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WedgeAntilles66

Star Fox: Sanguine Insurrection

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WedgeAntilles66

Quick introduction: this is a story I began recently and originally posted on fanfiction.net. It looks at the Star Fox team shortly after James formed it. I tried to make it take place in an era that wouldn't conflict with other stories, and I would be able to introduce original content. Admittedly, there are some cliches and such that sophisticated readers may roll their eyes at. However, I suggest you stick with it, because I do plan on expanding the plot, with plenty of character development. I know it's a lot to ask for someone to read through it when there are so many other fine stories out there, but this is the first story I've written in years, and I'm eager to examine and expand upon the Star Fox universe. Finally, if you are interested, you may want to check on fanfiction.net (a link to my story there is in my signature), since that is where I will regularly post updates. Also, constructive criticism is welcome. So, I now present chapter 1 of:

Star Fox: Sanguine Insurrection

A tall, brooding figure sat atop a throne, pondering the future. The man was known as Lord Veleno, ruler of the planet Nelyar 3. Most of his features were hidden by his garb: crimson armor which shined luminously. Attached to this armor was a dark red cloak, with the design of a black, feline skull imprinted in the middle. The man carried a saber, which was common among his planet's royalty. What many did not realize, however, was that the weapon was not merely ceremonial, as many of his opponents had witnessed before their death. The man lifted his head, which had been resting against his fist, revealing the face of a tiger. He was covered in orange fur, with black stripes covering his face in a wild design. Further, his face revealed a number of scars. The tiger placed his paw crisply against the throne's armrest and clacked his nails against the metal.

Corneria. The mere mention of the planet made Veleno tense with hatred. For too long, they had interfered with the affairs of other worlds. What ridiculousness, Veleno thought. How could one government hope to control an entire system? If power were to be given to a figure, they would have to deserve it. A strong leader was required, who could control the masses. Veleno was beloved by his people, a well earned sentiment. The Cornerian government was not capable, not prepared. No, they needed a true leader. A leader such as Veleno. He knew there were other worlds that expressed similar desires. Veleno finally rested his fingers against the armrest, his face now showing an assured grin.

It was simple. His army was already fit for combat, he made sure of that. Still, that wouldn't be enough. He would have to contact other planets, and indoctrinate more soldiers. It would be necessary to create an army which could stand up to the Cornerian military. Veleno lifted himself from his seat, and stood proudly. He pressed a button on the throne, and a monitor overlooking the chair flashed to life.

"General," Lord Veleno began. "Prepare the troops for battle. And, contact the press. It is time for me to address the people."

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A ship drifted through space, slowly heading in no particular direction. It was a battleship similar to those used within the Cornerian military. A noticeable difference from the military's design, however, was the team's name that owned the ship splayed across the sides. On either side of the ship, "STAR FOX" was seen in bold, red letters. The ship was known as the Great Fox, and within the ship were the members of team Star Fox. The leader and founder, the fox James McCloud, sat in the pilot's chair, gazing at the stars. Seated close to him was Peppy Hare, who sat in front of a computer screen, a look of exasperation shown upon his face.

James looked to his friend and asked, "Still no jobs?"

"Nothing," came Peppy's reply. "Corneria's doing fine, and nobody else is reporting anything. Not even a minor problem."

The bridge doors opened, and the newest member of the Star Fox crew, Pigma Dengar, stepped forth.

The pig looked to James and yelled, "I can't believe this! We're out of food already! Are we going to get something to eat soon, or what?"

"What?" Peppy shouted. "We had enough food to last at least a week. You ate all that?" Peppy faced James. "I knew letting this piglet join us was a bad idea."

Pigma replied, "Piglet? You stupid bunny! How were those scraps supposed to last a week?"

James lifted his hands towards the two. "Whoa, calm down, both of you. Peppy, Pigma is a valuable member of the team. Pigma, you need to realize funds are low right now. It's been a while since we've had a worthwhile mission. There's a space station nearby, we'll resupply there."

"Yeah," Pigma said. "I guess you're right, we aren't really bringin' in a ton of money. I just have a large appetite."

Peppy apologized, "Sorry about what I said. I'm just kinda frustrated right now. I contacted Corneria and - Wait!"

Peppy was cut off as a beeping noise was emitted from the computer. Peppy pressed a key, and a wizened husky dressed in a military uniform appeared on the screen. James and Pigma stood next to Peppy to stare at the screen. The canine on the other side of the screen looked around.

"Good, you're all here," said the husky.

"General Rock." James greeted him. "What is it, sir?"

Rock replied, "Corneria's safety may be in jeopardy. It seems we have need of your assistance once again. This video will explain the situation."

The screen turned to black, and a recording began to play.

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A crowd could be seen in front of a stage, cheering with a strong feeling of nationalism. Many flags could be seen waving about, showing the icon of Nelyar. Lord Veleno stood on the stage, and lifted his hands to quiet the onlookers. He lifted his head and addressed the citizens of his world.

"For generations, my bloodline has protected this world. In return for your service and obedience, we have provided for you a land in which you are free, a land in which you are safe. We are no longer allowed freedom, however. The Cornerian government wishes to take everything from you, to control every aspect of your lives. For too long, the Cornerian fools have been allowed to patrol our streets, policing us. I can no longer stand by and do nothing as my people are so cruelly treated. Together, we must fight for our independence!"

Veleno raised his sword above his head. "We must prove to our enemies that we will no longer tolerate their intrusion! We must prove to the galaxy that we are a powerful, unified force!"

The audience was uproarious as Lord Veleno stood proudly, his cape billowing in the wind and his saber held high.

The video ended, and the General appeared on the screen again. He spoke, "This footage originated from Nelyar 3 a week ago. Since then, riots have broken out, and our forces stationed at Nelyar have been overwhelmed and driven from the planet. Worse, more worlds are expressing their distrust of Corneria, and are siding with Veleno."

James shook his head. "Why exactly is this Lord Veleno doing this? Does he really think the Cornerian government is trying to control his world? And, why are so many willing to listen to him?"

Rock said back, "We have always known Veleno to be somewhat irrational, and he has been difficult to deal with. His planet is under our jurisdiction, but the Cornerian government tried to allow him to govern his world without interference. These attacks are unprovoked and senseless. It seems his hunger for power has overtaken him. His citizens remain loyal to him, and listen to every word he says. He has manipulated them, and bended the truth to fit his schemes."

"Wow," said Pigma. "That's awful. How could anyone be so arrogant?"

Peppy looked at another monitor, which had a map of the galaxy. "The Nelyar system is kind of far away, but if we head there now, we should be able to help before things get out of hand."

"No!" Shouted the General. "It would be suicidal to go there now. Their forces are patrolling the area, and the planet itself is swarming with their soldiers. Not only their military, though. Militias are being formed, citizens are willingly fighting for their world, unfortunately with misguided patriotism. I would send forces to deal with them, but too many unnecessary lives would be lost on both sides. I would like to end this conflict with as little bloodshed as possible."

"Nelyar's off limits." James stated. "What do you want us to do, then?"

"A small Cornerian fleet has sent a distress signal near Macbeth. A number of cargo ships were being escorted by the fleet, and were attacked by Nelyar ships. This is the first act of aggression outside of their system. Initially, the Cornerian forces were able to hold off the attackers with few losses, though I fear they may strike again. Nelyar ships have been reported heading in their direction. Head to Macbeth, and aid the Cornerian forces."

"Right." James said in a confident tone. He picked up his sunglasses from the dashboard and placed them upon his face. "You can count on us!"

The Great Fox reached its destination, and flew towards the fleet mentioned by the General. There were three cargo ships, and surrounding them were two cruisers, and around twenty smaller fighters. The communications channel was opened, and one of the commanders aboard one of the cruisers contacted the Great Fox. His face was obscured by the Cornerian helmet he wore.

"Stop right there or we'll blast you to space dust. Wait, you must be the ones the General mentioned. Star... something..."

"Star Fox," James said.

"Whatever," replied the Commander. "We have this situation under control. I was hoping the General would send an actual fleet, not backstabbing mercenaries. We don't need your help."

Someone else contacted them. The face of a yellow gecko appeared on the screen. It was the pilot of one of the cargo ships. "What are you doing? These ships aren't made for combat. I need all the help I can get, don't turn them away!"

The Commander sighed in frustration. "Fine. You can use the docking station orbiting the planet if you need anything."

"Thanks," said James. "We'll head there then join you shortly."

The transmission ended, and James flew the ship towards the station.

"So," Peppy began. "That's what they think of us."

"What's that guy's problem?" Pigma asked. "We come here to save them, and that's how they greet us?"

"Don't worry about it," James told them. "Not many people have heard of us, so it's understandable for them to think of us as stereotypical ruthless mercenaries. We just have to prove we're better than that."

James greeted the captain of the station through the communications channel, and got permission to dock. "We're here," James told his allies. "Everyone ready?"

"Ready!" Peppy shouted.

"Sure am!" Pigma yelled.

James nodded to them, and stated, "Let's move out!"

The three of them ran to the hangar, where three fighter ships awaited them. The Arwings, reliable fighters that the Star Fox team always used for combat missions. James, Pigma, and Peppy leapt into their respective ships, and the hangar doors opened. Each ship's engines roared to life, and the Arwings hovered above the ground. Then, the three Arwings shot out of the hangar, swiftly flying towards the fleet that awaited them.

"There you are." The Commander said over the communications channel once the Star Fox team arrived. "Are you picking up those signals on your radar?"

The Star Fox members looked at their radars. "Yeah," Peppy said. "Looks like around thirty small ships heading in this direction."

"Oh, there's more than that. Just keep looking. I hope you're prepared."

"We are," assured James. "We've dealt with situations like this before."

Within minutes, the group no longer needed to rely on their radars to see the oncoming assault. The many enemy ships could be seen in the distance, closing in quickly.

"My team'll go in and pick off as many as we can. You wait here with your squadron and defend the cargo ships," James said to the Commander.

"What?" the Commander angrily shouted. "You can't order us around!"

"You have a better plan?" James asked. "Look, we'll lure the them over here after their forces dwindle, and you can engage them then so you all can have your fun."

"Hmm. Yeah, fine. Just hurry up." The Commander growled.

"Right." James stated. "Pigma. Peppy. Let's go!"

James' fighter rushed ahead, his two friends close behind. The enemy fleet moved closer, ready to meet them.

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WedgeAntilles66

Chapter 2:

The Nelyar ships lined up into formation, and flew onwards. The smaller fighters led the assault in the front, with about thirty-five ships composing their ranks. Three cruisers were behind them. The cruisers had heavier firepower and defenses, but had difficulty aiming at smaller targets. Their main use was to deal with ships of a similar size, and their current target was the cargo ships. Behind the cruisers was yet another cruiser, which was designed similarly to the others, but was significantly bigger. This was the Nelyar force's command ship for the assault, and their commanding officer was aboard. Within the large cruiser, the crew in the bridge worked hard. One of the officers turned to face their commander.

"Their fleet is dead ahead. Three ships have broken off and are heading towards us."

The commanding officer confusedly said, "Just three ships? Well, if they want to end their lives quicker, that's fine. Continue moving forward."

"Aye, sir."

---

"Here they come!" Peppy yelled.

The first group of Nelyar ships flew ahead to greet Star Fox, eager to end their lives.

"Steady," James cautioned. "Remember to barrel roll to deflect their lasers. Take out as many as you can, and if any pass you, let them move on. We'll let our friends behind us take care of them."

"No problem, James." Pigma said. "We know the drill."

The Nelyar ships wasted no time in firing away, a barrage of red lasers blotting out the space in front of the Arwings. The three spun their ships quickly, which allowed the lasers to deflect off of their shields, causing minimal damage. A few of the deflected beams hit a number of the enemy ships. However, there were no losses yet. Once the opportunity arose, the Star Fox team quickly returned fire. The green lasers shot from their ships in a wild, yet precise frenzy. James flew down in an arc, taking out a ship below him. He flew up, destroying two more. Peppy rushed ahead, taking down two fighters close to each other. Pigma held the triggers down on the control yoke, which allowed the laser's energy to combine and form into a sphere. He aimed at a group of three ships flying together to the side of him. He fired away, and the single shot expanded upon making contact with the lead ship. The green orb of energy engulfed all three ships, destroying them.

Aboard the commanding Nelyar cruiser, one of the officers looked at the battle map in surprise.

"Sir," he began. "Those three ships just took out eight of our fighters!"

"Huh?!" growled the commanding officer. "How's that possible?! What's wrong with those morons?!" The lead officer pressed a button, opening communications to his whole fleet. "Ignore those three! Just avoid them, and take out the rest! Teams C and D stay behind to protect the cruisers. As for the others, move on and destroy those cargo ships!"

The fighter ships obeyed, and moved on. Some of them attempted to fire at the Star Fox members, but none could score a hit. The Cornerian ships held their ground, and prepared to battle them when they arrived.

"They've dispersed," Peppy noticed. "Think we can take care of those larger ships?"

"Yeah," James confirmed. "Let's sweep up the rest of the fighters, then we'll go after the bigger guns."

The smaller ships protecting the cruisers went to intercept the Star Fox team.

"Ugh," Pigma snorted. "You think these idiots would learn to give up by now."

Each Star Fox member was now faced with three adversaries firing at them. The separate enemy groups tried to surround and overwhelm them. In a matter of minutes, the nine total ships were annihilated by Star Fox.

"Okay," began James. "The way is clear. Let's move on to the cruisers."

James flew over one of the large ships, firing a barrage of lasers below. The cruiser frantically fired a volley of lasers, but James was too fast. James flipped around, and fired again. The blue energy covering the ship began to dissipate, meaning its shields were failing. James went for one more run over the cruiser, this time releasing two bombs from the Arwing. The resulting blasts caused flames to cover the ship. James flew a good distance away, as the cruiser exploded, rocking the Arwing slightly. Meanwhile, Peppy had taken down the shielding on another cruiser. Peppy swooped in to finish it off, when he instantly found himself blasted twice by the ship's laser fire, causing him to spin out of control.

"Peppy!" James yelled, concerned for his ally. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," Peppy said with a sigh. "I just let my guard down, shields at seventy percent. This'll finish 'em!"

Peppy charged the Arwing's laser, and fired at the ship. He fired another charged laser, as smoke began to surround the cruiser. One final charged blast caused flames to shoot out of the cruiser's hull, and it soon blew up in a dazzling display of fire. Pigma had reduced the shields on the cruiser he was attacking by a significant amount. He confidently flew in, ready to finish off the enemy. Suddenly, an alarm went off, and three new heat signatures were registered on the map.

"They've got missiles locked on me!" Pigma yelled.

"Hold on!" James replied. "We're coming to help!"

"Don't worry, I can shake them. I just have to - Ack!"

Pigma's Arwing was hit by a missile at that moment. He had to yank the control yoke up quickly to avoid slamming into the cruiser. The other missiles still followed Pigma, who was frantically speeding away, avoiding another encounter with them. James reached his location, and was able to shoot down one of the missiles. Peppy was right behind him, and shot down the last one.

Pigma could be heard growling. "I'm gonna enjoy this!"

The pig swooped down, and ran his ship over the cruiser. He crazily pressed the triggers, unleashing a fast volley of laser bolts upon the cruiser.

"Take that!" Pigma shouted as the enemy ship began to explode.

The Cornerian ships were still engaged with their opponents. They had no deaths so far, but had still taken a good number of hits. Only two of the enemy ships had been taken out. The Commander looked to see how his unwanted allies were doing. He shook his head in astonishment, and contacted Star Fox.

"You took down all those fighters and those cruisers by yourselves?!"

"Sure did," Peppy stated, somewhat egotistically. "You should have had faith in us."

"Uh-huh. You all certainly have some skill, I'll give you that. How about you come here and help us defend these ships, since it looks like you're done there."

"Right," James told him. "We're on our way."

Unbeknownst to them, the command cruiser was watching far in the distance, remaining inconspicuous. The commanding officer slammed his fist down upon watching his fleet fall because of three simple fighter ships.

"They're not like the others," The officer said. "They're different, better. However, they're still no match for this ship. Lieutenant, it's time to make our presence known. Move us in."

"Yes, sir." The Lieutenant replied. He activated the cruiser's engines, and they sped towards Star Fox. The Cornerian Commander noticed the arrival on his ship's battle map.

"Looks like you've got company." He told Star Fox. "I'd love to help you, but I can't spare any reinforcements. Think you can take them?"

"Don't worry about us," replied James. "We'll do what we can here, you focus on those fighters."

The cruiser slowed down upon nearing the three fighters. Communications opened, and the commanding officer contacted the Star Fox members. The three looked at the screen, as the face of a lion was shown, smiling wickedly.

"I have to say, you put on quite a performance," the lion began. "I am the Captain of this fleet. You aren't a part of the Cornerian military, you're too good. Just who are you?"

"We're Star Fox," James said to him.

The lion returned, "Hm. I see. Well then, 'Star Fox', it's been interesting, but I'm afraid this is where your exploits end."

The large cruiser released many laser bolts from the guns lining the sides of the ship. Also, eight more ships flew from the cruiser's hangar, and flew down to deal with Star Fox.

"I'll keep this ship busy. You two mop up those fighters." James told his crew.

"You sure? It doesn't look like they're messing around. Will you be okay on your own against that thing?" asked Peppy.

"Sure, just keep those smaller ones off me."

Peppy and Pigma did as they were told, and broke their formation with James to tackle the smaller ships' threat.

"I'm scanning that cruiser, and, well... it doesn't look good." Pigma said. "Everything's been enhanced: weapons, armor, shields, you name it. They've also added a  good deal of custom parts. Try not to get too close to it!"

"Right. Thanks for the help, Pigma." James said to his comrade.

James took a good look at the ship, trying to locate any noticeable differences. A dome-shaped protrusion could be seen on one side. Blue energy began to form around it. James tried to figure out what it could be, when realization hit him.

"Peppy, look out! You're flying right above their tractor beam!"

Peppy had just downed a fighter, and before he could react, the blue energy expanded in a cone shape, covering Peppy's Arwing.

"Controls are dead!" Peppy shouted. "I can't do a thing."

"Hold on, pal!" Pigma told Peppy. "I'll get you out of there."

Pigma flew down, and shot at the dome. Some of the fighters followed him, and he took a bolt which knocked him out of the way.

"Argh, I have to deal with these jerks first." Pigma stated.

James flew up, and tried to get a shot at the tractor beam. The guns were blocking his path, though, and were not hesitant in keeping him away. James had to backflip and head in the opposite direction to avoid taking any hits. James fired away at the cruiser once he righted himself in front of it, though his blaster shots seemed to do little damage against the cruiser's shields. In the meantime, Pigma was able to destroy three of the ships hunting him, and quickly tried to pick off the remainders. James fired a few charged energy blasts, but it still seemed to have little effect. He frantically looked about while dodging laser fire and missiles heading towards him, looking for a weak spot. After some time, Pigma had only two fighters left to deal with. He took this opportunity to break away, and help Peppy. The two fighters followed as he sped away, but weren't able to match the Arwing's speed. Pigma quickly released a stream of fire at the tractor beam's mechanism. Sparks danced from the mechanical casing, and a little explosion signaled its end. The blue light faded, and Peppy was able to escape, albeit slowly.

"Thanks, Pigma." Peppy said. "I'm regaining control, but it'll take some time until it's complete."

"You're not getting away that easy!" The lion Captain yelled over the communications channel.

With that, four missiles shot from the cruiser's missile bay, and were heading towards Pigma and Peppy.

"I can't get out of the way in time!" Peppy panicked.

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Ch. 2 (Continued):

Pigma watched as two missiles followed him. He shook his head angrily, deciding not to repeat his past mistake. He twirled his ship towards the two enemy fighters, which were now closing in. He headed straight towards them, as if he were about to ram them. Before the ships made contact, though, he pulled his fighter up, and the missiles attempted to follow. The enemy fighters were unaware of the situation, and moved ahead, slamming right into the missiles. After an explosion, dust remained where their ships were previously. Pigma then sped up, and fired close to Peppy as the missiles neared Peppy's Arwing. The missiles were seconds away from making contact with Peppy, when Pigma managed to destroy them. The explosions pushed Peppy forward, causing some damage, but little damage compared to what would happen had the missiles hit him.

"Thanks again," said Peppy. "Looks like I'm back in control of the Arwing. Let's go help James!"

"Right behind ya!" Pigma shouted.

Peppy and Pigma swooped down, and joined James. Currently, James was still firing away, which did little to damage the cruiser.

The Captain of the cruiser snarled. "Do you honestly think you can do anything to my ship in those little toys?"

"As I was floating after my escape," began Peppy. "I noticed the shields beginning to fail on their aft side, specifically near the engines. If we focus our fire there, we'd probably have a better chance."

James replied, "All right. Let's give it a try."

The three of them flew close to the engines, where smoke began to rise. Debris around the area suggested that one of the enemy ships fell near that area. That, coupled with James' attack, caused the shields on that part of the ship to slowly phase out. The three of them rapidly shot at the engines, which caused a small fire to start along the casing.

"Turn us around!" The cruiser's captain ordered. "They're actually hurting my ship! Turn around so we can get a good shot at them! They should be dead by now, anyway!"

The ship backed up, and swooped around surprisingly fast considering its size. The Arwings were farther away, but were still able to get shots in. From this angle, the cruiser was able to focus most of its firepower upon the three.

James told his companions, "We're too close together, that makes it easier for them to damage us. We need to spread out. Peppy, you head to the left and attack, Pigma, from the right. I'll go straight ahead and try to hurt them from above."

"Sounds risky for you," replied Pigma. "But I'm sure ya can handle it. Hey, let's get a move on! They're firing right at us!"

Peppy and Pigma veered off in opposite directions, avoiding the lasers sent their way. Being the only on plainly visible, James was now the cruiser's primary target in the front. Peppy and Pigma began their assaults. They swiftly fired away, and ended their attacks with charge shots. By now, the cruiser's shields were gone, and it seemed as though the cruiser had taken considerable damage. James zoomed forward, paying careful attention to the cruiser's seemingly unending attacks. It was difficult to maneuver around the many blaster bolts sent in his direction, but he was able to barely make it through without a scratch. He went up, and began his run over the enemy's ship. He attacked in a similar fashion as Peppy and Pigma. After this assault, the cruiser's systems began to fail. Small combustions could be seen around the ship. James frowned upon witnessing this, and decided it would be best to give the enemy Captain a chance to give up before their situation got worse. He opened communications.

"It's over. You've lost. Head down to the surface and turn yourself over for surrender."

The lion Captain returned, "No... no! It's not over, not yet!" He contacted the gunners. "Fire the rest of the missile payload! At this point, our original mission doesn't matter. I just want those three dead!"

James shook his head in disappointment. "I have no choice, then."

The cruiser's weapons were fixed upon the three. James took a deep breath. There was only a moment's hesitation. He fired the final bomb his ship carried, and it smashed against the middle of the cruiser. Fire surrounded the vessel, and after a number of seconds, it blew up into a blazing orb of flames and debris.

"Well then," James spoke to his friends. "Let's go help the Cornerian squadron."

James, Peppy, and Pigma flew towards the battle. It seemed that more Nelyar ships arrived during Star Fox's fight. The Cornerians, however, seemed to be holding their own.

"Glad you could join us." the Cornerian officer told them.

Star Fox's next battle was rather easy compared to their previous endeavor. Within ten minutes, the dwindling Nelyar forces were defeated. The final group of the foe's ships tried to flee, but were brought down by a Cornerian cruiser that intercepted them. The Cornerian Commander contacted Star Fox when the battle concluded.

"That's the last of them. We did pretty well, all things considered, and you were largely responsible for our victory. I guess I was wrong about you guys. You stuck your neck out for us despite overwhelming odds. I hate to say it, but... thanks."

The gecko Captain of the cargo ship chimed in, "Yes, you did us a great favor. I never thought we'd get out of here alive. Thank you!"

"Our pleasure," James told them.

"I'll inform the General of our success," the Commander began. "I'm going to take my squadron to Corneria to escort the cargo. I doubt after two losses the Nelyar forces would be stupid enough to try another attack. We have an outpost down on the planet, I'm sending you the location now. I just sent them a message granting you access. You're free to head there and use our facilities to your leisure."

With that, the Cornerian fleet began their journey, accompanying the cargo vessels. The Star Fox team flew down, entering the atmosphere of Macbeth. Below, they saw a small building. As they neared it, they were contacted by a Labrador retriever wearing a Cornerian officer's uniform.

"Ah, you must be Star Fox," he said to them. "I'm in charge of this outpost. You can park your ships in the landing zone."

The three Star Fox members landed in the aforementioned area, and jumped out of their ships. Cornerian soldiers could be seen all around, all of whom regarded the three of them with respect. Star Fox entered the building, and were greeted by the dog that contacted them.

"The Commander said you were instrumental in our success. I thank you for your help."

"So," said James. "There's a garrison stationed here."

"Yes, we house a number of squads. We have a room available for you over here."

The Lab led them to the room. It fit military standards. There were three small beds, with footlockers nearby, and bigger lockers along the walls. In the middle of the room was a table, with a computer situated on it.

The dog spoke. "I'm afraid our resources are rather low at the moment, so there is not much I can provide you with. I can refuel your ships, though."

"Thanks," James said back. "I'd appreciate it."

"We don't have much, but you're free to stay as long as you'd like."

James replied, "We probably won't stay too long."

Peppy said, "If this situation with Nelyar is as bad as it seems, there'll be a ton of missions for us."

"I see," said the Cornerian officer. "Excuse me, I must return to the field to go over drills with my team. If you need anything, you can head to the front desk."

The officer left, and the three of them sat down at the table.

Pigma laughed. "Finally, we'll get our reward!"

Peppy rolled his eyes. "Is that all you care about? Are you really so greedy?"

James lifted his hand to quiet the two, then turned on the computer. He contacted Corneria, and General Rock answered the call.

"Star Fox," the General said. "I hear you were victorious in forcing the Nelyar fleet away from Macbeth. Expect to receive your payment soon."

"Have you got anything else for us, General?" James questioned.

Rock shook his head. "It's been quiet so far. I'm sure we haven't heard the last from Nelyar, though. I'll contact you if there are any developments that require your expertise."

The transmission ended. Peppy noticed James seemed to feel uneasy.

"Something wrong, James?" Peppy asked his friend.

James shrugged. "I know we were desperate for a job, but... this? A war?"

Pigma said, "Hey, look on the bright side. This means more missions for us, which means more money. By the end of this, we'll be rich enough to retire!"

Peppy glared at him.

"Yes," said James, sourly. "But at what cost? I mean, I know it's our job to kill when it's necessary, but with a war going on, how many lives will we end before it's through? Just look at our kill count today. How many people did we kill who had families waiting for them? They fought because they thought they were defending their world."

"Well," Peppy replied. "We can thank Lord Veleno for that."

"Veleno." James said the name, a hint of anger in his breath. "He's the source of this mess. The sooner he's brought to justice, the sooner peace will return to Lylat. We have to keep fighting. But... we need to show we're better than he is. Maybe then Nelyar will realize Corneria isn't full of the heartless bureaucrats Veleno implies it is. If we can prove Corneria was forced into this, and Veleno is just mad with power, then maybe the war can end before it gets out of hand."

"Wait," Pigma interjected. "It sounds like you're saying we shouldn't kill anyone."

"I wish it were that simple. All I'm saying is that we should spare our opponents' lives any time we can. I know it might not be easy to sympathize with someone who's trying to murder you, but just think about their situation. They're fighting for a cause, even if it is misled. We're mercenaries, but we're not monsters."

James knew what this meant, including the dangers brought about by keeping one's enemy alive. However, allies could be gained as well. He trusted his team well enough to know that they would follow his advice. He had doubts that the Cornerian military would follow his example, though. He hoped that they would catch on, and if Nelyar realized that Corneria meant them no harm, then they would also be aware of Veleno's corrupted ideals. Most likely, there would be more blood spilled before the crisis ended, but James planned on ensuring that the military's sacrifices would not be in vain, and that both sides could get through this situation with fewer losses.

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