of Alaskan ice, the flagship of Khyron, the former Zentradi warlord, lies buried. In it, Khyron and Azonia plot to reconstruct the Zentradi race, by assassinating Minmei, the symbol of Earth's culture. They begin to spread the word of their revolt to the "civilized" Zentradi dissidents, and their ranks grow.
Minmei's career continues, but the loss of Rick has made her melancholy, a theme which begins to pervade her work. In the absence of the clear purpose provided by an ongoing war, she has begun to lose focus. Lisa and Rick have begun to move closer together, the the ghost of Rick's affection for Minmei, which he refuses to deal with, stands in their way. Max and Miriya, meanwhile, have proven the ultimate compatibility of the human and Zentradi species; Miriya is pregnant, the first Zentradi to carry a baby since before their history records. They name their daughter Dana, though her true importance won't be apparent until the next book in the series.
The personal drama is overshadowed when Breetai suggests that the Zentradi's former rulers, the Robotech Masters, are likely on their way to Earth. Faced with unsettling prospect of another Robotech war, the UEG command begins to act to prepare to deal with the new threat. They test new spacefold engines based on the Zentradi design to replace those lost when the SDF-1 folded to Pluto. Breetai and the Earth forces battle a detachment of spacebound Zentradi loyalists under Reno; they distract their foe with demonstrations of love and images of the Sterling baby.
An attempt by Khyron's forces to steal micronization chambers from New Detroit is thwarted by the humans, enraging the warlord. Khyron plots to seize the chambers in a second raid, leading his forces himself. It becomes apparent that Khyron and Azonia share an attraciton, despite their overt dislike of MIcronian emotions.
At the site of the raid, Rick encounters protesters, both human and Zentradi, who complain about the involvement of the military. They are lead by Minmei's jealous cousin Lynn-Kyle. Khyron, observing the chaos chooses this moment to strike. Forces scramble to intercept the raiders, but too late: the second strike manages to retrieve the artifact. The coordination of the attack makes it apparent that the Earth faces a coordinated attack, not just random raiders and malcontents. Investigation reveals the insignia of Khyron's former Botoru Battalion.
Khyron begins using the chamber to re-enlarge disaffected Zentradi, arming them for war. His army swells. His forces capture Minmei and Lynn-Kyle, and hold them to ransom against the SDF-1. Rick leads Skull Squadron to free the captives, and succeeds in putting Khyron to flight. In the passion of the moment of reunion, Minmei expresses feelings for Rick; Lisa, upset, walks away.
Khyron relocates to the Amazon and begins planning another raid, this one directed at stealing the Earthlings' Protoculture matrix, which allows the manufacture of Protoculture-based weaponry. He seizes the item and sets the city of New Macross ablaze in the process. The SDFs 1 and 2 muster in the wreckage of Macross, and prepare for an attack; Khyron obliges, launching his fallen battlecruiser with the power obtained by the matrix. The half-completed SDF-2 is destroyed in the initial bombardment, leading Rick to worry that its commander, Lisa, might have died. The destroyer than turns it attention to the SDF-1, which mortally wounds the Zentradi vessel. Khyron and Azonia lock their crippled ship on to the SDF, and crash into the Earth vessel, destroying both ships with all hands.
In the aftermath, Rick finds Lisa, who escaped the destruction of the ship. The pair finally voice their love for one another. Minmei, who is in the area, sees this and finally lets Rick go. The pair, looking at the wreckage, vow to rebuild, knowing that the Robotech Masters are on their way with even greater machines of destruction. The First Robotech War finally ends.
Best part of story, including ending:
McKinney's skill with the mass-market format continues, as he is able to go beyond the television series to foreshadow coming events in the upcoming books in the Robotech series.
Best scene in story:
The apocalyptic finale pays off the first Robotech series adequately.
Opinion about the main character:
Rick has mostly finished character development at this point, and is an interesting and fully-formed character.