Victory or Death (Paid in Blood)
With the entirety of humanity at stake the Southern Cross readies for an all-or-nothing attempt to drive back the Robotech Masters before it is too late.
In order to be reunited with Tracy, Captain Mace offers a deal to the General. Banks accepts and Mace is released to return to duty, but has been busted back down to the rank of Private, making him technically the lowest ranking member of the squadron, though in reality most of the squadron still treats him as the commander, taking his advice over most things Cavalier has to say. Meanwhile a major Southern Cross space offensive against the Robotech Masters is nearly destroyed and must retreat to the Moon.
The Southern Cross plans a second offensive and the 21st is sent to Queensland Base to help protect the space fleet that will be launching from there. Mace notes how a lot of the officers assigned to the second wave are senior personnel that disagree with the policies of the Supreme Commander. Among those being sent into space is Bullseye's foster father. Despite security efforts the fleet is ambushed and nearly destroyed, only escaping thanks to help from the remnants from the first wave that launch from the Moon to assist.
The relentless attacks from the Wolfe Creek mothership continue across Australia. The 21st are attacked by a new group of Bioroids, the deadly Triumverate Invid Fighters. Reaper is killed and Bullseye wounded in the battle.
Due to recent security breaches the Global Military Police begin extensive screenings of all Southern Cross personnel. Brig. Gen. Banks takes great pleasure when the investigations reveal a number of the transgressions committed by members of the 21st. He assembles the whole squadron and reveals many of the details of the screening, including O.L.'s criminal background and that Snoop has apparently been regularly hacking into the military's top secret computer systems. Cavalier at first shares in the General's glee, believing himself to be safe, but his emotions turn to rage when he finds out the GMP have uncovered the source of his money and assumes (probably accurately) that former squadron member Mark Andrews had ratted on him. General Banks has the entire squadron confined to quarters.
After a few days of confinement the squadron awakens in the middle of the night when the fire alarm goes off. The fire is in Snoop's room and once it is out they find that he has gone missing. Snoop apparently overpowered one of the military police and escaped, after stacking all of his files and computer equipment in the middle of his room and setting it on fire to destroy it. Brains manages to recover a few damaged hard drives before the GMP blocks off the scene. As a result of Snoop's escape the GMP throws the rest of the squadron in the stockade.
As the 21st sits in jail the war continues to go poorly for the Southern Cross. Supreme Commander Leonard decides to devote all of his remaining forces in a last ditch attack against the enemy fleet in orbit. The 21st are released from the stockade to participate in the final assault. Captain Mace is restored to his old rank and position and the 21st are sent off to Queensland Base, where they will be sent up into space for the attack.
Shortly after the 21st have departed Dundee Base the Wolfe Creek mothership takes to the air. From a distance the squadron can only watch as Dundee Base is completely annihilated. They conceal themselves as the mothership passes overhead on its way to Queensland Base. The Captain immediately sends a warning to Queensland, just as the squadron begins picking up faint distress calls from Darwin. It appears that the mothership launched a massive Bioroid attack on the city shortly after destroying Dundee. The Captain decides that since the 21st could never make it to Queensland before the mothership they should head to Darwin and assist the Civil Defense and Tactical Corps forces there.
In Darwin the 21st sees that the Robotech Masters have held nothing back. In addition to Bioroids attacking, the enemy forces also include unarmored infantry, drug-crazed soldiers being sent on suicidal attacks in order to cause maximum devastation. The 21st engages several Bioroid squadrons and Thumper is killed while Shark's hovertank is destroyed. Cavalier's survival instinct kicks in and he tries to flee to battle, but he is killed by a sniper shot to the head. The shot was fired by Major Mitchel, the commander of Gryphon Squad, who had been in the city when the attack began. Gryphon Squad has a plan to take out the enemy mothership and wants the 21st's help. The Captain agrees and the squadron, with Shark taking the dead Cavalier's tank, prepare to make a desperate attempt at halting the total destruction of Australia.
Using a Robotech Masters Assault Corvette previously captured by Gryphon Squad the 21st and the special forces team manage to get aboard the mothership (which has already destroyed Queensland Base and is now bearing down towards Alice Springs and the Pine Gap communications base). Being onboard the ship where she was held has brought back some of Tracy's memories and she manages to give pointers on where the group should go to cause the most damage.
The two teams manage to get far into the depths of the massive ships without apparent detection before they reach a point where they can no longer proceed in their mecha. Concealing the vehicles the group continues on foot and eventually come across a massive Ancient Roman-like city deep within the enemy vessel. The city is strangely deserted, something Tracy says should not be the case. The group is spotted by security and a firefight ensues where Lt. Osaka and Lt. Winfield of Gryphon Squad are killed. The teams evade the security and move from the city back into the more conventional areas of the ship.
With the mothership's security aware of their presence the group is soon ambushed by a squadron of Bioroid Terminators. Copycat is killed immediately and the others flee with their attackers in pursuit. Soon Sgt. Stavenger from Gryphon Squad is killed and Major Mitchel risks himself to retrieve the Sergeant's backpack. When he too takes fatal hit his last action is to hand the pack to Captain Mace, who discovers it contains a the warhead of a Russian nuclear missile, complete with a rigged detonator.
The remaining members of the 21st make a desperate break for where they left their hovertanks with enemy security forces in pursuit. En route a security barrier of crisscross metal bars snaps into place, pinning Captain Mace to the floor through the leg and cutting off Tracy and Prom Queen from the rest of the squadron. Knowing that the three of them are doomed the Captain orders the others to get back to the tanks and get out as fast as they can. He and Tracy will hold off the Terminators long enough for the rest to escape, and to buy enough time for engineer Prom Queen to get the bomb ready for detonation. The others hesitate but the Captain makes his order plain enough, they must escape so the deaths of everyone else on the mission will not be in vain.
The remaining members of the 21st race to the hovertanks, taking what supplies they can from the tanks being left behind before setting the self-destructs on those mecha to further cover their escape. With stealth no longer a necessity the 21st gun their tanks at full speed for any point on the outer edge of the ship before making their own door. The tankers run their mecha out the hole at full speed, putting as much horizontal distance between themselves and the mothership as possible before switching to Battloid mode for the long fall to the ground.
As they fall the 21st watches as the mothership continues on its path before being eclipsed in a brilliant nuclear flash. The crumbling shell disintegrates into millions of pieces that tumble down onto the Australian Outback as the 21st desperately work to slow their fall. Thanks to emergency systems installed by Brains, the tanks survive the impromptu sky dive, landing in the desert at debris rains down. Looking around at the devastation surrounding them, the surviving members of the Blackjacks; Lost Boy, Bullseye, Shark, Punchout, Tank Girl, Ortega, Brains and O.L., wonder what else has survived Earth's last stand.
Next: Before the Storm
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