“Why I was the first female ace pilot in the Venomian Air Force, I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I shot down 19 Cornerian jets, and I was faster and stronger on the job, and of course I happen to be a woman.”
As the sun greeted Vereana City at the beginning of another day,
Amy Johnson arose from her silk-linen bed with drowsiness and a
The snow leopard held her head groggily and literally stumbled her way
to the bathroom of her apartment at the edge of the city in the Vereana
Mountains on the planet Zoness. She wore a lavish pink gown that
was wrinkled due to her twisting and turning while she slept. The
soft, white carpet cushioned her feet, and when she stepped into the
the tiles felt cold to the touch. At 18 years of age and now
from a highly recognized flying school, Amy believes that she has great
potential as a fighter pilot for the Zoness Air Force. (However,
the much smaller Air Force of Zoness was not expected to offer much
if Andross should ever attack their beloved planet, and this worried the
people of Zoness).
Amy looked at herself in the bathroom mirror. Her delicate tan-with-deep-black-spots face had a bluish birthmark above her right eye, and because of that and her blue eyes, she was sometimes called Sky by her fellow students at the flying school. She still prefers her real name though. She has a rather slim figure, and at 5'6 and 126 pounds, she was smaller than the other students her age. She hates being called runt however. A bully called her that several years ago and he ended up with a punch in the stomach. Although the bully was a foot taller than her, she was never teased by him again.
Amy rested her paw on her forehead, moaning. Migraines had always been a problem for her, and they usually occur at least one morning per week, on random days.
“My head hurts, my feet are cold, my ears hurt, my fur hurts,...even my spots hurt,” she complained to herself. With a deep sigh, she dropped two white pills into her mouth and drank some water rather lazily. She felt like sleeping in that soft,...comfy bed all day long.
Unfortunately for her, the telephone rang and it was Admiral Hensona of the Air Force. The vulture sounded rather panicky, and that alarmed Amy.
“Miss Johnson, I bear grave news. I know that you’re not officially inducted into my Air Force yet, but I am in desperate need of good pilots.”
“Did Venom attack?” She asked. (Amy certainly hoped not, for she only wanted to live through the war peacefully. But Andross apparently wasn’t going to let that happen for her).
“Yes, yes, they are within Zoness space now. About eighty of those stinking Invader-class jets are heading toward Vereana Base itself, and even with all of my pilots at my disposal, I’m still outnumbered. If you will volunteer to help us and defeat Venom, you will be greatly rewarded.”
Despite her still persistent migraine, she couldn’t let this chance go down the drain, even if it meant facing dangers that she never met before. “I’m on it. Where will my fighter jet be?”
“At the Base, East Dock. Someone there will guide you to it. Good luck, Miss Johnson.”
The monitor phone went blank, and Amy hurriedly put on a white shirt and loose-fitting green pants. Taking her identification card with her, she ran out of her apartment, ignoring the migraine, for now. In her car, she rushed through the almost empty streets of the city, and drove five miles of mountain road to the small Vereana Air Force Base. Once inside the Base, a keeshond officer directed her to a Protector-class jet. Despite their flaws, the jets were the most advanced Zoness could offer.
Once in the cockpit, she donned her comlink, and soon a familiar voice cut through the silence as her canopy window closed in above her.
“Hey Sky, ready to blast some lizards?”
Amy clicked on the engines and geared up her weapons. “Hello Louise. Yeah, I’m ready,” she answered through her comlink to a friend who serves as a console officer in the Base Command. “Those idiots came on a bad day!”
“Got a migraine again, eh? You better join your co-pilots soon. They’re already in space, waiting for the Invader fleas to come.”
“Right. See ya later! I’ll come back with a lizard stuck on my jet’s nose like a pin in a pincushion!”
She heard laugher on the other end of the comlink and that cheered her up. She floated in mid-air and then accelerated toward space.
The fifty-five Protector-class jets were waiting impatiently for
the fleas to come as Amy dropped in along with them. They were in
a grid formation, and Amy was at the bottom line in the middle, which was
perhaps one of the more safer positions to be in. She was eager for
battle, but this was her first time, and she was getting nervous.
In fact, her paws shook a little.
First time jitters, first time jitters, she consoled herself. Then, she spotted the eighty or more Invader-class fleas heading directly toward her and her co-pilots. They were orange in color, and had just as much shield power and maneuverability as the Protector-class jets, and they were coming at the Zoness jets in a V-formation.
“All jets, forward and prepare to fire!” Her comlink blared. Obediently, she moved her jet toward her enemies, her claws itchy on the trigger button. At three hundred yards the first lasers were fired.
From that moment, things got a bit out of hand, from the heat of battle. The Zoness jets scrambled and gave it a go. Amy dived, trying to get beneath the sights of the lizards and catch them by surprise. She shot down her first kill from below, and she whooped with delight as the Invader jet exploded by her lasers. She chased two more at a time, and managed to shoot both of them down before one of the fleas got behind her. She flinched as a laser struck her right wing, and turned right to lose him. The flea persisted, following her every move, hitting her with a relentless barrage of lasers.
Sparks flew from her cockpit controls, distracting her completely. Her right engine had suffered too much and died down quickly. With only the main and left wing engines left, she had trouble maneuvering. Her G-Diffuser system was almost out too, promising her trouble once she reaches the Zoness atmosphere, if she survives this space dogfight.
“I need some help! I got a flea on my tail!”
An unknown pilot responded and fired at the annoying flea. The Invader exploded, giving Amy a chance to breathe. “Thank you, whoever you are.”
The unknown pilot didn’t answer, for just then he or she was shot down..
The rest of the pilots also weren’t doing so well defending their planet. The Invader jets, a bit more superior, were shooting down one Zoness jet after another, and Amy herself was on the brink of disaster. Still, her weapons were okay, and kept on locking on targets and shooting them down. Her fifth kill was reported, then her sixth. She barrel-rolled, flipped, turned and zigzagged, and kept on firing all the way, but she and the remaining pilots couldn’t stop the fleas.
Her comlink blared again. “Fall back, pilots! Retreat to the Base, immediately!”
Amy cursed to herself and turned toward her planet. Upon reaching the atmosphere, her jet rocked with instability, and she almost lost control. Finally, she safely landed near the Base, and got out with a phaser in her paw. She had proved her skill in piloting, now she might have to engage in a good old- fashioned shootout with her handy phaser. However, she never got the chance. Vereana Base had surrendered to the Venom Invasion Forces.
Upon their arrival, the lizard pilots of Venom arrested every pilot on the Base, including Amy, and they were thrown into the Base’s own jail cells. With more Venomian Forces coming, Amy knew that Zoness would be the next planet to fall under Andross.
Amy was with fourteen other pilots and their depressing mood
her. They had had such hope, such willingness to defend one of the
most beautiful planets in the Lylat System. A few hours had passed
when a lizard came to Amy’s jail cell.
“Amy Johnson?” the lizard asked, his voice sounding like metal scraping on stone.
The snow leopard stood up. “I’m Amy Johnson. What do you want?”
“Come with me. There’s someone upstairs that wants to talk to you,” he answered as he opened the jail cell door.
Amy was reluctant to go, but what choice did she have? The lizard escorted her up to the surface floor of the Base, and led her to an office far from any hallway that would make the office noisy. Amy wasn’t pawcuffed at all, but escape wasn’t possible. There must be hundreds of Venom soldiers on the Base now, with their laser machine guns and phasers ready to fire.
The office used to belong to a Sergeant, but now, it had been taken over by a monitor lizard in the red uniform of a Captain. The lizard had a red scar across his sneering face, and his smile exposed his yellow teeth. When he spoke, his breath disturbed Amy.
“Please, sit down,” he said, pointing to a chair across the desk from him. Amy sat down nervously, not knowing what he would say.
“I have several reports that you shot down eight jets single-handedly. For a pilot that’s not even officially in the Air Force of this stinking planet, this is remarkable. We could put you into a chamber and gas you, but you may be too important to us to die like a prisoner.”
Perhaps Amy should have thanked him, but his breath distracted her. It was like he just ate a sardine and rutabaga pie a few seconds ago. The Captain continued on, not smelling his breath himself, despite the fact that it was right under his nose.
“I’m going to make you an offer, with the permission of Emperor Andross himself. You have two choices, Miss Johnson. One is to die like your pitiful friends in the jail cells, and your excellent piloting skills will go to waste. Your second one is to join us, serving the Great Andross in victory against Corneria and their scum. You will have good pay, a new home in Venom, and an advanced jet for you to fly for yourself. Under the banner of Venom, you will be a great asset to us, and with your skills, you should go down in history as one of the greatest pilots who helped Emperor Andross conquer the Lylat System. That is my offer, nothing less, nothing more.”
It was an important choice for Amy to make, and with good
This would change her very life. Should she stay with her friends
and die with them, though not honorably? Or, should she betray them
in return for her own life, and turn against those that considered her
A month after she made her decision, Amy donned her Venomian uniform for the first time. She already had a new home in the Venom Headquarters Base itself, and a brand new Invader II flea was reserved for her and only her to fly. In the male-dominated Venom Air Force, she was often ridiculed, but when she recorded nine kills in her first battle against Cornerian jets near Aquas, their ridicule turned to respect.
Two months after that, she fought against Katina pilots just four hundred miles from the white planet itself. She was forced to retreat, but she had already killed another ten pilots. With a total of nineteen victims under her belt, she qualified for ace status and thus became the very first female ace pilot in the Venom Air Force, and rose to the rank of Captain, a somewhat lowly but still prestigious rank.
“I made the decision to join Venom because I felt that I have more to do in my life, and this was the only way I had for a second chance. Yes, I do regret being alive while my friends died, but unlike the others, I was given this offer, and I made the choice that I felt was right for myself. Actually, I am now proud to be serving the Great Andross.”
Leon, Pigma, and Andrew of the Starwolf team were eating
in their rec-room. Their team leader Wolf was supposed to be back
home from a routine patrol of Fortuna two days ago. The last thing
they had heard was that he had been shot down in Fortuna, and when four
Venom rescuers went to the planet, they found the frozen wolfen ship, but
Leon was becoming irritable without his best friend. He regretted not killing his enemy Bill Grey when he had the chance in Macbeth before Starfox ruined the party, but he knew that he would face Bill once again. His fork twirled the red gravy and potatoes rather slowly, his eyes were depressed and there was no sign of positive thinking. The others somewhat shared the same mood, but Andrew was eating more energetically and Pigma was almost finished with his second helping.
The pig swallowed his last bite and laid his fork on the empty plate. “Done!”
“That was only your second helping, Pigma,” Andrew remarked. “You going on a diet?”
Pigma glared at him. “No, my dumb, idiotic friend, I’m not. I spoiled my dinner by eating two bowls of pretzels a half an hour ago. It also took four glasses of lime soda to wash down the pretzels.”
“You really are a pig, Pigma. No doubt about it.”
Pigma smiled and patted his fat stomach. “Well, thank you, Andrew. That was very nice of you to say that.”
Andrew shook his head. “That wasn’t a compliment.”
“Really? It wasn’t?”
Leon continued to look at his meal of mushed up red potatoes. He wasn’t paying any attention to the conversation. “Where is that Wolf O’Donnell?”, he mumbled to himself.
Andrew scoffed. “You’re still moaning about him, Leon? You have way too much time on your paws. Maybe you need a girlfriend, to take your mind off that cyclops.”
Leon paid no notice of him. He simply stood and walked out of the rec-room. Pigma took that as an excuse to take Leon’s meal, so he did. His sounds of slobbering disgusted Andrew, even after a year of hearing it.
“Just don’t eat the plate, Pigma. Remember last time?”
“What are you saying?”, the greyhound in a gray uniform asked
her friend Amy in a restaurant at the Venom Base. They were sitting
at a small round table near a hallway of soldiers and pilots marching in
both directions. The noise was bustling, but it didn’t bother the
two female friends.
“I’m going to have surgery that might eliminate my problem with migraines. It’s about time I got rid of the suffering that I have to bear one or two mornings a week, and this may be my only choice in the matter.”
“But, that’s dangerous! The Venom doctors here are not the best, and surgery involving that kind of procedure is dangerous even if they were the best. Look, don’t your pills work?”
“Not always, Nedra. There are times when I have to fiddle with those head-cracking headaches for hours on end. I have had these migraines ever since I attended flying school, and I have been here for almost a year now. I’m willing to take the risks of surgery, and I’m not going to listen to any more of your warnings, understand?”
The brown and white greyhound closed her eyes and lightly shook her thin head. “Gee, fine. It’s your funeral,” she replied rather casually.
Amy didn’t comment on that, as if it would really matter. Nedra Brenson had a tough-love type of attitude, and sometimes she was disgusted by her go-ahead-and-die-and-don’t-come-running-back-to-me comments. Still, they were quick friends when they both joined in the Air Force of Venom at the same time, and they were still best friends now.
A lizard waiter came by their table and laid two small blue glasses of frana juice in front of them. Amy picked up her glass, and studied it. “What is this, a sample? This cost 1.99?”
“Hmph!” The waiter uttered and quickly left. Amy shook her head and drank the sweet juice with one swallow.
“I had a dream last night,” Amy said. “The man of my dreams was there, and we went out for dinner together. However, he was just about to kiss me when I woke up.”
“Who was it?”
Amy looked up, as if she was speaking of someone she admired greatly. “Leon Powalski.”
Nedra was sipping her drink at that moment. Her eyes bulged and she laid down her glass with a sharp clink. She almost sputtered out the juice in her mouth. “Leon? You mean that ‘I-think-I’ll-torture-you-for-a-while’ Leon? You’re kidding me!”
“The same chameleon in the flesh. Oh sure, he can be mean towards his enemies, but we are on the same side, and I’ve heard he can be nice toward women.”
“Uh, yeah, and later he’ll give them a shock or two. Amy, why do you dream about that torture-happy maniac?”
“He’s not a maniac. He might have had a bad childhood and torture might be the only way for him to-”
Nedra interrupted with her loud laughing.
“What’s so funny?”
“That’s the lamest excuse I ever heard of. Bad childhood, ha! He doesn’t even remember his own childhood, so how can that be of any effect to him? He tortures for pleasure, and I doubt that he cares wether the victim is Venomian or Cornerian. From a friend to a friend, stay away from him, Amy. He’s very cruel.”
“You’re not giving him a chance here, Nedra. He got a bad rap, and I don’t know why I have to be the only one who sees him the other way.”
“What do you see in him, anyway?”
“Well, he’s tall, green, and handsome, dedicated to his work and does well at it, a skilled pilot, very brave, has a nice accent and, well, he’s himself. Does that explain it enough for you, Nedra?”
The greyhound scoffed. “Well fine, Amy. If you come to me with scars and shot nerves, just don’t tell me I didn’t warn you.”
“There are times when even the best make mistakes.”
Two days later, Wolf O’Donnell, aboard a jet called the
landed at the Venom Base, exhausted yet joyful. Leon was jubilant
to see him alive, and laughed heartily when Wolf told him that he had
Bill Grey’s leg on the way out of the space station.
“Bill had gone insane,” he told his second-in-command. “And I think you are responsible for making him that way. Congratulations, Leon. Congratulations.”
Leon threw back his head, laughing. Pigma and Andrew were with them too in their rec-room, enjoying a good meal of tornab crab. Leon was suddenly cheerful, not depressed anymore. Andrew was a bit displeased. He secretly had wanted Wolf to be injured at least. Wolf’s return didn’t seem to affect Pigma one bit. In fact he was just finishing his third crab when Andrew finished his first serving.
“So, what are you going to do with this Sheila’s jet?”
“The Sunlaser? Hmm, I want it to be kept intact, but I don’t want to fly it; too many bad memories already. Maybe Andross can provide me a hanger and that beauty of a jet can be stored in there. It may fly like a majestic bird in space, but give me a wolfen-class jet anytime!” “Oh, speaking of wolfen-jets, the improved wolfen II jets are completed,” Andrew reported. “They have a reddish color and may be better than Starfox’s arwings.”
“Really? How so?”
“Better G-Diffuser system, almost as good laser power, bomb-carrying capacity, better shields, and they’re also a little faster. At least they should be. They still have the same locking ability, but with these jets, we can now barrel-roll and flip.”
Wolf rubbed his frazzled chin. “Flip, eh? I better learn how to do that.”
Andrew grinned, which was actually out-of-character for him. “You better learn to do it fast, cyclops, because yesterday there were reports of the Great Fox approaching Sector X. That’s where we’re going. We might have to leave in a couple of hours.”
For the very first time, Wolf was reluctant to go on a battle mission that might pit him against Fox McCloud. “But I just got here. How can I fight if I’m exhausted?”
The ape shrugged. “Oh well, Wolf. Andross’s orders.”
Wolf stood up from his chair and threw down his napkin on his half-finished plate and growled. “We’ll see about that!”
Grumbling, the one-eyed wolf left, Leon following him. Andrew and Pigma were alone once again. Andrew spotted Pigma taking Wolf’s meal.
“You’re still hungry?”
Pigma was too busy eating to respond. Andrew just shook his head and made a deep sigh. He looked at Pigma’s new plate, and realized that something was missing. “Uh, Pigma, where is Wolf’s napkin? I saw it on his plate a second ago.”
Pigma paused, and looked at his co-pilot with nervous eyes. “Um, oops...”
Andrew stood up, his paw on his head. “You never watch what you eat, do you?”
“Why? My stomach can digest anything.”
Wolf marched straight to the closest room with a private monitor
phone and made a call to Emperor Andross. Leon stood by him.
The picture of Andross was on the screen. His white beard and beady eyes were still chilling to anyone’s hearts, but Wolf wasn’t going to be intimated by this old fart of an ape again.
“What is it, Lt. Commander?”
“Why are you ordering the Starwolf team to leave for Sector X even though I just got home?”
Andross laughed. “Well, because I say so. Why are you so upset about this? The Starfox team is around that area, and don’t you want to kill Fox McCloud?”
“Of course, of course! But I’m tired, and I know Fox will just love to fight me when I’m at a disadvantage.”
“But your new ships, they are much better-”
“Machines are nothing without the driver or controller,” interrupted Wolf, his single eye gleaming with anger. “Besides, these ships have never been flown by us before. How do you know that they are better than the stinking arwings?”
“Because I think so.”
Wolf snarled, exposing his fangs to his own boss. “Because you think so...if you’re so smart, then how come we’re losing this war?”
Leon shook his head. “Wolf, don’t-”
“Shut up, Leon! Andross, you keep thinking that you’ll going to win this, win that, but in reality, you can’t even get the upper paw against Pepper!”
Wolf sneered at Leon, and ignored him. Andross continued to watch, as his eyes grew redder.
“Andross, when are you going to stop acting as dumb as your nephew? I might have actually thought at first that we are going to win because ‘you think so’, but now, oh, you are hopeless!”
Andross couldn’t take it anymore. He banged on his desk, and he himself snarled, exposing his fangs. “Wolf O’Donnell! You are such a hypocrite! I’m not the one who was shot down by Fox McCloud, TWICE!! I’m not the one who was shot down by three lousy Fortuna jets! Who’s the one who keeps losing? You are, you smelly, moon-howling, money-sponger cyclops that can’t do a simple flip!! You are going on this mission even if you have rabies! You say you’re tired? Well, you are tempting me to put you to sleep, with a knife through your eyepatch! Don’t you ever insult or disobey me again, or I will put you out of my military forever, as carrion!”
The screen went blank. Wolf picked up the monitor and threw it across the room, shattering it to pieces. “Aaargh!! You know what I’m going to do if I ever get the chance, Leon? I’m going to grab that monkey’s beard and pull it out by the roots! The Gods must have been drunk when they made him!!”
Leon muttered a curse, his yellow eyes gleaming in the low-lit room. “Wolf! Don’t you realize what you are doing? We can’t afford to get kicked out, and we wouldn’t have a chance alone if both Corneria and Venom were against us!”
Wolf grabbed his ears in frustration. Grumbling and cursing, he paced back and forth in the room. Leon gave up on him and left for his quarters. Now alone, Wolf stood, breathing hard. He looked at the shattered pieces of the phone, his one eye chilling to even the bravest of all.
“I’m worried about Wolf and Andross. If they keep up with their petty arguments, then Andross might pull the plug on him, and Wolf might take me along with him.”
“I hate Andross. His title of Emperor has made him so snobbish that he actually thinks that he can order me around.”
“Boy, these things really move, don’t they?” Amy remarked
as the foursome cruised toward Sector X. The stars were like white
dots, and a few gas nebulas could be seen in the distance, like faint
in a sky of black. Leon was leading the group, and Amy took her
as the right wing pilot. Pigma flew on the other side and Andrew
was covering the back.
“Yes, so they do,” said Leon. “It’s quiet around here.”
“These jets are actually not all that different from my Invader-class jet, Leon. I thought flying a wolfen jet would be much more difficult.”
“Just wait till you go into battle,” said Andrew. “I have flown an Invader. Those jets are so weak in maneuvering that the wolfen jets could fly circles and squares around them, and don’t tell me about their puny lasers. Bullets have as much power.”
“Hey, I shot down Bulldog jets with my Invader! It’s all in the skill of the pilot, Andrew. A bad pilot driving a highly advanced jet would still lose.”
Andrew smirked. “Hear that, Pigma? Looks like the reason you’re still alive must be that you’re just lucky.”
“Shut up, lame brain!”
Laughter rang through their comlinks.
Leon shook his head. “We’ll be approaching the space station in an hour. Leon to Base, Leon to Base, please respond.”
A console officer at the base in Macbeth answered. “This is Base, go ahead Leon.”
“Check your long-range scanners on the Freebird station in Sector X. How many Green jets are confirmed?”
A few moments went by, then the officer reported, “Thirty four jets within a two mile radius of the station, Leon. Nothing more.”
“How about Starfox?”
Another few moments went by. “The Great Fox is not on any of my screens at the moment. You want me to report if they do show up?”
“No, that’s fine. Over and out.”
“Darn it,” replied Andrew. “I was hoping to give that froggy a lesson.”
“Oh I wouldn’t count them out. I’ll bet you that they will show up.”
“How about 35 credit dollars?”
The X-shaped gas nebula was now a huge cloud, and Leon could
several green blips on his radar screen. “We got company.
jets dead ahead. About eight of them.”
Amy spotted them up ahead. She had fought against Green-class jets before, and had already learned their strengths and weaknesses. True to their namesake, they are green-colored, and are shaped like a thinner Bolse fighter. These jets are just as common in the Corneria Air Force as Invaders are in the Venom Military. They have good lasers and shields, but the wolfen-II should be too much for them to handle. The wolfen-II has much better maneuvering ability, and the Greenies (a common name for the Green-class jets) don’t have barrel roll capability. Amy knew that even though she was outnumbered two to one, she shouldn’t have anything to worry about.
“Make every shot count,” Leon rapidly suggested. “That way we can destroy these Greenies quickly and still be healthy to fight against Starfox if they get here.”
The Starwolf team split and picked their own targets, as the Greenies scrambled themselves, already firing their lasers at them. Amy barrel rolled and reflected off a shot, and then fired a short spurt of lasers at a Greenie as it passed by her. She missed, but quickly made a U-turn and was on his tail. Relentlessly, she fired her lasers at him, but her opponent kept moving and her lasers flew by him.
“Focus, Amy, focus!” She reminded herself. She took things slow, and began to think where the pilot would move to next. Finally, she fired another barrage of lasers and they finally struck the jet’s engines, exploding on contact. The first kill of the day. Amy blew through the dusty debris of the expelled jet and swooped behind another Greenie, firing her lasers at him.
Soon after she killed off that one, she noticed that the dogfight was already over. The other Starwolf members had finished off the rest of the Greenies. All was quiet again.
“That was quick,” replied Pigma. “Those pilots flew like rookies.”
“Let’s continue on. Any of you hit?” Leon said.
“Once,” reported Andrew. “But the ship isn’t damaged except for a small percentage of my shield power. Everything else is fine.”
Without further ado, Starwolf continued on toward the space station, which was now visible. It might take another twenty minutes to get there. Amy could see the station in the distance. It was shaped like two pyramids that were connected to each other through their bases. Like the Katina HQ Base, it was tan-colored with black squares and lines for windows, and a couple dozen Greenies were flying around it, ready for the oncoming siege. No Starfox though. Amy wondered where they were. She had never seen an arwing before except in pictures and television. In the back of her mind, she knew that she might not have a chance against such legendary jets and pilots, but she would do her best. After all, if she managed to shoot down or force Fox McCloud into submission, she herself would become legendary.
Within five hundred yards of the station, Leon ordered his team to charge up their homing lasers. Almost all of the Greenies were coming right at them, and the space station was no sitting duck either, for it has laser guns too, powerful enough to cut through a wolfen jet.
“Kill off all the Greenies before we shoot off the bombs toward the station,” Leon ordered. “I want this quick and easy.”
The Greenies’ engines could be heard by Leon, and he started to sweat. “Fire!”
The homing lasers, shaped like balls of fire, rushed forward toward their locked targets. The four unlucky ones never got the chance to escape, and four explosions ended the silence that had surrounded the space station Freebird.
“Scramble team!” Leon barked. “Give it a go!”
Amy knew what he meant. He was ordering his team to pick their targets and fly wherever they liked, instead of flying in formation. Firing her lasers, she swooped right and sent a Corneria pilot to meet his maker before turning again and getting on the tail of another Greenie. After she burst that one into flames, she found another target that was shooting at Pigma and followed him. Moments later, she saved Pigma’s life, but she never bothered to notify him of that.
All around, explosions flashed near and far from Amy, sometimes blinding her a bit. Debris from fallen jets was splattering on her canopy window, distracting her, and there were the lasers to dodge. Still, she expertly kept her cool, swooping here and there, dodging lasers and firing her own. She cut the life of another pilot before she heard Leon’s frantic voice on her comlink.
“I’m hit! Will someone get those stinking Greenies off my tail?”
Leon was in trouble. Four Greenies were all firing their lasers at him, and his right wing was getting the brunt of the lasers. Already, he had lost 50% shield power on that wing. If it goes out, Leon would be in deep hell with only one good wing.
“I’m on it!” Amy yelled, and managed to get on the four Greenies’s tails. She shot down the first two in mere seconds, and when she shot down the third one, the burning jet veered right and crashed into the fourth one. “Oh! I killed two idiots with one stone! Ha, ha, ha!”
However, her victory cry was cut short when a Greenie fired a laser at her jet’s belly, shredding red metal off into space. She flinched and went left, but the Greenie kept on her tail. She suffered another hit that was so hard she bumped her head on the canopy window. Her migraine was coming back.
“Not now, not now! Oooh, that was your last shot, scum!” With growing fury and determination, she made a somersault over the Greenie and once on his tail, shot him into flames.
Andrew was witness to that move. “Whoa, did you see that, Pigma? That’s something even Wolf can’t do!”
“That wasn’t a flip, that was, um, a loop!”
Amy shook her head. The migraine, thankfully, was temporary. “When are you going to accept the fact that I’m better than you, Pigma?”
“Oh, when you shoot down Fox McCloud.”
“Really? Fine then! I’ll shoot him down, if that’s what it takes!”
“Ha, ha, ha, fat chance!”
Amy shot down another Greenie. “Look who’s talking, slob!”
Leon barked angrily. “Hey, there’s a battle going on here! Do your arguing another time!!”
Pigma grumbled. “Yeah, yeah, yeah.”
More and more Greenies were being shot down, one by one. They tried with all their might, but the Starwolf team, even without Wolf, was better, faster, more powerful, and more accurate with their shots. After only about ten minutes into the battle, just about all the Greenies had gone up in smoke and dust.
“Now to put the final nail in the coffin,” Leon said. “Take one side of the station and blow it to smithereens!!”
All four of the wolfen pilots faced toward the station, which was now firing it’s lasers like crazy. Within four hundred yards, they fired their only nova bombs, and the atomic weapons of death flew toward their victim like a slow bullet. Moments later, a huge ball of blue flame consumed the station, killing everyone onboard. With a blinding light, the explosion tore apart the station, and when all was over, there was almost nothing left of the station Freebird.
Leon whooped his victory cry and made a barrel roll for fun. “Yeah! We did it! Take that, Corneria!”
Pigma and Amy laughed and gave their own victory yells. Finally, after months of disappointment, they tasted the sweet wine of victory. However, Leon spotted something flying toward them on his right. It was a medium-sized ship, with four familiar jets departing from it’s hangar. Leon just smiled.
“Hey Andrew, pay up!”
“What are you talking about!”
“They’re heeeeeere! Let’s give them a welcoming gift, shall we?!”
Pigma laughed. “Yeah! A laser shoved up their lousy tails! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!!”
Amy made her first taunt toward the legendary pilots of Corneria. “Hello there, Fox! Let’s see how you do with a female pilot firing her lasers at you!!”
“Amy Johnson may have the skills to be an ace, but I won’t respect her because she’s living in the illusion that Andross will one day rule the galaxy.”
Leon fired the first shot amid the debris of the destroyed space
station. His opponent Falco swerved left but Leon followed his
and was on his tail, firing relentlessly. There were scraps of
everywhere, and they were damaging his wolfen jet. Despite Falco’s
desperate maneuvers, Leon kept on his tail, not budging one bit.
This time, he wasn’t going to let him get away from him.
Amy quickly found out that fighting an aerial battle against a legendary pilot wasn’t going to be a cakewalk. Fox easily got behind her and struck chunks off her right wing with his lasers. She cursed to herself and swooped left and right, up and down, trying to shake this fox off, but to no avail.
“Need some help?” Pigma asked. He was speaking in a “aw-you’re-in-a-bind?” tone of voice.
“Yes, I do, Pigma! Fast!”
“Sorry. I’m busy with this hare behind me.”
Amy shook her head wildly and growled in anger. What kind of a dud would hire this creep into Starwolf? She made a flip, but Fox countered by making a flip of his own, and with Fox still on her tail, her ship was beginning to fall apart. Another laser rocked her jet, and the left wing gunner died.
The gloating chameleon didn’t want to lose his advantage over Falco at the moment, but he couldn’t leave his own comrade in a bind. Immediately, he turned toward Amy’s jet, almost directly head on. “Amy, when I give the order, you dive down, and fast!”
Their jets flew straight toward each other like in a game of chicken, but two hundred yards from each other, Leon yelled, “Now!!”
Amy quickly pushed her control stick forward, and her jet dived like a cliff jumper. As soon as Leon spotted Fox’s jet following her, he opened fire. Fox was hit directly on the nose of his arwing, which flinched upward, just as Leon passed below him.
“Thanks Leon! What kind of a technique was that?”
“Never been done before, I think. I just thought it up.”
Meanwhile, Andrew was in deep trouble. “Get off my tail, you slimy, shuttering adult tadpole! Oof!”
His jet was burning, and both of his laser gunners were about destroyed. He knew he would have to try to escape or die a fiery death. “I got to get out of here!”
But Leon needed all the help he could get, and didn’t want Andrew to leave. “Stay here, Andrew! Stay!”
“I’m not your dog! I’m out of here!” He then made a U-turn and began flying off toward Venom, Slippy hot on his tail.
“Damn it! I’m going to get that monkey when we get back! He shouldn’t just run off and leave comrades hanging!”
And Pigma too was scared for his life. “I’m going with him! My jet is too damaged to continue! Farewell!” He turned and followed Andrew, with smoke coming out of his engines. Leon and Amy were left to contend with the entire Starfox team, for Slippy had given up chasing Andrew and had returned to the fray.
His jet suffered another hit, and Leon knew that he had run out of cards. “Amy, we’re not going to win here like this. We have got to try to escape too.”
“I was thinking the same exact thing!” Amy frantically answered. She spotted an orange large dot in the distance. “That’s Titania over there! We can lose them there!”
Leon must have agreed, for he turned his laser-riddled jet toward the planet, with Amy quickly following him. The Starfox team chased them for a while, but they turned away soon, knowing that they had won.
Leon checked his navigation screen, but it was broken.
“Amy, is your navi screen on?”
“Nope. How can we land without navigation?”
“I’m not sure. Hold on!”
The jets entered the atmosphere, and they turned into fiery balls. However, their shields held and they soon found themselves flying over an endless desert of sand. There was no base in sight, and Leon realized that he was almost out of fuel, which meant his fuel line must have been snapped in the dogfights.
“Amy! I’m going down!”
Leon’s jet smashed into the sandy ground, and slid before coming to a slow stop, dust all over. Amy’s jet was also losing fuel fast, but she was able to land safely close to Leon. They found themselves in the middle of nowhere, with civilization perhaps days away on foot.
The sand dust still clouding the area, Amy came up to her comrade’s jet just as Leon was getting out, coughing. “You alright?”
“Fine, for now, but we’re in the middle of a sand hell in Titania, Amy. I don’t think we’re going to be fine in a couple hours.”
“Can’t we call to any base here? After all, this is a Venom-controlled planet.”
Leon just shook his head. “Communications are down. Andross doesn’t care about this empty pit, so we can’t expect any patrol jets to come near here. Looks like we travel on foot, and we don’t have a compass.”
“Why don’t we just head in one direction and keep going? That seems to be the most logical thing to do at this point.”
“Yeah, that sounds good. It’s getting dusk here.”
Amy looked around. The sky was indeed getting darker, and she could spot Solar’s blazing light being hidden in the horizon by tall mesas. “Yeah. Think we can travel at night?”
“Only for a short time. It’s dangerous at night even in an empty desert. I’ve got a tent behind my seat, among other supplies, including a flare gun for when we find help. You better go get your emergency supplies.”
Amy nodded and went back to her wolfen-II jet. The plane was in horrible shape. Laser holes made the jet look like swiss cheese, and damage to the engines meant that this jet had flown it’s last. Amy sympathized with the poor jet. Too bad Wolf never got the chance to fly it. She took the seat out of the cockpit to give her more reaching room, and grabbed a leather bag with four bottles of water. She also added a week’s worth of rations, a blanket, and a small knife. Nothing else though; no lip balm, no suntan lotion, no headache medicine.
Here comes days of Hell if I come down with a splitting migraine. Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury, I plea insanity because I forgot my headache pills.
“You got the supplies?” Leon asked, carrying a rather heavy backpack of water bottles, rations, and the white tent, including the metal rods for supporting the tent.
Amy nodded, and without a backward glance, they started their journey north through the endless sand, cactus, mesas, rocks, and unknown dangers. The sun’s red light painted the sky, saying goodbye to Amy and Leon till the next morning.
“Titania is proof that the Gods’ works are most definitely not all perfect. Not perfect at all.”
Five hours away from their crashed wolfen-II jets, Amy and Leon
set up camp and ate a small ration of jeranma stew under the night
Behind them was a trail of foot prints, long and straight, untouched due
to the complete lack of wind for the last couple of hours. Even at
night, it was quite warm, and Amy wished not to feel the extreme heat of
Titania by day. The tent was set up next to them, and it was big
enough for the both of them to sleep inside. Amy finished her meal
and laid down on the sand, looking up at the stars.
“Have you ever been in a bind like this, Leon?”
Leon almost chuckled. “No, never. I guess I’m lucky, till today of course.”
Amy groaned a bit and held her head, closing her eyes as she did so.
“Something wrong, Amy?”
“Migraine. It’s one of the Gods’s punishments for my sins, I guess. I’m thinking of surgery to cure it, if I manage to survive this desert.”
“You’ll survive. Where’re you from?”
“Zoness. Vereana City to be exact. Lived there for most of my life.”
“I’ve never heard of that city. What it’s like, before Zoness was polluted?”
“You ever lived in a city so glamourous that it’s like living in paradise?”
“Yep. Seven years ago when I was living in Edena.”
“Well, Vereana City is close to that. It’s located in the mountains, way up high close to the clouds. I guess it’s safe to say that it was indeed a city in the clouds. Tall skyscrapers, a factory or two here and there, and the Air Force Base of Vereana, where I worked before Andross attacked. My home was only a small apartment, but I was raised in a well-to-do family. I was ‘destined’ to become one of the best pilots for Zoness, but then Venom came and took over Vereana, and later the rest of the planet.”
“You ever go back after Andross controlled it?”
“No, I never did. I loved that city because it was my home and it was very beautiful. However, it is polluted now and Venom is my home. I never wanted to go back even to visit.”
Leon hummed a bit, and scraped the scraps off his plate and onto the sand. “How’s your headache now?”
“No change, sorry to say, Leon. Say, I’ve heard that you can’t recall your own childhood. You have amnesia?”
“My oldest memory is of me drinking a memory potion at the age of 14. I’ve heard rumors that I was a slave as a child in some faraway planet. Maybe that’s why I decided to drink the potion and wipe out the memories of my childhood.”
“Why do you torture other people, for...fun?”
Leon grinned. “Because that’s what I do best. Before I was hired by Wolf to be his co-pilot, I was a gang member living in Edena. The alleys of the city I lived in were dark and usually contained a dead body or two, but it was paradise to me. My gang was quite small, so we never had any real territory power in the streets. We were always considered outsiders, so we often just roamed around, mugging people and killing if we had to. Well, one day when I was about 17, we managed to capture the leader of a rival gang, and we were making suggestions about what to do with him. It was I who decided to use torture to give him a lesson.”
“What did you do to him?”
Leon’s grin grew wider. “It was nighttime in an old warehouse. The ferret gang leader and I were alone, and he was strapped to a chair with duct tape. I was carrying a rusty knife, and a pepper spray that I stole after killing a police officer. I asked this ferret questions, and whenever he refused, I gave him a slash with my knife. And every time I did that, he screamed like a baby. He was supposed to be a real tough guy, but I made him the biggest whiner in the Lylat System. He screamed ‘oh God, oh God’ over and over again, till it irritated me. I sprayed the pepper in his eyes, and boy did he scream! Finally, I stabbed him in the chest and he went limp like a dead fish. All throughout that torture, I was having, well, fun. Now, serving Venom, I can do this legally, as long as the victims are serving Corneria or their allies.”
“Geez. Who do you hate most?”
“Ooh, that’s tough. Falco maybe. Some may say Bill but actually, it wouldn’t be fun to torture him anymore. Variety is the spice of life, and I have tortured him twice already.”
“What would you do to Falco if you ever get him strapped in a chair?”
“Well, I could do my usual stuff; using my palm-sized table saw, knives, the works. However, maybe I would use a blowtorch, and pluck out his feathers one by one, pluck by pluck. A nail gun would be nice, but I never liked the sound of those things. A clamp would be a good touch for variety, squeezing that bird’s head into a pancake. I think that about covers it.”
“I do torture for many reasons, for fun, information, etc. Having another person’s life in your very paws is perhaps the greatest feeling of power you can get.”
Thankfully, Amy woke up with a clear head. Leon was
up and packing as she slowly got up from her blanket-bed. She
her arms and yawned loudly.
“Ah, you’re finally up. It’s almost 8:30.”
“Sometimes I sleep late. Guess we should get going pretty quick, eh?”
Amy smelled the air and felt the heat. “Geez, it’s already hot here, this early in the day.”
“It’s going to get hotter. Traveling at night when it’s cooler is a good idea, if it wasn’t for all those poisonous insects and such. Thank goodness our tent is screened so that those insects can’t come in.”
After a few minutes of packing, Amy wrapped her blanket around her head like a turban and used some of the water from her bottles to wet it. She decided to help Leon lighten his load by carrying the tent’s metal rods. They didn’t know when they would reach civilization, but Amy hoped it would be soon.
For hours, they dragged onward across endless sand dunes and
that burned their feet and clouded their eyes. The blazing sun
parts of their exposed flesh, and Amy suffered greatly. Snow
are not made to tolerate long-term hot weather like this. Mesas
like rocky towers in the far distance, and the cactus they came across
was the only sign of life they saw.
Amy threw her third empty water bottle onto the sand, and shook her head. “One bottle left. If only if I could tolerate the heat like you can, Leon.”
Leon reached in his backpack and pulled out one of his water bottles. He gave it to her. “I still have two left.”
“Why, thank you. But Leon, considering your reputation, this seems out of character.”
“I know I have a reputation for meanness and torture but Amy, I never torture friends.”
“Well, I’m glad. Leon, I don’t think your water is going to help much, the way my supply is diminishing.”
“Conserve your water, Amy. I know you are in misery with your thick fur, but try to tough this heat out.”
Amy sighed and drank a bit out of Leon’s bottle. “What time is it?”
Leon looked at his watch. “Seven after six. That’s funny, it’s past dinnertime but I’m not hungry.”
“You have other things to worry about. Let’s just skip dinner for later.”
Another hour passed, and the trail of footprints behind them
for as far as the eyes could see. They felt like they had been
forever, but when Leon stood on the crest of yet another sand dune, he
spotted something in the distance. It was hazy, but it clearly
like a series of towers. Civilization.
“Amy! Look, a mining city! We’ve made it!”
Amy wasn’t in good shape. She was dripping sweat, and was gasping hard. The heat had became too much for her, and she collapsed forward, rolling down the sand dune like a log down a hill, kicking up sand, not uttering a sound.
“Amy!” Leon yelled and ran down after her. He caught up with her, and held her head. Her eyes were closed, and her mouth was muttering. It’s dehydration, Leon thought, and with that he poured all the remaining water of his last bottle into her mouth. He then reached in his backpack and got out the flare gun. He aimed it high and fired a red shot. The flare flew, making an arch of red smoke, and Leon hoped someone would see it.
Leon then threw the flare gun away and laid down close to Amy, trying to block the sun from her face. “Don’t worry Amy, you’ll be saved. You’ll be saved...I hope.”
Several minutes passed, and Leon finally spotted a transporter in the sky, flying close to the ground, toward them. The flare had been seen, thankfully, and Leon knew that the journey would soon be over.
Amy was treated in the mining city’s hospital. Leon had
just finished making a phone call to an officer in Macbeth when the
came to him, smiling.
“Mr. Powalski, Miss Johnson has just awakened. She’s going to be fine.”
Leon let out a sigh of relief, and went to her room. Amy was lying in bed dreadfully exhausted, but relieved to be alive. An IV was hooked to her right arm. Amy watched the chameleon of her dreams as he sat down by her bed, and clasped her paw.
“Didn’t I say that you would survive this?”
Amy managed to smile. “Thank you for saving my life, Leon. I will always be in your debt.”
“Amy, as soon as you’re well, we will be escorted back to Venom and I also have some other important news. I called someone in Macbeth, and found out that you have just been promoted.”
“What? Are you pulling my tail, Leon?”
“Nope. I speak the truth. Andross was so happy with the success of the Sector X mission that you have been promoted to Major in the Venom Air Force. Congratulations.”
Amy made a cheery smile, and gently, she rested her paw on the smooth scaled side of Leon’s face. “Will we ever see each other again after we return to Venom?”
Leon nodded. “Of course, Amy. Even though Wolf is back on duty and you are off Starwolf, that doesn’t mean we can’t still see each other and be friends.”
“Will we ever be more than friends?”
“Hmmm, I don’t know, I really haven’t thought about that before now, Amy. Look, you’re tired, so I’m going to be leaving now. Paperwork to be done and all.”
Amy replied lazily. “Bye Leon.”
Leon waved as he left. “Farewell, my friend.”
As her favorite chameleon left the room, Amy rested her head on the white pillow, her eyes gazing in ponderous thought. “Yeah, we’ll be more than friends. I’m sure of it.”
Outside, the red sun crept behind the mesas in the horizon, and darkness came like a fading light.