"Will you quit staring out the window already?! Whatís so interesting out there anyway?" Fox didnít even look up. "Hello! Corneria to FoxÖCome in FoxÖMCCLOUD!!!"
"Huh? What?" Fox said, startled.
"You mean to tell me you didnít even hear me?" Falco shouted.
"Falco, you donít have to scream. Iím right here."
"Sometimes I wonder about that." Falco said, sarcastically. "What were you staring at?"
"You mean you were off in space." Falco laughed. "Will ëya wake up already? Peppy wants to talk with you. Unless you want me to tell him youíre too busy."
"Very funny Falco." Fox was in no mood for jokes. He made his way upstairs to the surveillance room where the radar equipment was kept. He found Peppy, sitting on a small chair near one of the computers. "Did you want to see me Peppy?" Peppy looked up from what he was doing, and greeted his comrade with a smile. He pointed to the chair next to him, and motioned for Fox to sit down.
"Fox, I donít know if this a big deal or anything, but several minutes ago I saw something on radar. It was a small white blip, in the shape of a small ship."
"Well where is it?" Fox interrupted.
"Thatís just the thing," Peppy continued. "It disappeared. Only minutes after I saw it, it was gone."
"Thatís strange." Fox thought out loud. "Do you think thereís a chance it couldíve been shot down?"
"The debris from the ship would have been caught on radar too, and I saw nothing. Fox this is down right impossible!"
"Well, maybe we should go out and scout around, just to be safe." Fox got up and walked toward the door.
"Iím right behind you." Peppy said, following Fox out the door.
As they passed through the door, Fox threw his head back and sneezed, "ACHOO!"
"Bless you." Peppy said, startled.
"ACHOO!" Fox sneezed again.
"This time youíre on youíre on your own." Peppy laughed.
Peppy looked up at Fox with a surprised expression. "Fox, are you cominí down with somethiní?"
"Just a cold." Fox answered. Fox and Peppy made their way downstairs, where they found Falco and Slippy, arguing, as always.
"Man that Blue-Marine sub is a piece of junk! I wouldnít set foot in it!" Falco shouted.
"Thatís because youíre too chicken to go below sea level!" Slippy retaliated, his green face turning red.
"Watch it man, I have a cousin whoís a chicken!"
"Alright, alright, break it up." Fox commanded, pushing them slightly away from each other. "Peppy saw something strange on radar. Weíre going to check it out."
"Youíre lucky Sippy," Falco said angrily, "Saved by the fox."
"Alright, alright already will ëya? Now letís get going." Fox looked at Falco and grinned. "Or are you too busy?" Falco was about to open his mouth in defense, but for once decided to keep it shut.
The team made their way down to the hanger where the Arwing fighters were kept. Each boarded their planes; with Falco and Slippy still completely unknowing about what they were even leaving for. Falco reached Fox on his com-link. "If you donít mind me asking, fearless leader, what are we going after anyway?"
Fox ignored the comment; "Weíre just looking Falco. Weíre going to see if we can find whatever Peppy saw on radar." The team fired up their engines, and blasted out of the hanger and into space. Fox buzzed in on the com-link. "Split up guys. Meet up back at Great Fox in an hour. If you see anything strange, call in on the com-link." The four pilots broke up into separate directions, Fox going straight ahead.
Fox had been searching for at least forty-five minutes, and was about to turn back when he saw something in the distance. As it came closer, Fox could see it was a small fighter craft. It was an off-white color, and was an unusual horseshoe shape, with the cockpit in the center. The wings came to a point, and folded around to the front to complete the semicircle. Fox had never seen anything like it, and wondered who the pilot could possibly be.
Suddenly, someone chimed in on his com-link, but no picture on the screen. The pilot obviously wanted to remain anonymous. "Are you clear of mind?" A grimly voice called out. The voice almost seamed to crawl through Foxís ears. It was barely clear, and sounded almost mechanical.
Fox shook his head in confusion. "I donít understand. Clear of mind?" No one replied. "Pilot, identify yourself please," Fox called.
"I have a better idea," replied the voice. "Why donít you identify me." With that, the small ship rocketed toward Fox, coming only inches away from crashing into him. Fox winced, expecting a collision, and opened his eyes only to see the little craft completely disappear.
Fox returned to Great Fox only seconds before the others. When they all docked, Fox tried his best to explain what happened, with little success. Falco started laughing uncontrollably, and even Slippy stared at him as if he had two heads. Only Peppy kept silent, as far as he was concerned, there was no reason not to believe Foxís story. Peppy had been the one to see the craftís disappearing act on radar, and what Fox claimed to have seen only influenced his beliefs.
"Iím telling you what I saw, and Iím telling the truth!" Fox argued.
"YeahÖ" Falco laughed, "Real funny FoxÖA million laughs!"
Fox turned to Peppy, frustrated. "Peppy, you believe me donít you?"
"Of course I do," Peppy answered sincerely. "What reason would I have not to? You know, we really should report to General Pepper about this. If thereís something potenially hostile in the Lylat system, he should be warned of it." Fox nodded, and ROB64 set course for Corneria.
"Iím afraid I canít believe that." Pepper looked at Fox regrettably, "Iím sorry Fox, but thatís awfully hard to swallow. A ship cannot just disappear into thin air, I mean, space. Itís just impossible." Fox retried his argument, but with no prevail. The General must have thought he was crazy! Now, Fox was starting to believe he was as well.
The team docked their ships in the hanger, and not a word passed between them as they made their way upstairs. Even Falco had kept quiet since they had returned to Great Fox, an amazing feat for him. Fox took a seat on the horseshoe-shaped couch that sat under the massive window in the center room of the ship. He put his feet up on the table that the couch circled around, and sighed. Pepper thought he was crazy, all but one of his teammates thought the same, including himself. Had he really seen it? Or was his mind playing tricks on him? Maybe he was just working too hard lately. The war against Andross was taking its toll on everybody, especially him. Perhaps he wasnít getting enough sleep because of it.
Just then, the words of the mysterious pilot rang through his ears, "are you clear of mind?" What kind of nonsense was that? Fox didnít understand a word of it, if he had even really heard it. Then Fox thought of how the sound had practically crawled through his ears. The pilotís eerie voice was simply indescribable, immortal. No. There was no way his mind could have made that up. He didnít have that kind of mind, weather he had control of it or not. That voice had been real, and the pilot was too, whoever, or whatever it was.
"ACHOO!" Fox started sneezing like he had that morning.
Peppy, who was passing through the room, looked at Fox with wide eyes. "You sure have been sneezing an awful lot today. Are you sure youíre okay?" Fox looked back at Peppy, eyes watering, and nodded. "Not to sound rude or anything, but keep your distance from me please. I'd rather not catch what you have." Fox, who normally would have laughed, remained silent. Peppy kept his eyes on Fox, once again staring out the window. After Peppy left the room, Fox started thinking about the strange pilot again, but this time couldnít seem to think straight. A sudden headache came on and hit him in the head like a brick. It didnít seem like an ordinary headache, it was so sudden, soÖPainful. Fox winced, and put his hands on his head as if trying to muffle the pain. It was no use, and the aching pain was only growing steadily worse. It was unbearable, more than enough to cause even the strongest of men to scream like a child. Fox couldnít scream if he tried, no sound would come if he had forced it, and he was the only one in the room.
"FalcoÖSlippyÖI think you two owe Fox an apology! Calling him crazyÖAnd you call yourselves comrades! Itís bad enough the General doesnít believe himÖBut his own wingmen? Honestly!" Peppy folded his arms across his chest, waiting impatiently for a reply.
"I didnít say anything to him, but I think he may have got the impression that I thought he was crazy. I donítÖReally! But I think I owe him an apology anyway." Slippy admitted, looking down at his feet. Falco turned his eyes away from Peppy, who was still waiting for a reply from him. After several minutes of silence Falco sighed, irritably.
"Alright, Iíll apologize too! ëYa happy now?!" Peppy knew that was as close to an apology as he would get from Falco, so he nodded and led the way to the center
room, so they could make their apologies. As they walked down the stairs, their jaws dropped. There, they found Fox, lying completely unconscious.
The three of them ran to Fox, who wasnít moving. Peppy knelt down and shook him, trying to wake him up, with no success.
"Fox! Wake up man!" Falco yelled. "What the heck happened to him?"
"How are we supposed to know?" Slippy answered rudely. Slippy looked at Peppy, who kept his eyes on Fox. None of them could think of anything they could do. They had no clue as to what had happened to him, and could do nothing.
"We canít just leave him on the floor." Peppy said, now looking at Falco. Falco kept a neutral look on his face, until he realized what Peppy was suggesting.
"Oh no!" Falco argued "I ainít carrying him! No way!"
"Falco, youíre the only one that could carry him. Neither me nor Slippy could even lift him."
"What do I look like, his mother?!" Falco protested. "Thereís no way Iím carrying him upstairs, so you can just forget it!" Peppy stared at Falco coldly. Falco continued to protest, but Peppy wouldnít take his eyes off him. Falco finally gave up. He grudgingly carried Fox up to his room, complaining every step of the way.
Slippy stared at Fox, worried. "If he just blacked-out, shouldnít he be coming around by now?" Peppy looked back at Slippy and shook his head.
"I donít think he just blacked-out, else he would have been awake by now. NoÖThereís something being over-looked here. I can just feel it."
"What on Katina are you talking about Peppy? He just fainted, thatís all. Didnít he have a cold or something? Thatís probably what caused it." Falco said, stubbornly. Peppy was not about to argue with Falco. It would get him nowhere. Slippy looked at Falco with an almost disappointed expression. Falco suddenly felt guilty, although he kept it expressionless. He was too proud to come out and say it, but he was just as worried about Fox as the rest of them.
Falco remained upstairs, while Peppy and Slippy left the room and made their way downstairs. "Why do I get the feeling that this is somehow connected to that strange ship Fox claimed he had seen? The one I saw on radar." Peppy thought out loud.
"Maybe it has something to do with the fact that youíre psychic." Slippy answered.
"It was a rhetorical question Slippy." Peppy sighed. "I donít know what it is Slippy, but Iím worried. Mostly because itís something we donít understand. I almost wish I was thinking like Falco right now."
"Falco?!" Slippy said, surprised.
"Yes, Falco," Peppy continued. "Itís all so simple to him. Fox has a cold, thatís what caused him to pass out, end of story." Peppy sighed. "I wish I could avoid getting all worked up like thisÖAs he does. The problem with that is, he overlooks too many things. Things that may just cost Fox his life." Peppy turned his eyes toward the floor. Did he just say what he thought he said? Yes he did. He had just inquired death, and tried to shake it off. Though he tried to get the thought out of his head, he realized what he had said was regrettably true. Fox could die, and he knew it, though he wished he didnít.
"What lovely memories. It just chokes you right upÖI hope I donít choke on them." LaughterÖBut where was it coming from? Who was speaking? Fox looked up at his hazy surroundings. Where was he? He raised himself weakly to his feet, and looked around again. It was bright, and a thick misty haze surrounded him. He had never seen any place like it. It felt like a dream. Was he dreaming? "NoÖYouíre not dreaming." A voice answered, as if reading his mind. "This is reality in a dream. " The voice was mocking, and seemed to make no sense. "Ooh, confusion! I like it!"
Fox looked around, but could see no one. "Whoís there?" Fox called, trying to keep his guard, though somehow he couldnít concentrate.
"This is a lovely subconscious you have here," the voice laughed. "Iím sure youíll hate to give it up."
"What are you talking about?" Fox yelled. "Who are you?"
"I answer to Virus, for I behave as one." The stranger answered. "Youíve already encountered me. I know you remember. The memory is in your subconsciousÖSearch for it."
"Youíre that pilot arenít you?! The one I saw disÖaÖpearÖ" Foxís voice trailed off. He couldnít be saying this! It was pure nonsense! Things donít just disappear; although he couldnít really explain where he was at that moment any more than he could explain the disappearance. He was lost in his own mind.
"More than you think." The stranger laughed. It was then that Fox realized that whoever, or whatever belonged to that voice, was reading his mind. It knew everything he was thinking! Then Fox knew he wasnít dreaming. "Itís about time you figured it out, Fox Mccloud." It knew his name?! "Welcome to your mind." Now Fox was really confused, his mind? Fox then saw a peculiar shadow moving in the haze, it was coming toward him! Fox tried to move but couldnít. This couldnít be happening! Fox closed his eyes briefly, then reopened them. Afterward he wished he hadnít. What he had opened his eyes to see was something he couldnít believe. Who, or what was thisÖThing?
"What the?Ö" Fox gasped.
"Virus," the stranger answered. "I told you, I answer to Virus. I behave like a virus, but a virus is a non-living organism. I assure you, I am quite living."
"Where are we?" Fox asked, his voice shaking.
"Donít you listen? We are in your mind. Hold your tongue, because I know what you are going to say. You are here, right? So how can you be in your own mind? Well, Iíll enlighten you. ThatÖ" Virus pointed to Fox, "Is not your body. It is aÖVirtual form, if you will. It is a form of yourself, created by your own mind. Of course, I told it to do so." Virus laughed cruelly. "I am literally messing with your head." Fox tried to make sense of it all. The last thing he could remember was the pain, the splitting pain, after thatÖNothing, and now this! He must have been going crazy! But the pain, he knew he couldnít have imagined, that was definitely realÖAnd so was this.
"Iím telling you General, there is something definitely strange going on here, I can feel it!"
"Iím not one to ignore a gut feeling Peppy, especially yours, but we have to be reasonable. Itís more than likely that Fox just caught some nasty virus or something. Have a doctor check him out and Iím sure heíll be back on his feet in a couple of days."
Peppy was getting frustrated, no one would listen to him, not even Pepper! Slippy seemed somewhat convinced that what Peppy said was true, which was better than nothing. Falco still seemed completely skeptical. Although something told him Peppy wasnít mistaken, he still wouldnít come out and say it. Peppy was becoming desperate. Although there was the chance that his gut feeling was incorrect, he wasnít about to take any chances with Foxís life on the line.
Just then, the holograph machine clicked on. Someone was sending a message. It came from the machine in virtual form, then was transferred onto paper. Pepper walked to the machine and picked up the message.
"What on Katina?!" Pepper cried.
"What is it General?" Peppy asked, taking the paper.
"The messageÖLookÖLook who itís from, itís simply impossible!"
Falco looked over Peppyís shoulder. "Fox?!" He said, now completely confused. Pepper had to sit down. He sat in the chair behind his office desk, holding his head in his hands. Falco then left the room.
"How?" Pepper muttered to himself. "How could it possibly be from Fox? Heís not even conscious!" Peppy looked closer at the message. It made no sense. Falco walked back into the office, shaking his head in confusion.
"IÖI just called Slippy back on Great fox. HeÖHe said Fox was still out cold. Thereís no way it could be from him! But if thatís a holograph, it canít be falseÖThereís no such thing as a fake holograph message! I donít get it!"
"What?" Peppy said suddenly, his eyes fixed on the paper in his hand.
"What is it Peppy?" Pepper asked, looking up.
"The messageÖIt came from Fox, but itís not by Fox!"
"Huh?" Pepper was completely bewildered. How could that be? Falco snatched the paper from Peppyís hand.
"Lemme see that!" Falco reread the message, but still could not make sense of it.
ëSubconscious is thicker with unconsciousness. In a battle for a body, he will lose, as will you. Movement does not gain liveliness. I shall gain, not only by him. Youíre fooled by stillness, proving you are merely fools. In the subconscious he will fight, he will die, and you from his death. Fools are blind, and Virus is spreading. His loss is yours., Virus is spreading.í
"This is a bunch of crap!" Falco yelled, throwing the paper to the floor. "I donít understand a word of it! And what do mean itís from Fox but not by Fox?! It canít be one and not the other!" Falco stared at Peppy, waiting for an answer.
"The feedback on where it was sent is in the lower left hand corner. It says it was sent from Great Fox, from Fox Mccloud, which of course is not possible. Now, look under it. It may say from Great Fox, and from Fox, but it says by Virus. Now donít ask me what the heck thatís supposed to mean, one thing at a time." Peppy stared back at Falco, who looked even more confused than ever. Pepper himself looked extremely lost. Peppy wasnít at all sure what he had been right about, but he knew, just the same, that he was right.
"I shall wait until youíve completely regained yourself, then we shall fight."
"Fight?" Fox asked. "What for? Why?"
"Because this is a mind worth fighting for." Virus answered. "Itís very well in tact. Itís more than obvious that you actually use it." Virus sneered at Fox who was still confused as to what was going on. "I sent a message to your friends through your brain waves, and onto computer. If they are smart enough to figure it out, which few ever do, I will get the benefit of knowing that they are aware of what is happening, and can do nothing about it. I just love that feeling donít you, helplessness? Itís rather invigorating." Virus cackled.
"Youíre sick." Fox muttered in disgust.
"No, youíre sick remember? You caught the Virus." Virus obviously had a sick sense of humor, and Fox had just about all he could take of it. Fox closed his eyes and tried to put the pieces together, but it all sounded so strange.
"Okay, let me think here."
"Oh please do," Virus chuckled. Fox tried to ignore the comment.
"YouÖAre a virusÖ"
"No," virus interrupted. "I simply behave like one. Going from one victim to another, taking over their minds, and eventually their bodies. When Iíve sucked them dry of every drop of life, I move onto the next host. So far youíre a pretty good host." Fox was disgusted by Virusís humor. He found nothing about it funny at all. Virus was sick, and his humor was misleading. He obviously liked the taste of confusion; it seemed his favorite offense.
"Alright," Fox continued, "You mean to tell me, youíre going to take over my mind and my body?" Fox could barely get the words out. He wished he was dreaming, but was already convinced he wasnít. He had to get some answers.
"We will battle for your mind and body. If I win, which I have never lost, your mind is destroyed and your body along with it. If you win, wellÖI am destroyed, and in a few days you will recover from what you will only remember as the common cold."
"You think I will agree to that?" Fox yelled. "Iím not just going to hand my mind over to you if you win! Those stakes are too high, Iím afraid Iíd have to rule out good sportsmanship!"
"You will have no choice! What you see as yourself now, represents your mind. We will fight to the death! When you lose, you die, and your mind with you, for you are your mind! What you see now, that is not your body! When your mind dies, so do you!" Fox swallowed hard. It wouldnít be long before Virus decided to make a meal out of him, and Fox had no desire to fight at such a tremendous disadvantage. It seemed there was no way out. He would have to fight to the death.
Peppy glared at the slightly crumpled paper in his hand, and then at Fox, who still wasnít moving. Just looking at his lifeless comrade made his eyes sting. He again fixed his focus on the letter, and did all he could do just to keep from crumpling it up. It was pure nonsense, an enigma that he couldnít seem to figure.
Peppy started to leave the room, but took one last look at Fox, and sighed. He kept his eyes on his leader as he opened the door to leave, but something stopped him.
"You donít have much time left Mccloud."
"Huh?" Peppy turned and walked back into the room.
"If you think Iím just giving up Virus, you have another thing coming."
"Virus?" Peppy asked, confused. "What theÖWhereís that coming from?ÖWho?Ö" Peppy looked back at the letter, still in his hand. "Virus." He thought aloud. "Itís capitalizedÖ" He realized. "Like in someoneís name!" Peppy looked back down at Fox. "Oh my god." With that, Peppy ran from the room, and down the stairs.
"What?" Falco answered, irritably. Slippy glared at him for answering so rudely.
Peppy practically tripped down the stairs, waving the paper in the air.
"IÖI heardÖThat isÖFoxÖVirus!"
"Whoa! Slow down old man!" Falco interrupted.
"Falco!" Slippy snapped.
"IÖHeard Fox," Peppy panted. "He was talking to somebody, but he still wasnít moving! Not even his lips moved!" Peppy handed the paper to Falco. "Fox referred to the other as Virus, just like in the letter!"
"All the letter proves, is that Fox just has some virus or something." Falco said stubbornly. "He had a cold Peppy! Remember? He was sneezing his brains out earlier!"
"That cold, youíre just using that as an excuse not to believe me! He did have a cold; thatís true. But look at this." Peppy pointed out a particular phrase in the letter. "The word Virus is capitalized."
"So, that means itís used as a proper noun. Itís someoneís name Falco!"
"Gee, thanks for the grammar lesson Peppy," Falco said sarcastically. "When ëya snap back into reality, let me know." With that, Falco left the room, and Peppy was left the way he had been before, without answers.
"For what itís worth, I believe you Peppy." Peppy looked over at Slippy, who was smiling innocently.
"Somehow, I knew you would Slippy." Peppy paused, and looked upstairs. "Címon," he said as he led the way up the stairs. "Follow me."
"Where are we going?" Slippy asked, following behind.
"Weíre gonna beat this Virus at his own game!"
"Timeís up!" Virus cackled, making his way toward Fox. Fox started to Back up, and tried to think of a way to stall for time. Virus wanted no part in a delay, and crept closer.
"So exactly how are we supposed to battle?" Fox asked, still backing away. "What are we using?"
"Why our minds of course," Virus laughed. Fox kept an eye on the black diamond-like symbol on Virusís forehead, and realized it was starting to glow. It grew brighter and brighter, until a glowing white orb of energy bolted at Fox, hurling him to the ground. Fox got up, but was knocked down again, with even greater force. Virus started creeping in closer, and Fox forced himself up again, only to be thrown back down.
ëHow can I possibly beat him?í Fox thought to himself. ëI havenít got a chance.í
"Yes you do."
"Peppy?" Fox called quietly.
"Donít you give up Fox." Peppy demanded.
"But how could possibly I beat him?"
"The same way heís fighting you. With mind power."
"What? Where are you?"
"I canít see you any more than you can me. I only know whatís going on by what I can hear and feel. Now, get up Fox! Fight back! Itís your mind! Donít let him beat you in your own mind!" Fox nodded, and struggled to his feet.
"Determined little wretch, arenít you?" Virus laughed. "Too bad it canít save your pathetic little brain."
"Weíll see about that," Fox murmured. He thought about what Peppy had told him, and realized what he meant. Fox closed his eyes and pictured himself winning, and thought about what he wanted to do. When he opened his eyes, his realized his hands were glowing with the same light that Virus had glowed with, only brighter. Fox smiled slyly at Virus, with a look of stronger determination in his eyes.
"No!" Virus wailed. "You couldnít have figured it out! No one has everÖ" Fox cut him off with a blow to the chest, using a blast of mind-controlled energy, the same Virus had used against him earlier. The tables were turned, and Virus struggled to fight back, using everything he had; but Fox would not give up, and delivered blow after blow. Virus was growing weaker and weaker, and it appeared Fox was winning; but Virus still had one more trick up his sleeve.
"What the heck?" Fox yelled. He stared at Virus, who appeared to be changing shape.
Peppy opened his eyes and stared at Slippy. "Oh no," He whispered to himself.
"What is it?!" Slippy asked. "Whatís wrong? Is Fox okay?!"
"VirusÖHeís a shape-shifter!" Peppy looked down at Foxís limp body. "God help him."
"Canít you help him with your psychic powers?!" Slippy panicked.
"Iím not that powerful Slippy. I may be able to know whatís going on, but thereís nothing I can do about it. I can talk to him, but thatís about it." Peppy sighed. "Itís all up to Fox now."
"Hey dude, whatís up?" Bill smiled.
Fox couldnít believe his eyes when he saw his best friend, Bill Grey standing where Virus stood only seconds before. "Bill?"
"In the fur." Bill smiled, somewhat cruelly, making him seem out of character somehow.
"Youíre not Bill," Fox growled.
"Fox, how could you say that?" Bill started to move closer. "Of course I am. Hey, if Iím not Bill, then who is?"
"Donít listen to him Fox."
"Heís messing with your mind, itís not Bill Fox, donít believe him."
"Youíre controlling my mind Virus, I know itís you. Youíre trying to make it so Iím easily tricked, but Iím not to be fooled!"
"Thatís it Fox! Fight it! Fight back!" Fox held his arms up and shot another surge of energy at Bill, forcing him to change back to his original form. Virus wouldnít give in and tried tricking Fox again, this time morphing into Peppy. Fox wouldnít be fooled, and shocked him again. Virus continued to morph, from Falco, Slippy, Pepper, and back again. He had no use, Fox continued to fight back, until Virus returned to his original form once again. He was weak, and appeared to be losing the battle.
"Give it up Virus!" Fox called, exhausted from fighting.
"Not quite!" Virus laughed. "Not quite!" The haze around his body thickened, and faded away to reveal Virusís last form, and his last chance.
Fox couldnít believe what his eyes were telling him. "Dad?!"
Peppy looked at Slippy with wide eyes. "Oh noÖ"
"What?!" Slippy cried "What?!"
"Virus has just sunk to the ultimate low."
"What Peppy? Whatís he doing?"
"HeísÖJames! And heís smarter than I thought."
"Why do you say that?" Slippy asked.
"BecauseÖ" Peppy answered "He knows Fox wonít fight him. Heís got him right where he wants him. And because of the influence he still has on Foxís mind, he knows he can make Fox believe him. We can only hope that Fox still has the energy to fight it."
"What can we do?!" Slippy yelled.
James smiled a cruel smile, the same grin that Bill had worn. "Hello son."
"YouÖYouíre not my father." Fox said, unsure.
"Fox, how could you say that? Itís meÖYouíre father." James crept closer, but Fox didnít back up. "Arenít you happy to see your old man?" James smiled, and put his hand on Foxís shoulder. "I missed you."
Fox felt himself growing weaker, and realized Virus was absorbing his energy, and his life. Still, under Virusís overpowering influence, he couldnít shake off the belief that the man in front of him was his father. It looked like him; it sounded like himÖBut was it really him? Fox didnít want to believe it was, but couldnít help it. Virus still had only one hit left before he was destroyed, but Fox couldnít make himself fight back. He continued to lose energy, and before long, he would not have the power to retaliate. Virus knew this, and smiled.
"Thatís it Fox, believe meÖIím your father. Just give up Fox. Just give it up." Suddenly, Fox looked up, and smiled.
"Youíre not my father. I know youíre not my father!" Fox summed up all the power he could muster, and prepared to fire. James let go of Foxís shoulder, and started to back away, with fear in his eyes.
"How could you say Iím not youíre father Fox? How?"
Fox raised his arms, and smiled.
"My father would never tell me to give up!" With that, Fox unleashed everything he had at James. Virus returned to his true form, glowing a luminous red. He fell backwards into the haze and with one last curse to failure, disintegrated. Nothing remained of him; he had finally been beaten.
Fox opened one eye, and looked around. His vision was blurry, and he struggled to see. "Peppy?" He whispered, recognizing his comradeís unmistakable silhouette.
"Fox?" Peppy answered. "YouíreÖYouíre awake! Youíre all right! SlippyÖLook!"
"Fox! Youíre okay!" Slippy did a little dance around the room, and almost rammed into Falco, who had been leaning against the doorway.
"Hey!" Slippy smirked. "I thought you didnít care about Fox."
"Well, I donítÖI mean, I doÖI meanÖOh, forget it. Fox, Iím glad youíre okay man."
Fox looked around the room, confused. "Hey, can someone tell me whatís going on here?"
"Weíre just glad youíre okay," Slippy smiled.
"Okay? Why wouldnít I be?" Fox wondered.
"How are you feeling Fox?" Peppy asked, ignoring the question.
"WellÖIíve felt better. But why are you guys so concerned about me? Was I sick or something?"
"You had a nasty virus, thatís all," Peppy smiled. "Just a virus."