A New War:Part Four

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 Nearly three months later.........after a desperate battle against Andross' forces,a path has finally been cleared for StarFox to Venom,where Andross waits.An exhausted General Pepper has finally given Fox and his team the permission to leave their post on corneria to meet Andross on his home base.Pepper knows that this team of mercenary pilots will be the deciding factor between victory and defeat.....for the Lylat Sytem or Andross' insanity.....after a dangerous trek through space,Great Fox has finally reached it's destination,Venom.This is more than personal to Fox McCloud,who will have to take Andross on one final time,face to face.But that doesn't mean he will face him alone..............
 

 "McCloud,be careful,you are vital in defeating Andross.There is no chance of winning without you.......good luck."

 General Pepper's words echoed in Fox's ears as his arwing roared out of the docking bay into space.He checked all systems and straightened his com-link,before the planet of Venom caught his eyes.He felt anger boil inside him as he stared at the acidic green,desolate planet.Andross,he knew,would be waiting for him.
 "Does everyone check out?"
 "Bill here!We're ready Fox!"His friend's jet dropped in beside him.
 Fara came on his other side,"At least we have no problems out here to deal with.General Pepper cleared it for us a week ago.There'll be no resistance till we reach the planet."
 "I still can't believe that we've knocked out half of Andross's forces,"Kimmy and Slippy barrel-rolled to take a place on Fara's right wing.
 "Yeah,but he's also knocked out half of ours too,"Jenna dropped in beside Bill.
 "Careful everyone,we're about to enter Venom airspace!"Skye dropped below Fox,Falco to her left.
 "Alright then,let's rock and roll!"Fox watched his team split up and spread out.
 Suddenly Peppy pulled up beside him."Fox,I know how personal this is for you.But whatever you do,don't forget you're not alone.We're right here with you."
 "Don't worry my friend.I won't."
 But I do know that it will be either me or Andross,no stalemate this time,Fox pulled a loop and followed after his team.
 They entered Venom airspace seconds later,and were met with a wave of venom fighters.
 "Evasive manuevers!!Let's take it to em!!!!"Fox gave his team the go ahead.
 "Get off my back!!"Jenna howled and pulled a loop dropping in behind the group of fighters theat had attacked her,shooting them down rapidly.
 Falco and Skye knifed past each other,causing the two fighters chasing them to collide with each other and explode.
 "Watch it Slip!"Kimmy got the fighter on her boyfriend's back.
 "Phew!Thanks Kim!"He pulled a barrel roll and shot down another fighter.
 Bill dropped and braked to cause his adversary to shoot past him,and blasted him away.He then gave chase to another group of them,shooting them down quickly and did a U-turn.
 Peppy and Fox pulled a favorite trick,weaving past each other rapidly,confusing their chasers.
 "Take em!!"Simultaneously they looped and dipped in behind.They burned the fighters to ashes.
 "Come'on!Andross is down this way!I'm picking up a major power source on radar!"Fox banked and shot down a narrow canyon,his team behind him.
 A few dozen enemies followed close behind.
 "Split up and head back to the ship,see if you can get a few of those guys to follow you!"Fox let on the boost.
 "But what about you?"Fara peered through her cockpit at his arwing.
 "I have to face Andross alone!Please!!Go!!!!!!"
 "Not without you!!"Fara cried.
 Fox shut his eyes,he could hear her sobbing over the com."Fara....please.I would die if something happened to you.Go."
 "We'll be waiting for you,Fox,come back to us!"Bill pulled up beside him.
 "You're in charge Bill,take command!I'll see you guys soon!"Fox turned of his com-link,and watched him comrades,his friends go.He looked away and whispered,"I swear I'll see you soon."
 The narrow canyon opened,showing a large base complex,Andross's headquarters.Dipping low,he landed his arwing,jumping from the cockpit.
 He pulled out his lazer,and stalked up to the main entrance.He jumped back as the main doors slided open,and heard an echo of insane laughter."Ah,Fox McCloud!I've been expecting you.Come to kill me have you?Or yourself?"
 Fox cautiously stalked down a long corridor,watching his back and his sides.
 "Oh,come now,Fox.I've waited long enough for you.Hurry,boy,come to me."
 "I'll come for you in my own good time."
 "How cautious,McCloud.Like your father.Would you like to now how he died?"
 He halted momentarily,swallowing hard.
 "So,you never know how he truly died then.Well,I'll tell you.After he was dragged from his fighter he was brought before me.You wouldn't believe how strong he was....until I broke his legs,then his arms,one at a time."
 "Nooooo!You bastard!I'll make you-"
 "Pay for what I did?Oh,poor Fox,you can't bear to hear the rest.I had him flogged,beaten,every wonderful thing I could think of to do with him.Then do you know what I did?"
 Fox began to sob,tears slid down his cheeks and left dark traces on his fur.He couldn't take a deep enough breath,he couldn't control his rage and pain.
 "I threw him out into Venom's wasteland.Who knows how long it was before poor James finaly died.A fitting end for him,I thought,don't you?"
 He broke into laughter.
 Fox climbed to his feet,and screaming,charged down the corridor.He threw his shoulder into a large door at the end.Surprisingly it opened,he fell and slid across the floor.
 He found he was in a large chamber.Gasping for breath he staggered to his feet,"I know you're here,Andross,come out and face me!!!"
 There was an evil chuckle behind him,he spun around.
 Andross stared down at him wickedly,"So,we meet again,Fox McCloud."
 The ape pulled out a long sword,"I see you also have the same kind of weapon.Your father's I believe."
 Fox pulled his father's weapon from his belt.It had been a gift from James to him on his fifteenth birthday.The blade flashed as he pointed it at Andross,"I'm going to destroy you,even if I will have to die to do it."
 "Really?Let's see you try!!!!!"Andross slashed at him.
 Fox ducked, swung his own weapon.
 Andross blocked the cut with his own blade.They struggled before finaly breaking apart.Andross charged him,Fox sliced into his arm and rolled aside.
 "You miserable whelp!!You're going to be in pieces!!!!!"
 Andross caught Fox with a glancing blow to the head.Fox twisted,lost his balance,and fell to the floor.Androos slashed down on him,he rolled to the side.The ape's blade cut into the floor where he had been.
 Fox kicked out,connecting with Andross's face.The young pilot heard the mad scientist's nose break and a scream of rage.He rolled to his feet.
 Andross spun around,his fist connected with Fox's jaw.Fox stumbled,tasted blood in his mouth.Andross punched him again,breaking his com-link.
 Fox pulled it off and shook his head to clear it.Twirling the blade,he let it fly.It caught Andross in the leg.
 "You fool!!!"Andross gribbed his own sword like a lance,and drove it at him.
 Fox couldn't get out of the way.
 The blade plunged into his shoulder,below his neck along his collar-bone.He screamed and fell onto his back,feeling the tip of the blade scratch on the floor.The sword had gone all the way through him to the handle.
 Andross laughed as walked up to him.He stood over him for a second,before planting a foot onto his chest.Eyes filled with glee he pushed Fox to the floor slowly,savoring his screams as the blade was forced out of him.Andross grabbed the handle,and ripped it out the rest of the way.
 "Young fool,"He began to kick him,beat him with the flat of the sword,before grabbing him by the jacket and flinging him up against the wall.
 White exploded in Fox's head.He couldn't hardly move,and somehow turned over.
 Andross stood over him again.He kicked him again,sending the young pilot sliding across the floor to the middle of the chamber in a gasp of pain.
 He walked up to him,using his foot to turn him over.Using the sword he tipped Fox's head to meet his eyes,noting with satisfaction his enemies bruised and bloodied face.
 "Now McCloud......you will die.Like your mother......like your father.And after you're dead,I'll do the same to you beloved teammates and your wife."
 Fox confulsed in a spasm of pain,watching as Andross began to bring his sword down.
 "Hey,Andross!"
 The mad ape looked up just as Fox's blade drove deep into his chest,held by two paws that drove it up into his ribcage,and ripping it back out.
 Andross's eyes widened,looking down at the gaping wound and blood that poured from it.He stumbled back from the figure that held the bloodied sword.
 "No...,"He gasped,blood spilled from his mouth,"You can't be dead,I killed you......"
 The figure advanced on him holding up the sword,"No,Andross,I still live.And when you kill someone,make sure they are truly dead afterward."
 Andross's eyes went out of focus.The mead scientist pitched forward.
 The figure stalked up to the body,and slashed down with the sword,cutting the ape's head from his body,"There.This time you won't come back."
 The figure turned back to Fox,dropping the sword and rushing to his side.
 Fox couldn't make out who it was,his vision blurred from the blood that was in his eyes,and the pain thudding in his skull.
 "Fox....son,you've got to hold on."
 Fox somehow reached up and pulled the hood down from the figure's head,revealing the face of someone he thought he would never see again.
 His father,James McCloud.
 "Fox....."James gathered his son in his arms,"Please hold on."
 "Dad.....it can't be."
 "This is real son,I'm here.We've got to get you back to GreatFox.Your mother is waiting for us on Corneria."
 "Wha....I.....don't...understand......"Fox's eyes closed,he went limp in his father's arms.
 "Fox?"James felt his neck for a pulse,getting a weak and fading heartbeat.Grabbing the blade that was once his and sliding it into his belt,he held his son close to him and climbed to his feet,running out of the base for his son's arwing.
 "Fox,damn it you hold on!I lost you once,so did your mother,we won't lose you now!"
 
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 Kimmy picked up Fox's arwing on radar,"Hey!He's back!Fox did it!"
 "I don't believe it,he made it!"Slippy let out a whoop.
  Peppy got on the com,"Fox,are ya okay!?!"
 He was shocked to hear a well known voice answer,"Peppy!My God!Old friend,it that you!?!"
 "James?"The old hare whispered in disbelief.
 "Yeah,I'll explain later!Fox is injured badly,be ready for us when we get on board!"
 "On it!Jenna,you'll be needed down below!"
 "I already heard!"Jenna left the bridge,followed by Bill and Skye.
 "Where's Falco and Fara!?!"
 "Falco's already in the docking bay,Jen!Fara's in sickbay getting things ready!"Bill answered as the three ran down the main corridor.
 In the docking bay Falco shielded his eyes as the arwing landed,climbing up the cockpit.He helped James get Fox down."What happened!?!"
 "He took Andross on,and payed dearly for it,"James gathered his son in his arms,headed for sick-bay.
 "Hey,wait a sec!Who are you and where are you going?"
 "I'm Fox's father.I designed this ship,I know where sickbay is."
 Falco ran after him,"You can't be!Fox's father died  nearly six years ago!"
 "That was what supposedly happened.I'll explain later."
 "But-"
 "Look,are you going to help me or not?"
 Falco didn't answer him,but pushed by,"Come'on."
 James followed him down a twist of corridors and passages,before reaching the sickbay.
 Fara was there waiting,her face full of fear and shock,"Oh,God,is he dead?"
 "No,not yet!Where's Jenna,we need her!"
 "She's coming Falco,get him on the bed!"
 James set Fox on the bed.Fara began to undo his jacket,"This takes too long,does either of you have a knife?"
 "I do,"Bill suddenly came in,tossing her his pocket-knife.Jenna and Skye were right behind him.
 "Out,everyone!Fara,Skye,stay with me,I'll need your help,"Jenna herded everyone else from the room,stopping at the door with Bill.
 "He's gonna die,isn't he?"Bill looked over his wife's shoulder at his battered friend.
 "I won't let him,neither will Fara or Skye,"She kissed him,"We'll do what we can."
 She closed the door.
 Bill hung his head,before turning to James,"I know you.You're....but it can't be."
 James gave him a weary smile,"Yes it is.I am James McCloud,and very much alive."
 "But how?"
 "It's a very long story."
 "You have plenty of time to tell us,"Peppy appeared from a corridor with Slippy and Kimmy.
 "Peppy,it's good to see you,"James embraced his old friend.
 Peppy was on the verge of crying.The hare wiped a tear from the corner of his eye,"The same here,James,but how can you be here?I thought you were dead."
 "I'll tell you,and I guess now will be a good a time as any,"He faltered,steadying himself against the wall."
 "James,are ya alright?"
 "Just a dizzy spell,Pep,I just need to sit down for awhile."
 "Alright then,lets go into the den room and talk,"Peppy pulled his friend's arm over his shoulder,and helped him down the corridor.
 Bill and Falco lingered momentarily,casting a worried look toward sickbay.Slippy and Kimmy went back for them.
 "He'll be okay,"Kimmy grabbed Bill's arm.
 "Yeah,Fox is tough,he'll make it,"Slippy pushed Falco ahead of him.
 The four of them followed after Peppy and James.

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 "That's incredible,James,"Peppy sat down beside him,"But with a character like you,it's not impossible."
 James laughed softly,taking a sip from his coffee that Kimmy had made for him.
 "But how could you have survived like that for so long?"Bill sat down by him.
 "I don't know.Perhaps thinking of my family kept me going.But I think I've gone without medical attention for too long."
 "What do you mean?"
 "Here,Bill,I'll show you,"The veteran leader rolled up his pant legs,showing scars of torn and destroyed muscle.He also rolled up his sleeves,revealing lashes across his arms,"Andross did a number on me.He broke all my limbs,and afterward I really don't remember what all else he did to me,except for the beating."
 "Oh.....James,"Peppy covered his face with a paw,"I should have stayed with you."
 "No Peppy,Andross would have killed you.Fox would have been alone."
 "You've got a limp too,"Falco pointed to his left leg.
 "The break never quite healed properly,and that's something that'll be permanent."
 Kimmy entered the room,and handed James some clothes,"I thought you would like a fresh uniform,sir."
 "Yes,thank you Kimmy,"James accepted the clothes,but the expression on his face was somewhat distant,"I wonder how Vixa is."
 "James what did you say?"Peppy became concerned,"Vixa?As in you wife,Vixa?"
 "Yes."
 "James,she died a long time ago,when Fox was just a kit,remember?"
 James looked over at him and smiled,"No,she didn't."
 "James,I think your brain was battered a little too much."
 "No Peppy,I'm not crazy,and my mind is perfectly normal.Everyone was wanted to think she was dead."
 "But why?"Bill looked at him,puzzled.
 "I knew of Andross's plans years before Peppy,Pigma,and I went toVenom and were betrayed.General Pepper shared top secret information with me,I knew about things that wouldn't happen for years.After discussing everything with my wife,we decided to put both her and Fox in a protection program,and just have them disappear.The problem was,it didn't work that way."
 "I know what your saying now,"Bill remembered,"Fox had stayed with me overnight,and the next morning was when the accident happened."
 "That's right,Vixa was never really there,and the body that was discovered wasn't really her."
 "So you let Fox grow up thinking his mother was gone?Some plan,"Falco snapped out.
 "I had never planned for that to happen,"James looked at his paws,his voice hoarse,"Andross was following my every move,including the rest of my team.He knew about us,he knew what was going to happen years from then,the war that he had planned to begin,and that General Pepper would be relying on us."
 "So,you kept Mrs.McCloud safe,and decided to raise Fox by yourself,"Kimmy sighed.
 "It sounds foolish,I know,it was probably never necessary.But I wanted them to be safe."
 "Yeah,but you should have sent Fox with her,"Falco grumbled.
 "Should I have?"James turned to him,"As I recall Falco,you would never have known him if I had.He would have never pulled you off the streets,there would be no leader of this team."
 Falco stopped,opened his mouth as if to reply,but didn't.At last he whispered,"I guess you're right Mr.McCloud.I'm....sorry."
 James placed a hand on his shoulder,"I understand what you're saying Falco,I've questioned the actions I did many times."
 "Hey guys,Slippy here,"A voice came over the com from the bridge.
 "Hear ya Slip,go ahead,"Bill took the message.
 "We should be able to reach Corneria by 0300."
 "That's hours away Slip,can't you do any better."
 "Sorry Bill,Rob and I tried,that's the best we can do."
 "Thanks Slip,"Bill's ears drooped,he didn't like the news he had recieved.
 "Slip out.And hey,I'll keep looking for somes loopholes that'll save time,I'll do it for Fox,"The com went flat,Bill closed it.
 "That's all the faster we can go?"Kimmy looked up at him.
 "Slip went through every possible option.0300 is the best he can do."
 "Fox doesn't have hours Bill!"Falco got up from his seat,"Andross practically butchered him!"
 "Hold it son!"Peppy grabbed his arms,"We don't know how Fox is doing,so be calm till we do."
 Falco wrenched free,and stalked out of the room.
 "That's not good,"Peppy shook his head.
 "What's wrong with him?"Kimmy looked up at him.
 "He's caring,Kim,"The old hare smiled thinly,"He considers Fox a brother,ever since he saved him from a life on the streets."
 James buried his face in his paws,resting his elbows on his knees.His head throbbed,but he couldn't rest,not till he knew his son would be okay.