"The cleanup efforts are amazing, General. Corneria City will be back
to its old glory in no time." Said the aide, looking
out the window of the repaired military building.
"Yes, I know." General Pepper nodded. "No surprises so far."
"I’ll doubt there will be any, sir."
"I agree." Cleanup is necessary, but boring work. The General thought.
In another part of the city, a group of soldiers were investigating
a half collapsed building; making sure no one was trapped
so they could knock it down the rest of the way.
"This place gives me the creeps." Said one soldier.
"Did you know this place was Andross’ laboratory before he was exiled?" Remarked a second.
"That just makes me worse." Said the first.
"Wait, did you hear that?" The second stopped suddenly, turning to
a pile of debris that was on top of some old
"Help me…please help…" Whispered a voice, and the debris shuddered.
"Oh, god, there’s someone trapped under there." Said the
soldier, running up to the wreckage and crouching
down, trying to see under it. "Is anyone in there?"
"Help me…please…hurry…" The voice said, and the debris jumped.
"Someone radio in for help!" Said the first, starting to pull the building material off the pile.
"Alex, whoever it is is almost lifting the debris of himself or
That isn’t possible." Said the second, hand on
"What are you saying, Jason?" Alex grunted, continuing to haul the wreckage off the person trapped underneath.
"Never mind." Jason radioed in for help.
By the time other soldiers and paramedics had arrived, Alex and Jason
had uncovered what appeared to be part of a stasis
field generator. They eventually uncovered the part where the person would be, and both were stunned.
A young girl, in her mid teens, stared at them. At first glance, she
looked like a greyhound, thin muscular build, slender
face, and delicate features. Her clothes were ripped, probably from the debris. She looked around at the soldiers who had
saved her, and it was a scared look, almost terrified. Her hands clenched the side of the holding area, eyes wide.
"Now, now, miss, nothing to be afraid of…" Said Alex in what he hoped was a soothing voice.
"Alex…look at her hands…" Whispered Jason.
Alex did, and stepped back from the girl. Cornerian hands have three
fingers and a thumb on each hand, and usually had
short didgets because of their animal heritage. This girl had four fingers and a thumb on each hand, and had long slender
fingers. Not only that, long hooked claws were currently fully extended, scratching the metal. Cat claws in a dog’s
hands. Alex’s jaw hung slack, and he looked at the girl’s eyes. Mellow brown irises, but slitted cat’s
The girl was breathing very fast, in short gasps. Then she passed out.
"What is she?" Said Jason, hands clutching his gun. He had pulled it
without realizing it. ‘Oh come on Jason,
it’s just cleanup duty. Nothing will happen. Yeah right.’
"I don’t know. Let’s get her out of there. Maybe
the docs can tell us something." Alex swallowed, stepped
over the rubble scattered on the floor, and reached down to slide his arms under the girl’s back. He gasped when his
fingers encountered feathers. "She’s got wings. My god." He stammered to his friend as he gathered the girl in his
arms. Her wings were large, and drug on the ground when he carried her, no matter how careful he was. The girl whimpered
a little as he gently laid her down on the stretcher the paramedics had brought. "Jason, call the General. He better hear about
General Pepper walked into the waiting room of the hospital, looking
around. Two ground soldiers hastily stood up and
saluted. The General saluted back. "At ease."
They relaxed some.
"What are your names, soldiers?"
"Private Jason Miller, and this is Private Alex Warrow." Said Jason.
A doctor came in. "General, will you please come? Jason, Alex, you too."
"Now, what’s going on?" Said Pepper as they walked down the long, white halls.
"Well, sir, we were investigating Andross’ old laboratory, and we…"
Five minutes later they were standing outside a room, waiting for
doctor to come out of he room and give his
official statement regarding the girl.
"So, it looked like she had been in a stasis field?" Pepper rubbed his chin, worried.
"Yes, sir. The roof collapsed, and shut down the machinery."
"And you say she’s…different?"
"Putting it bluntly, I think she’s a mutant!" Jason blurted.
"Given where she was, she might have been one of
Andross’ former projects!"
"That’s jumping to conclusions, Jason." Said Alex.
"No it isn’t."
"Enough the both of you. I’ll see for myself what she is.
It’s possible she’s just a crossbreed between
a dog and cat…"
"What about the wings? What about the fact that she was pushing the debris off herself?"
"You got me there."
Doctor Shultz came out of the room, looking nothing short of stunned. "Hi General."
"Doctor. How is she?"
"She’ll be fine. She seems healthy, for someone
spent a few years in a stasis field. She’s got
strong bones and muscles from what I can tell, her mental activity is off the charts, her blood is a completely new
type…" The doctor trailed off. "You can go in, sir. Just be prepared for a surprise."
"Has she said anything?"
General Pepper sighed and went inside the room, trailed by Alex and Jason. He came to a sudden halt, stunned.
The girl was standing by the window of her room, looking out. Now that
she was clean, her fur was gleaming silver-gray.
Her wings were also clean, a shimmering white. She was turned most of the way from them, face unseen. Her tail curled
around one of her ankles, extremely long like a cat’s, although her build was that of a dog’s. Instead of a
hospital gown, she wore gray sweats and a white tank top tucked in. No shoes.
"Miss?" General Pepper finally said.
She turned, looking at the trio in the doorway. She blinked, brown
darting from face to face, and smiled sparklingly at
Alex and Jason.
"Hey. She remembers us." Muttered Alex.
"Miss?" Pepper repeated, seeing he was being ignored.
The girl looked back at him, and frowned some, not knowing him.
"What is your name?"
She hugged herself, looking at him. A black tattoo was on her upper left arm, the symbol of Andross’ forces.
"Can you talk?"
She looked away from him, eyes gleaming with distrust.
"She doesn’t know you sir, and doesn’t trust you.
Let me try." Alex stepped toward her, and when she
didn’t make any protest, walked forward and stood in front of her. "What’s your name?"
Again, a frown, and she swallowed. "M-my name?" Her voice was soft, but clear as a bell.
"Yes, I’m Alex, and you are?"
"Anna." She glanced at General Pepper, eyes narrowing again.
"You can trust him. He’s my boss."
She shifted, rubbing her upper arms. "Okay."
"He want’s to talk to you, ask you some questions."
"What kind of questions?"
"He needs to know some stuff about you, that’s all. We’d like you to answer as truthfully as you can."
She nodded, swallowing again. "I’m…thirsty."
He glanced at Pepper. "Do you mind doing your interview in the cafeteria?"
"No, I don’t think it’s top secret."
"Come on, Anna, and we’ll get you something to drink."
"Where are your parents, Anna?" Pepper asked, watching the lithe girl neatly but quickly eat three meals.
She blinked. "Par-ents." She sounded out. "I don’t know what that means."
He blanched in spite of himself. "Umm. Who took care of you before you were put in suspended animation?"
She licked her lips. "Oh. You mean my guardians." She smiled. "Lots
of people. They were nice to me. There was one I
didn’t see much, but he told me he was always watching. Don’t know his name. He said he had created me. I
don’t know if that’s true. He liked to play with his inventions. He showed me around his lab once or twice.
Lots of stuff. Even some weapons." She shoved the third empty plate away and absently stroked one of her wings, putting
her feathers in order as she did so. "Towards the end he started changing. Told me the planet he had worked for didn’t
appreciate his work. Said he was going to make them pay. He didn’t want me hurt or captured, so I was put in
suspended animation." The way she told her story was with careless ease, like someone talking on the phone to a close
‘Holy Lords, she’s talking about Andross! Andross
before he first attacked Corneria and was exiled!’
Thought Pepper in shock.
Anna looked up, suddenly digging her claws into her wing. "Exiled?
are you talking about? Why would my caretaker
be exiled?!" Her voice became high and shrill.
The trio of soldiers stared at her.
"She just read my mind…" Said Pepper weakly to Alex and Jason.
"Should I try to explain?" Said Alex.
"INSANE?!" Cried Anna. "What do you mean insane?! He wasn’t insane. He loved me!!!!"
"She just read mine too." Said Alex.
"God, we’re like open books to her." Said Jason.
Anna leapt to her feet and ran out of the cafeteria. Not knowing the
way out, she turned and sprinted down the corridor,
looking for an exit. ‘Even a large window would do,’ she thought desperately.
"Stop her!" Pepper shouted, giving chase.
Anna smiled grimly, and led them on a wild goose chase through the
Soon the three soldiers were winded, but she
was still running strong. She spotted the front entrance to the hospital and made one last dash.
Five people-an older hare, a young male fox, a young male frog, a
male falcon, and a young girl fox-came through
the door, talking amongst themselves. Anna collided with them, and they all hit the floor.
"Why don’t you watch where you’re going?!" She exploded at them, climbing to her feet.
"Well heellloooo gorgeous!" Said the falcon from his new position on
the floor, staring at her. Anna glared at him a little,
arms crossed, actually flattered but not wanting to say so.
"Katt’ll kill ya if she hears about ya saying that to a complete stranger!" Said the frog with a giggle.
"Well, she can kill me. Just because I have a girlfriend
mean I can’t look at other girls!" The falcon
"Cool it, you two." Said the male fox, getting to his feet. "Sorry,
we weren’t paying attention." He told Anna as he
helped his friends to their feet.
"Stop her!" Shouted Pepper. "Don’t let her leave the building!"
"Oh howdy General!" Said the falcon, grabbing Anna’s arms
and pinning them behind her. "What do you want with
this winged beauty, huh?"
Anna growled, feathers bristled and teeth exposed in a snarl. She had
bolted because she had been overwhelmed. She
didn’t know what to think of Pepper, at this point.
"StarFox! What are you doing here?!" Said Pepper.
"Picking up Billy. He was in here because of his crash, remember?" Said the hare.
Anna craned her neck to see the nametags of her captor and his
The hare was Peppy Hare, the falcon currently
pinning her was Falco Lombardi, the frog was Slippy Toad, the male fox was Fox McCloud, and the female fox was Fara
Phoenix. She relaxed into Falco’s grasp a little, no longer snarling but growling quietly. She read their minds
quickly and easily, and saw the evil that her once loving creator had done to his star system. The team holding her hostage
had defeated him. Looking at the pictures in the groups’ minds, it was too much for her to take at once. She passed
"So, what is she?" Said Falco, glancing at the hospital bed where Anna was laying, still fast asleep.
"We don’t know. She doesn’t have parents, or not
that she remembers. She had never heard the word before,
in fact. Seems she’s one of Andross’ genetic experiments. She’s a mind reader. Read my mind like an
open book. And I’ll bet that the reason she passed out was she read your minds, and saw the war through your eyes."
Said Pepper, with a noisy sigh.
"But I don’t get it. How could she not know that Andross was nuts?"
"He wasn’t when she first met him. She sort of saw him as
a father figure, and said he loved her…but after
seeing what you have seen, I don’t know what she sees him as."
Fara sat on the edge of the bed, looking at Anna. Pretty, Fara
perhaps gorgeous if you liked Anna’s type.
She hadn’t been surprised about Falco’s comment when he first saw Anna. But looking at Anna closer, you
could tell that she was different. "Genetic tampering is the only way she could turn out like this." Said Fara softly. "Sure,
the wings and cat features might have been from cross breeding, but I don’t see that it’s likely that the
parents would produce such a mix. And those hands prove the point. This poor girl is an experiment."
"If I had my arwing and a chance, I’d give Andross a shot
or two just for doing this to her." Said Peppy. "It’s
cruel. She’s the only one of her kind. General, did you ask her about her education?"
"No, I asked her about her parents, she replied, and took off running
upon reading my mind." Pepper shrugged. "How old do
you think she is?"
"Sixteen, seventeen." Said Slippy. "Somewhere in there."
"Education…" Muttered Anna. "Know math, science, writing,
computer technology, piloting skills, weapons
skills…" Her eyes opened, pupils thinning to slits. "You think I’m a freak." She said in an accusing tone to
Fara shook her head vigorously. "No, I don’t."
"You do. You all do. I am different, so I am a freak. Some of you may
find me pretty, beautiful even, but I’m still a
freak." She slowly sat up and drew her knees up to her chest, hugging them, chin settled on her knees, looking around at
her crowd. "I know all of you, and your lives. So easy to read, like an open book. Why is that? Why can I do that?" She
swung her gaze to Peppy. "You are like me! What’s wrong with me?"
"Nothing’s wrong with you, Anna. You can read minds, that’s all." Peppy replied.
"Pep, is that you? Oh, thank goodness! Took me forever to find you
Nurse finally sent me here…goodness
gracious!" Bill Grey stood in the doorway, looking from Anna to the others, and back again. "What’s going on?
"This is Anna. Anna, this is Bill Grey." Said Fox.
Anna blinked. "Ah yes. Leader of the Husky Squadron, and Fox’s one of your best buddies."
Bill’s jaw hung slack. "How did she know that?"
"Welcome to Chaos, my friend." Said Falco. "Population 8 and rising."
Anna sighed noisily, and focused on General Pepper. "Well, sir, now
that I’m here, what do you want with me?
I’d like to have a normal life at some point."
"You mentioned piloting skills and weapons skills." He said thoughtfully.
"The Academy, once it’s fixed?" Said Peppy. "She can pick
up whatever education she’s missed there,
"Academy?" She frowned.
"Yeah. The Cornerian Flight Academy." Peppy told her. "Everyone here
was trained there, I believe, and all of us passed the
space training with flying colors. I think you can have our words that it’s a good school."
She stared at her claws, thinking. "Become a pilot?"
"Well why not? It’s a way to finish the rest of your education too."
"I specialized in engineering there." Said Slippy.
"Suppose I did enter the Academy. Where would I stay? What about money
and clothing? I have no money, and only the
clothes on my back."
"As for where you’ll be staying, the dorms on the Academy
grounds is where. Money, I’m not so sure about.
Clothes, though." Pepper looked at Fara.
Fara looked at Fox, who shook his head. "Nuh-uh, no way, no how. I don’t like going shopping."
"Then give me some money and I’ll take her shopping." Said Fara sweetly.
"What do you expect me to do, give you my wallet?"
"If you have to. Or give me your charge cards. Either way."
The others in the room rolled their eyes and shook their heads, apparently used to this.
"I don’t think so, Fara. I don’t want them maxed out."
"Then give me some money."
"Like how much? God, you have enough money, don’t you?"
"None on me."
"Then go to a bank!"
"Will you two kindly take this outside?" Said Pepper.
"Sure." The two foxes got up and left the room.
"I wonder about those two sometimes." Said Falco.
"Fara’s taking me shopping?" Said Anna.
"If she can convince Fox to give her his money or his charge cards, either way."
Fara came in, looking triumphant, and Fox came in, looking annoyed.
"She’s got money of her own, but NO, she has to spend mine instead." Fox growled.
"That’s right, sugar. I’ll pay you back later." Fara smiled sweetly at him, Falco gagged.
"Yeah, right." Fox muttered.
Anna, not able to help it anymore, laughed. "So, we’re going shopping?"
"Yes, we are. Come on."