The SDF-1 nears the end of its year-long journey back to Earth as Rick Hunter and his fellow pilots fight to fend off the giant Zentradi aliens that seek to capture the ship. The book picks up where Battle Cry ended, with Rick and company in a stolen Battlepod, surrounded by Veritechs from their own ship. The fighters, including Roy Fokker, refrain from destroying the Battlepod, instead opening it up cautiously. Rick, Ben, Max, and Lisa reintegrate into the life of the ship. The team's reconnaissance info proves something of a depressing item, however, as the RDF learns that the Zentradi fleet is much larger than anticipated.
Click here to see the rest of this review
Meanwhile, the Zentradi have inserted three "micronized" spies into the SDF-1 in the turmoil of battle. They are Rico, Bron, and Konda, the trio who manned the spy ship that intercepted the transmissions of the Miss Macross pageant. Their troubles hiding in human culture are played for comic relief; stealing clothes to blend in, Bron ends up in a skirt and pumps. The Zentradi, products of a wholly military culture, interpret the civilian life of New Macross through that lens, and are perplexed as a result. They do, however, find the singing of Minmei, the ship's burgeoning celebrity, oddly appealing.
The Zentradi warlord Khyron, presses the attack against the ship once again, and is thwarted by his female counterpart Azonia, as the SDF-1 finally begins to enter the Earth's atmosphere. Once the attack is done, the ship lands safely in the ocean, to the overwhelming joy of all aboard. However, Captain Gloval's entreaties to the United Earth Government receive noncommittal replies; for the time being, the soldiers and civilians of the SDF remain on the vessel.
Gloval and Lisa travel to the Grand Cannon, home of the UEG council, to try and convince them to enter into negotiations with the Zentradi fleet. The council, despite evidence of the overwhelming size of the Zentradi fleet, refuse diplomacy. Instead, the council orders the ship to leave the Earth, in the hopes of drawing the invaders off. The civilians are forbidden to disembark because the UEG has been lying to the Earth's population about the Zentradi, and the New Macrossians know the truth.
Elsewhere, Minmei visits her parents, along with her cousin Lynn-Kyle, who despises the military and treats Rick poorly as a result. Minmei desires to remain with the ship as a morale-booster, which causes concern among her parents and cousin. Lynn-Kyle is taken to the SDF along with Minmei, to Rick's chagrin.
While the SDF inhabitants go about their lives, Azonia and Khyron grow close, in an antagonistic way. Khyron deploys his forces for a new assault on the SDF-1; Azonia once again blocks him, with her ace female pilot, Miriya, in the lead. The Earth forces scramble Veritechs to join in the mix. Rick is in a dogfight with Miriya when the SDF, under Lisa's orders launches a missile barrage; he is caught in the explosion and seriously injured. As Rick lays unconscious, Lise confronts her growing feelings for the reckless pilot.
The Zentradi regroup and attack again after a brief period; Rick, still injured, has to sit the fight out. Miriya leads the attack but is engaged by the brilliant Max. The two skilled pilots fight an elaborate and inconclusive duel amongst the larger conflict. Roy is hurt in the attack, but shrugs off the attempt by medics to treat his seemingly-minor injuries, heading instead to visit his girlfriend Claudia, a bridge officer. Unfortunately, he is hemorrhaging internally, and he dies on the floor of her quarters. Lisa goes to New Macross to tell Rick the terrible news, and the book ends with Ricfm grieving the loss, and Gloval swearing to let Roy's death be among the last.
Best part of story, including ending:
McKinney has a good eye for description and a sense for the spaces for expansion created in a literary adaptation of a television property.
Best scene in story:
Roy's death of a hemorrhage on the SDF is sad, but in a way rooted in the growing emotional weight of the series.
Opinion about the main character:
Rick Hunter, by this novel, has grown a lot as a person; while he is still cocky, the responsibilities of command have shaped him into a more dependable officer. The death of Roy, at the end of the novel, is a major event for him; in the next novel, as he copes with the loss of his role model, he matures further.