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rainfyre66

Star Fox: Darkness Rising (COMPLETED)

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rainfyre66

Here is an introductory synopsis to my fanfic, Star Fox: Darkness Rising. Chapter One follows below that.

The Lylat system has finally achieved peace. Dash Bowman has become Venom's young Prime Minister after successfully restoring the planet, and its army works as an allied force with the planet Corneria's superior armed forces. Yet, there is a sense of unease in the air...

General Pepper has passed on, and Peppy Hare feels his time is coming soon as well. He plans to retire soon and begins training Colonel Bill Grey to take his position, although he wonders whatever became of his friend Fox McCloud, whom he truly believes is the proper successor as General.

Fox, meanwhile, has been running small missions with his ever-changing Star Fox team. Once lauded for their heroic deeds, the Star Fox team has since fallen to the wayside due to their leader's erratic behavior and being shadowed by the mercenary-turned-hero Star Wolf team. Fox is still plagued by memories of his former love, Krystal, and haunted by a run in with a beautiful but dangerous bounty hunter named Kursed. He also feels a strange emptiness without the companionship of his former friends, especially Falco. None of the various line ups he's had have matched the connection he had with the original Star Fox team.

Then, Corneria receives a distress call from the solar system known as the Beljar system, pleading for help from their legendary army. Corneria agrees to send out its armies, led by the renowned Star Wolf team. As Star Wolf heads out to investigate, their ships explode in the Cornerian atmosphere, and it is presumed that their ships were sabotaged and there is no way any of the members could have survived.

Peppy and Colonel Grey send out desperate calls for a flying team, and after reviewing hundreds of Star Fox imitators, Peppy finally finds the two old friends he had hoped for- Fox and Falco Lombardi of Star Falco. After much convincing, both teams agree to combine their forces and set out into the galaxy to battle the tyrannical pig-mecha that has been terrorizing the Beljar system- Pigma Dengar...

Chapter One

“Ah, General Hare. Good to hear from you, old friend,” spoke the image of Dash Bowman, the young but effective Prime Minister of the planet Venom, from the transmission screen.

General Peppy Hare leaned back in his chair, clasping his hands around his cane. “I certainly can’t argue with the “old” statement,” he said. “Which is why I requested this meeting. I’m not getting any younger, and with the passing of General Pepper…”

“Rest his soul,” Bowman interjected, bowing his head respectfully.

“Yes. The passing of General Pepper has only made me realize my own mortality. Things will be coming to an end here for me at any time now, and it’s best that I have a proper successor to my position, one that is fully trained and ready for the responsibility before I leave this world.”

“Sir, are you suggesting your retirement?” Bowman asked

“That is exactly what I’m suggesting.”

Bowman nodded. “Now is a good of time as any. The Lylat System is finally at peace. Venom has returned to its natural state, and our militaries are a strong allied force. There have been no real threats to our tranquility in years.”

Peppy hesitated before replying. Yes, all had been quiet, perhaps too quiet. Even amongst the peace, he sensed a growing unease for a long time. Maybe it was all in his head, what with his shaky history with Lylat’s now renowned Star Wolf team, who had gone from an amoral rogue squadron-for-hire to forerunners of the CDF, and he still could not forget the fact that Dash Bowman came from the same bloodlines as Andross, the insane simian who’d made several attempts to overthrow the Lylat System.

“Yes,” he finally said. “Yes, I suppose you’re right.”

Bowman smiled sadly. “Do you feel it to, sir? I cannot deny there is still an air of uncertainty, or distrust, among the galaxy. I feel it myself. I know there are still whispers throughout our planets’ populations, but I assure you all intentions are good.”

Peppy smiled back. “Prime Minister Bowman, we have always said you are not only a brave, intelligent, and skilled leader, but you’re also intuitive with a pure heart. You have yet to prove us wrong.”

“Thank you, sir. So, who do you have in mind as successor? Colonel Bill Grey, I suppose? He would make a fine leader.”

Peppy nodded. “Colonel Grey has been chosen. He will begin training tomorrow.” He paused, then finally asked, “Have you heard from Fox McCloud recently?”

“Last I heard, he and his most recent team did a small job on Eladard. It was more of a ‘domestic disturbance’, really. That was awhile ago, I haven’t heard too much about them for oh, a couple years now. They do odd jobs here and there, apparently Fox spends most of his spare time entering the races, I hear he’s not too bad on a good day.” He cocked his head curiously at Peppy. “Were you considering him for General?”

“Fox McCloud is an ideal but unrealistic choice at this time. Oh, I understand I’m biased in my thoughts, besides, I can’t let the past make decisions for the present and future.”

“Well, Colonel Grey is certainly an excellent choice, General Hare, although he does have big shoes to fill, following you.”

“I’ll always appreciate your support, Bowman,” Peppy said genuinely. “And I appreciate you taking your time for this meeting.”

“It was no trouble, General Hare. I wish you the best of luck, and look forward to working with Colonel Grey. This is Dash Bowman, signing off.” He saluted at Peppy, and the transmission screen went black.

Peppy stared at the blank screen for a moment, then rose from his seat (which, he had to admit, even that task was getting to take a bit of effort) to the large window that overlooked Corneria City. Below, the city was bustling with activity. People walked along the streets, air ships and ground vehicles weaved around skyscrapers. Everything appeared as it should. His eyes lifted to the sky where the sun was setting on the horizon. Soon billions of stars from Lylat and the surrounding systems would begin twinkling through the darkness. As he studied the sky, he thought again of Fox McCloud, of where he was now and if he’d ever see him again. Fox had been in Peppy’s life since he was a pup, until the recent years when they drifted apart from each other. Peppy was focused on running the CDF, and Fox did, well, whatever it was that Fox was doing, brooding and racing as the Star Fox team floundered, if the rumors were true.

The Lylat system had been won over by the Star Wolf team, and even though they had yet to give Peppy a reason to doubt them after guiding them over the years, he never felt a closeness with Wolf O’Donnell or any the other team members. It was strictly business, he supposed the wariness between them would never completely fade. Then there was Star Falco, another star fighter squadron led by another old friend and former team mate of Peppy’s- Falco Lombardi. They had become very successful and were too busy adventuring around other systems to bother with old Peppy Hare, it seemed. He really wasn’t surprised, it had always been Falco’s nature to answer the call of wanderlust and adventure.

He went over to his desk and studied a framed and faded photograph he kept under his lamp. The photo was taken right before Star Fox had set out on their first fateful mission against Andross. Slippy Toad was smiling broadly and waving at the camera, a much younger Peppy wore a professional smile, Falco gazed coolly at something in the distance, and Fox stared intensely at the camera, a slight smirk on his face that made him look very much like his father, James.

“Father?”

Peppy jumped at his daughter’s voice. Lucy Hare put her hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry,” she said. “Should I come back later?”

“No, no, you are fine. What did you need, honey?”

“Bill wanted to double check what time he is to report to you tomorrow, and I told him I’d check for him. Seven A.M., correct?”

Peppy gritted his teeth at his daughter’s barely contained fondness when she said Bill’s name. “Lucy, you should really refer to him as Colonel Grey. And yes, seven A.M.”

“Bill doesn’t mind, he prefers I call him by his first name.”

“Well, I’m your father and I prefer you call him Colonel Grey.”

Lucy picked up the photograph. “You really wish that Fox had stuck around so he could take your place, don’t you?”

Peppy chuckled. “Either you and Prime Minister Bowman are extrememly intuitive, or I am that obvious.”

“You are that obvious,” Lucy laughed. “But Father, Fox McCloud is not the man he once was. He’s become an unstable, almost reckless leader. Those who do join his team leave shortly after because of that…even me,” she said guiltily.

Peppy grasped her hand. “Lucy, darling, you know I don’t fault you in any way for leaving Star Fox. You did what  was right for you.”

“I love you, Father. And I think Bill will do a wonderful job.” She bent down and kissed his cheek, then left.

“That’s COLONEL Grey, you hear?!” Peppy called after her. Then he leaned back in his seat, his mind still pondering the past, present, and future, and how it would all tie together, when he heard a signal start to come over the transmitter…

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rainfyre66

Chapter Two

Fox was wandering alone on the deserted streets of the planet Kew. He was lost and needed to meet his team mates, he wasn’t sure why, but he was overcome with a sense of urgency and loneliness. He was also suddenly aware that he was being watched. He turned around, but there was nothing but buildings and alleyways. He instinctively put his hand on his blaster and kept moving. He tried focusing on figuring out where he needed to go, but there was no way to deny it- he was being followed. The street lights went out with an electronic “bzzzt”, followed by a loud metallic clang. Fox whirled around with his blaster ready.

A figure emerged from an alleyway. The only light was from the next street over, making the person a silhouette with no distinguishing features. However, Fox noted that the size and shape of the body was very familiar- it looked remarkably like his own.

“Lost? Follow me.” It was his father’s voice that spoke. Fox opened his mouth to try and say something, but nothing came out. His father turned and began walking very fast. Fox hurried to keep up. James McCloud led Fox into a crowded and noisy bar, disappearing into the mass of people. Fox was looking around, trying to find him, when he heard Slippy Toad call out, “Fox! Over here!”

Fox looked over and saw his friends sitting at a table. He nodded at them and went over to the bar to order a drink. A svelte female fox he had never seen before was leaning against the counter, giving him an icy stare. Fox ignored her and took his drink, accidentally bumping her.

“Pay attention. You should be more careful,” she said in a threatening tone, then reached out to pull his face towards hers, and kissed him. When he pulled away, he jumped back. The fox had become  his former love, Krystal.

“Fox! Hey, Fox! Get your butt out of bed, you’re late!” Miyu Lynx’s voice jolted Fox from his sleep. He shook his head. It was that same damn dream again. He was having that dream far more often than he cared to, and it always put him in a lousy mood.

“What? What’s going on? Did somebody come in with a job for us?” he grumbled as he rolled out of the bed.

Miyu snorted. “Yeah, right. Did you hit your head or something when you went to bed last night? Hello, today’s the Lunar Cup race!”

“Jeez, how the hell do I forget that?” Fox smacked his head. “Please tell me you or Hawkeye has a pot of coffee going.”

“Way ahead of you, Chief,” Miyu handed him a steaming mug. “Black and strong, Hawkeye’s best blend.”

“Thanks Miyu, you guys are the best,” he sipped his coffee. “I’ll be out in a minute, just need to wake up a little more.”

Miyu left and Fox sat at the end of the bed with his coffee. He knew he should be focusing on the upcoming race, but he could never get his head on straight after having this dream. Why did he have to have this dream today? He growled to himself. His head was swimming with thoughts of his father, his old team mates, especially Krystal, and for some reason he could not shake the memory of a female bounty hunter he’d had a random run-in with on the planet Kew.

It had been at a crowded bar like in the dream, and she’d been staring him down with her cold, mask-like eyes. Finally he confronted her, and she replied in an expressionless voice, “I thought you were someone I knew. I guess not.” She was an attractive woman in spite of her coldness, so he asked her what she was doing there. She pointed out a male wart hog in the distance.

“Omar Blunt has a large price on his head, and I’m here to collect it. The money and the head, if you were going to ask,” she said before trailing Blunt out a dark exit door. A couple of days there were reports of the killing of the notorious arms smuggler, Omar Blunt, that appeared to be the work of the bounty hunter named Kursed.

What it all meant, Fox did not know and now was not the day to figure it out. He went into the front room where Miyu was finishing breakfast and Devin Hawkeye was still working on ROB. Fox cringed at the sparks flying from ROB’s metal abdomen.

“Any good news?” Fox asked Hawkeye, pointing at the old robot. Devin Hawkeye was the newest member of Star Fox, he kept to himself a lot but was loyal and a practically a genius when it came to mechanics and robotics.

Hawkeye lifted his protective mask. “Not much, I’m afraid. It’s gonna take a lot of new parts. If we can get them, I could have him as good as gold, but it’s gonna take a lot of money…”

“Which we don’t have,” Fox finished the sentence for him. Dealing with squabbling property owners and disgusting junkyard creatures just didn’t quite pay the bills the same way that liberating solar systems did.

“Hey, if Fox can get a ranking spot today, that’ll give us some cash. If he gets first, we’d have enough to fix ROB and fix up our ships,” Miyu said, slinging her arm around Fox good-naturedly.

“Let’s not start placing any bets, alright?” he snapped. Miyu removed her arm, confused. “I just mean, it’s bad luck count your chickens before they’ve hatched, that’s all,” he said in a kinder tone.

Miyu shook her head. “Fox, you know you are a legend, right? Without you, there wouldn’t be any Star Wolf, Star Falco, Star Rip-Off, whatever, teams. You have done so much for the galaxy, and not only are you a great hero, you’re not too shabby of a racer either.”

“The thing about legends, Miyu, is they get old after awhile, and people stop believing in them,” Fox said wearily. “Besides, it was my father who started the team.”

Miyu and Hawkeye exchanged a look. “You’ll be fine,” Hawkeye said, tossing Fox his racing gloves. He cocked a half smile. “Of course, you’d be better if they’d let me into the pit. I’d give your racers boosters they wouldn’t believe.”

*

On Corneria, the Star Wolf team listened to the transmission, straining to hear the message over the static. The transmission image itself was a distorted mess. The only clear image flashed at the very end, where a large mechanical bird was seen decimating a ship with fire. They were able to get the gist of the message though- a system known as the Beljar system was under attack by some force and was asking for help from the Cornerian army.

Peppy walked in front of them. “The danger is unclear, as you can tell, but they clearly need our help. I’ve checked the coordinates of the Beljar system. It is a seven planet system that is not too far from Lylat.”

“Let me get this straight- you want us to just blindly jump right into some rescue mission that could pose a greater threat than something that even the whole Cornerian army couldn’t handle? And you want us at the forefront of it?” blurted out the latest member of Star Wolf, Ivan Jackal.

Leon Powalski silenced him. “Never underestimate us.”

Team leader Wolf O’Donnell gnawed on a toothpick and thought it over. “Well, Hare, both my team mates do make good points. We’ll do it- at an increased price, of course.”

Peppy sighed. “Of course.”

“Know anything about the planets? Any major space stations or bases?” asked Wolf.

“It is all being researched as we speak,” said Peppy. “We will be able to deliver the more information to you later tonight or early tomorrow morning at the latest.”

“I hope not too early,” said Panther Caroso. “I’ll need to rest up if I’m to be in top shape for this.”

“Ah, screw your beauty sleep, Panther,” growled Wolf. “Let me see those coordinates, Hare.” Peppy handed him the disk. Wolf held it up at his team mates. “Alright boys, let’s go look these over and get ourselves started on a plan. Hare, you send us that info ASAP, and we’ll head out…”

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rainfyre66

Chapter Three

Fox checked out his racer, making sure everything was as it should be. He waved at fellow racers who were congenial enough to shout things of encouragement to him, and gave out a rude gesture to those few that were jeering him. A voice on the overhead speakers went from advertising the latest music pod to announcing the racers’ names. People cheered loudly at Fox McCloud’s name, which boosted his confidence. Until…

“FAALLLCOOO LOMBARDI!” boomed the speakers.

“What the – ” the last part of Fox’s sentence was cut off by thunderous cheering. He’d been so wrapped up in his own head, he’d completely missed Falco on the roster or readying his own racer.

Falco was leaning against his ship, looking cocky as ever.

“So Falco, can’t ever have any ideas of your own, huh? First Star Falco, now you’ve gone to try and take me in the races too?” Fox greeted his former friend.

“Actually, I considered changing the name, but we’re such a household name by this point, it’d be bad business sense to do that,” Falco yawned. “As for today, looks like I’ll be the one leaving you in the dust this time.”

“I’d like to see you try, good luck without having your team mates to back up your tail feathers.”

“Speaking of teams, how’s that going for you, Fox?” Falco winked at him before hopping into his racer. Cursing him for having the last word, Fox hopped into his craft, fueled by a new determination. Falco was going down.

With a bang, the racers were off. Fox pushed on the throttle, swerving past a line of hovering race crafts. He kept his eye out for the one with the distinctive red and blue stripes- Falco’s. He tilted his craft on its side, squeezing in between two racers that were in dead heat with each other. He was now in the lead, but no way was he slowing down now. He put on more boost and spun around a hairpin turn. The racer behind him attempted the same maneuver and crashed into the wall, wrecking his craft. There was one down!

Fox turned his eye back on the prize. Another racer tried to speed around him but clipped its small wing on Fox’s back end, spinning out. Fox didn’t even look back. He pulled up on the yoke. These were intended mainly to hover, but he’d learned how to gain an impressive bit of altitude.

Suddenly he felt a jolt from beneath his racer, bucking it so it flung back and its tail end bounced a couple of times on the ground, sparks flying. Fox was able to right himself and stay on course. That had been one heck of a tricky move to glide in under a hovering craft, one that took one heck of a pilot. Fox had a feeling he knew just what pilot that was. The race was on!

*

Star Wolf was waiting in the hangar bay of the CDF base. Wolf and Leon passed a cigarette back and forth, “For luck!” Wolf would say to those who passed by with disapproving looks, shooting a large cloud of smoke at their backs.

Peppy and Bill Grey approached the team. “Your ships are set and ready for take off, whenever you are,” Bill said. “Wolf, Leon, Panther, Jackal- I wish you luck. It’s one hell of a risk you’re taking, but if anyone can handle danger, it’s Star Wolf.”

Wolf nodded at him, flicking away the cigarette. “First destination is the planet Brea, on a minor military base that’s been overrun. We’ll send word when we arrive in the Beljar system.”

“We’ll send out fleets at your word. Don’t hesitate to call for back up sooner if you need it.”

Wolf signaled and his crew began getting into their ships. “Just a quick system check and we’ll be out of here.”

“Good luck, Star Wolf,” Peppy saluted them. He and Bill went over to the radar screens. “This is General Hare, standing by,” he said into the voice com.

“Wolf O’Donnell, systems check. Engine ok…Wing span ok…radar ok…voice com, check…G-Diffuser ok…retros ok. All systems go!”

“Leon Powalski, all systems go.”

“Panther Caroso, all okay over here.”

“Ivan Jackal here, all systems are go.”

“Star Wolf, clear for take off,” said Bill. The ships lifted off their mounts and exited the hangar bay in formation- Wolf in the lead, flanked by Panther and Jackal, followed up by Leon.

Peppy and Bill watched the radar screen as Star Wolf headed towards the Cornerian atmosphere. They were in conversation about the preparation of the CDF flagships when a panicked voice came over the voice com.

“MAYDAY! MAYDAY! THE SYSTEM IS FAILING! ENGINE IS OVERHEATING RAPIDLY! MAYDAY! MAY- ” the call was cut off by an explosion and a burst of static.

Outside, Cornerian soldiers and citizens that were watching Star Wolf’s departure were shocked by an explosion as bright as the sun filled the sky. It seemed to rain fire. Inside, Peppy was desperately calling over the voice com, “Star Wolf, do you copy? Is everything ok? Do you copy Star Wolf?” He had a feeling he knew the answer.

“Sir,” Bill called out. “We’re getting a new transmission from the Beljar system.”

Peppy came over. This transmission was much clearer and appeared to be sent out by the perpetrator itself. A hybrid creature of pig and machine filled the screen, speaking in a voice that Peppy knew all too well.

“So, Peppy old pal, I knew I could count on you to answer to the call of honorable duty. Did you really think I’d give my old friends in Star Wolf, those traitors, the chance to defeat me or my creations? Never!” croaked Pigma Dengar. “I have become far more powerful than you could ever believe, send your armies, I dare you! Even if you don’t, I’ll have Lylat soon enough. Tell Star Wolf I’ll see them in Hell!” He gave a fiendish cackle and transmitter screen cut off.

*

Fox was lagging behind now, a few racers were tailing him. Falco was far ahead now. It would take everything he had. He hit the thrusters, readying himself for the pull ahead, but it did nothing but make the back of his racer sputter and wheeze. His boost engines had taken damage when they’d hit the ground. Fox cut off a racer who was suffering wing damage. The racer got angry and rammed the into Fox’s side, spinning him out. Fox struggled to turn his ship, without thrusters it was difficult to make a U-turn. At that moment, Falco lapped him, purposely passing dangerously close to psyche out Fox. Fox pulled his ship right and took off. He was thrilled to see that Falco had stalled out, and that another racer, Eric Pride, had pulled ahead of Falco.

Suddenly, Fox’s boosters kicked in. He pushed it as far as he could go, weaving dangerously around walls and other ships. He was making up lost ground, his speed building dangerously. Fox went to take another hair pin turn when he felt his craft begin to lose control. He released the thrust, but it was too late. As his boost rockets sputtered out, it slowed him down enough so that when he wiped out he wasn’t hurt, but not enough to keep his racer from being totaled. Fox McCloud was out of the race.

Fox didn’t really want to see Hawkeye or Miyu right after that disastrous race, yet it bothered him when he couldn’t find them anywhere around the speedway afterwards.

“Hey Fox, way to go! That was some crash!” Falco called out, holding his second place trophy. His loyal team mate, Katt Monroe, was looking at him admiringly, glaring at any woman who was trying to approach Falco. Falco, of course, was oblivious to that.

Fox pointed at the trophy. “Congratulations on second place. I mean, second best is what you’re used to, right?”

If Falco came back with something, Fox didn’t hear it. He heard Miyu shouting his name as she ran across the speedway with Hawkeye.

“Fox! Fox! Sorry about the race, but who cares now anyway! A call just came in, somebody has a job for us! I hope your skills are not too rusty.”

“Look, if it’s another disgusting junkyard creature infestation, count me out.”

“No, no. Nothing like that, not even close,” Miyu shook her head. “It’s a real job, a big job, and you won’t believe who we need to report to…”

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Kursed

(So will Fox see Kursed again?)This is quiet interesting.

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rainfyre66

I'd say there's a pretty good chance Fox and Kursed will see each other again.  :wink:

Glad you're interested, things are just getting started...

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Chapter Four

Peppy and Bill sat in the air traffic control tower, watching what seemed like the hundredth star squadron on the training field. This one was called The Avian Fighters, and while usually those of avian descent were naturally skilled pilots, Peppy was not impressed with them. Besides, their leader, a parakeet named Jose Carioca, seemed too high strung for the job.

Bill was trying to keep his patience. He knew Peppy was hoping for Star Fox or Star Falco to answer his call, but instead they got a large number of imitators. True, they weren’t as skilled as the original Star teams (including the late Star Wolf), but it was clear that neither Fox or Falco was responding, so they had to choose at least one of these other teams, and soon.

“General, I really think these are the best we’re going to get...”

Peppy sighed, but before he could answer, a voice buzzed in over the radio.

“General Hare, this is Lieutenant Spangler. You have another response team entering the training field.”

Bill groaned in spite of himself until they went down to the field, where Lucy was leading Fox McCloud and his team over to them.

“Fox? Fox! It is you!” Peppy could not contain his excitement. “I knew it! I knew you’d answer our call. You’re just like your father, he’d never resist a fight for justice- or the excitement!”

“Believe me, it was not easy to convince him,” Miyu rolled her eyes. “I thought Hawkeye and I were going to have to drag him kicking and screaming.”

“I- uh- it wasn’t that bad!” Fox lied, wishing that he could slap a muzzle on Miyu sometimes. “General Hare, these are my partners- Miyu Lynx and Devin Hawkeye,”

“Yes, yes, very good! And don’t start with the General Hare stuff, you can always call me Peppy you know.”

“Father, Bill, I thought you might be thirsty since you’ve been out here so long. Would you like something to drink?” Lucy interjected, holding out a couple of bottles to them. Bill took one with a smile and a thank you.

“Will you be flying on this mission, Lucy?” Fox asked. He still felt a bit of resentment over her leaving Star Fox, but there was no denying she was as talented as her father.

“No, I am part of the defense and combat strategy team. I’ll be helping Bill coordinate flight routes and battle plans from the base.”

“Colonel Grey, Lucy!” Peppy turned back to Fox. “Or should I say, General Grey, he is going to be my successor.”

“Yeah, I heard. Congratulations, Bill,” said Fox, reaching out to shake his hand.

“Thanks, Fox. How did you hear about that already?”

“I told them,” Slippy Toad stepped out from behind the team. “They came to me on Aquas for help on getting parts for ROB and their ships, and I filled them in.”

“Parts for ROB? What’s wrong?”

“Oh, you know, just the usual robots getting old and falling apart stuff,” Fox said vaguely, and quickly changed the subject. “So, Pigma is threatening the galaxy and Star Wolf is blown up in space? Something about this just doesn’t seem right to me.”

“Their ships exploded before even leaving Corneria. We have reason to believe that it was an inside job and are running a full investigation, Pigma might have a mole in the CDF that tampered with their ships. He made it clear he wanted them dead, there is no way Wolf could have survived the explosion…” Peppy said sadly. There had not been much time to think much about their death since it happened. Friends or not, they had achieved many honorable accomplishments in their run.

Lieutenant Spangler’s voice came over the comm. link again. “General Hare, Prime Minister Bowman has landed, and says he has guests that should be of great interest to you.”

“Copy. Please send him to the training field,” Peppy replied. He happened to look up at the sky, where the Avian Fighters were now circling aimlessly, unsure of what to do at this point. “Oh, shoot!” Peppy muttered, then called for them to land. Jose Carioca and his team came over, eager to see what Peppy thought. “Er, actually, I thank you for your time, but we’ve decided to go with a slightly more experienced team, due to the danger that is involved in this mission. I thank you for your time. Again.” Peppy extended a hand to them, but Jose merely sniffed at it, saying “Thanks for nothing, Bunny. Come on, team!” before stomping off the field, past Bowman and Falco Lombardi.

Fox and Falco stared at each other. “What are you doing here?” they asked at the same time.  “Peppy sent out a call for us,” they replied, again at the same time. This time they turned and stared at Peppy.

“I needed a top star fighter team,” he said sheepishly. “And I knew I could count on both of you.”

“Uh-uh. If he’s in, I’m out,” said Falco, starting to walk off the field. Bowman grabbed his arm.

“I was here first, you were late, as usual.”

“Hey man, people want to talk to you when you place in a race. Then Star Falco was invited to a celebratory dinner on Venom for our recent accomplishments. Bowman here then said he’d personally accompany me to Corneria for recruitment.” He turned to Bowman. “Did you know Fox would be here? Because that’s not cool.”

Fox turned to Slippy, “Did you know Falco would be here?”

This time both Slippy and Bowman were sheepish.

“Will you guys stop fighting? If I wanted to hear squabbling, I’d be home with my kids,” said Slippy. “Look, Falco, you have a talented team, and Fox you’re a great leader, but will need some help. Can’t you two just put your differences aside? Maybe even be friends again?”

“No,” they both said, glaring at each other.

“Listen Peppy, thanks for the call, but this won’t work for us. Star Fox does things our own way,” Fox said. “Right, guys?”

“Actually, working with Star Falco might not be a bad idea,” said Hawkeye. “Our ships are in desperate need of repair, even with the parts Slippy was able to give us I can’t get ROB to 100%. We could use this mission, Fox, and Beljar could certainly use us. And it certainly wouldn’t hurt to have some back up.”

“Come on, you want back up, that’s what the CDF is for,” snapped Fox.

            “Hawkeye, you don’t say much, but when you do, it’s golden,” said Miyu. “I’m in.”

            Falco held up his hands. “Hold up, I didn’t agree to anything. It’s not my fault your equipment is in the shambles, why should I back you up? Besides, my team hasn’t cast their vote.”

“Oh, we’re definitely in,” came a female voice. Katt and the rest of the team mates from Star Falco walked up. “This shouldn’t be a matter of selfish pride, it’s about keeping peace in the galaxy. We’ve already voted.”

Bowman cleared his throat. “All in favor of Star Fox and Star Falco combining their forces to liberate the Beljar system?”

“AYE!” cried everyone except Fox and Falco.

“All opposed?”

“Nay!” shouted Fox and Falco.

Prime Minister Bowman shrugged. “Well, I guess that settles it then. You can’t fight majority vote.”

“Damn, I guess they’re right,” muttered Falco.

Bill clapped his hands together. “Excellent! Now, how about we rendezvous inside to formulate a plan, and follow that with some good dinner and drinks to catch us all up? That is,” he glanced at Peppy, “if the General agrees.”

Peppy put his hand on Bill’s back. “It’s like you read my mind, Colonel.”

*

Meanwhile, on the planet Jericho, a gaseous planet in the Beljar system, the feared bounty hunter named Kursed looked out her window. There was nothing but dense yellowish brown clouds, which meant the sun was setting. She was staying in an abandoned homestead that was located near a deserted gas mine. She turned back and began loading her weapons and storing them in her strategic hiding places. Nobody ever suspected that she was a lethal and merciless bounty hunter until it was too late. Her ship was waiting on the landing deck, now all she needed was the call that gave the when and where and the fun could begin.

“Come in, Princess. I’ve got some news for you,” the mysterious voice of the one who had given her the job came over the comm. link.

She sighed. “For the last time, I’m not a Princess, I’m a professional. Go ahead.”

“They will be landing on the Brea Defense Base at roughly seventeen thirty. Can you get the job done?”

“There isn’t a job I’ve failed yet. About the price, I’m inclined to ask for more. Isn’t $15,000 a head a bit low for what you’re asking?”

“Listen sweetheart, bring me the hunted and then we’ll see about your bounty.”

“Alright. But be warned, I can be a real bitch to negotiate with,” she warned him. The last time her employer tried to lowball her, he ended up being the one coming up on the short end of the stick- literally. She shut off the comm. link before he could reply. Seventeen thirty, and then it would be done. She fingered a knife, enjoying the cold sharpness on her fingertips. Yes, she was full of surprises, and tomorrow at the Brea Defense Base would be one of the biggest surprises of all…

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rainfyre66

Anyone have any comments, suggestions, constructive criticism, etc?

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Kursed

Anyone have any comments, suggestions, constructive criticism, etc?

I think Kursed is a little too dark

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rainfyre66

I think Kursed is a little too dark

Not everything is as it seems...

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Chapter Five

Star Fox and Star Falco broke through the atmosphere of the planet Brea. “It’s beautiful,” breathed Faye Spaniel, a member of Star Falco. They gathered at the window of the Falcon (Star Falco’s equivalent of the Great Fox, which had seen better days. It had taken much argument to convince Fox that taking the Falcon was a wiser choice, of course) to look down below at a green and mountainous planet with crashing waterfalls and colorful plant life.

“Look at that huge patch of wild flowers over there,” Fox pointed out.

“Tell you what little girl, we’ll park you down there to pick some posies while we go do some battling, and you can greet us at the rendezvous point with a nice bouquet,” said Falco. Miyu tried unsuccessfully to smother a snort of laughter.

“You’re both acting like little girls,” said Katt. “Keep an eye out for the refugee camp.” They watched in horror as the beautiful landscape quickly became barren and burned from destruction.

“Are those animals down there?” asked Faye, pointing to some beasts down below. “What are they doing?” There was a stampede of animals that looked as if they were taking out everything underfoot. Hawkeye looked closer. “They could be animals, but they also look like machines. Hybrids maybe?”

“Weapons. He’s combined animals with machine to make them into bio-weapons,” said Fox

“That’s sick,” groaned Faye.

“Looks like Pigma learned a thing or two from Andross,” Falco nodded. Fox was thinking the exact same thing, but didn’t want to admit he was on the same page as Falco. He spotted the refugee camp. “There it is gang. ROB, Slippy, land the ship in that patch next to the camp.”

Slippy readied the ship, but ROB was asleep at the controls. Hawkeye smacked him on the back and with a whir ROB came to life. “Are we there yet?” ROB asked.

“Yes, we’re ready to land this thing,” said Fox. “Team, ready your ships-“

Suddenly the Falcon was shook with laser fire. “Intruder! State your business!” a voice called from the voice com.

“Cease fire! We’re Star Fox-“

“Star Falco!” Falco shouted into the voice com over Fox’s shoulder.

“And we’ve been sent by the Cornerian Army to defend you. We’re here to speak to General Felini!”

There was a pause and a muffled order to cease fire. “This is Colonel Bruen. Permission to land.”

The Falcon landed successfully and the team filed off of the ship. “You coming, Slip?” asked Falco, wiggling his eyebrows at him.

“Nice try, Falco, but I already swore that I’m only here to help ROB fly this ship and do some ship maintenance. Amanda’s already going to kill me…”

They were greeted by a band of worn down looking soldiers. Colonel Bruen was at the forefront of the group.

“I’m honored to have the help of such legends. It is a shame what happened to Star Wolf, but I am utterly grateful for your help, Star Fox and Star Falco. I must inform you, General Felini has gone missing, we believe Pigma Dengar’s forces have seized him when they took over our base,” said Colonel Bruen. “He is possibly located on the planet Evola, where Pigma is.”

“Colonel Bruen, very little information has been given about what activity Pigma has been up to…”

“Beljar has a universal army, with stations on most planets, we are a very united system, only a few civil wars to our history. It is unknown exactly when Pigma landed on the planet Evola, but we presume he was secretly creating these hybrid monsters out of our native creatures, and had a few creations of his own, until he felt they were powerful enough to come out of hiding and threaten our armies. We were not as prepared as we should have been,” he said, a bit shamefully. “Now, his creations are out of control, he has since banded together an army of unknown soldiers and a weaponry supply, as well as has made the prisoners of this war his servants, which we think is being done via mind control.”

“Jeez,” muttered Falco. “Who knew Pigma would have the brains to do all that?”

“You know this Pigma?”

“We go way back,” said Fox. “General Hare has said that there are plans located within the base somewhere that give us some information on Pigma’s weapons.”

“Yes, General Felini has secured it and only this key can unscramble the code to the file in our mother computer,” Colonel Bruen slipped something to Fox. “Pigma’s soldiers do not know about this, so the plans should still be secure. The base is just up over those mountains.”

There was a rumbling noise that nearly deafened their ears, then a high pitched squealing noise.

“Mechas approaching! On guard, soldiers!” shouted Colonel Bruen, extracting a plasma rifle. The soldiers also pulled out arms, readying themselves. “Pigma has wild herds of mecha-animals that aimlessly cause destruction to our planets, their attacks are unpredictable.”

Fox readied his own blaster and signaled for the others to do the same. A stampede of mecha-animals thundered into the valley, quite possibly the same herd they’d viewed from the ship. They were heading for the camp, probably under order to destroy it. “Quick, head them off!” he shouted to his team mates.

“We’ll back you,” assured Colonel Bruen.

The mecha-animals were fierce, their pace never slowing as they approached. Falco fired his pulse ion blaster, taking out a few of them. Fox’s own blaster was weaker, but was able to take down a couple. One of the animals knocked over Falco, but Katt blasted it away quickly, and she and Falco were able to take out the rest that were in his path before they trampled him. The remaining members of the herd grew defensive, bucking their heavy hind legs and snapping strong jaws. The sharp teeth of one came down on Star Falco member Scout Badger’s leg. He cried out in pain, but was able to take him down. Miyu yelped and scored a shot at one that was about to pounce on Scout as he crumpled to ground from the bite. Its body fell out of the air and landed on one of the few remaining. It yelped in pain and lamely took off over the hills, the last two followed it.

“They’re backing off for now,” Fox called out. “Is everyone ok?”

“One of the darn things bit me, I’m bleeding a bit but I should be alright,” said Scout, rolling up the leg of his pants and wincing at the wound. Colonel Bruen instructed a soldier to take him to the infirmary tent. The eerie noise of the mecha-animals could be heard in the distance.

“They could be back, especially if Pigma discovers we are here. I think they ran off to send a warning and get reinforcements. Are your men equipped enough to hold down the defense?”asked Fox.

“Fox, we can’t waste any more time. We have to get to that defense base,” said Falco. “We’ll leave Scout and one of the others here just in case while the rest of us hit it up.”

Fox did not want to answer to Falco, but he knew he was right. He swallowed the argumentative response that was about to come out of his mouth. He turned to Colonel Bruen. “Okay, we’re ready to make our move on the base. I have an idea, if we could borrow some of your uniforms…”

*

Kursed paced at the top of the hill, her impatience rising. Where were they? So far there had been no sighting of them at the base, and she’d been watching intently. Part of the reason she was so irritable right now was the creeping sensation that something was not right. She tried to shut it out of her mind, unless she sensed immediate danger there was no reason to distract herself with her thoughts and feelings. That’s when mistakes happened, she’d learned. She’d become adept at shutting off her emotions, fine tuning her inner sensory to be more of a defense system, to anticipate an enemy or captor’s move to protect herself and have the upper hand in a hunt.

“It’s past eighteen o’clock and no sighting,” she said into the comm. link, but there was no response. She heard the hideous noise from the mechanical beasts that overran the planet. She couldn’t stand those things, they were disgusting and irritating. Luckily none had gotten to close to her yet, or they’d be sorry. The noise grew louder, and Kursed peered down into the valley below where a soldiers’ refugee camp had been set up. A stampede or attack was taking place, and she squinted to get a better view at the ones who were fending them off. They didn’t look like Beljar soldiers, and the familiar looking ship that was landed next to the camp gave her a clue as to who it might be.

She pulled out her binocular viewer. In the midst of the fight, she saw a rugged badger get bitten by one of the creatures and a female lynx shoot one out of the air. Impressive shot, she couldn’t help thinking, but that was not what she was trying to see. As the remaining beasts ran off, she had a clear view of what she was looking for- a blue and red avian male and a male red fox, Falco Lombardi and Fox McCloud. Yes, that was Fox McCloud alright. She involuntarily drew in a sharp breath, her hand unconsciously grasping at the gun in her holster as she forced herself to close off her thoughts.

“No,” Kursed whispered to herself. “It can’t be. What are they doing here?”

She turned sharply on her heel and marched down the hill towards the base. She couldn’t promise that she wouldn’t shoot first and ask questions later, but she would be waiting for them.

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rainfyre66

Completed Chapter 5, Chapter 6 should be up tomorrow if anyone is following this.

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Kursed

Completed Chapter 5, Chapter 6 should be up tomorrow if anyone is following this.

I am trying to ,but recent events make me not even want to be here.

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rainfyre66

Sorry to hear that Kursed, I hope we don't lose you on this board.  :(

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rainfyre66

Chapter Six

Peppy, Bill, Lucy, and Dash Bowman were reviewing the latest footage of the Beljar system that Slippy had sent them via the transmission screen. Peppy interrupted the image review for a moment.

“Slippy, do you know if Fox will be able to intercept the technical readouts of Pigma’s weapons if the base is completely under Pigma’s control?” he asked

Slippy’s face filled the screen. “He should be able to. Pigma’s soldiers are not aware of the files and don’t have the code to access them, according to Colonel Bruen. I hope that’s still the case.”

Peppy nodded. “We have our first line of defense en route to Beljar.”

“Venomian defenses are prepared to launch later tonight as well,” added Bowman. “Having those files will make it that much easier to plan our attacks.”

The screen cut back to the footage of the mecha-animal attack. Bowman let out a cry of pain as they watched Scout get his leg bitten and take down the beast. The others looked at him with concern. Bowman’s eyes were squinched shut and he was rubbing his head with his hand.

“Sorry,” he mumbled. “I just got a splitting headache. I think I’ve been staring at this screen for too long. Been happening a lot lately.”

Lucy looked concerned. “Have you gotten that checked out?”

He shook his head. “Just stress, I’m sure. I haven’t been sleeping well lately.”

“Let’s take a break,” suggested Peppy. “Prime Minister, go get yourself a glass of water and try to relax for a few minutes. General’s orders!” he added playfully. Bowman nodded gratefully and staggered out of the room. Peppy followed, claiming he also needed a drink of water.

“Went to make sure Bowman really is okay, I’ll bet. Your father is a good man, Lucy,” said Bill. “I can see where you get it from. Not that you’re a man, I mean,” Bill stammered as Lucy blushed. “It-it will be an honor to follow his footsteps.”

“Thank you. Bill, I’ve never asked, why is it you never joined Star Fox?” she asked.

He shrugged. “Oh, I don’t know, I made my way through the Cornerian Military Academy and just went straight into the CDF after that. Fox was always more adventurous than me, you know he dropped out of the academy, right?”

“No,” she said, surprised. “I’d always assumed he made it through and decided military life didn’t suit him.”

“Well, that is basically what he decided,” Bill laughed. “After he met Falco, he decided he’d rather convince General Hare to regroup a team like his father’s. Not that he needed much convincing. Ironic isn’t it, when you think that Peppy- excuse me, General Hare- is now the general of the CDF. Now, you tell me, why aren’t you out there in Beljar with Fox and the team right now, a skilled pilot like you?”

“Oh, you know, a lot of reasons,” she started to say, when Peppy and a pale but recovered Dash Bowman entered the room. “But this is more important,” she said, turning back to the screen.

“What’s not important?” Peppy asked sharply. Bowman smiled warmly at Peppy’s protective instinct over his daughter.

“Just small talk, Father. This is important,” she pointed at the screen, unfreezing the image. At that moment, Fox’s voice came over the voice com, “General Hare, we are entering Brea Defense Base.”

*

“Hey, let’s disguise ourselves in soldiers’ uniforms. That’s never been done before, no one will suspect a thing!” Falco’s voice was overflowing with sarcasm as they approached the base dressed in Beljar military guise.

“Shut it, Falco,” snapped Faye. This surprised yet pleased Miyu. She didn’t know Faye very well yet, but outside of combat she came off as friendly but almost prissy. Katt had assured Miyu and Star Fox that Faye was brave, with a natural grace and clear-headedness that was necessary in battles. And being disguised as a burly and dirty male soldier, no one could describe Faye as prissy right now. Miyu and Katt were also disguised as men. Hawkeye had been elected to stay behind at the camp, as he would be most efficient deploying ships or whatever was needed from the Falcon.

“Yes Falco, your plan of ambushing the base from our ships was much more subtle,” Fox rolled his eyes.

“It would have been effective.”

“Until you accidentally blasted the main computer…”

“Knock it off!” all three girls hissed.

They arrived at the main entrance and scanned their badges. Fox figured this would draw the least attention to them. The heavy doors slid open without an issue.

“Piece of cake,” said Fox in a low voice. “Follow me. Act natural, but keep your guard up. When we get to the main computer center, I need Katt and Faye to stand guard while Miyu and Falco take out the security systems.”

They filed through the main courtyard of the base, making sure they looked as if they knew where they were headed. Luckily, Fox had studied the base’s layout beforehand, so he did have a good idea of where to go. It was easy to tell Pigma’s soldiers from those that were under his control. Pigma’s soldiers were large and brutish, with evil gleams in their eyes as they poked and prodded others with their weapons. The remaining Beljar soldiers had a vacant, robotic look to their faces and movements. Fox made a note to himself to try and not mortally wound the Beljar soldiers. Falco was thinking the exact same thing.

They crowded onto an elevator. “Camera in the corner. Try to keep your faces out of view,” Fox said under his breath. They kept their heads bowed low until the elevator reached the computer center sub-level. The door slid open, revealing a room full of various computer systems, however, it was surprisingly almost empty except for two bored looking soldiers. Fox and Falco drew their stun guns and knocked them out. Katt and Faye positioned themselves on either side of the elevator door.

“Okay, Miyu and Falco, start blasting those security cameras and shut down the rest of the security controls, they should be on that computer over there. I’m going to try and get those files from the main.”

“Not so fast,” came a cold female voice. The voice was unfamiliar to everyone except Fox. He knew that voice all too well. He drew his blaster and turned to look into the eyes of Kursed, the bounty hunter who haunted his dreams.

“I wouldn’t shoot those cameras. One is rigged up to an alarm that will set off an alert to the entire base and shut down power to the elevator, leaving you as sitting ducks,” she said, not overly concerned with that possibility.

“Thanks for the tip,” Falco said dryly. “I suppose you know which one?”

“Of course.”

“And I suppose you’re not going to tell us which one?”

“Maybe,” she said, circling them like prey.

“What do you want with me? With us?” Fox asked. She stared him straight in the eyes.

“Where is Star Wolf?” Her voice was not expressionless anymore. Oh no, it was full of menace.

“Huh? What do you mean?”

“I’d been tipped off that team Star Wolf would be arriving at the Brea Defense Base. You see, we were going to have a little meeting,” she smiled slowly. “They may be hometown heroes in Lylat, but here, they’re still worth more dead,” she coolly appraised the crew. “They wanted what you’re after here, so maybe we could still work something out, hmm?”

Fox was confused. “I don’t get it. Haven’t your authorities heard? Star Wolf is already dead.”

“What?!” Her eyes flashed at this news.

“ The Beljar military sent out a call for help from the CDF, and when Star Wolf set out on mission, their ships exploded before they even got out of Corneria. Sabotage. Pigma Dengar wanted them dead,” Fox said, eyeing her carefully. Her eyes flashed again and this time Fox caught it- a quick flash of emotion that completely transformed her features. He lowered his blaster.

“Krystal?” he whispered, stepping towards her. But her face had already turned back to its hardened mask as she backed away, drawing her own blaster.

“Wrong!” she said dully. “Krystal is dead. I should know. I killed her.”

She went over to the elevator, opening the door. “Oh, and by the way, it’s that camera over there.” She blasted it away and escaped up into the elevator shaft as an ear-piercing siren and flashing red lights filled the room.

“SECURITY BREACH ALERT! ALERT! ALERT! SECURITY BREACH ALERT!”

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Chapter Seven

Miyu and Faye ran inside the elevator to begin firing up the shaft at Kursed, but Fox stopped them. He handed off the code key to Falco. “Get the files, I’m going after her!” he shouted. Falco held him back.

“No, Fox, it’s not worth it! You have to stay focused!” he shook him. He gave the code key back. “Get those files, I think I can shut off that alarm.” He stunned the two soldiers on the floor a second time for good measure. Of course, he knew it didn’t really matter, it was only a matter of minutes before they got swarmed by the enemy. He went to work on the security program. Miyu looked over his shoulder. “I’ve deactivated one of these before,” she said excitedly, leaning on his shoulder to help him shut down the program. Katt’s eyes instinctively narrowed

“I got you covered, Falco! Faye, cover Fox!” Katt called out.

“Thanks, Katt,” Falco called dismissively over his shoulder. A welcoming silence filled the room as the alarm shut off.

Meanwhile, Fox waited impatiently for the computer to encrypt the code. “I’m waiting for the key to unlock the file so I can send it to you,” he said to Slippy over his comm. link. “I need you to move the Falcon to the entrance to the base, we’re about to have company. And I need you to watch for a non-military ship that is leaving the base and get its coordinates!”

“We have company!” shouted Faye. A second, concealed elevator door slid open. Fox sent out the files to the Falcon’s computer and removed the key, praying the files had reached the system. The rest of his team were holding off soldiers as they moved towards the elevator. One by one they leapt up into the shaft, shimmying themselves up cables and swaying from side to side as they avoided shots. Soldiers began sliding down the elevator cables.

“Katt, Faye, cover the top. Falco and I got below!” Fox shouted. He called for the Falcon to send out Hawkeye and Scout in their ships. Katt was struggling with a soldier at the top of the cables. Both she and the soldier started to fall down the shaft. Falco reached out and was able to catch her by the arm. Fox helped boost her up as Falco wrapped his arm round her waist to pull her up to safety next to him.

“Hold together!” he snapped at her, relief flooding through him. Katt was a good team member, heck she’d given him the idea for Star Falco. He’d hate to lose her, even if he’d never admit it to anyone, not even himself. He removed his arm from her waist.

They reached the top of the shaft. More soldiers were at the ready, some manning turret cannons from the top of the base walls. Fox’s head spun, he could not remember which way the exit would be, and they were starting to get outnumbered. One of the turret guns exploded with a loud boom.

“Score! I got you covered, Fox,” said Scout from his ship.

“ I’ve got the south side,” chimed in Hawkeye.

“This way!” Katt called as another turret was decimated. They fled for the main entrance doors. Katt tried desperately to scan her badge, but nothing happened.

“It won’t read! Fox, try yours!”

Fox tried scanning his, with no luck. Falco shoved him aside. “Cover me, I can hot wire this thing,” he said.

“Oh great, we’re all going to die because Mr. Cocky thinks he’s clever enough to hot wire a door,” he clicked on his comm. link in exasperation. “Hawkeye, Scout, lower your ships, we might have to hitch a ride to the Falcon. We can’t get the doors to op-“ he trailed off as the doors slid open. Falco was smirking triumphantly.

They dashed out the doors. The Falcon was waiting for them. The refugees from the Beljar Army and Colonel Bruen were also ready for combat. “We’re taking our base back,” he explained. “With their defenses lowered, we can take them. We also received word from General Hare that back up is on the way. Move in, men!” he shouted to his soldiers. He saluted the team. “Good luck , Star Fox and Star Falco!”

“Thanks,” they both said. They boarded the Falcon. Scout and Hawkeye took out the last of the cannons and moved their ships into the docking bay. Cornerian defense ships could be seen in the distance.

“You think they’ll be okay?” asked Faye, removing her helmet and shaking out her long silky ears.

Fox nodded. “With the CDF on their way, and the rogue soldiers and security system taken out, they should be.”

“Incoming message from General Hare,” said ROB. They all turned and looked at the transmission screen.

“Our defenses should have reached Brea by now, Fox. Did you secure the plans?”

“Yes, on both counts,” said Fox. “Our team will begin analyzing them in a moment here and send them to you, we just had quite a row. We can count one base as liberated!”

“Great job, team! I knew I could count on you all. Now get to work!” he saluted them and signed off.

“Load that baby up, Slip,” said Falco. The team gathered around the computer screen. Fox sunk into a chair He knew he should be thinking about the plans and preparing the next mission, but he could think about was Krystal. Kursed. Whoever she was now. She certainly wasn’t the same woman he fell in love with years ago, the woman whose heart he’d ended up breaking. It’d been because of him that she’d joined Star Wolf long ago, was he the reason she had reinvented herself into that cold-blooded bounty hunter? And yet…yet what? They were here on a mission, and it wasn’t a mission that was for him and Krystal to work out their issues. But still…

He went over to Slippy. “Hey, Slippy,” he asked quietly. “Did you happen to see that ship I asked about?”

Slippy nodded. “It was heading for the planet Jericho. It looked a little familiar, is it someone we know? Or an enemy?”

“I don’t know,” Fox answered truthfully. Jericho. She was on Jericho. Falco had overheard the conversation and was looking at Fox with concern, but quickly looked away when Fox looked back over at him and went back to scanning through Pigma’s weapons of destruction.

“Hey, Fox,” called Hawkeye. “I just noticed something interesting. Come take a look at this…”

*

Kursed was flying her ship at top speed back to Jericho. Part of her didn’t even want to return, to just leave whatever she had there behind and abandon the task at hand. Whatever that was. The sense of danger was growing stronger than ever, but she had no idea what was going on and needed to find out.

Star Wolf was dead? She could not believe that, did not like the sadness it spiked her with. They had a deal, a plan. She knew all along her mysterious employer was Pigma Dengar, though he tried to remain anonymous. She knew Pigma wanted Star Wolf out of the way, and that Pigma had all intentions of killing her too. The plan had been to set up the proposed hit job when they landed at Brea, where they could intercept the weapons files and then team up and catch Pigma off guard, killing him and splitting a hefty reward between them. Pigma had to have found out about the double-cross somehow and beaten them to the punch. And then there was Star Fox…

Who had brought them into the picture? It was some sick twist of fate. She’d lost control of her emotions and had almost blown everything when she blew her cover with Fox, whom she had been able to get one over on once (which was worse? needled that unwelcome inner voice she had grown to despise).

She desperately shook it off. She had to stay focused and not lose control again. Not with the danger that was mounting.

Just go! Her insides seemed to scream, but something else inside her was pulling her to stay, to figure out what the hell was going on.

She landed her ship at the abandoned homestead. Nothing looked out of place upon entry, everything was as she left it. Nevertheless, she began to quickly gather her belongings. To hell with it, this too much to deal with, she needed to save her own neck, and no way was she going to live in fear.

“Going someplace?”

Kursed turned around, her hand at her holster. Leon Powalski stepped out of the shadows, wearing the familiar but still creepy grin he always had when he was about to take down an enemy.

“Leon,” she said, not completely relieved. “How- I just heard you were dead! I went to the rendezvous point and ran into Star Fox and Star Falco instead of you guys!”

“Hmm,” he said. “I don’t think Panther would be pleased to hear you had another reunion with Fox McCloud. Must you always break his heart?”

“Leon, cut the crap and tell me what is going on,” she said threateningly, pulling the blaster out of the holster this time.

“Kursed, one of the galaxy’s most ruthless bounty hunters. Oh, I don’t doubt you’d kill me right now,” he said, almost mockingly. “I have taught you well, it’s good to know that our time working together wasn’t a complete waste. You know, it’s funny, when we were on the same team, we got on the least, but we’re really not so different, you and I…” Leon reached for something, Kursed was about to fire her pistol, but dropped to the ground, unconscious. Leon had placed a mask over his mouth and nose as chloroform gas filled the room and three more masked figures came out of hiding to look down upon their prize…

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Kursed

someones goign to be ticked off when she wakes up.

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Chapter Eight

Fox studied the readouts of Pigma’s weapons. Beljar analysts had obtained diagrams and statistics of his most major weapons. They were impressive machines, even Fox and Falco had to admit they were impressed at Pigma’s technical aptitude. He seemed to favor blending live animals with machine, probably inspired by his own state. The one Beljar seemed to fear most was a hybrid known as the “Galactic Phoenix”- an enormous bird of prey melded with machine that was equipped with intense fire power and nearly invincible armor that could hold through explosions and be easily repaired, hence the name “phoenix”.

“Fox, so far no one has heard of any Professor Andorf in the any of the intelligence units,” said Peppy from the video transmitter.

“Hmm,” said Fox. That was not what he wanted to hear. He’d been hoping the strange “Professor Andorf” signature that appeared on each weapons diagram had been added by someone in the intelligence unit. “You know what that means, don’t you?”

Falco nodded. “Pigma probably had help with this. I knew this seemed a little bit beyond his brain power.”

The other team members held their breath, waiting for another argument to ensue. Could it be their leaders actually agreed on something? The two former friends glanced at each other, and then looked away.

“Professor Andorf…if Pigma had help, do you think this Professor Andorf knows what Pigma is doing with these inventions, and if so, is he still helping Pigma?” Fox wondered.

“That’s a good question, Fox. We’ll have to keep our eyes out for anything. No one’s heard of any Professor Andorf other than those signatures," Peppy said.

“Andorf…Andorf…Peppy, is Dash with you?”

“He’s with Bill and Lucy at the moment coordinating battle plans.”

“I need to ask him something.”

Peppy went and retrieved Bowman. “Yes, what is it, Fox?” asked an exhausted looking Bowman.

“Sorry to interrupt, Prime Minister, but I was wondering…do you have many remaining ancestors from Andross’s bloodline?”

Bowman frowned. “Well, not many that I know of, many have changed their identities and gone into hiding to escape persecution they’ve gotten for being related to Andross, and to a lesser extent, Andrew,” he half-smiled. “Most of them haven’t been as lucky as I have been.”

“It’s just- no offense sir, but these weapons, they remind me a lot of Andross’s old creations. Andross, Andorf…I just thought maybe…”

“With good reason,” said Bowman. “The name Andorf doesn’t sound familiar to me, but we can certainly research it.”

“Thanks, Dash.”

As Fox and Peppy finished their transmission, Scout went into the kitchen unit and reached into a cabinet, pulling out a bottle of Lylat’s finest champagne. “I was hoping we’d be able to celebrate after our first mission,” he explained. “Not that we can get too crazy tonight, but everybody, salud!” He grabbed an armful of random glasses from another cabinet and began working on the cork of the bottle.

Faye looked at the motley collection of glasses with disdain. “Oh come on Scout, at least use the right glasses!” She began rummaging through cabinets. “Falco, do we still have those nice glasses on board?”

“Yeah, somewhere,” he replied offhandedly. Katt looked over and saw Falco studying Fox.

“Sooo…what’s next on the list, hon?” she asked, handing him one of the glasses of champagne that Scout handed to her.

“I don’t know, Trenchant would probably be a good bet, or Kale since they’re going on primitive defenses,” he took a long drink. “But, I have a feeling Fox is going to throw us a curveball and head us straight to Jericho.”

“Krystal?” she asked.

“Yup,” he looked over at Fox again, who was sitting in a chair downing his drink and looking rather morose while Miyu was going on about something.

Katt sighed. “You boys. Why don’t you just go talk to him?”

“Talk to him?!” snorted Falco. “About what, how he’s endangering the entire mission to chase after some woman?”

Katt shrugged. “Some people will do anything for love.”

“Not me,” said Falco. “And Fox shouldn’t either. Not after what she did.”

Fox, meanwhile, had reached the bottom of his glass. Maybe the answer would be at the bottom of a second one, he couldn’t help thinking as Miyu blathered on in her usual way that he had become used to. He was in the process of holding his empty glass up to his left eye like a telescope when she said, “So what’s this whole deal with you and this bounty hunter anyway? Is that Krystal? Because she is not how I imagined her at all.”

“I don’t know, Miyu,” he answered irritably.

She looked at him, her eyebrow arched. “Okay, fine. Don’t give me the dirt. But why has Falco been shooting you curious looks all night long?”

He rolled his eyes. “I don’t know, Miyu. Ask him.”

“Why don’t you ask him? Look, so what if he became your competitor or whatever your beef with him is? You’re working together now so let bygones be bygones,” she said. “He seems to know more about this whole Krystal thing than I do anyway.”

“Forget it Miyu. But nice try,” he said, setting his empty glass down in the kitchen unit before heading into the males’ dorm. He had a lot to think about before getting to sleep, mostly on how he could convince his team to go to Jericho as soon as possible, and to figure out where this mysterious Professor Andorf could be.

*

The Star Wolf team set a still unconscious and now tied up Kursed onto the landing deck and removed their masks.

“When will she wake up?” asked Jackal. “Should I set the gun for stun?” He eagerly reached for his blaster. Wolf pushed his hand away.

“Calm yourself, Jackal! Not now.”

“She should last, but here, just in case…” Panther pulled out a small vial and waved it under her nose. “Looks peaceful, doesn’t she?” he said fondly. Wolf rolled his eyes.

“Panther, if you get your feelings involved, so help me I’ll claw your eyes out! Let Fox be the one who falls into that trap.”

“Like taking candy from a baby, isn’t it?” said Leon. “We could make things a little more interesting, cut her up a bit to really make Fox squirm so he knows we mean business.”

“Don’t be crude,” said Panther. “Besides, she must be left unharmed.”

“Yes, the master wouldn’t like it if we bring him to her damaged,” Wolf drawled the word master with contempt. “Put her in the storage compartment of my Wolfen for now. And then we wait.”

“Suppose Fox never comes?” asked Jackal.

“Then we’ll send out a distress signal. But I have a feeling it won’t be necessary, especially if they already ran into each other. And let’s not forget about that gift she has.”

“Yes,” said Leon slowly. “But what will happen if she’s lost it- I taught her about cutting out all feelings when she wanted me to train her in the ways of an assassin. Then where will we be?”

“If she lost it, well, she’s a fierce little thing, still valuable to have around. And either way, we’ll just make sure to be well on our way to another galaxy before he finds out.”

*

Dash Bowman thrashed fitfully in his bed. He was jolted awake, feeling as if his head was going to split in two. Yet another bad dream, but it was more like frightening visions- visions, he feared, of things that were actually happening across the galaxy. This time it was of a large, shaggy male cat, General Felini he presumed, being tortured by Pigma. This had been happening for a long time, since before Pigma had re-entered the picture, but lately they had become more intense and left him with intense headaches that plagued him for the rest of the night and day. Often he’d have no memory of the visions, and sometimes he’d black out from the pain. Now he was starting to force himself to remember. Clearly these headaches and nightmares weren’t just due to stress like he’d originally hoped. He had a horrible feeling someone had a mental connection to his head, first showing him visions and was now attempting to get into his mind. There had been evidence of mind control devices in this conflict. If this Professor Andorf was a relation to him like Fox wondered, then…whether or not Pigma was capable of telepathy, he did not know, but vowed to send more Venomian forces into Beljar because there was no way he wanted to find out.

*

The Falcon was heading towards the primitive planet Kale from the planet Trenchant. Trenchant had been a rocky barren planet that held large mineral deposits and oil within its rocky exterior. It was not a domestically habitated planet but was used for mining and factories. Fox’s team had been able to shut down Pigma’s prime factories that would hopefully slow production of his weapons. Now they were on their way to help defend Kale, where primitive tribes were being terrorized by Pigma’s technologically superior forces.

“Fox, what is that up ahead?” asked Slippy. Hawkeye was helping him fly the Falcon, as ROB had shut down again.

Fox studied the computer map. “I don’t know, I don’t see it on the grid.”

Slippy brought the image up onto the computer and zoomed in. Up ahead was a small space port, they could see a ship fly in and get inspected by Pigma’s men, then waved along once everything checked out.

“Shoot, it’s a check point,” said Falco. “I have a feeling it’s not just to check for contraband fruit. There’s no way they’re going to let us through. They’ll shoot us down first.”

“Is there anyway you can turn back?” asked Fox.

“I’ll try,” said Slippy, flipping a few switches.

“Wait, it’s too late,” said Faye, looking at the monitor. “We’ve been spotted.”

They could all see on the monitor as Pigma’s men readied themselves with their arms and a few climb into small fighter ships.

“Ready your ships, gang,” ordered Fox. “I have a feeling we’re in for a fight before we can get to Kale.”

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Kursed

I  wonder if Kursed has learned some new things about her telepathy....

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Guest Julius Quasar

This is REALLY excellent, I love it! Great job Rainfyre66

I'm sorry I didn't start reading it earlier...

I like "Darkness Rising" best for your title.

You can also use all/any of my fan characters too, for your story, if you want (they make the team "Nebulae Fox", led by Todd McCloud, younger cousin of Fox McCloud.)

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rainfyre66

Thanks Julius! I appreciate you taking the time to read my story and offering the use of your characters.  Very cool! :cool:

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rainfyre66

Chapter Nine

General Felix Felini was strapped to a cold metal board, sharp electrical prongs poking him uncomfortably. Granted, the discomfort was much worse when the prongs were actually sending powerful volts into him. He was beginning to wonder why Pigma didn’t just kill him already.

“I’m going to ask you again Felini- where are the files?” Pigma readied his hand by a button.

“I told you- on the Brea Defense Base in the main computer!”

He let out a yowl of pain as an electrical jolt shot into his leg.

“He lies, Master Pigma! There no files on the Brea computer main. We’ve checked, reports are that the base has been infiltrated by the outside military scum. They must have taken them!” Captain Reptilian shouted. Felini never cared much for the slimy Captain Reptilian- he’d always had him pegged as a soldier who was too coward to become a traitor on his own, but would be a turncoat in an instant if somebody else led the way. It seemed that Reptilian was gunning to be Pigma’s right hand man. Another shock jerked through his body.

“Who has my files?!”

“Please- please, just don’t hurt me anymore…” he gasped, sweat running down into his eyes and making them sting.

Captain Reptilian cackled. “Be a man, Felix! You were a general, after all!”

Pigma gave him another shock. “That’s for wasting my precious time! It was fun at first, but now I mean business! WHO HAS MY FILES?!”

A jarring volt went up Felini’s spine, even Felini couldn’t believe that scream was coming from him. “I- I- I’m not sure, it is probably Star Wolf…Corneria sent them…” his head was rolling around, it was all he could do not to pass out.

“Wrong again, Felini! Star Wolf is on a mission for me! They know better than to betray me again!”

“Then I don’t know! I really don’t, just please…no…more!” Felini begged, losing consciousness.

“That will be enough, Pigma,” came a raspy voice over the voice com. Pigma grunted.

“But Professor, he has stolen your plans and…”

“I know, and I know who has them now. They’ve fallen into the hands of the teams Star Fox and Star Falco.”

“Whaaattt?” Pigma squealed, knocking over Captain Reptilian in his rage. “Those losers? I should have known Peppy couldn’t do anything without relying on those tools!”

“Just another fly in the spider web, Pigma. Now what of the real prize? What is the status of Star Wolf?”

Pigma frowned. “They are waiting for Kursed to arrive.”

“Hmm,” Professor Andorf was also displeased. “It should not be taking this long.”

“If Star Wolf fails, I promise I’ll bring Kursed to you myself. That little chick can’t hide from me!”

“Yes,” Professor Andorf replied. “Once we have her, you’ll see Piggy, our power will be complete enough to conquer any galaxy, especially Lylat.”

Pigma grunted again. He wasn’t sure he liked where this set up was going at all. Professor Andorf had promised him the leadership, glory, and revenge on Lylat, and of course plenty of money would come with that. Professor was to remain in the shadows, a ghost-writer to the chaos (that is, unless Pigma became strong enough to overpower him). But Pigma was starting to wonder if he could be trusted. He had seen Professor Andorf in the beginning- a fairly young simian who liked to play scientist and wear a sort of war paint that made him look like a menacing baboon. Lately however, Pigma was seeing less and less of him, transmissions were taking place over voice coms rather than in person or via the video transmitter. Was he trying to hide something from Pigma? Then there was the fact he was talking crazier everyday and was now making demands. Pigma had a feeling that Andross’s blood did truly run through his veins as he’d claimed- and that the insanity and insatiable thirst for power couldn’t be controlled, just like Andross.

Well, Pigma would just have to control it for him. He already had no intentions of letting Star Wolf get credit for capturing Kursed, he would kill them and deliver Kursed to Professor Andorf himself. For now he would stay cool, letting Professor Andorf build up everything for him, but the scientist would soon come to learn that the monster he built had no problem turning on its creator.

*

“Rogue ship, what is your ongoing destination?”

Hawkeye kept his cool. “Planet Kale for vacation, sir. Thought I’d take the whole family to experience a much simpler lifestyle and get some appreciation.”

“Nice try, flyboy. Everyone knows the people of Kale don’t take kindly to tourists.”

“We’re not from here, we’re from the planet Raleigh in the Greensboro system.”

“Greensboro system? Never heard of it! How come you’re flying what looks to be a battle freighter ship?” In the background he could hear a second soldier yell, “Cut the small talk and FIRE!”

“That’s our cue,” Hawkeye said to the team. They flew their ships out of the docking bay. “Can you handle the Falcon alone, Slip?”

“You bet!” Slippy gave a thumbs up. ROB was sprawled on the ground next to the pilots’ chairs, emitting a droning buzz. Hawkeye gave him a hard nudge with his foot and that shut him up. He hurried into his ship, a classic style Arwing that he as well as Miyu borrowed from the CDF. Fox had stubbornly insisted on using his own ship.

Soldiers were heading for them, their small and agile crafts trying to surround them and firing laser shots. Star Fox and Star Falco took them on.

“There’s one!” Miyu cried excitedly as her target exploded.

“Hang tight honey, you got one trying to tail you,” replied Katt. She locked on to the ship and fired.

“Nice shot, Katt!” exclaimed Scout.

“Since you guys got this under control, I’m going to check out the inside of the checkpoint,” said Falco. He blasted a ship out of his way and jetted towards the check point’s landing bay.

“Falco, don’t be an idiot! You don’t know what kind of defense they have in there!” said Fox.

“Hey, that’s why you guys are here to back me up, right? I’ll give you a holler if I need it.”

Fox grumbled some choice expletives under his breath as he spun out of the way of some laser fire. Sure, they were doing all right with this fleet, but what if the enemy called for back up?

“Surrender now! Master Pigma knows you’re here!” cried an eager pilot. Faye came up from behind and blasted him.

“You five hold them off. I’m going to check on Falco!” Fox called to them.

“I don’t need your help, Fox!” he snapped back. Fox had a feeling that wouldn’t be the case though. He headed towards the check point. When he got in, Falco did seem to be holding his own.

“I told you, I got this Fox!” he said. “Go get the others so you can bring them through- what is that?!”

A large ship was approaching the exit of the check point, threatening to cut off their way out. “You do not have clearance, rogue fighters,” said one of the soldiers on board.

“No kidding,” said Falco.

“Here we go. Okay team, we’re going to need some back up!” Fox called.

“We’ll try to hurry, but we got our hands full out here!” Scout answered.

For half a second Fox debated turning around and helping the others before helping Falco, especially since Falco had gotten himself into this mess. Then he saw a powerful shot from the ship narrowly miss them and he knew what he had to do. The ship had reached the exit port, not leaving them much room to move to the outside and there wasn’t a whole lot of room to maneuver around the port. They fired valiantly at it. Falco shouted, “Heads up, Fox!” and spun in front of a laser shot that was headed straight for Fox, deflecting it.

“Thanks,” said Fox, still firing away. The ship let loose a large missile that was headed straight for Falco. Falco didn’t notice because he was too intent on shooting.

“Falco, look out!” called Fox. Falco wouldn’t have time to move out of its way. Fox cut in between them and fired. He was able to take out the missile before it hit Falco, but not before it clipped the side of his ship. He could feel his ship rock and rattle from the impact and wondered how bad the damage was.

“Hang tight boys, we’re moving in!” Katt cried triumphantly. The increased number of their fire power was enough to take down the ship.

“Head out the entrance way!” Fox shouted. They turned their ships and blasted out of there as the explosion from the ship blew up the check point. Unfortunately for Fox, with his ship shield down and a slight delay in his rockets from the missile impact, his ship felt the heat a little bit more.

They landed in the Falcon’s docking bay. “Dang Fox, are you alright?” asked Miyu, looking at his damaged ship as she climbed out of hers.

“I’m hanging in there.”

“Maybe you better sit out on Kale and let Slippy fix your ship,” Falco suggested. “That way, your ship is in good shape when we get to Jericho after that.”

Fox looked over at Falco. They hadn’t discussed Jericho yet. Was he giving him a hard time? He caught Falco’s eye and Falco gave a brisk but sincere nod of the head. Fox knew that was Falco’s way of thanking him for saving his tail. Fox nodded back.

*

Kursed slowly came to, and found herself in pitch darkness. In fact, it was dark and cramped. She struggled to move her arms and legs around, but in doing so she realized they were bound together. She kicked her feet on top of the ceiling (or whatever it was).

The light hurt her eyes as the top was lifted from wherever she was. Wolf stood overhead, grinning at her. “Good morning, starshine!” he said. “You’re cranky when you wake up. Keep kicking like that, and I’ll have Panther subdue you again.”

She spit at him, but Wolf dodged out of the way. “Easy now, we’re not going to hurt you, you’re our precious cargo.”

“What the hell is this, Wolf?” she growled. “What happened to our deal?”

“There’s still a deal, and you’re still part of it. Only, instead of turning us over to Pigma, we’ll be turning you over to him. It’s nothing personal, Kursed, it’s just better business sense.”

“But I wasn’t going to turn you over to Pigma, you know that!”

Wolf shrugged. “Sorry…you know, maybe it is a little personal, now that I think about it. Hell hath no fury like a man scorned. First you break Panther’s heart, then you have Leon waste his time training you, only to run off from the team and use your new skills to profit without us. So really who’s to say you’re not above more betrayal?”

“It’s not like that,” she said quietly. He snorted and slammed the lid shut on her.

“Too late for apologies!” he called.

She took a deep breath, and then realized she better not do that if she wanted to conserve her air. She shut her eyes. They had taken her weapons and communications, of course, but she wasn’t defenseless. She kicked at the lid of the compartment with all her strength, but other than making some dents, it was useless. Wolf had locked it up tight. Beads of sweat ran down her face as the air grew thicker and hotter. She would not panic. No. She shut her eyes and as much as she tried to fight it, she gave into instinct. She visualized Fox McCloud, everything about him, and was flooded with emotions she had locked out for a long time. She focused on that and after the initial shock the emotion brought over her, she concentrated and hoped that even if he did not have any known telepathic abilities, their personal connection was still there, deep down somewhere.

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Kursed

ARRG I CAN"T STAND THE SUSPENCE!!

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Guest Julius Quasar

EXCELLENT!!!

Here's a link to my fan characters:

http://forums.starfox-online.net/index.php?topic=3934.0

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Kursed

if your looking for charaters you may use mine as well since most of mine are friends with Kursed.

http://dingonet.org/sfhq/index.php?showtopic=1315

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rainfyre66

Chapter 10

“Fox, what in the world have you done with this ship?!” exclaimed Slippy.

“Your ship wouldn’t look so hot after getting hit by a missile either, Slip.”

“Not that, but what’s all this stuff you put into it?”

“Hawkeye and I customized our ships.”

“Customize? It looks like some of this stuff should have stayed in the junkyard!” Slippy shook his head and waved a wrench at him. “I hope I figure out these parts in time!”

“It was quite a while ago,” Fox admitted about the additions to his ship. “But I know I can count on you, Slip.” Fox turned back to the screen to watch the action down on Kale. He was not used to this- staying behind while the others followed Falco’s lead. He was itching to get in on the action. Kale was a rolling grassland, dotted with huts and mud buildings, where the natives lived and survived off of the land using primitive methods. While he trusted they were skilled warriors, he knew their odds against Pigma’s army were not good by themselves.

“Man, it’s just awful what they’ve done to the natives’ land,” Falco commented. “You know all the mecha-animals on Brea? It’s ten-fold here.”

“Take out as much as you can.” Fox advised.

“I know that, Fox. You’re not the only one who can lead a mission you know.”

Fox watched as Kale warriors tried to assist them in their battle. He got a sudden sensation that something was wrong. Yet he strangely felt detached from the action going on below. Something else was wrong…was it Peppy? Was something happening on Corneria? A feeling of desperation washed over him. The room suddenly got very hot and seemed to close in on him. He thought of Jericho and had an overwhelming urge to get there. Perhaps he was going crazy, but it was almost as if he could hear a familiar voice calling for help in his head.

“Krystal,” he gasped. As soon as he said it, he knew he was right. Krystal- or Kursed, as she was named now, was in danger and was calling Fox for help. That had to be it. Fox didn’t even need to consider it. He leapt up from his seat.

“Slippy, I need you to finish what you’re doing. Is my ship flyable?”

“Flyable?! Well, yes, but…”

“I’m heading for Jericho,” Fox cut him off. “Kursed needs my help. I have to save her.”

“Kursed? Fox, what are you doing?...”

Fox ignored Slippy’s cries and climbed into his ship. “You’re a pal, Slip, but don’t worry about me.” He spoke into the voice com. “Falco, you guys finish up here, I’m heading for Jericho.”

“What?! No way! Jericho can wait. If your ship can fly, we could use you down here.”

“Kursed sent out a call for help, for me personally. I have to save her. Head to Jericho after this.”

“Whoa, Fox, Kursed needs help? You need help, buddy! She’s probably set a trap for you!”

“It’s a risk I’ll have to take,” Fox shut off his voice com and set his destination for Jericho.

*

“Fox don’t be a fool! Okay? She’s hurt you before, what if this time she like, actually hurts you? Fox? Fox!”  Falco swore loudly and slammed his fist on the yoke of his ship. He must have shut off his voice com. He despised Kursed at that moment, messing with Fox’s head and forcing Falco to be the sensible one. “Women,” he grumbled.

Now what? The action was intense here. They couldn’t really afford to have another team member take off. But they couldn’t afford to have their co-captain flying off and getting himself killed either. Falco saw Fox’s ship heading towards airspace.

“That ship will never hold together,” he muttered. He doubted Slippy had been able to get much done on it, and Fox’s ship had needed work even before the missile impact. He knew what he had to do. He switched the channel on his voice com. “Peppy, be prepared to send back up to Kale. I’m heading to Jericho.”

“Falco, what is going on down there?”

“Fox has up and gone to rescue Kursed- that’s Krystal now- on Jericho. I really don’t have time to explain, but I have a feeling if Fox goes alone, he’s not coming back.”

“Falco! What-”

Falco clicked the voice com back to the other channel. “Katt, I need you to take the lead here. I’m following Fox. Don’t worry, I told Peppy to send back up, rendezvous at Jericho, okay?”

“Falco, wait! We can’t have both our leaders abandon mission now, look at this mess!”

“Aw Katt, I know you what it takes. You guys can hold together until the CDF back up gets here. And Slip, be prepared to cover them with the Falcon, she’s got some good firepower in her.”

“What?! Falco, I can’t, you know I promised Amanda…”

Falco wasn’t listening. He turned his ship and blasted out of the Kale atmosphere.

*

Fox flew into Jericho. He had no real idea of where he was going but he followed his instinct. It was almost as if something were pulling him in the right direction. Finally he came upon a homestead that had some very familiar looking ships on the landing bay. He could recognize Wolf O’Donnell’s Wolfen any day. There was not much room for Fox’s ship, but he landed anyway. Wolf was standing by his Wolfen, smoking a cigarette and looking rather pleased.

“Well, well, well, Fox McCloud. What brings you here?”

Fox withdrew his blaster. “Where is she?”

“Smart move, go ahead and shoot, then you’ll never know where your precious Kursed is.”

“She’s ours now,” said Panther, coming out from behind his ship.

“She was never yours!” Fox shouted.

“Keep telling yourself that,” said Wolf.

“So help me Wolf, if you’ve hurt her…”

“Touching, Fox. But it’ll be four against one, not much of a challenge,” yawned Leon.

“And look at that ship!” cackled Jackal. “One blast and he’s down!”

Wolf grinned. He dropped his cigarette, grinding it out with his boot. “Ah, Fox, it has been too long. Tell you what- if you want Kursed, come and get her!” He hopped into the Wolfen. The others followed suit. Fox shot at them but missed, and then climbed into his own, flipping the voice com back on.

“C’mon, don’t fail me now,” he said to his ship, dodging laser fire. He knew this would be an unfair fight, that they would try to come at him from all sides. He fired at them, striking Wolf’s ship. For some reason, Wolf just laughed. Fox was suddenly overcome with another strange feeling- do not fire at Wolf’s ship. He concentrated his aim at the others. He felt as if the cockpit of his ship was closing in around him again and he found it hard to breathe. An idea occurred to him…

“Hang on Fox, I’m here to help you!” a familiar voice called out.

“Falco, what are you-”

“Good God, I thought you were done with that annoying bird!” snapped Leon.

“Back at you, buddy,” Falco shot at Leon’s ship, then was aiming for a direct hit at the back of Wolf’s ship.

“Falco, wait, don’t shoot Wolf!”

It was too late, Falco scored a good hit on the back of the Wolfen.

“Dammit, Falco! I think Kursed is in Wolf’s ship!” Fox cried.

“Good guess, Fox! Now the next game- where will be taking her now?” Without warning, Wolf and his team blasted away from Fox and Falco, disappearing into the thick layer of clouds.

*

“Slippy, what in blue blazes is going on over there?” Peppy shouted at the video transmitter.

“Don’t ask me!” Slippy threw his hands up, then hastily set them back at the ship controls. “First Fox decided to head off to Jericho when his ship had no business leaving the docking bay, and then Falco took off after him!”

“What’s on Jericho that’s more important than finishing the task at hand?”

“Something about a distress call from Kursed, who is really Krystal…it’s too confusing! And I promised Amanda I wouldn’t fire a shot, but we’re struggling to keep up down here!”

As if on cue, they heard Katt shout, “I’m hit!”

Peppy put his head in his hands in frustration. “Colonel Grey, send out a call for immediate back up to Kale!”

“Roger that!” Bill sent out the call.

“What are they thinking?” Peppy mumbled to himself. “Slippy, is there any way you can get ROB to man the laser controls at least?”

“He’s indisposed, I haven’t had time to work on him! But if I have to,” he saw something and fired at it with the Falcon’s lasers. “I guess I have to. Whew!”

“Thank you, Slippy!” cried Faye.

Lucy rose from her seat. “Where are you going?” asked Bill. “We have to get a plan together right now!”

“I have a plan. I’m going to ready my ship,” she replied.

“But it’s a dangerous mission, you can’t go alone!”

She looked at Bill in disgust. “Do you know what I’ve gone up against, Colonel Grey?”

“Colonel Grey is right!” said Peppy.

She set her jaw determinedly. “Your friends are in trouble, Father, and they’re my friends too you know. If you want to waste more time arguing about this, you’ll be doing it on the comm. link.” With that, she turned on her heel and headed out the door.

“Lucy, get back here NOW!” It was probably the first time Bill had heard Peppy really yell, especially at his daughter. Bill was already almost out the door. “I’ll go after her,” he said to Peppy. “If it’s okay with you…they do need us out there, and I’ll make sure Lucy is safe. You still have Prime Minister Bowman to assist you…”

Peppy paused, and then nodded briskly. “Hurry Bill, before she takes off.”

*

“C’mon Fox, let’s take them down before we lose them!”

“Falco, wait! I- I can’t . My ship won’t make it. I have to go back to the landing bay. If you go now, you might be able to catch them.”

“Hey, that’s not cool, I followed you so you wouldn’t gave to take them on alone! We already know Pigma is on Evola, let’s wait till the others get here and you can get your ship fixed.”

“I can’t risk losing Krystal…Kursed, again. I can wait here for the others.”

Fox heard Falco sigh. “You owe me big time, Fox,” he snapped, blasting out of sight into the clouds.

“Thanks Falco,” he replied, but of course Falco didn’t answer. He looked over and saw Kursed’s ship on the bay. Why didn’t he think of that sooner? He climbed into her ship, but nothing happened when he flipped on the controls. Star Wolf must have done something to sabotage her ship in case she tried to escape. He flipped channels on his voice com to deliver the news about Star Wolf to Peppy.

*

Lucy and Bill had headed out into the fray, Fox and Falco were in danger of ruining the mission, and now Star Wolf was alive and fighting on the wrong side again, and somehow this all involved Fox’s old love Krystal, who had become a bounty hunter named Kursed? Peppy looked down at the battle plans before him and it all seemed futile. But he was a general, and needed to compose himself as such, no matter what was thrown at him.

He heard an incoming signal from the video transmitter and sighed. He really couldn’t imagine how much worse things could get. He looked and saw it was an urgent message from Dash Bowman. “I shouldn’t have asked,” he rolled his eyes helplessly up to the ceiling.

A distraught looking Bowman appeared on the screen. “Prime Minister, it is a good thing you’ve called upon me. I have some startling information,” said Peppy.

“You go first, then,” said Bowman.

“First and foremost, Fox and Falco have discovered Star Wolf is alive and well, but they have turned on us. They are believed to be delivering a woman to Pigma- a woman who incidentally has a history with Fox, Krystal, if you remember. Fox is now stranded on Jericho and Falco is attempting to trail Star Wolf now. Colonel Grey and Lucy have set out to fight as well to help the rest of the team.”

Bowman rubbed his head fitfully.

“I don’t mean to cause more headaches for you, sir. I’m having a hard time understanding it all myself, why Fox would endanger the mission…”

“They want him to follow,” gasped Bowman. “They must have known Fox would go after her and have laid a trap for us.”

“Falco is after them right now, not Fox.”

“Then you must stop him and have him turn around!” Bowman ordered.

Peppy called desperately for Falco, but he did not answer. “Prime Minister, you said this was urgent, what is your message?”

Bowman wrung his hands anxiously. “This Professor Andorf…I think he is a relative of mine, of Andross. You know that that side of my family has a history of telekinetic abilities…I think this Professor has found a way to not only control inanimate objects, but has figured out how to use his telekinetics on a person’s brain, and uses his telekinesis to manipulate the person’s brain activity and actions. Krystal was supposed to have a telepathic ability, right? That is why they want her- he thinks he can use Krystal to tap into people’s minds to know their inner thoughts and most importantly, their weaknesses.”

Peppy frowned. “This is a remarkable theory, Bowman-”

Bowman held up his hand to stop him. “That is not the urgent matter in this message. You see…she is not the only one he wants. He wants revenge on Star Fox and Lylat of course, but he also wants me. He is trying to figure out how to get into my mind, perhaps control it to add to the Andross legacy. I must depart for Beljar immediately and put an end to this.”

“Bowman, I need you here to guide your Venomian Defenses! Bill and Lucy have gone now too, I will be handling everything here and I certainly can’t handle all theVenom forces on top of that without risking careless mistakes!”

“I have assigned people to the task already, do not worry. They will contact you later tonight. I have to go, General Hare, otherwise Lylat will be in great danger. You see, he’s trying to drive me mad…and I fear should anything happen, it will be their blood on my hands. I have seen it…”

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