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Star Fox: Rise From The Ashes
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Star Fox: Rise From The Ashes
I've started looking back and smothing over some of the earlier scenes. so today i worked on the scene where Fox first calls Krystal in chapter 2 and when Fox eplains his reasons for splitting the team in chaper 3

First the call scene
“We head back to the Great Fox and regroup. Rob track down Peppy… and Krystal.”
Back on the Great Fox, Fox and Wolf docked their fighters and, after a very awkward elevator ride, arrived on the bridge.
“Rob, status” Fox said and began pacing.
“I am still unable to establish communications with Peppy, but I have succeeded in contacting Krystal.” Rob reported. Fox stopped pacing. He took a deep breath and braced himself.
“Put her through.” He said. Krystal appeared on the main viewing screen. “Krystal.”
“Fox,” her voice was cold. Fox tried to speak but the words wouldn’t come. He turned to Falco and Wolf.
“Can you two give us a minute?” He asked.
“Why?” Krystal said, “I’m sure whatever you need to say can-”
“Krystal, please,” Fox cut her off.
“We’ll be outside” Falco said and he and Wolf the bridge.
“Where do you get off just calling me up out of the blue?” Krystal said the second the doors where closed.
“No! You just throw me out of your life-”
“That’s not fair.”
“Who are you to decide?!”
“You think this was easy for me?!”
“You turned your back on me!”
“Only so you wouldn’t see me broken!” There was a silence
Outside, Falco and Wolf were listening at the door when Slippy walked up.
“What’s goin on?” He asked.
“Lover-boy in there is tryin to patch things up with Krystal.” Wolf said.
“Will you two be quiet?” Falco said, “I’m trying to hear!”
“Making you leave was the hardest decision I've ever made.” Fox said.
“Then why’d you do it?” Krystal asked.
“I thought I was protecting you.”
“What are you talking about?”
“It’s not important. Look Krystal… I really need your help here. If you’re not ready to forgive me, I understand, but frankly we’ve got bigger problems. Corneria is under attack and I need my team.”
“You don’t have a team anymore Fox, remember?” Fox hung his head, defeated. Suddenly the bridge door opened behind him.
“Slippy!” Falco yelled, “You leaned on the button!” Rob broke in before Fox could say anything.
“Fox, I have located Peppy but his situation is… unsettling.”
“What are you talking about?” Falco asked welcoming this interruption.
“Peppy has been trapped by a cave-in of the building he chose to take refuge in. He is physically unharmed but the building could collapse at any moment.”
“That’s not good.” Slippy said.
“How much time to we have Rob?” Fox asked.
“Approximately thirty to forty-five minutes.” Rob informed them.
“I’m going to have to go ground-side for this one.” Fox said pacing again. His mind had changed gears completely.
“You want a hand?” Wolf asked.
“No,” Fox replied. “I’m gonna need you and Falco in the air covering me”
“Fine with me, I prefer the air” Falco said.
“Slippy, you find a way to take these things out.”
“You bet Fox. It’ll feel good to be back in the lab again.”
“I’m coming to help.” Krystal said. This stopped Fox in his tracks. “I can’t sit and do nothing.”
“Thank you.” Fox took a breath and composed himself. “Alright, we don’t have much time so we need to move, now” he said. “Rob, is Falco’s ship fit to fly?”
“Affirmative, the hull damage has been repaired and the shields are at eighty percent.” Rob replied.
“You work fast.” Wolf commented.
“Prep all ships for launch. Hang in there Peppy, we’re coming.” Fox said. As he turned to leave Krystal stopped him.
“Fox,” He turned to her. “One more chance” and the screen went black.
Fox, Falco, and Wolf left the bridge and, after another awkward elevator ride, arrived in the hanger, hopped in their ships, and took off.

And the explination scene

“I think I owe all of you an explanation.” Fox told them of a conversation he had with Peppy shortly after he was made general.
“So what’s up Peppy?” Fox asked leaning back on the table.
“I’ve got some… disturbing, information you need to know.” Peppy responded. Fox cocked his head.
“What are you talking about?” he said.
“There’s a price on your head Fox.” Peppy said grimly. Fox laughed.
“So? What else is new? There’s always been a price on the team Peppy.”
“No Fox, there’s a price on YOUR head, yours and everyone else on the team.” Fox stood up.
“Whoever ordered this hit really wants you gone. As a team, no single bounty hunter would be stupid enough to take you on but if they can collect by just taking down one of you… they may get a little braver.” Peppy said
“Dang it!” Fox shouted and slammed his fist on the table. He began pacing. “What am I gonna do Peppy?”
“That… is a decision I can’t make for you.”
“That’s the story…” Fox said. He was sitting leaned forward, his elbows on his knees. “I didn’t do anything right away, but then you left Falco, I mean, you always leave when things get slow.” Falco laughed. “When you left, the bounty on your head disappeared… that’s when I made my decision… there’s no way I could lose you guys. Falco, when dad disappeared and mom got sick you were always there.”

So there they are. Not neccicarly major changes but they make the story flow a little better. Be sure to tell me what you think:)

Star Fox: Rise From The Ashes
I like, I like! Very nice!


Star Fox: Rise From The Ashes
Chapter 9: The Life of Krystal Westwind

Krystal was falling through darkness. Ghostly images where hovering around her. She couldn’t make them out but they felt familiar and alien all at once. “You’re inside your own mind,” she kept reminding herself, but the more she fell, the less control she had over her own thoughts. Memories washed over her like water and her emotions betrayed her. The day she fell for Fox, the day he pushed her away, the pain and sorrow of those two long years. She began to sob. She had to fight this.
Suddenly she stopped falling. She felt solid ground below her. The darkness around her was changing, taking forms. In a matter of seconds she was in a living room. She looked around confused. There was a coffee table in the middle of the room with pictures on it. She reached for one but her hand passed through it, so she bent over to look at it. There were three people in it, a man a women and a little girl. She recognized her parents so the girl must have been her but the picture was not familiar. Her entire life before the age of 10 was a blank. That’s why didn’t even know her parent’s names. She heard a door open and turned to see a younger Krystal, maybe 7, walk in. Her mind was reeling. Was this an actual memory? And if so, what triggered them? She followed herself into the kitchen. She watched as her younger self picked up a note from the table. Krystal walked up behind her and read it over her shoulder. It was from her mom.
“Dad and I had to go into work. Miss Williams is home if you need anything. We will see you at dinner around nine.”
The young Krystal sighed and turned around, walking straight through Krystal and tossed the note in the trash. She was starting to remember. Her parents worked all the time and she almost never saw them. It never really bothered her when she was little though. All of her friends had to do chores and she could do whatever she wanted.
The world around her began to change again. When it rematerialized, she was still in her house. She had caught a glimpse of a calendar on the fridge before the world shifted and quickly went to check it again. About a year had passed. The front door opened and she moved back to the other room. Tomas and Sarah rushed in leaving the door open.
“I’ll grab what we need,” Tomas said frantically. “You get Krystal and her stuff.” Sarah took off up the stairs. Krystal followed her.
“Krystal?” Sarah called. “Honey, are you there?”
“I'm here mom,” a girl’s voice answered. Sarah turned a corner and Krystal followed her into a very pink room. Krystal couldn’t help but think about how cliché the room was. “I don’t even like pink” She thought aloud. Sarah was digging around in the closet.
“What’s going on mom?” The young Krystal asked.
“We’re going on a little vacation, but we need to leave now.” Sarah responded. Krystal knew she wasn’t going to learn anything here. She left the room and headed back downstairs to find Tomas. On the way she wondered why she could see things she wasn’t present to remember. She guessed it had something to do with her telepathy. She found her dad shoving clothes into a duffle bag and two suitcases. Something in the room was beeping. Tomas moved to a comm. unit on the wall. A man Krystal didn’t know appeared on the screen.
“I'm moving as fast as I can Glenn.” Tomas said before the man could even speak.
“Well you’re running out of time.” Glenn said. “I’ll pick you up there in five minutes. We can’t afford to wait any longer.”
“How did that blasted ape find us out?”
“We’re still trying to figure it out but we have bigger things to worry about.”
“How is the evacuation coming?”
“We’ve got three passenger vessels off the ground and three more loading at the docks.”
“If only we had more time.”
“Well we don’t Tomas… I hate it to, but we just don’t… Cerinia is lost.” Glenn hung his head. Tomas, who had still been frantically packing, sat down on the bed defeated. Krystal heard footsteps coming down the stairs. Tomas stood and moved quickly to the comm. unit.
“Are you almost here?” He asked Glenn
“I can see your house now.” Glenn responded.
“Good, don’t say anything to Krystal,” he said, almost pleading. “She’s so young.”
“Of course,” Glenn said.
“Thank you.” Tomas cut the comm. off and went back to the bags. He zipped them up, threw the duffel bag over his shoulder, and grabbed the two suitcases. As he ran from the room the world was shifting again. Krystal was standing in a street. She watched as her parents came out of their house, practically dragging Krystal behind them and quickly got onto the shuttle that Krystal guessed Glenn was piloting. She watched it fly away. She expected the world to fade away again but it did not. Instead she began rising into the air. She turned around and her stomach turned. Not two miles away the rolling hills and endless suburbs gave way to a rift of death and fire. What wasn’t burning was already gone. An armada of huge ships was razing the planet. They were killing her home. Horrible screams of pain were resonating inside her head. Krystal wailed in sorrow and agony. The world fell away again but this time she was left in darkness. Krystal was thankful for this chance to collect herself. She needed to think. “Who did this,” was the first question to cross her mind, but she already knew.
“Andross,” She whispered to the darkness. “But why didn’t I remember?” Almost as if to answer her question the darkness began to shift again. She was standing in a small room. A single light bulb hung from the ceiling. In the middle of the room there was a small table with four people sitting at it. On one side sat Tomas and Sarah. On the other side, Glenn, and another person Krystal didn’t know. For some reason, Tomas looked ready to explode.
“He knows you survived,” the man was saying, “and he will hunt you down and destroy you if you don’t let us protect you.”
“So you just expect us to walk out on out nine-year-old daughter?!” Tomas shouted.
“Tomas please,” Sarah pleaded. Tomas relaxed his posture but his eyes still burned with rage.
“Life on the run is not something someone her age should go through.” Glenn said.
“Krystal will be taken care of, I assure you.” The unknown man said.
“We really don’t have much choice.” Sarah said.
“You’re really ok with this?” Tomas asked.
“Of course not,” Sarah said as tears began to fall. “But if this is what’s best for Krystal… She’ll never have a life if were on the run.”
“Your right,” Tomas said. The world faded away again. The next few memories came as flashes. Her parents telling her they had to leave, her begging them not to go, the last time she saw them as they walked away. Then the darkness formed once again. She was in a dark room. This was where she was to stay while her parents were gone. Suddenly a shadow slipped in the door. She watched as it quietly made its way to the bed in the corner. It pulled out a cloth and pulled back the sheets. Krystal saw herself in the bed. Suddenly her eyes shot open and she opened her mouth to scream. In one swift motion the shadow had pinned her to the bed by her throat and held the cloth over her nose and mouth. The room slowly faded.
Once again the darkness formed. She saw herself unconscious on a hospital bed from what she guessed was an observation room. A door opened behind her. Two people she didn’t know walked in. One was a doctor and the other looked military. He wore a nametag that read “Simmons.”
“What’s her condition?” Simmons asked.
“Stable sir, there’s not a scratch on her except a small needle prick in her right forearm. We did some blood tests and they reviled an unknown substance. We were unable to determine what exactly it was.” The doctor replied.
“How did you find her?”
“She was awake and wondering the streets.”
“And she was the only survivor?”
“Yes sir.”
“Who is she?”
“All we know is her first name, Krystal. That’s all she remembers.”
“I see…” Simmons sighed.
“Sir, this is just a guess on my part, but I think whoever attacked the colony did this to her on purpose.”
“You don’t think it was just shock from the attack?”
“Even if it was, why would she be spared?” Simmons sighed again. The doctor continued. “You see those markings on her arm? There are more on her thigh.”
“What about them?”
“At first we thought they were tattoos, but their birthmarks.”
“Well sir, she’s from Cerinia. Those marks mean she’s a telepath.”
“How do you know all this?”
“Medical records sir. The Cerinians weren’t exactly secluded.”
“What was a Cerinian doing there?”
“We’re not sure. By our records, there were no Cerinians in the colony at all.”
“I see… I need to report to my superiors.”
“If you don’t mind me asking, what will happen to her?”
“We’ll take care of her. Give her food, a place to live. She’ll start over. It’s all she can do.”
“I see.” The world fell away again. Krystal was left in darkness. So that was it, the whole story. Andross had taken everything from her, twice if her hunch was right. He was probably after her all along. She had been his scapegoat and she had played the part perfectly.
The house that she remembered growing up in had been part of a military subdivision on a small colony world. Her neighbors had been very nice but she had always felt like something was missing. The man who lived next to her, Steven Porter was very kind, and almost felt like a father to her. He was the one who really raised her. He was also the one who had taught her how to fight. When she was sixteen he had gave her a staff, one that had been passed down in his family.
“I’ve no one else to give it to,” Steven had told her, “and I believe you’ve earned it.” A week later he was called to duty in the war against Andross and Krystal never saw him again. She remained there for only two more years. Then she set off in search of her parents. Another two years later she received the distress signal from Sauria.
“This is my story,” she said aloud. The darkness fell away around her as she slowly started to wake up.

Chapter 10: Star Fox Reborn

Krystal blinked as the room slowly came into focus. Where was she? She glanced around without moving her head. She was lying in a bed in the med bay of the Great Fox. Fox was sitting next to her facing towards the foot of the bed. He was asleep, his head lolled off to one side and his arm resting on the bed. Krystal pulled her arm out from under the sheets and slid her hand in his. Fox didn’t stir. Krystal smiled to herself and drifted off to sleep.
Fox woke in a daze. His neck was killing him and for some reason he couldn’t move his left arm. He glanced at it and was surprised to see his arm under Krystal’s. He looked over at her. She was sound asleep, her chest slowly, rhythmically rising and falling. He carefully retrieved his arm from hers, so as not to wake her, then stood and stretched. He made his way to the mess hall and found it deserted. There was half a pot of coffee left in the pot. Fox touched it with the back of his hand… cold. He sighed but poured a cup anyways and set it in the microwave. He was trying to remember if the pot could be from yesterday morning or last night when the timer went off and he stopped caring. He pulled it out and took a sip. “Perfect” he sighed as he pulled out a chair and sat down. He sipped his coffee and tried to work out the kink in his neck as he reflected on the past day’s events.
Wolf had managed to take out the comm. relay on the mother ship rather quickly and one it was gone all the drones ceased functioning, their momentum carrying them into debris, each other, into the mother ship, and a few into the hull of the Station. James has done his job perfectly, destroying any fighter that even looked at the Sky-Claw. After the battle, Rob had brought the Great Fox in range and Falco had used the remote auto-pilot to bring the Sky-Claw back in. Once on board, Tomas had carried Krystal to the med bay where she was now.
Falco stepped into the mess hall pulling Fox back to the present.
“Mornin” Fox said.
“Mornin,” Falco yawned. “You sleep in the med bay last night?”
“Yea, my neck is killing me.”
“You could have at least got in the other bed ya know.”
“I intended to.”
“How is she?”
“I think she’s fine. When I woke up she was holding my hand so I think she came to sometime last night and went back to sleep.”
“That’s good.” Falco had fixed his own coffee and was now sitting across from Fox.
“So did you and Katt talk last night?” Fox asked. Falco took a sip of his coffee. They had talked, in the hanger late last night. Katt had been cleaning her pistol, even though she hadn’t fired a shot that day, and Falco had gone down to clean his own. When he walked in Katt looked up at him and, to his amazement, smiled. Falco moved to the workbench next to her and started stripping his pistol. After a small silence Falco broke the ice.
“Hey, Katt,” he said.
“Mmm,” she responded, a little absent-mindedly.
“I think we should… uh… you know, talk” He managed. Katt put her pistol down, turned to him, and leaned on the workbench.
“So, talk,” she said. Falco took a deep breath and set his pistol down.
“Well… uh… wow I suck at this.” Katt laughed him off.
“You don’t have to say anything Falco.” She told him.
“Yeah I do.” He started pacing but quickly stopped. It might have worked for Fox but it didn’t help him at all. “Look,” he finally said. “You are the best thing that’s ever happened to me and,” he broke off. Katt walked over to Him.
“Just stop,” she said with a smile, “you’re gonna hurt yourself.” And the next thing Falco knew they were kissing. The entire world fell away around him as he held her in his arms. When they broke apart a good while later Katt said, “We haven’t done that in a very long time.” Falco laughed. They went back to cleaning their pistols and spent the next few hours catching up.
“You still there Falco,” Fox called, pulling Falco out of his memories.
“What? Oh, yeah… Yeah, we talked.” Fox grinned and started to say something but Falco cut him off, “Don’t, ok? Just don’t.” Then they both laughed. Fox stood, draining the last of his coffee, and walked over to the sink. “Are you about to head over and check on Krystal?” Falco asked.
“I was thinking about starting breakfast.” Fox replied.
“I’ll do it.”
“I must say, I have missed your cooking.”
“I ain’t a five star chef or nothing like that.”
“Humility, that’s new. Who are you, and what have you done with Falco?”
“Can it, Foxy.” Fox laughed.
“That’s more like it.” Fox left the mess hall and made his way to the med bay. He took the lift to the level below. When the doors slid open, Krystal was standing there. He stepped out of the lift and pulled her into his arms. She returned his embrace.
“How are you feeling?” He asked.
“Great, you won’t believe what I found out.” She replied, shifting back so she could look at him.
“What do you mean?”
“Something yesterday unlocked my past. I remember everything now.”
“Are you serious?”
“Completely,” She was beaming.
“Well, tell me everything!”
“Not yet, I wanna wait for mom and dad. Plus I'm starving.” Fox laughed.
“Fair enough, Falco just started breakfast.”
“It’s been a long time since I’ve eaten Falco’s cooking” They heard a door slide open behind them and Katt walked out rubbing her eyes.
“Katt,” Krystal shouted, Katt jumped but recovered quickly.
“Krystal, you’re awake!” They hugged, and as they separated, Katt pushed Krystal playfully saying “Don’t scare me like that!” They both laughed.
“Sorry,” Krystal said.
“Mornin Fox,” Katt said finally noticing him.
“Mornin Katt,” Fox said pressing the lift call button to open the doors again, “Sleep good?”
“Yep,” She beamed. They all got on the lift and headed for the mess hall. When they arrived they found Falco hard at work on breakfast.
“Well,” he said over his shoulder as they walked in. “Look who’s up!” Krystal laughed.
“Wanna hand Falco?” Fox asked.
“Sure why not,” He responded. For the next thirty minutes Fox was in heaven. They spent the time trading old stories and playful insults while Fox and Falco cooked. After a while Slippy joined them followed shortly by James. They each greeted Krystal and James offered to help Fox.
“I dunno dad,” Fox said, “I think there was a good reason mom kept you out of the kitchen.”
“Yea,” Falco added, “Remember when you set that frying pan on fire?”
“He did what now?” Peppy said coming in on the end of the conversation.
“I didn’t know they came with those blasted films on them, so yes I managed to set a frying pan on fire. Sue me.” James said in a mock-frustrated tone. The room shared a laugh.
Before long, breakfast was done and Sarah, Tomas, Wolf, and Beltino had made their way to the mess hall. As they ate they talked and laughed.
“So Krystal,” Peppy said, “what do you think set off those headaches yesterday?”
“Mmm,” she swallowed. “Sorry about that. I’m really not sure, but whatever did it unlocked my past.”
“Really,” Katt said, “that’s great!”
“So you remember everything?” Tomas asked, staring at his plate.
“Dad, it’s ok. You and mom did what you had to.” Tomas looked up. Krystal smiled at him and he couldn’t help but smile back.
“Well come on, tell us!” Falco said.
“Alright, when I was eight years old, Andross burned my home, Cerinia, to the ground.” She started. She told them everything. How they sent her parents into hiding and left her behind so she could have a life. How she lived by herself for the next two years. How she was abducted from her own home in the middle of the night. How she woke up in the charred remains of a colony she didn’t know. How the local military found her and took care of her, and about Steven Porter. At this Peppy interrupted.
“Steven? I knew him. So you were the young girl he always talked about.”
“You knew him?” Krystal asked.
“Yep, Steven was a good man.”
“He died repelling Andross’ initial attack on Corneria.”
“I’d feared as much.”
“He died defending his home Krystal. No soldier can ask for more than that.” Krystal was silent for a moment.
“Do you know who took you?” Sarah asked.
“… Andross… It had to be. I was his backup plan… and I played the part perfectly. He needed me to not know so I would blindly chase any lead about my past.”
“He played us both,” Fox said, “Don’t be so hard on yourself.” Krystal smiled at him. There was a few seconds of silence that was finally broken but Rob over the intercom.
“General Peppy, you have an incoming transmission from fleet command.”
“I told him not to call me that.” Peppy mumbled. “I’ll be back in a minute.”
A few minutes later everyone was finishing up and Fox and Falco were arguing over who had to do the dishes when Peppy came back.
“Fox I need to talk with you on the bridge.” He said.
“Ha! Dishes are all yours Falco.” He laughed and Falco groaned. He followed Peppy out of the mess hall. “So, this is bad news isn’t it?”
“Well it’s not like last time I called you to the side, but it’s still bad, yes”
“I’m not sure if that’s comforting or not.” They stepped onto the bridge and Peppy turned to face Fox.
“The Angler Empire has declared war on the Lylat system.” He said.
“Oh, well, that I think we can deal with.” Fox replied.
“I thought you’d say something like that.” Peppy turned to Rob. “Pull up the transmission that fleet command received.” Rob turned to his console and Emperor Angler appeared.
“Attention lesser life-forms,” He said. “We, the Angler Empire, have studied you for the past five years and have deemed you unworthy to inhabit the system that rightfully belongs to our master and creator. However, we believe that the genocide of your kind would only be a waste of time and potential resources, so we offer an ultimatum. Submit to the will of the Empire and be spared, resist and be destroyed. You have five days to comply before we begin our attack.” The transmission ended. Peppy turned back to Fox.
“I, of course, have no intention of sitting back and letting these abominations walk all over our people.” He said.
“I’ll be right back.” Fox said and marched out of the room. He made his way to the mess hall where almost everyone was sitting at the table talking. “Sit down Falco, the dishes can wait.”
“What’s going on Fox?” Slippy asked. Fox didn’t answer right away. Once Falco was back at the table, and he had everyone’s attention Fox spoke.
“We have a crisis on our hands.” Fox relayed the transmission from the Emperor.
“Master and creator,” Falco repeated slowly.
“You don’t think they meant Andross do you?” Slippy asked.
“Honestly, that not important right now. There’s something I need to know… I plan to meet this force head on, but I can’t do it alone.”
“So, team Star Fox rides again?” Falco said, smiling.
“If you all are willing, yes.”
“I’m in!” Slippy shouted quickly.
“Heck yes, let’s kick some Angler tail!” Falco said. “Katt, you in?”
“Of course, I never turn down a good fight,” She replied.
“Krystal,” Fox said. She smiled at him. That was answer enough, “Wolf, dad, what about you two?”
“I’d be honored to finally fly beside my son.” James said.
“If James is flying so am I.” Wolf said “I’ll see if I can’t pull some strings with some old friends too.”
“Panther and Leon?” Fox asked.
“Yea, don’t know exactly how they’ll react to all this though. They were just as in the dark as you were.”
“Sounds like we’ve got quite a force to work with,” Peppy said from the doorway. Fox turned to him.
“Looks that way, Peppy, the Great Fox is yours is you need it, and the team is at your disposal.”
“Good. I’ll set a course for Katina, gonna need Bill, then on to Corneria.” Peppy replied. Fox turned back to the others.
“Well guys, rest up for today. Tomorrow we need to make sure everything is ready to go, team, dismissed. Oh and finish the dishes will ya Falco?”

Well there it is, sorry about the 4 posts, but tell me what you think, and be honest. I'm a big boy, I can take it and I want to improve this any way I can.

Star Fox: Rise From The Ashes
Chapter 7: Falco and Katt

When Falco reached the hanger he found his ship waiting for him.
“Thanks Fox.” He thought aloud and headed for his weapons locker. He pulled out an oxygen helmet, a few concussion grenades (no need to blow any more holes in the station) and a custom pistol. Just because he hated ground missions didn’t mean he wasn’t ready. He grabbed six extra fifteen round clips and hurried to his ship. He put his helmet on as he jumped into his ship. He started to pull up the diagnostic when Fox came over TEAMCOMM.
“Your ship’s fine! Just go! The team’s on its way!” As Fox spoke, the lift lock released and Falco shot from the hanger. Fox came over the comm. again. “Rob’s scanned the station. There’s a crew access hatch here.” A holographic display popped up and showed the station. The station spun until the underside faced Falco, then a small patch lit up and the display zoomed in. Falco heard Krystal in the background mumble about feeling useless.
“There’s no way I can land in a service hatch.” Falco said. “Looks like I'm going for a little walk. I’ll set the autopilot to take it back to the Great Fox. Krystal, think you can handle her?”
“You trust me with your ship?” she asked.
“Of course. Besides, were down enough pilots.”
“I’ll take good care of it.”
“Alright, looks like were set.” Fox said. “Dad has his HUD so he’s officially the squad leader so all you gotta do is not miss.”
“This outta be fun.” Falco said. He could see the station now.
“Be careful.”Peppy said. “It looks like there are already some fighters in the area.”
“Don’t get spotted.” Fox said. “The auto pilot can’t handle combat.”
“Yea I know,” Falco said. He was getting close to the service hatch. He pulled up his radar which gave him a flight path and the location of all the enemy fighters. He double checked the seal on his helmet and then killed his thrusters. He unlocked the auto pilot setting a twenty second delay, then he popped the canopy and got ready to jump. There was a rail around the hatch. Falco planted his feet and jumped. He reached out as the railing between him and vacuum of space grew closer and closer. He grabbed the rail but his momentum carried him around, his hand as a pivot. He groaned as he banged off the side of the station.
“Rob,” he called over the comm. “Can you get this hatch open?”
“Just a moment,” Rob replied. Falco waited a beat then the hatch popped open. He climbed in and sealed the hatch behind him. He hated these old service entries. The airlocks took too long to cycle. It would be at least three minutes before he could get inside, before he could get to Katt. Falco began to pace.
Back on the bridge, Fox was also pacing.
“Fox,” Peppy said, “The enemy has noticed Falco’s ship.”
“Great,” Fox sighed. “Rob give me the controls.” Fox ran to his console, punched in a command and a feed from the Sky Claw showed up.
“Wait,” Krystal said. “If you can control the ship from here, why do we even have to fly?”
“It’s far from perfect.” Fox replied. “The range is limited and weapons don’t always work, plus you have to depend entirely on radar and-“
“Ok! I get it,” Krystal shouted. “Can we please focus on getting Falco's ship back?”
“Well you asked.” Fox mumbled. He punched another command and hand controls for steering and throttle unfolded from beneath his console. He kicked the Sky Claw into high gear and spent the next five minutes bringing it home.
Meanwhile, back on the station, the airlock finally finished its cycle and let Falco into the station. He double checked his pistol and stepped cautiously into the hallway. He realized all at once that he had no idea where he was going. He ran to the first door on his right, popped it open, and ducked into what appeared to be a supply closet of some kind. He thought for a minute. Whatever enemy they were up against was surely smart enough to be scanning for radio chatter. TEAMCOM was no good. Fox had changed the frequency after the aparoid invasion was dealt with. It was a standard procedure but it meant Katt didn’t have the new frequency. Falco was just about to resign himself to tearing the station apart piece by piece until he found her when he remembered the chip in his pocket. The chip held a complex encryption/decryption key he and Katt had developed for stealth and recon missions a while back. It was a bit of a long shot but it was his best chance to contact her. He popped the chip in his comm. unit and prayed she hadn’t cleaned house after she left.
“Katt… Katt! Can you hear me?” Falco called. “Katt please answer me.”
“Falco, Is that you?”
“Katt! Thank god! Where are you?”
“We’re in the data core. Beltino’s copying all his research then he’s gonna wipe the stations memory.”
“How do I get there?”
“It’s at the center of the station, one level above you.”
“Any idea of what we’re up against?”
“Well… their ugly.”
“That helps,” Falco sighed, resisting the urge to bang his head off the wall.
“I didn’t get a good look what with getting shot at!” She shouted the last two words. Falco could almost see her with her arms crossed, all puffed up, and he couldn’t help but smile.
“Where’s the nearest lift? I'm in a”
“I know where you are.” She cut him off. “Go down the hall and take the second right. It will be on the left a few doors down.”
“Thanks.” He opened the door and set off. He knew he should be moving slow, checking every corner but instead he was running. His mind was screaming how stupid he was being but on he ran, ignoring the first hallway on his right. This station was bigger than he had expected. He was finally closing in on the second hallway when he stopped. He eased up to the corner and peered around it. He wanted to get to Katt so bad it hurt, but if he had rounded this corner and ran into an enemy squad, well, he wasn’t much good to anyone dead now was he?
Thankfully the hall was empty so Falco quickly sprinted to the lift. He waited a beat for the doors to open stepped inside punched the up button and swayed a bit as the lift came to life. There wasn’t enough room to pace, which Falco preferred because it forced him to calm down. He took a few deep breaths. The lift was slowing down. He double checked his pistol one more time and poised himself to duck behind the first cover he could find. The doors slid open and in a split second he had taken in the whole scene.
All the doors in the hallway were open, standard search and clear procedure. As Falco started towards the closest one he noticed two figures at the end of the hall facing a door, their backs turned to him. They had a fairly standard build except that their heads came to a point, like a fin. Falco ducked into the room, checked that it was empty and then switched his headset to TEAMCOM.
“Fox, you read?” He said quietly.
“I’m here. Why are we whispering?”
“Two hostiles at the end of the hall, I think their fish.” This was greeted by a brief silence, then.
“Um… Fish?”
“Yeah, fish.”
“Nothing’s ever easy is it?”
“Story of my life,” Falco said, switching the safety on his pistol off. He stuck his head around the corner and lined up his shot. The fish were still facing the door. A shot to the head apiece would put them down before they could raise an alarm, unless there were others in earshot, but that wouldn’t be much of a problem either. The hall would funnel them all into his sights, and then it would be a numbers game. Falco took a deep breath, let it out, and squeezed the trigger. A shot rang out. Falco lined up the second fish. A second shot rang out before the first victim had even hit the ground. Falco ducked back in the room and waited. After about twenty seconds there were no signs that his shots were off or that anyone was coming. Falco swapped back to Katt’s channel.
“You still there?” He asked.
“Yea,” she responded. “I heard gunshots, was that you?”
“You at the end of this hall?” He asked and looked around the corner. The door slid open.
“Does that answer your question?” She said. Falco dashed down the hall. Katt was in the door way.
“Pull the bodies inside!” He called to her. She grabbed the closest one to her by the legs dragging it inside. Falco did the same to the other. When they were both inside, Falco shut the door back and turned to face Katt. She was staring at him. Her face was neutral but her eyes piercing. Falco winced slightly and shifted his gaze to the ground. When she was in trouble the past had fallen to the wayside, but now that the immediate danger had passed it was time to face her wrath. He took a breath and braced himself for an assault that never came. He looked up. Her arms were not crossed. There was no scowl on her face, only tears.
“Katt,” he called softly. She didn’t respond. He hesitantly took a step forward, as if he were testing fresh ice on a lake. Katt didn’t speak or move. He closed the distance between them in three steps.
“Katt,” he said again. She looked at him. He put a hand on her shoulder, and then pulled her into his arms. Her silent tears escalated into sobs that racked her whole body.
“I am so sorry.” Falco whispered. He felt her arms wrap around him, silent forgiveness. Then Falco broke. Three years of hating himself, of wishing he could start over fell away. He could have stood there holding her forever, but he had to get her out of here. He took a moment to compose himself.
“Katt, where’s Beltino?” He asked. She took a step back.
“What?” She asked, but then she seemed to come to. “Right, he’s in the server room.” She pointed to a door behind her.
“We need a way off this station.”
“Where’s your ship?”
“I sent it back to the Great Fox.”
“It’s not here?”
“Well I would have chained it to the bike rack out front but I”
“Shut up.” She cut him off.
“It’s not like it would have mattered. No way we’d all fit in the Sky Claw.” He flipped over to TEAMCOM again. “Fox?”
“I’m here.”
“How’s the fight going on your end?
“It could be better. Slippy’s already had to pull out.”
“What else is new?” Falco said rolling his eyes. Fox laughed.
“Yeah, but you’re not here to clean up after him.”
“Fair enough, I got a problem. We need a way off this station.”
“I’m workin on that.”
“Good. I’m gonna make sure Beltino’s got all the info backed up.” He turned back to Katt.
“So,” she said, “We getting out of here or what?”
“We are that I promise.” He paused for a moment. “I just don’t know how yet.” Katt sighed. “Come on.” Falco headed to the door Katt had pointed to earlier. It opened to let him in. Inside Beltino was bent over a console feverishly punching in commands. He was surrounded by three holo- screens each with a different feed.
“Beltino,” Falco called, who let out a yelp and jumped about three feet off the ground. “Sorry, are you about done with the data?”
“Almost,” he replied. “Just a few more files.”
“How in the world are you keeping up with all three screens?” Falco said, slightly awestruck.
“Well, it’s quite simple really.” He happily replied, turning to Falco. “You see I just-” But Katt cut him off.
“Doc. The files?”
“Oh yes, of course. Thank you Katt.” Beltino went back to his work.
“Forgot who I was talking to,” Falco laughed.
“There, all done!”
“Great,” Katt said. “Let’s get the heck out of-” but she was cut off by the room going pitch black.
Back on the Great Fox, the same thing happened, and Fox was frantic.
“Rob, I want to know what’s going on now! Why haven’t the auxiliary generators kicked in?!” Suddenly the main viewing screen came to life but showed only static.
On the station, the three holo-screens had done the same.
“That can’t be good.” Falco said. Then an image replaced the static.
“Pathetic creatures,” the fish said, “gaze upon the face of your destruction.”

Chapter 8: The Angler Empire

The voice was deep and commanded authority, and the image on the screen gave Falco chills. The fish’s face was wide, even for a fish. Its eyes and single antenna glowed a radioactive green. The longer Falco looked at him, this fish almost looked regal.
“I am the Emperor of the Angler Empire.” He said. “Your resistance is laughable.”
On the Great Fox, the moment’s stunned silence as Peppy, Fox, Slippy, Sarah, and Tomas gaped at the transmission had given way to more frantic orders from Fox.
“Peppy, get the comms back up, I want a status report from the team!” He yelled, ignoring the textbook dictator speech that the Emperor was giving. “Rob, I need power to the forward thrusters now! Our drift is gonna carry us into the station! Slippy, get that console online, I don’t care how you do it! I wanna know how they got into our system!”
Back on the station, Beltino was trying to figure out the same thing.
“I can’t find the source!” he cried.
“Forget the fish,” Falco yelled, “you can trace him once you’ve gotten life-support back on!”
“Pray to whatever god you worship,” Emperor Angler was saying. “The end of your meaningless existence is drawing near.” Then the feed died, and the station hummed as the power finally came back on.
“Was that you?” Falco asked.
“No,” Beltino responded.
“Guess he was done running his mouth.” Katt said, then added “Bout time.”
“He must be pretty confident we’ll lose.” Falco said
“Which will make caving his face in that much more satisfying,” Katt said with a kind of wicked grin.
“Yea,” Falco said a little absent-mindedly. He was trying to get tuned back in to TEAMCOM. He played with it a minute longer then the channel burst to life and Falco jumped as he caught the end of Fox’s anxious transmission.
“-ships report it in! Please tell me you’re still out there.”
“James here, we’re all good. We got ol’ fish-face transmission but we never lost power.” Falco herd Fox sigh.
“Krystal,” James continued, “You’re drifting out of formation, you ok?”
“Yea,” Krystal said, but there was obvious pain in her voice. “Just a headache, the Emperor has a strong presence. It’ll clear up in a minute.”
“Umm, ok?” James said slowly.
“Krystal’s a telepath.” Peppy chimed in. “She doesn’t read minds but she can sense presences. Strong negative presences can adversely affect her. ”
“That doesn’t cause problems in fire-fights?” James asked.
“I used to have a handle on it,” Krystal said, “But I’ve been out of sync since… the team disbanded. This is the first thing I’ve sensed in two years.”
“As long as you’re ok” James said.
“Yea, I'm fine.”
“Good,” Fox said, “Falco, you still there?”
“Yea, I'm here.” Falco replied.
“The space fight has moved far enough away for us to send a shuttle. The problem is the docking bay is locked down.”
“Beltino, can you open the docking bay?” Falco asked.
“I'm afraid not.” He replied wringing his hands. “It seemed that the power surge damaged the network. We’ll have to end the lockdown from the bay.”
“Of course,” Falco sighed.
“Sorry,” Beltino said.
“It’s not your fault,” Falco reassured him. “Katt, are you carrying?”
“Always,” she said, pulling a pistol from a holster on the back of her belt.
“Good, I’ll take point, stay close and watch our backs.”
“Just like old times.” She said. Falco pulled his own pistol out and double checked that there was a round in the chamber. He heard Katt do the same. “Let’s do this.”
It only took a few minutes to reach the hanger. The security lockdown meant there was no way to go from one level to another trapping all the raiding teams either above or below them. When they arrived it took another few minutes for the lockdown to cycle out and the docking bay doors to open. Tomas was waiting at the door with his shuttle. He landed and they quickly boarded.
“Hang on,” Tomas said over his shoulder. The shuttle lifted off and shot out of the bay. Before long, they had landed on the Great Fox and were making their way to the bridge. On the elevator, a thought struck Falco.
“Katt, where’s your ship?” He asked.
“Back on Katina,” she responded. “It took a few good hits on my last mission and was still being repaired when I left on this mission. I took a shuttle out with Beltino.”
“How were you gonna offer support without your ship?”
“We didn’t think we’d be found out this quick. Bill was gonna have it sent over tomorrow.”
“Gotcha,” Falco said. The lift slowed and let them out on the bridge level.
“Glad you join us.” Fox said to Falco.
“Sorry I’m late. The traffic is terrible.” Falco shot back, Fox smiled. “What’s the situation?” Fox’s face fell.
“It’s that bad?” Katt asked.
“These guys go down easy enough, but it’s like every time you shoot one down two more take its place. I think these are drones. I know on Sigma-Tel they pulled out for some reason, but how did you guys take care of them on Corneria? ”
“It wasn’t a force like this, that’s for sure.”
“Don’t I remember you saying Slippy had this figured out?”
“I did!” Slippy piped in. “I scrambled their comms and they pulled out. But it’s not working this time, I can’t crack their encryption. We have to find its source.”
“Then you’ll have to take down the mother ship.” Beltino said.
“Can you find it and point it out?” Fox asked.
“Of course,” he replied.
“You’re the best dad!” Slippy said. Beltino hurried over to the console Slippy had been working at.
“Got it.” He said after a few seconds of work. “I’m uploading the coordinates to your team now.”
“Alright, we got ‘em.” James said.
“Rob, pull the mother ship up on screen.” Fox said. A large, saucer-like object appeared. “You’d think these fish would pick something that stood out a little less.” He thought aloud.
“It’s not as obvious as you’d think,” Beltino said. “There are at least three decoys in each formation, and their all non-hostile making them a secondary threat to anyone who doesn't know what they do.”
“How do you know all this?” Fox asked.
“Well, I received the intel reports from the Cornarian attack yesterday and began studying their patterns. These anglers are very textbook about how they do things. It’s almost as if they have a copy of “Conquering the Galaxy for Dummies” that they read from instead of holding war meetings and developing actual strategies.” Fox laughed.
“There it is” they heard James say. “Ready you two?”
“All set.” Krystal said.
“Just like old times.” Wolf said.
“Alright, let’s do this.” James’ mind was racing but his hands were steady on the controls. His mind may have been rusty but flying was second nature for him. His movement was flawless as he picked his way through enemy fighters and debris. He checked his radar. Krystal and Wolf were in perfect formation. “I’ve got visual on the target.” He called over the comm. The mother ship was massive. A giant disk that rivaled the size of the Great Fox, James was unsure where to start. He was about to voice his concerns when Wolf did it for him.
“So, uh… What do we shoot?”
“We need to find a comm. relay.” Krystal said. “That will stop the drones and then we can take our time with the mother ship.”
“Sounds like a plan to me.” Wolf said.
“Rob,” James said, “Find that comm. relay.”
“Rodger” Rob responded.
“If anything gets in your way take it down, but keep formation” They still had a good bit of ground to cover before they reached the ship and he didn’t want either of them to get stranded.
Wolf felt ten years younger. He was glad no one could see him because he could not stop grinning. Wolf and James had been rivals in the classroom but outside of the academy you couldn’t find two closer friends. Their rivalry had been what pushed them to the top of their class and beyond. Flying with him again was the thrill of a lifetime.
Krystal was almost at her breaking point. Her mind was racing in four different directions all at once. All her thoughts were hazed over by the dull throbbing the emperor’s presence had left behind. One part of her was amused at James. She had heard stories of course, and she had always heard Peppy say how much Fox was like his father, but to watch the legend fly was like watching an artist at work… only with less paint and more explosions. Another part of her was noticing the differences between them. Fox was outspoken and had a habit of thinking out loud, while James was all business only speaking when he had orders or when he needed to know something. If his style wasn’t so similar to Fox’s she defiantly would have had a harder time following him, but he had the same tells that Fox did. The last of her was just about fed up with Falco’s ship. It had taken her much longer to get a feel for it than she had hoped, and she still wasn’t used to the positioning of the lasers so she was having to rely heavily on the targeting systems making her a slower shot.
“Heads up,” James warned. A small squad of seven enemies was approaching. James put down three of them and left the others for Wolf and Krystal. Wolf took out his two with one well-placed shot that sent the first drone spinning into the second. Krystal shot down one and was lining up the second when she had to break off to avoid taking fire and the drone slipped by them. She resisted the urge to swear and groaned quite louder than she intended. Wolf made to go after it but James stopped him.
“It’s not coming around, just let it go. Everything ok back there Krystal?”
“I’m fine!” she snarled, startling even herself. “Sorry,” she added, much quieter. “I'm just not used to this ship.”
“Understandable, just do what you can.”
“How’s your head?” Fox asked over the comm.
“Throbbing,” she deadpanned, “but I'm fine. Has rob found that bloody relay yet?”
“Uh,” Fox stammered, “uh yea, he’s sending the coordinates now. You sure you’re ok?”
“Yes,” she said, a little irritated. “Let’s just get this mission over with.”
“I heard that,” James replied, breaking his all business monotone for the first time the entire mission. For some reason this smoothed out Krystal’s nerves a bit. The location of the array appeared on the radar and James’ HUD laid out a flight plan. His mind was still racing. He needed to calm down. He took a deep breath and let it out slow.
“You ok up there James?” Wolf asked.
“Uh, yea,” James replied. He had not intended for them to hear that. “I’ve got a flight path, let’s do this.”
Back on the bridge, Fox was pacing again. “Something’s off,” he muttered to himself.
“Are you ok Fox?” Sarah asked. Fox looked up at her. Krystal had her mother’s eyes.
“This whole thing doesn't sit right with me.” He replied and resumed pacing. “I’ve got the same feeling I had on Saria during the aparoid invasion.”
“You think this is a decoy force?” Slippy asked.
“Well, yes and no. Think about it. If they were here for Beltino’s data, they could have just taken it when they hacked the system and then left… but I can’t shake this feeling that their following us somehow. Why else would they attack us at Sigma-Tel?”
“So you think their after the team?” Falco asked. Fox stopped, ran his hands through his hair and groaned.
“I don’t know,” He sighed. “It just feels off. If they’re really out to get us, should they really trust the job to drones?”
“Maybe they don’t have the actual numbers to fight us.” Peppy suggested.
“Were there any drones on Corneria?” Fox asked.
“No, they would have crashed when I scrambled communications.”
“So it’s not numbers… That means their either following us, or screwing us over.”
“Then why attack the station?” Katt asked. Fox thought for a moment.
“Maybe,” Peppy said, “If they were following us there’s always the chance they intercepted our message and saw it as a chance to divide our strength between two targets.”
“Maybe you should put the fleet on alert just in case general.” Beltino said.
“You’re probably right.” Peppy replied. “Rob, open the encrypted emergency channel to fleet command, authorization code Epsilon-37752.” After a few seconds a uniformed soldier appeared on the screen standing at a rapt salute. “General Peppy Sir!” He barked.
“At ease Daniels,” Peppy said, waiving him off. The soldier relaxed and stood with his hands behind his back. “I need you to prep the fleet for red alert. I want all hands ready to fight.”
“Where should I tell them to go?”
“I want forces posted at every colonized planet in the Lylat system. Understood?” The soldier snapped to attention again.
“Yes Sir!” He responded and saluted again. Peppy nodded to Rob and the feed cut to black.
“Rob, can you pull up video feeds from the team, or are they out of range?” As a way of answering, a feed from the cockpit of the three ships appeared on the main viewing screen. “Wow,” Fox muttered “That thing is massive.”
“Hey, is that the relay?” Wolf said over the comm.
“Looks like it,” James said. “You ready Krystal?” There was no response, “Krystal!” He called again.
“Rob, change the feed in the Sky Claw,” Fox urgently said. The feed changed from a forward view and flipped around to show Krystal writhing in pain. Her head felt like it was splitting. Tears were streaming down her face.
“Krystal! Are you ok?!” Fox shouted. Her mouth opened to respond but no sound came out. A new wave of pain racked her body and she curled up into a fetal position. Fox struggled to fight off the blind panic that threatened to overtake him. He had to stay calm.
“Krystal, can you hear me?” He asked as calm as he could manage, but he couldn’t stop his voice from shaking. She managed to nod. “You need to breathe. Just focus, I know you can control this.” Fox watched as she buried her face in her hands. Suddenly she went limp. Fox heard Sarah gasp. He turned to her. Her arms were folded and her hands were over her mouth. She was crying. Tomas was standing behind her, his arms around her middle. His face was empty but his eyes were glazed.
“Don’t worry,” Fox said, “This is a good thing. She’s detached from her physical self so that she can deal with her telepathy.”
“I don’t mean to be rude pup, but we really don’t have time for her to go on some kind of soul search.” Wolf said
“I know,” Fox replied, “but at this point all we can do is just wait it out. What if you go hit the relay while dad covers her?”
“Think you can handle it by yourself Wolf?” James asked.
“Of course I can.”
“Alright then I’ll cover Krystal.”

Star Fox: Rise From The Ashes
Chapter 5: James, Sarah, and Tomas

“My Parents,” Krystal said in astonishment. She, Fox, and Tomas had returned the bridge where Tomas and Sarah told Krystal the news.
“Yes” Sarah said. “We were on the run for nearly 10 years.”
“On the run,” Fox asked, He was being bandaged up by Peppy. “Who’s after yo-ow!”
“Sorry Fox.” Peppy said.
“Before the war we were working on a project along with two scientists from Corneria.” Tomas explained. “They died in a lab accident and,”
“Wait.” Falco said, “Who were they?”
“Their names were Sam and Cindy Lombardi.”
“My parents…” Falco said quietly.
“So that makes you Falco?”
“They spoke of you. They were good friends of ours.” Falco didn’t respond, instead he walked over to the window and stared out at space.
“He’ll be ok,” Fox said, desperate to keep the conversation moving before Falco completely locked down. Fox remembered when Falco’s parents first died he was stoic for a week, he barely ate or slept. Fox saw the same look in his eyes now that he did then. “Please continue.”
“Umm… We continued work for a few years but we were closed down and shipped off-planet. Some of Andross’ goons had found us out and we were in danger. It wasn’t until recently, when the remnant of Andross’ army was wiped out, that we could come out of hiding. We headed straight for home, and we found that Krystal was gone. So we started looking. In our travels, we found Sigma-Tel and met James.”
“That was about two years ago.” James said.
“He never mentioned she was on your team.” Sarah said.
“Fox had split the team, and from what I heard, he wasn’t on very good terms with Krystal at the time so I knew it would have been a dry lead.”
“You probably wouldn’t even have found me. I stayed hidden for the longest.” Fox said.
“And he’s right about me,” Krystal said, “It was still too fresh.” Tomas shot a look at Fox. Fox started to defend himself but Krystal spoke up. “He did it for my safety but I was too stubborn to listen.” Tomas looked like he wanted to say something, but decided better of it. James laughed.
“How’s your back Fox?” Slippy asked.
“Still sore, but mainly just stiff, I’ll live. How’s it looking Peppy?” Fox replied.
“It was bleeding a little but none of the stitches came loose.” Peppy said.
“You got off lucky Fox,” Falco said, finally turning from the window, “so don’t be pullin’ no more stunts. I got enough on my mind.” Falco’s eyes flickered and he rotated his shoulders as if to shrug off the mental weight that had been bearing down on him.
“I won’t be,” Fox said with a laugh.
“So James,” Wolf said, “What happened out there that day?” James sighed deeply and sat down in the nearest chair. He rubbed his temples and then looked up. “I don’t remember some of it and some of its hazy…” James started. “I had just split us up, Wolf with Peppy and me with Pigma. It was all running smoothly. All of a sudden I get slammed with a Super Nova Smart Bomb. Ours were the only fighters that carried them then, so I knew it was friendly fire, but I didn’t know it was intentional… Thankfully our limit was one at a time, or Dengar would have fried me for sure. I took care of him quick enough, but my shields were low so I did all I could do.”
“Bail…” Fox said.
“Exactly” James replied. “I knew that Peppy and Wolf had gotten out of there and I knew which way they had gone, so I went the other way. Luckily I ran across Sigma-Tel.” James hung his head.
“Dad, are you ok?” Fox asked? James ran his hands down his face. Fox could detect the weariness in his eyes. For a moment he was worried, but James quickly regained his composure and continued on
“As I peeled off I realized Andrew was chasing me. I flew in low and tried to lose him but my Arwing had had it… he took me down just outside of town. No tellin’ how long I was out. I don’t remember much after that, only that Hannah found me. I had some broken bones, and I was burnt up pretty bad, it was a good two years before I was back on my own two feet again… and even longer still before I was back to my old self.”
James sighed hard and sat back.
“Mom will be glad to see you again.” Fox said.
“One step at a time son…” James replied. “What would I tell her?’
“The truth… She's been through a lot dad. Just having you back would mean the world to her.”
“Ya think?”
“I know.” At this James sighed again.
“Just call her dad,” Fox said.
“Ok, but you have to talk to her first…gimmie a chance to get myself together.” And James left the bridge. Fox told Rob to connect them and after a while, Anna picked up. She grinned then scowled.
“Fox McCloud! Are you trying to give me a heart attack?” she yelled. It was then Fox realized he hadn’t covered his bandages.
“Sorry mom,” he said pulling his shirt down, “I promise I’m fine.”
“Well, what happened?”
“I haven’t told you?” Fox quickly told her the story, leaving out the parts that would worry her. “But anyways,” he said finishing the story, “that’s not why I called. I’ve got a surprise for you.”
“Oh really now,” She asked, “And what exactly would tha-” but she was cut off as the door to the bridge opened and James stepped in.
“Anna,” James said.
“I must be dreaming.” She said, tears welling in her eyes.
“We’ll give you two a minute,” Peppy said, and they all filed out of the bridge.
As the door shut, a pain shot through Fox’s side. He placed his hand on the wall and doubled over.
“Yall go ahead,” Falco called as the others turned the corner, “I gotta talk to Fox a bit.” Falco walked a few steps and then rushed to Fox.
“Thanks” Fox managed, not wanting to worry Krystal. He wanted her to be able to enjoy her reunion with her parents. Falco helped Fox sit down, and then they sat. Every now and then, Falco would shoot Fox a worried glance. Fox almost laughed. If only people knew the real him Fox thought. After a while, the pain started to subside and Fox could breathe easier.
“Now that your better, I would like to talk” Falco said. Fox laughed.
“It’s Katt, isn’t it?”
“… Yeah, I miss her. And you and Krystal moonin’ all over each other ain’t helpin’.”
“Well I guess I could moon over you if you want.” Now it was Falco’s turn to laugh.
“That’s not quite what I had in mind.”
“She’s welcome around any time, you know that.”
“Yeah I know, that’s not the problem. I can’t get in touch with her.”
“What’s the last you heard?”
“It’s been ages…”
Fox thought for a moment. Katt was an excellent pilot. She had been working bounty jobs last he heard, “Girl’s gotta eat,” she had told him. Of course it had been over a year since he had seen her. “If something had happened to her we’d of heard by now.” Fox finally said. “A bounty hunter like her wouldn’t go unmissed.”
“Yeah I know, I guess at this point I’m more worried she’s avoiding me.” Falco replied.
“That sounds more like her.” Fox laughed, “Maybe Krystal knows something.”
“It’s worth a shot. Let me help you up”
“Thanks,” Fox said as Falco helped him to his feet. When they got to the mess hall Krystal was talking and laughing with her parents. Fox smiled to himself. He walked over and sat down next to Peppy.
“How’s your back?” Peppy asked.
“I’ll live,” Fox said as Wolf sat down next to him.
“I can’t believe you pulled that crazy stunt off.” He said
“Me either,” Fox said bluntly, “but I’m glad I did.” Fox replied. “I lost her once; I’m not losing her again.” Wolf grunted his approval.
“You’re turning out just like James.” He said.
“I hear that a lot.” Fox relied.
“Hey Fox!” Krystal called from across the room, “Come here a sec.” Fox got up as smoothly as he could but he had to shuffle to keep his balance as he stood. Krystal shot a worried glance and Fox gave a reassuring smile. He walked over to her and she slid her hand in his.
“So,” Tomas said, “Krystal tells me you two are sort of an item.”
“Oh she did?” Fox said, “She hasn’t told me anything.”
“Fox!” Krystal said laughing.
“What?” He replied.
“Anyways,” Tomas said, “That’s beside the point.”
“Right,” Sarah said, “We wanted to thank you Fox, for everything you’ve done for Krystal.”
“It’s easy to see how much you care for her.” Tomas said. Fox managed a smile and Krystal squeezed his hand. “As long as you care for her that much,” Tomas continued, “You have our blessing.”
“Thank you,” Fox said quietly.
“Fox,” Krystal asked, “are you ok?”
“Yeah” Fox lied. The room was spinning and his back was killing him. “I just need to sit down.” He muttered as he fell to the floor.

As Fox came around he wondered how long he’d been out. Not too long, he thought as he was still on the mess hall floor.
“He’s coming to,” he heard a voice say.
“I swear, at this rate he’s gonna kill himself,” another voice said.
“Falco! Don’t talk like that!” That was Krystal. Fox cursed himself, he’d done it again. He had to stop worrying her so much.
“I’m fine.” He managed and tried to sit up but a hand forced him back down. It was James.
“Just take it easy son,” He said. “No need to rush.”
Fox did as he was told and laid still, he noticed his back wasn’t hurting as bad but, “Why am I wet?”
“You’re bleeding again,” James told him. “Peppy’s gone to get the bandages.”
“Great,” Fox sighed. Krystal kneeled down beside him.
“Are you really ok?” She asked.
“For the most part, yeah,” He answered. “My back doesn’t hurt.”
Krystal sighed and a tear fell from her eye. Fox grimaced and let his head fall to the floor, hard. He hated himself for putting her through so much. Before long Peppy showed up with the gauze and bandages. Falco helped him sit up and Peppy started wrapping him up.
Fox noticed that Krystal was still worried. “So dad,” he asked, desperate to turn the attention away from him. “How’d it go with mom?”
“Well,” James laughed, “she did a lot of crying and yelling and I did a lot of explaining and to be honest, she took it a lot better than I thought she would.”
“That’s good,” Fox said, “I’m willing to bet she still has a bone to pick with me though.”
“I never got around to telling her how I got hurt. She hates it when she thinks I'm trying to hide something from her.”
James laughed. “It’s good to know some things never change.”
The room got quiet for a moment and Fox glanced at Falco, who raised an eyebrow. Fox pointed at Krystal with his eyes. Falco nodded.
“Hey Krystal,” he said. “When’s the last time you saw Katt?”
“Not too long ago. She was doing some mercenary work outta Katina.” Falco nodded and half ran to the mess halls comm. unit. He pulled up the screen and punched in the contact code for Katina. The display went blank for a moment then a list of contacts pulled up and Falco located the military base and selected it. He waited for the connection to go through and a familiar face popped up on the screen.
“Cornarian Fleet, Katina outpost, Sergeant Bill speaking”
“Bill!” Falco shouted. Bill was an old friend from the academy. He grew up with both Falco and Fox.
“Falco, where ya been bro?” Bill asked.
“I ran into Fox on my last mission and now I'm helpin him out.”
“Gotcha, ya had me worried there man. You never filed completion on your last job so I didn’t know where you’d gotten too.”
“You keeping tabs on me or something?”
“Naw, we’re shorthanded ‘round here lately so I'm helpin Don keep records straight.”
“Does that mean you have access to all mission reports?”
“Yep, why?”
“I’m tryin to find Katt.”
“Falco, you know I can’t disclose that information to anyone without clearance.”
“You can if it’s a matter of safety to the person involved.”
“Is it?”
“It is now.”
Bill sighed and scratched his head. “Alright, but if she asked, Don gave you the info, I take enough heat as is. She’s in Sector X. Slippy’s dad, Beltino, is doing some work for the military brass and wanted an extra hand around just in case any hostiles caught wind and decided to butt in.”
“Thanks Bill, I owe ya.”
“Darn right ya do,” the two of them laughed, “Just remember to keep my name outta this.”
“Consider it done.”
“Fox around?”
“Yeah I'm here.” Fox said from the floor. Falco moved the screen so Fox and Bill could see each other.
“Wow,” Bill said. “You’re a mess.”
“Thanks,” Fox growled. Bill laughed.
“I’d heard about your accident, how ya holdin’ up?”
“As good as can be expected I guess,” Fox said.
“How long are you out of commission?”
“Forever if he keeps this up,” Peppy said tying off Fox’s bandages. Fox sighed.
“Well anyways, I hope ya find her Falco,” Bill said. “Best of luck to ya, and get better soon Fox. We can’t have one of the best pilots in the galaxy hangin up his wings just yet, too much crazy out there.”
“Thanks Bill, keep ‘em in line down there.” Fox said.
“Yeah, and don’t do your job too well. It’d be just your luck you’d get stuck with it.” Falco said.
“Tell me about it.” Bill said. Then he waved and the screen went black.
“Falco, go ahead and tell rob to plot a course for Sector X. Tell him to stop a safe distance away and slide in the rest of the way quiet. When we get in system try and contact the research facility on a secure short range channel. No need to attract any unwanted attention.” Fox said.
“Gotcha,” Falco said and left for the bridge. Wolf walked over to Fox and offered his hand. Fox took it and Wolf pulled him to is feet.
“Thanks,” Fox said. He felt a hand on his shoulder and he turned around. As he did Krystal slid her arms around him and he returned the gesture.
“I'm so sorry.” Fox said stroking Krystal’s hair. They embraced for a little longer, then separated. Fox brushed her hair away from her face and reviled the gash over her eye.
“That’s gonna get infected.” He said.
“It’s nothing.” Krystal said.
“It needs to be cleaned.”
“Come on, let’s go to the med bay.”
“We’ll meet you two later on the bridge.” James said.
“Sounds good.” Fox replied. As the others filed out Fox stopped Slippy. “I got a little project for ya.”
“Cool,” Slippy said, “I love a good project.”
“I know you do.” Fox said with a laugh. “So here’s the deal. Dad’s probably gonna be flyin for me until I get back on my feet so I want you to make him a HUD in his sunglasses.”
“Sounds like fun, and it shouldn’t take me too long.”
“Do you need a pair to start on?”
“Nah, I’ll start from scratch.”
“Awesome, thanks buddy.”
“No problem Fox.” And Slippy ran off to his lab. Fox laughed.
“Come on,” Fox said to Krystal. “Let’s get you cleaned up.”
In the med bay Krystal sat on the edge of a table while Fox gathered the things he needed.
“Go ahead and pull your hair back,” he told her. She did as Fox walked over to the table and sat down what he had gathered.
“Alright,” He said, dampening a cloth with rubbing alcohol, “this is gonna sting.” Fox pressed the cloth against the wound. Krystal yelled and pulled away.
“Sorry,” she said, “that hurt more than I thought it would.” She leaned back forward and gripped the edge of the table. Fox pressed the cloth back on her forehead and she went ridged. He wiped the wound two or three times and it started to bleed.
“Dang.” He muttered, and reached for a clean cloth. “Here, hold this on it to stop the bleeding.” Krystal released her death grip on the table and took the cloth. “That’s gonna need stitches.” Fox said. He headed to another cabinet and rummaged for a bit before pulling a suture kit out and walking back to Krystal.
“You’re not gonna do it are you?” Krystal asked.
“Yeah, why?” He said grabbing a pair of rubber gloves and pulling them on.
“Do you know how?”
“Of course, they taught it to us at the academy. And don’t worry, it won’t hurt as much as the alcohol.”
“I hope not.” She said and Fox smiled.
“Here lay back.” Fox told her. He tied a knot in the end of the stitch thread and stepped around the side of the table.
“You ready?” He asked.
“I guess.”
“Ok, move the cloth slowly, we don’t need it bleeding on us.” She moved the cloth. Thankfully the bleeding had stopped.
“Take a deep breath.” Fox said and leaned over her. She inhaled and he pushed the curved needle through the skin. Krystal whimpered but didn’t flinch. Fox slid the needle under the gash and pulled it out the other side. He pulled until the knot caught and pulled the two sides of the gash flush making sure not to over-lap them.
“You ok?” He asked.
“Ok, I'm gonna finish up.” Fox told her. She took another breath and Fox pushed the needle in next to where he had pulled it out and pulled it under the gash and out the other side. He repeated this three more times making sure that each stitch was pulled tight. When he finished he tied off the end and cut the extra off.
“There, all done,” Fox said. “That wasn’t so bad now was it?”
“I guess,” she replied running her finger over the now closed cut. “Where are the stitches?”
“Underneath.” He told her. “Its cleaner, looks better. And there less likely to catch on anything.”
Fox cleaned up and then pulled the gloves off.
“Wanna head back to the bridge?” He asked?
“Sure,” Krystal answered getting off the table and letting her hair back down.
Back on the bridge James, Wolf, Tomas, and Peppy were talking and laughing. Sarah met Fox and Krystal at the door. She commented of Fox’s work and he thanked her. Falco called Fox over. Fox left Krystal with her mom.
“Are we there yet,” Fox asked. Falco laughed.
“We won’t be in system until late tomorrow,” he replied.
“Don’t worry, she’s not going anywhere.”
“Yeah, I know. I'm just ready to get to her.”
“Trust me, I know how you feel.” Fox said and yawned.
“Go get some rest man.” Falco told him. Fox nodded and walked over to James.
“I'm turning in, Peppy, can you take care of showing everyone their quarters?”
“No problem.” Peppy said.
“Thanks,” Fox replied and walked back over to Krystal and Sarah, “I'm turning in. Sarah, Peppy’s gonna set you and Tom up but if your plan on turning in sooner than the guys I can show you your room.”
“No, that’s fine,” Sarah said , “Krystal and I are gonna catch up.”
“Alright. Krystal, keep an eye on Falco for me. He’s got a lot on his mind. I don’t want him to lock down again.”
“Hopefully being with Katt again will help.” Krystal said.
“Yea, that’s what I'm hoping.” Fox said. “Well, ‘night yall.”
“Good night Fox.” Krystal said.
Fox left the bridge and headed for the elevator. He leaned on the wall as it took him to his floor and his exhaustion hit him all at once. He dosed for a moment and was jolted awake by the elevator stopping. He stumbled off the elevator yawning and headed to his room. He pulled off his shirt as the door shut behind him. He stepped in the bathroom, turned on the sink, and let the water warm up as he changed into his sleep shorts. He pulled a washcloth off the rack, soaked it in the now warm water. He wiped his face down and turned off the water, leaving the washcloth by the sink. He sat on the bed, threw his feet under the covers, and was asleep before his head hit the pillow.

Chapter 6: The Face-less Enemy

Fox woke up the next morning around nine o’clock Corneria time. He stretched and flinched when his back caught. He was amazed at how energized he felt. He stood up and pulled on a shirt, then headed for the mess hall. When he got there he started looking for the coffee under the counter.
“You’re up early.” A voice across the room said. Fox jumped and slammed the back of his head on the bottom of the counter.
“Dude! Are you ok?” Falco said rushing over and helping Fox up.
“Yeah,” Fox said. “Don’t do that!”
“Sit down, I’ll start the coffee.”
“Thanks.” Fox pulled out a chair at the table and sat as Falco pulled the coffee tin from the cabinet over the sink.
“So, did you get any sleep?” Fox asked.
“Yeah, a little. Dunno how.”
“What’s got you so nervous?”
“This is Katt we’re talking about. God only knows how she’ll react.”
“You’re gonna drive yourself crazy. We should be within secure channel range in a few hours.”
“Yeah, your right, I gotta get my mind off it.” Falco started the coffee maker as Wolf stepped in the door.
“I figured I’d be the only one up.” He said. Fox grunted and turned his back to Wolf.
“Something I said?” Wolf asked.
“Old feelings die hard.” Falco said.
“You want me to leave?”
“Nah, pull up a chair,” Fox said.
“You sure?”
“Yea, I want to sort some stuff out.” Wolf and Falco both sat down at the table.
“Just tell me what you wanna know.” Wolf said.
“How did you manage to get inside of Andross’ ranks?” Fox asked. Wolf sat back and sighed.
“Well, as you know me and James went into the service at the same time. After a while it turned into a routine, and I wanted more so I started runnin’ bounties. Now don’t take that the wrong way, I didn’t just roll any head they threw my way, I picked and chose my marks. After awhile, I made a name for myself.”
“So what,” Falco said, “you just walked away from the military?”
“No,” Wolf said, “all the bounties were on the side.”
“I thought you said you didn’t start the bounty tabs until after Andross.”
“I didn’t. Back then the bounties weren’t important enough to track. The only heads I ever watched were yours.”
“Which brings me to my next question,” Fox said.
“Shoot.” Wolf said. Fox shifted in his seat.
“Who called the hit on my team?” Fox asked.
“I wish I knew.” Wolf answered. Fox sighed and stood. He walked over to the counter and started to fix himself a cup of coffee.
“You want a cup?” Fox asked turning around and leaning back on the counter.
“I'm good,” Wolf replied. “You weren’t planning on hunting this guy down were you? I mean, the key to any formation is team work. It’s not some huge secret.”
“That’s not the part that bothers me.” Fox said. He took a sip of his coffee, put it on the counter, and started pacing. “I can’t help but feel like whoever called this hit has ME figured out.”
“How do you figure?”
“What if whoever it was knew I’d freak out? What if they were just trying to split the team?”
“Sounds a little paranoid if you ask me.” Falco said.
“It makes since though.”
“My turn to ask a question,” Wolf said.
“Go ahead.” Fox replied.
“Why is it that you got so mad when I went to Andross?” Wolf asked. Fox stopped pacing and walked back to the counter. He took another sip of coffee and then leaned back on the counter.
“You said it yourself,” Fox said, “you and dad were close. Why wouldn’t I get pissed off when you ran off and joined the people responsible for his disappearance, especially after you delivered the news to me and mom?” Fox closed his eyes and fell into an old memory from six years ago.
It was dark outside but not really late when a younger Fox answered a knock at the door.
“Oh, hey Wolf.” He said, “Are you guys back already?”
“Hey Fox,” Wolf answered, “Is your mom home?”
“Yeah, come on in.” Fox lead Wolf to the living room where Anna was watching the evening news. “Hey mom, Wolf’s here.” Anna stood.
“Hey Wolf.” She welcomed him. “Make yourself at home.” Fox started for the stairs to head back to his room.
“Thanks Anna, but I can’t stay long, I'm just here because…” Wolf’s voice trailed off.
“Wolf?” Anna said.
“You might want to sit down Anna.” Wolf said. Fox froze halfway up the stairs. Wolf officially had his full attention. Anna sat back down and Wolf shuffled uneasily on his feet.
“Oh man, how do I even say this?” Wolf mumbled.
“Say what, Wolf?” Anna asked.
“We lost James on our last mission.” Wolf finally said. Fox felt like he had been punched in the chest.
“How… What happened?” Anna managed.
“We don’t know details, but we know that Pigma turned traitor.” Wolf said. Instantly the shock drained from Fox and was replaced with rage.
“What!” Fox shouted. Anna jumped and spun around but Fox’s outburst didn’t seem to surprise Wolf. “You mean to tell me that Pigma shot my dad down?! You really expect me to believe that bull”
“Fox!” Wolf cut him off, “I never said Pigma shot him down.” Fox was breathing hard, his nails digging into the banister. “Personally,” Wolf continued, “I don’t think he’s dead. I doubled back after I was sure Peppy was safe and looked around. I couldn’t find any sign of him. Unfortunately, until we can prove he’s not dead, the official statement will be that he is.”
“Why?” Anna asked.
“Mainly because if where he went missing, we have no recon around Venom and we can’t get a search party in there. They make too much noise and would only be endangering themselves, and since we can’t get solid information, we have to assume the worst… That being said, I know James and there’s no way Pigma did him in.” Fox shuddered and relaxed a bit. “I gotta run.” Wolf said. “Fox, come here for a sec.” Fox followed Wolf outside. He pulled the door shut as Wolf pulled out a cigarette.
“You smoke?” Fox asked.
“Used to,” Wolf replied lighting up and taking a breath. He sighed hard and said, “I quit when I joined the force. You can’t smoke on carriers and in fighters. The air is too rich so you’ll just end up blowing up.”
“You quit but you still carry a pack around?”
“I always kept a good stock. It would have been a shame to just throw them all out.”
“Yea, I’m sure.” Fox said. Wolf laughed.
“You gotta take care of your mom.”Wolf said.
“Yea, I know, but…”
“I can’t just sit on my hands here.”
“Fox,” Wolf sighed, “I’m not askin’ you to sit and do nothing, but you got to make your mom’s ok first”
“You didn’t report in did you?”
“For this mission, you haven’t reported in have you?”
“Nope, not yet,” Wolf said and drew hard on the cigarette.
“Has Peppy?”
“You’re gonna end up catching crap.”
“That’s the plan.” Wolf dropped the cigarette but on the ground, stomped it out and swept the ashes off the cement.
“What are you talkin’ about?”
“I’m hoping the media will find me a better story than the poor widow of the best pilot this galaxy’s ever seen.”
“So you’re doing this for mom?”
“Yeah, and for James. He wouldn’t want her getting all this attention for stuff like this.”
“Yeah… this will be hard enough for her… You really think he’s still out there?”
“Yeah, yeah I do.”
“Good enough for me. You should get outta here before you get in any more trouble.” Fox pulled himself out of his memories.
“It just really pissed me off that someone who broke protocol and showed up at my house in the middle of the night to break us the news and take the rap for mom’s sake turned around and ran off with Andross.”
“You shoulda seen him when he first found out.” Falco said. “Got so mad he punched the crap outta the nearest wall; broke all four knuckles in his right hand.”
“Sounds just like James.” Wolf said. Fox finished his coffee and put the mug in the sink.
“I’m headed for the bridge. I got some work to catch up on.” Fox left the mess hall and headed for the bridge. “Alright Rob here’s what I need.” He said, settling in behind the main console. “I want you to pull all the records you have on our team formations, pull the ones we use the most and set up fight paths for the lead pilot. I want dad to have everything he needs to fly for me while I'm out.” Fox spent the next hour digging through the team’s formations. It felt go to lose himself in his work for a while. He didn’t even hear Krystal come in. She walked up behind him and wrapped her arms around his neck.
“Morning” she said. Fox stood up and hugged her back.
“Sleep well?” He asked.
“Yep, how’s your back?”
“Krystal I'm fine.”
“OK,” she said breaking their embrace. “What you working on?”
“Formation flight paths for dad, just until I get back on my feet,” He said. “I think I'm about done, you hungry?”
“Breakfast sounds nice.”
“God I missed you.” Fox said. He pulled her into his arms. He held her tight and she returned the gesture, before he knew it he was crying. Silent tears rolled down his cheeks and onto her shoulder. He held her for a while longer. “Sorry,” he muttered.
“For what,” She asked and started stroking the back of his head.
“For being pathetic,” Fox replied. Krystal took a step back, tears in her eyes as well.
“How are you being pathetic?” She asked.
“I really thought I was past this.” He said. He kept trying to dry his eyes put it was pointless, he couldn’t stop the tears. “It almost killed me to make you leave. It was days before I was even a shell of myself. Then I just tried to push it all down. It took a while but I got to the point where I could function but I just got so numb. And then out of nowhere were back together and… and I was just so afraid I was going to lose you again.”
“I guess it finally setting in.” The tears were still coming although there was no sobbing. Fox hung his head and watched the tears fall. Krystal walked up to him, lifted his chin and kissed him. Just like that the entire world fell away. Fox stepped closer to her and placed his hand on the back of her head and the small of her back. The kissing ended quite a while later, then Krystal buried her head in Fox’s shoulder and it was his turn to stroke her hair. Suddenly the comm. relay pinged telling Fox that they were being hailed.
“Rob, is that the station?”
“Affirmative,” Rob responded.
“Let Falco know, give him time to get here and me and Krystal time to clean up.” Fox stepped back from Krystal and did his best to dry his eyes on his sleeves. It took a few minutes but they both managed to clean up, and just in time for Falco to come bursting into the bridge.
“Rob, put them through!” Falco shouted. There was a moment of silence then Beltino appeared on the screen.
“Thank goodness it’s you!” He said, adjusting his glasses. “I was afraid we had been found out.”
“No it’s just us,” Fox said.
“Is Katt there?” Falco asked.
“Why yes,” Beltino said, “I’ll go get her right away.” He walked off the screen and Falco seemed to panic. He started pacing and wringing his hands. Fox walked up to and put his hands on his shoulders.
“Dude, chill,” Fox said. Falco tried to speak but Fox cut him off. “Chill,” he repeated.
“I’m back,” Beltino announced.
“Where’s Katt?”
“I'm right here.” Katt responded. She stood with her arms crossed which was normal enough but her voice had a cruel bite in it Fox had never heard from her before, and Fox had seen her plenty mad. This could get ugly. “What do you want?” She snapped.
“Good to see you to,” Falco said, seemingly undeterred.
“You must be stupid if you think I'm going to forgive you!”
“Katt, that was three years ago!”
“What difference does that make?”
“Things have changed Katt, I’ve changed.”
“People don’t change Falco!” There was silence on the bridge for a moment. Then Falco turned away from the screen.
“You changed.” He said, just loud enough to hear. “You used to care.”
“Falco,” Kat said. The bite in her voice was gone, but Falco either didn’t hear her or didn’t care and he left the bridge without another word.
“I’ll go talk to him.” Fox said and started to leave the bridge. Krystal tore into Katt.
“What is wrong with you? How could you do that to him? He’s been pacing ruts in the floors over you and you just tear him” and that’s all Fox heard before the bridge door shut behind him. Falco hadn’t made it far. He was sitting around the corner with his head in his hands. Fox sat across from him.”
“She’s really letting her have it.” Fox said. Falco leaned back on the wall.
“I almost feel bad for Katt.” Falco said.
“Almost,” Fox said.
“She didn’t even give me a chance.” Falco stood up and walked off. Fox silently followed him. He knew it was better just to let this play out, let Falco get it off his chest. He followed him to his room. Fox leaned in his doorway as Falco paced his room.
“All through the academy she was the only one who would talk to me, the only one who didn’t think my parents screw up had doomed the whole system. And I was the only one who was there for her. When her mom and dad were drunk and tearing up the house I was the one who would go and get her. That’s where I was that night Wolf broke the news.”
“I knew you were with her but I didn’t know why.”
“Yea… she’s the only person I've ever been that close to. After all that, after everything we’ve been through, I lost my head once and suddenly none of that matters anymore?!”
“What happened?” Fox asked. Falco stopped pacing.
“…I hit her…”
“It was during my stint as a merc before I came back to the team. I lost a guy under my command. Some kamikaze drone took him out. I've never lost someone on duty. I know I shoulda been able to deal with it, but I wasn’t. I ended up drunk and when she tried to drag me out I backhanded her. Next morning I woke up on the curb and she was gone. I haven’t seen her since.”
“I had no idea…”
“Fox,” It was Krystal, “I need to talk to you.”
“Hang on a sec Falco.” Fox left Falco and shut the door behind him.
“He hit her.” Krystal said.
“I know,” Fox said.
“And you’re ok with that?”
“I didn’t say that.”
“He was drunk.”
“And that makes it ok?”
“Why are you mad at me?”
“I'm not mad at you!”
“Coulda fooled me!” Suddenly Fox’s back caught and he doubled over and tried not to scream but failed.
“Fox! Are you ok?!” Krystal was kneeling in front of him.
“I’ll live,” he managed. It didn’t take long for the pain to subside. After Fox caught his breath he said “He lost a man.”
“Falco, he lost a man on a merc job. That’s why he was drunk. It still doesn't make it ok, but at least it makes since.” Krystal was quiet for a moment.
“… They need to talk.” She finally said. Suddenly the emergency siren blared. Falco flew out of his room and took off to the bridge with Fox and Krystal behind him.
“What’s going on” Falco shouted. Katt appeared on the screen.
“Were being boarded, they’ve found us.” She screamed.
“I'm coming for you!” Falco shouted and took off for the hanger.

Star Fox: Rise From The Ashes
So I have this up in a few diffrent places, but I'm always looking for new feedback. I hope this isn't considered whoring myself... Anyways, i started writing almost four years ago now because i wasn't happy with any of commands endings. Ive got 10 full chapters as of now but if all goes well i may only be halfway done. Hopefuly it wont take another 4 years to finish. Also, I'll have to break it into chunks. Enough talk, hears the story.

Star Fox
Rise from the Ashes
Chapter 1:

Fox McCloud sighed as he stared into the vast reaches of space that his ship, the Great Fox, was drifting through. Fox was an ace pilot and the leader of the former Star Fox Squadron. His original team was assembled after his father, James, was betrayed and supposedly killed by a teammate named Pigma Dangar on a mission to destroy the tyrant of Venom, Andross. Fox let his memories wash him away. Not long after James disappeared, Fox’s mother, Anna, was diagnosed with cancer. Fox thought he was going to lose her. However she persevered and shortly after Fox defeated Andross she defeated her cancer. She still lived in Corneria, the capital of the Lylat System. Everything seemed to be running smoothly but, for reasons known only to him-self, Fox disbanded the team.
Falco Lombardi was almost eager to leave. Star Fox was the thrill of a life-time but he’d never admit it. He had a reputation to keep after all. He had hardened after his parents, Sam and Cindy, were killed in a lab explosion and he only allowed a few to see his true colors; those included being Fox and his parents who took Falco in, and a girl named Katt Monroe, Falco’s old flame. Falco was an ace pilot and was at home in the skies. He preferred to leave all the ground work to Fox.
Peppy Hare led a life of legacy. He graduated top of his class and went straight into the service realizing his dream of becoming a pilot. He married his school sweetheart Vivian and they had one daughter name Lucy, Peppy’s pride and joy. Later on, Peppy who was now the lead of his squadron, decided to take his chances on a new recruit, James McCloud. Peppy quickly took a shine to James and became a mentor to him, which is why James was insistent on having Peppy along when he was asked to investigate Venom. After the disappearance of James, Peppy became a “Second Father” and mentor to Fox. However tragedy struck when Vivian succumbed to her family’s history of heart failure. Comforted by the fact that it was a peaceful passing, Peppy was able to continue flying with Fox. Not long before Fox disbanded the team, General Pepper fell ill and he recommended Peppy for the job. Peppy now commanded all of the Cornarian forces.
Slippy Toad was not known for his flying. He had always been the technical brains of the operation. Slippy and Fox met back at the Academy and they were fast friends. Fox knew a little about the science behind his Arwing, but Slippy could take one apart and put it back together again in his sleep. Their close friendship caused Slippy to be more reluctant to leave. But he trusted Fox’s instincts, having saved his tail more than once, and went home to Aquas, where it’s said he found love.
And then there was Krystal. Krystal had lost touch with her past. Her parents had disappeared when she was young so she set out to find them. During her search, she responded to a distress signal on Saria, more commonly known as Dinosaur Planet. When she arrived, she was captured and used by Andross to channel the Krazoa Spirits and revive himself. Fox freed her and defeated Andross…again. Krystal decided to join the team and despite her better judgment, fell in love with Fox. However, they never stopped and discussed their true feelings, so when Fox disbanded the team, she was heartbroken.
“Krystal, you’ve got to get away from me.” Fox told her.
“Fox, please don’t do this.” She pleaded through the tears.
“My mind’s made up. I’m so sorry Krystal.” his voice broke and he had to turn away to hide his own tears.
“Fine!” Krystal shouted and ran from the room. Fox slid to his knees and buried his head in his hands.
“What have I done?” He said and began sobbing.
Fox tore himself away from his memories. R.O.B. the navigation robot he had inherited from his father had brought a distress beacon to his attention.
“It appears to be Falco.” Rob said.
“Put him onscreen.” Fox replied. Falco appeared on the main viewing screen.
“Fox, get your tail out here!” he yelled in clear frustration of the situation.
“What’s going on?” Fox said.
“I’m not really sure, but whoever they are, they mean business.” There was an explosion and the communication feed cut out.
“Prep my Arwing, now!” Fox said to Rob and headed for the launch bay. He hopped in his Arwing and quickly ran through the diagnostics Rob had run. Everything checked out. The comm. channel crackled to life.
“Fox, where are ya man?” Falco’s voice came over the TEAMCOM. It was a frequency reserved for the Star Fox team.
“I’m coming, keep your shorts on!” Fox called back.
“If you don’t hurry my shorts are gonna be all that’s left!”
“Lift-lock released.” an automated voice informed Fox.
“Rob launch, now!” Within a split second Fox was propelled into Cornarian air-space. He was about to ask for a heading when Falco’s flier, the Sky-Claw, streaked by with four enemy ships in hot pursuit. Fox joined the chase and quickly disposed of the ships.
“Well it’s about time!” Falco said.
“What’s your status? Fox asked.
“Good to see you too.” Falco replied.
“Sorry, I’ve been alone with a robot for about a year now.”
“Understandable. My shields are almost completely depleted.”
“Head back to the Great Fox and contact Slippy. This is not gonna be easy.”
“Got it.” Falco peeled off and headed for the landing bay and Fox reentered the fray. He had a strong start, but before long he was overrun.
“Man, what’s wrong with me today!?” Fox said. His shields were dropping fast. “Get off me!”
Suddenly there was a streak of plasma fire and the enemy fighters were gone.
“Looks like you could use a hand, pup.”

Chapter 2: Unexpected Help

“Wolf? Is that you?”
Wolf O’Donnell was, to Fox, a traitor. He was James’ right hand man. But after his disappearance Wolf joined the Venom army. After the fall of Andross, Wolf assembled his own team, Star Wolf. It consisted of Wolf, Leon Powalski, and Panther Caruso. They were a rouge bunch of bounty hunters and a force to be reckoned with although they had never defeated the Star Fox team. Despite their differences, when worse came to worse they had worked together. This was apparently another one of those times, weather Fox liked it or not.
“Sorry to barge in but I couldn’t watch that anymore.” Wolf said.
“Do you just sit around and watch me all the time?” Fox asked.
“I’ll explain later. So what’s the plan?”
“We head back to the Great Fox and regroup. Rob track down Peppy… and Krystal.”
Back on the Great Fox, Fox and Wolf docked their fighters and, after a very awkward elevator ride, arrived on the bridge.
“Rob, status” Fox said and began pacing.
“I am still unable to establish communications with Peppy, but I have succeeded in contacting Krystal.” Rob reported.
“Put her on-screen.” Krystal appeared on the screen. Fox stopped pacing.
“Hello Fox.” Krystal said. Her face was void of any emotion but her voice was thick with pain. This struck hard on Fox. He tried to speak but couldn’t find the words, only adding to the discomfort of the whole situation. He turned to Wolf and Falco.
“Can you guys give us a minute?” He asked.
“Sure,” Falco said and he and Wolf left the bridge. As soon as the door closed Krystal broke the silence.
“So Fox, what made you come back?” Her voice was cold now. Fox knew this was going to be hard but he wasn’t prepared for this.
“Krystal,” now his voice was cold too, “I know I hurt you but,” Krystal cut him off.
“Just tell me why Fox!” she began to cry.
“You think this was easy for me?!” now Fox was yelling too.
“You turned you back on me!”
“That’s only because I didn’t want you to see me broken!”
Outside, Falco and Wolf were listening at the door when Slippy walked up.
“What’s goin on?” He asked.
“Lover-boy in there is tryin to patch things up with Krystal.” Wolf said.
“Will you two be quiet?” Falco said, “I’m trying to hear!”
“Please just let me explain.” Fox said and began pacing again. “I-I thought I had everything figured out but when you’re alone with a robot in the middle of space you really have time to think and when I got to thinking and I realized just how much my life has fallen apart. The media hounds my every step. I can’t even dock to restock on food without being stampeded and when I’m not fighting off hordes of ravenous reporters I’m stuck in a tin-can with a robot whose habit of nagging overrides his logic circuits causing him to constantly remind me just how bad I messed things up and,” Fox’s voice broke and he stopped pacing. He couldn’t hold back the tears any longer. “I need you Krystal.” The bridge was silent as Fox had to take a second and compose himself enough to talk.
“All I ask for,” Fox continued, “is a chance to make up for the stupid mistake of pushing you away and hurting you.”
“Fox… I-” Krystal started but was cut off by the bridge door opening.
“Slippy!” Falco yelled, “You leaned on the button!” Rob broke in before Fox could say anything.
“Fox, I have located Peppy but his situation is… unsettling.”
“What are you talking about?” Falco asked welcoming this interruption.
“Peppy has been trapped by a cave-in of the building he chose to take refuge in. He is physically unharmed but the area he is in is not receiving proper ventilation.”
“Meaning…?” Slippy said.
“It means he’s going to suffocate nimrod.” Wolf said
“How much time to we have Rob?” Fox asked.
“Approximately thirty to forty-five minutes.” Rob informed them.
“I’m going to have to go ground-side for this one.” Fox said and the pacing resumed once more.
“You want a hand?” Wolf asked.
“No,” Fox replied. “I’m gonna need you and Falco in the air covering me”
“Fine with me, I prefer the air” Falco said.
“Slippy, you find a way to take these things out.”
“You bet Fox. It’ll feel good to be back in the lab again.”
“I’m coming to help.” Krystal said. This stopped Fox in his tracks. “I feel like we should sort this out face-to-face.”
“Me too, and thank you,” Fox took a breath and composed himself. “Alright, we don’t have much time so we need to move, now” he said. “Rob, is Falco’s ship fit to fly?”
“Affirmative, the hull damage has been repaired and the shields are at eighty percent.” Rob replied.
“You work fast.” Wolf commented.
“Prep all ships for launch. Hang in there Peppy, we’re coming.” Fox said.
Fox, Falco, and Wolf left the bridge and, after another awkward elevator ride, arrived in the hanger, hopped in their ships, and took off. Fox activated his heads up display, or H.U.D., and told Falco and Wolf to do the same. The HUD came out is his head set which had three prongs that went around the sides and top of his head. The actual HUD was a transparent plastic-like material that displayed vital tactical information. It now displayed a timer that read fifteen minutes and forty-five seconds. This was the absolute worst case scenario, and possibly all the time Peppy had left.
By the time Fox made it to the building that Peppy was trapped in the timer said nine-seventeen. It took seven minutes to dig out the doorway and as soon as he stood in it a stray beam of energy fire hit him square in the back. The next thing he knew he was face-down on the ground. He heaved himself onto his knees and looked up only to find a very surprised and concerned Peppy.
“Fox! You ok?” Peppy asked helping him to his feet.
“I dunno.” Fox replied through gritted teeth. “It doesn’t feel good, that’s for sure.” Fox’s wrist communicator blipped telling him of an incoming message. He flipped it open.
“Fox here, go ahead.”
“Fox, you ok?” Wolf asked.
“I’m fine.” Fox said. He tried to walk but a jolt of pain forced him, screaming to his knees. He heard Krystal gasp over the comm. Despite the pain, a wave of relief washed over Fox. “She came” he thought and smiled to himself. He shook it off though thinking Peppy might think he lost it.
“It looks bad. He’ll bleed out at this rate. I’m getting him to the hospital.” Peppy reported.
“Great.” The feed was silent for a moment, then.
“Get him patched up. Sippy thinks he’s found a way to take these things out. We can handle it.” Falco came over the TEAMCOM. “We don’t wanna lose ya man.” Fox had to smile whether Peppy thought he was crazy or not.
“Thanks Falco. That means a lot. Fox out.” Fox said and closed his communicator. “Let’s go Peppy. I think your gonna have to drive.”
“It’ll be my pleasure.” Peppy replied. It only took a few minutes to reach the hospital but even so, by that time, Fox was having a hard time staying conscious. Luckily during one of Fox’s hazy moments, Peppy had called ahead told the hospital to have a stretcher meet them.
“Don’t worry Mr. McCloud. We’ve gotcha.” The MD told him.
“Please… just Fox.” Fox told him and he slid under.

Chapter 3: Picking Up the Pieces

About an hour after Fox was admitted, Falco, Wolf, Slippy, and Krystal came in. Peppy filled them in. The doctors had taken Fox into surgery to check for and, if necessary, repair any damage to his spine. After Peppy filled them in everyone fell into their own groove. Falco had immediately begun pacing; Krystal tried to sit down but could not keep still. She would get up and walk around, stare out the window, sit down for a little while longer, never in the same place. Slippy pulled out a data pad and crunched some numbers on some modifications he’d been working on, and Wolf sat down picked a spot on the floor and stared it down, constantly tapping his foot. Peppy was the only one who didn’t seem worried. When the doctor finally came in three hours later he was the center of attention.
“He’s gonna be just fine. He’s changing his clothes and he’ll be right out.” The room shared a sigh of relief. Peppy thanked the doctor and pulled him to the side.
“Really, how bad is it?” Peppy asked. The Doctor smiled.
“Never miss a beat do ya General? He really is lucky. The shockwave completely shattered one vertebra and we had to rebuild it. There are two rods holding it in place but their made of calcium bicarbonate.”
“So before long it will just grow into the spine.”
“Yep, no ill effect what-so-ever. I’d feel a lot better if we could keep him over-night but you know how he is. He won’t have it.”
“Yeah, don’t worry; we’ll keep an eye on him. Thanks again doc.”
“No problem. Keep ‘em outta trouble, and no firefights for at least a week!” They shook hands and the Doctor walked off.
“That was the guy that worked with Vivien, right?” Falco asked.
“Yeah,” Peppy replied, “he was real good to her…”
“Hey guys.” Fox said as he walked into the room. Krystal stood slowly and then flung herself into his arms.
“I’m so sorry.” Fox told her and stroked her head.
“I’m just glad you’re ok Fox.” She said and held him tighter. Then, as they separated, Krystal accidently brushed Fox’s wound and he winced and pulled away.
“Still tender,” Fox said.
“I’m so sorry. Does it hurt that bad?” Krystal asked.
“Only when you touch it,” Fox said and smiled to comfort her. “Wolf what happened out there?”
“When Krystal showed up the formation shifted. I lost track of my blind spots. That ones on me. Sorry man…” Wolf reacquainted himself with the spot on the floor.
“Don’t worry about it…” Fox said. Wolf looked up at Fox and studied his face.
“How do you keep it together kid?” Wolf asked.
“Honestly? I have no idea.” Fox said.
“I guess your tougher than I give you credit for.”
“Gee thanks.” Fox said. He sighed and closed his eyes. He teetered for a moment and Krystal had to steady him to stop him from falling. Fox reassured her that he was ok, just exhausted. She made him sit down.
“I think I owe all of you an explanation.” Fox told them of a conversation he had with Peppy shortly after he was made general.
“So what’s up Peppy?” Fox asked leaning back on the table.
“I’ve got some… disturbing, information you need to know.” Peppy responded. Fox cocked his head.
“What are you talking about?” he said.
“There’s a price on your head Fox.” Peppy said grimly. Fox laughed.
“So? What else is new? There’s always been a price on the team Peppy.”
“No Fox, there’s a price on YOUR head, yours and everyone else on the team.” Fox stood up.
“Whoever ordered this hit has figured out our one weakness. United we stand…” Peppy started.
“Divided we fall…” Fox finished. “Dang it!” he shouted and slammed his fist on the table. He began pacing.
“All of our formations rely on team-work. If just one of us is missing the entire formation is compromised because we waste half of our effort covering our odd-man-out’s blind spots.”
“What am I gonna do Peppy?”
“That… is a decision I can’t make for you.”
“That’s the story…” Fox said. He was sitting leaned forward, his elbows on his knees. “I thought if I split the team and got you guys away from me you would be safe… there’s no way I could lose you guys. Falco, when dad disappeared and mom got sick you were always there.”
“You guys took me in…” Falco said. “Your family to me man. I’ll always be here.”
“Slippy,” Fox continued, “we couldn’t operate without you.” Slippy grinned.
“Krystal… I don’t even know where to start.”
“We’ll talk later.” She said with a smile. Fox smiled back.
“Alright,” Peppy said, “Wolf, you owe Fox an explanation.”
“Not here.” Wolf said standing up. “The walls have ears” And a nurse that was standing close by quickly walked off.
“Nosey pest lookin for gossip,” Falco said.
Back on the bridge Wolf broke things down.
“First things first, why do you resent me Fox?”
“Don’t play stupid with me. You betrayed my father.”
“No I didn’t.”
“You joined Andross’s army!” Fox yelled.
“Only as an inside man,” Wolf yelled back. They were both standing now.
“Should we stop them?” Krystal asked.
“Nah, they’ll sort it out.” Falco said.
“Falco’s right. Not much we could do to stop them.” Peppy said.
They went back and forth for a few minutes and Falco mentioned something about wishing he had popcorn when Wolf yelled, “Fox, can’t you get over yourself for just one minute?!” Fox’s body was ridged as if he was holding back pure rage, yet at this statement his expression of rage collapsed into exhaustion. He fell back in his chair, rested his arms on his knees, and is head in his hands.
“Fox,” Slippy asked. “You ok?” Fox looked up and nodded.
“Alright Wolf… you win… whatcha got?” Fox said.
“Thank you. As you know, my reputation was slaughtered by the media. But when I gave my report to General Pepper he saw it as an opportunity to set an inside man.” Fox glanced at Peppy.
“It’s true. I have access to the system and can pull up-”
“No need, I believe you.”
“Yet you don’t believe me?” Wolf asked.
“Have you ever given me any reason to?” Fox shot back, a little edge in his voice.
“Touché,” Wolf said throwing his hands up. “Anyway, I joined up and was assigned a squadron. Andrew Oinkiney, Leon Powalski, and Pigma Dangar were put under my command. Andrew, needless to say, was less than pleased. I had constant trouble out of him. ‘I am the heir to the Andross Empire! I should be in command!’ Pigma… I had to stop myself from shooting him out of the sky many a time. He made it a point to make it obvious that he preferred to fly solo. I eventually started just counting him out of our formations. Leon was the only one who stayed in line. I was actually planning with General Pepper to begin dismantling Andross’ empire from the inside when Andross declared war on the Lylat System and you stepped up to the plate. I tried to contact Pepper but Andross caught me. I convinced him that I was going to give false Intel to open a gap in Corneria’s defenses but I don’t think he ever trusted me again. He kept me busy, and to put me to the ultimate test, my new objective was to stop you at any cost. When you finally took that power crazed ape down Andrew flew the coop and I ran Pigma off. Leon stuck around though. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to go back to normal life so I started working as a bounty hunter and kept tabs for Pepper.”
“Wolf was the one who told me about the prices on your heads.” Peppy said. Fox sighed and closed his eyes. There was silence for a moment and then Fox said. “Did you ever find and leads on my father?”
“One,” Wolf said, “but I never had the chance to follow it up.” Fox looked up.
“You did, really, where?”
“Sigma Tel. It’s a small outpost on the edge of the System.”
“Why would he go there?”
“It’s real close to Venom. I tracked down Andrew and grilled him not too long ago. After James shook Pigma Andrew chased him down, he lost him around Sigma Tel. All he knew is that James had to eject… we didn’t fly with parachutes…”
“We still don’t.”
“James was flyin low though and, a lot like you, he was, IS, resourceful.”
“Rob, how long will it take to reach Sigma Tel?”
“ETA, four hours,” Rob replied.
“Go for it. I wanna know if he’s out there too.” Peppy replied.
“Good, Rob, set a course.” Fox turned to Krystal, “This will give us time to talk.”
“Good,” She said and they left the bridge and headed for the mess hall.
“You wanna start or should I?” Fox asked.
“Either ways fine with me.”
“Well, I’ve told why I did what I did… Krystal… I love you… I’ve always loved you.” Fox turned and looked out the window and sighed. He leaned on the windowsill. “I don’t really know how to explain just what it is about you… When I saw you trapped, my priorities changed… I had to rescue you.”
“I wasn’t very grateful was I?” Krystal said and half smiled.
“It really didn’t surprise me. To be honest I kinda forgot about you when I saw Andross. Instinct took over. It’s like a reflex,” he said with a small laugh, “what made you decide to join?” Fox looked over at her.
“I’m not sure… I told myself I was just looking for leads on my parents… but there was always more to it.”
On the bridge, Falco and Wolf were watching on the security cameras.
“You people are so nosey.” Peppy said walking over and looking nonetheless.
“That’s what brothers are good for.” Falco said.
“Hey! I can’t see!” Slippy complained.
They all watched on the monitor as Fox turned around and leaned back on the window.
“I know I’m not perfect, far from it, and I know I’ve hurt you and I’ll probably mess up again, but I really love you and I’d do anything for you…” Krystal walked over and put her hand on his shoulder.
“I love you to Fox.” As she leaned in, Falco cut the feed.
“We saw nothing.” He said slowly and shivered all over as if trying to shake a bad memory.
Back in the mess hall Fox and Krystal kissed for a moment. They pulled apart and all Fox could say was, “Wow…” they both began to laugh.
“Wanna head back to the bridge?” Krystal asked.
“Sure,” Fox replied, “I really could use a nap. I’m beat.” When they got back to the bridge Fox knew instantly that they had been eavesdropping because of the awkward tension in the air.
“So how much did you see?” he asked and collapsed into his chair.
“I killed it before you two started making out.” Falco said.
“Then you missed the good part.” Krystal said.
“I am so gonna have nightmares tonight.” Falco said.
“Serves you right,” Krystal said and laughed. Fox propped his feet up on his console and leaned back.
“Wake me when we get there.” He said and drifted off to sleep.

Chapter 4: Sigma Tel

“We have arrived at our destination, Sigma Tel” Rob informed.
“I’ll wake Fox.” Krystal said.
“I wonder if James is really here…” Peppy said staring out at the small outpost.
“We’ll find out soon…” Wolf replied. They turned and watched as Fox stood and stretched.
“Alright,” He said, “I’m headed down. Rob, prep my Arwing.”
“I’ll walk with you.” Krystal said. When the door closed, Falco sighed.
“What’s your problem?” Peppy asked.
“Those two mooning over each other makes me miss being around Katt…” Falco said. “I’ve been trying to contact her but she’s not answering”
“I’m sure she’s fine.” Peppy said. “She’s tough…”
Down in the launch bay Krystal and Fox kissed and Krystal said, “Please be careful.”
“Don’t worry,” Fox said and smiled, “I’ll be fine.” He hopped in his Arwing and checked the diagnostics. Cautious kept him alive. It would be just his luck that he’d over look a small thing on one of these quiet flights and end up blowing up, but he found no problems. He turned back to Krystal and said, “I love you.”
“I love you too.” She replied and kissed him on the cheek before leaving the bay. The lift-lock released and Fox shot from the hangar.
“Rob, scan the surface and find me a place to land.” He said.
“Affirmative,” Rob replied and after a few moments sent coordinates to the navigation system in Fox’s Arwing.
“Thank you Rob.” Fox said and set out. Five minutes later, Fox touched down in front of a small restaurant/inn.
“Good a place as any to start I guess.” He said and stepped inside. He walked up to the check-in desk and rang the bell.
“Like steppin into a time machine…” he said to himself.
“How can I help you?” The desk clerk asked. “Hi, I’m Hannah Park.”
“Fox McCloud,” he responded.
“McCloud, you mean like James McCloud?”
“You know my dad?”
“You’re his son?”
“How do you know dad?”
“About six years ago he crashed behind our inn. We took him in and took care of him.”
“Where is he now?”
“Probably up in his room.”
“You’re kidding me!”
“No, room 207, up the stairs, third room on the right.”
“Thank you so much!” Fox said and tore out up the stairs. He arrived at the door and froze. He raised his arm and hesitated for a moment and then knocked three times. After what seemed like an eternity the door opened. Fox couldn’t believe his eyes. James McCloud stood before him.
“Dad… is that really you?” Fox said.
“…Fox?” James said. “I can’t believe it…” They stood for a moment and then James brought Fox into a hug that nearly suffocated him.
“James,” came a voice from the back room, “who’s at the door?” a woman stepped into the room.
“Sarah,” James said, breaking their embrace, “this is my son, Fox.”
“Oh!” Sarah said, “James has told me so much about you!”
Fox gave his father a look.
“I met her and her husband Tomas Westwind at the diner down the street.” Fox sighed and laughed.
“Sorry about that, it’s been an insane day.” Fox said shaking his head. “So what are you two doing way out here?”
“We’re looking for our daughter, Krystal.” Sarah said.
“This really is an insane day. I’ve got a Krystal on my team”
“You’re kidding me!” Sarah belted out a perfect description of her.
“That’s her.” Fox said.
“Tom! Get in here!” When her husband ran in the room Sarah told him the good news.
“This is insane.” Tom said, completely astonished.
“That’s what I said.” Fox replied.
“We fly a small cruiser.” Tom informed him.
“The Great Fox is a Class 9 Carrier, there should be somewhere for you to land.”
“I guess I should pack my things.” James said. Fox’s communicator blipped a subtle code red. He flipped it open and scanned over the message. There was enemy activity in the area.
“For the love of- can you guys hang tight and give dad a lift for me?” Fox asked.
“What’s the situation?” James said.
“Not sure.”
“Go check it out. We’ll be there before too long.” Fox bolted out the room and down the stairs to his Arwing. He lifted off and headed to the Great Fox. When he had breached the atmosphere, the realigned his course and kicked on the thrusters. When he landed Peppy was waiting.
“It’s a small force,” He explained, “but this is still an unknown enemy.”
“Don’t worry,” Fox replied, “We can handle it.”
“Now Fox-” Peppy started.
“I know, I can’t fight, but I know someone who can.” Peppy left Fox to his mysteries as they stepped onto the bridge.
“So what did you find?” Wolf asked.
“Later,” Fox replied, “Rob, what’s the status on everyone’s ships?” He said and sat at his console. The diagnostics ran across the screen. Something caught his eye on the thruster test so he ran it again.
“That’s not right.” He mumbled to himself. There was an abnormality in the Cloud Runner, Krystal’s ship. “Rob,” He said, “Run a full scan and repairs on the Cloud Runner’s thruster system.”
“No time pup,” Wolf said, “they’re here.” Fox turned to see he was right. Any longer and their yet faceless enemy would be on top of them. He wanted to be angry but his exhaustion wouldn’t let him.
“Your right,” Fox sighed. He closed his eyes and wiped his hand down his face. He felt Krystal’s hand on his shoulder. He wanted to comfort her but he couldn’t shake this foreboding shadow in the back of his mind, and apparently it showed. When he turned to look at her the concerned gaze pierced him and he flinched. Krystal pulled her hand away and looked down.
“I’m sorry.” He said and looked down. “I’ve just got a bad feeling about this.” He looked up and lifted her head. “Just be careful, ok?” She silently nodded and they embraced. The team, save Fox and Peppy headed for the hanger and Fox pulled up full diagnostics on everyone’s ships. The fighters launched and headed into the fray.
“Fox,” Peppy said, “There’s a small craft coming from the planet asking permission to land.”
“Then let ‘em in Peppy.” Fox said matter-of-factly.
“Uh, ok.” Peppy stammered. Fox almost laughed. A few moments later James, Tom, and Sarah walked onto the deck.
“James, is that you?!” Peppy said astonished.
“It’s been a long time Peppy.” James said.
“I hate to postpone this reunion but dad I need your help.” Fox interrupted. “I need you to fly for me.” James raised an eyebrow and glanced at Peppy.
“Doctors orders,” Peppy explained.
“Gotcha,” James said. “I’d be honored.”
“Good.” Fox took his HUD headset off and passed it to his father. “Use this. It’ll help you keep tabs on the team. Watch Krystal for me, the Cloudrunner’s running hot for some reason.”
“You let her go anyway?” James commented.
“She’s as headstrong as I am, if not more-so. I couldn’t have stopped her if I strapped her down.”
“Just like her mother.” Tomas said. This statement earned a punch on the shoulder from Sarah.
James took his shades off and Fox helped him put the headset and activated the HUD.
“That should do it,” Fox said. The HUD came to life. “If you like it I’ll put Slippy on making one for you.” James nodded and left the bridge. Fox turned to Tomas and Sarah and told them to make themselves at home.
“This could take a while.” Fox was right. Half an hour later and the fray was still swarming with enemy fighters. The Cloudrunner was still running hot and was getting worse. Fox began to pace. Peppy picked up on his concern.
“She’s a great pilot Fox.” He said.
“If the engines blow, all the pilot skill in the whole system wouldn’t do her a lick of good.” A warning sounded from Fox’s console. The Cloudrunner was at its limit.
“Krystal fall back now.” Peppy called over TEAMCOM.
“No time,” Fox said. “She’s losing power too fast. She’ll never make it back to the ship. She’ll be blown outta the sky. Rob, ready my Arwing. Krystal, can you hear me? Head for the planet, when you breach the atmosphere level out as much as you can, I'm on my way.”
“But Fox.” Peppy said. Fox cut him off.
“No Peppy. I'm not losing her.” Peppy sighed.
“Be careful Fox…” He said as Fox bolted from the room. As he ran his back jolted him as if he’d been stabbed and he fell to his knees. He gritted his teeth hand slammed his fist on the floor.
“Pull it together!” He screamed at himself and staggered to his feet. He continued on to the launch bay and got in his Arwing. For the first time ever he skipped the diagnostics and launched. He headed straight for Sigma-Tel. The Cloudrunner’s energy readings were at twenty-five percent and Krystal was entering the atmosphere. Fox kicked his Arwing into overdrive. They were both in the atmosphere now. Krystal was fighting to level out and Fox was pushing his Arwing harder than ever trying to get under her.
“Fox,” Falco came over the TEAMCOM, “Are you crazy? What are you doing?!”
“I'm doing what I have to Falco. Fox out.” Fox replied.
He was under her now and the ships were inches away from each other.
“When the ships touch, kill your thrusters and tether your ship to mine with the G-Diffuser, I'm gonna land as best I can.” Krystal wanted to argue but she knew there was no other way, so she agreed. The ships hulls kissed and Krystal stopped the thrusters and tied the ships together. The ships started to lose altitude fast. Fox sent all the power he could to the downward thrusters. It cut their speed by about half, but it wouldn’t be enough. He’d have to suck it up. They were parallel to the ground and closing fast. He had about ten seconds. He began to count. Ten, nine, he breathed deep, six five, he tightened his grip, three, two, “Hold on!” he yelled, one… Fox pulled as hard as he could on the stick. The nose of his fighter pulled up and the tail end took the brunt of the impact. The nose pitched back forward and slammed into the ground. The Cloudrunner tore free of the tethers the G-Diffuser had created flew forward sliding across the ground. Fox’s ship managed to flip one more full time before landing flat on its belly. Fox popped the canopy and tried to get out but he couldn’t. The shear pain in his back wouldn’t let him. He looked and saw Krystal climbing out of her cockpit and running to him. Fox looked her over. Blood was running down the side of her face. Fox reached out and brushed her hair out of her face, reveling an inch long gash above her left eye.
“You’re hurt.” He said. She put her hand to her forehead and pulled it back.
“I’ll be fine, what about you.” She said.
“I'm fine, just shook up. Peppy, you read me?”
“Yeah, I hear ya Fox. You ok?”
“I'm fine, send Tomas to pick us up, this baby ain’t going anywhere.”
“He’s on his way.”
“Thanks, Fox out.” Fox sighed and leaned back.
“Who’s Tomas?” Krystal asked.
“I’ll let him tell you.” Fox said.