The screams could be heard down the hall. On board the space station Canorb 4, in the medical area, Iuna Litefoot was giving birth to her first child. The baby wasn't coming, and the doctors were worried. Iuna was experiencing horrible pain, and she was already on three painkillers.
"We're going to have to do a C-section," said one of the doctors.
As the other Canines in the room got ready to operate, Tipro Litefoot caressed his mate's head. He could do nothing for her pain other than be there with her.
As the sharp scalpel cut through Iuna's belly, Tipro looked away and then vomited. It was too much for him. He leaned against a nearby wall as the doctor's did their job. Then, a few moments later, there was the familiar sound of a child whimpering. He turned to see his son; all wet from amniotic fluid and moving his limbs around.
The doctor's wrapped him in blankets and carried him to the maternity ward. When Iuna was able to come and see her son, Tipro was already holding him.
Iuna was very happy. She spent the next few hours holding the small pup and whispering in his ear. The baby quietly lay in her arms, his eyes wouldn't open for another couple of days. The child had his father's eyes, but his mother's black fur; excluding a white hind paw. He was very healthy, and was released a few days after his eyes opened.
Iuna and Tipro were very pleased. They named him Wulfe, and he grew very fast. Before they knew it, he was already five years old, and still growing.
They decided to move to the planet's surface for a few years, to help Wulfe learn about nature and not synthetically built things. He and his father would play in the forests of Canis, and roll down the grassy hills. Wulfe loved to visit the aviation museum, to see the different airplanes that had led to Canis' current Navy and space armada.
When Wulfe was eight years old, he asked for one thing for his birthday," I want an airplane!" he giggled.
His parents weren't sure what to do, so Tipro went out and bought his son a large model of the Canine's latest fighter: the V-40 `Foxx'. Wulfe was very surprised, but not disappointed. He spent every night after his homework carefully painting and putting together his present. When it was done, Tipro hung it from Wulfe's bedroom ceiling above his bed.
One day, when his parents were away and his friend Nikki was over, Nikki stood on a stool on Wulfe's bed and took the model off of its strings.
"I bet it flies as well as the real thing!" he shouted.
"I don't think so," said Wulfe," It doesn't have an engine."
Nikki jumped off the bed, the plane in his right hand," Who says you need an engine? We'll fly it like a glider!"
The two Canines ran outside and up the small hill in Wulfe's backyard. It was steep enough that if you ran and jumped, it would be at least a four foot drop! Nikki held the plane behind him as if he were throwing a dart," Watch this!"
The plane soared through the air and hit the stone walkway. It shattered into a million pieces! Wulfe gasped. Tears came to his eyes as he ran to see if his plane was salvageable. It was hopelessly destroyed. Nikki was upset too," Oh no! I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!"
But Wulfe was still upset. He picked up the pieces and carried them inside. He placed them in a little box and put it on his desk," I'll tell dad when he gets home. He'll know how to fix it."
"I hope so!" sighed Nikki," My parent's will kill me if they found out!"
When Wulfe's parents came home, they were very disappointed. They told Wulfe that he should have kept the plane on the strings so it wouldn't get broken. Nikki was sent home and his parents found out. They made him clean out the garage and take out the garbage for a week (which is a big deal when you're only eight!)
That night, Wulfe lay in bed thinking about the day. He rolled on his back and looked at the loops of string still hanging from the ceiling. He wiped a tear from his eye and fell asleep.
A few months later, Wulfe got an idea. He asked around the neighborhood to see if anyone needed small jobs done for them. He got six people who would like his help. After three weeks of hard work, he had earned enough money to buy another model.
As he walked happily home with the model under his arm, he met up with Nikki. It was no use trying to hide the large box from him so Wulfe just kept it where it was.
"I'm still really sorry about what happened!" said Nikki.
"It's alright," said Wulfe," I'm going to surprise my parents next week. It's their anniversary and I'm going to give this to them as a gift."
"I didn't know your parents did models?" gasped Nikki.
"They don't. I'm going to build it, then give it to them," said Wulfe.
The big day finally came. After dinner, Wulfe came into the dining room with a big smile on his face, and a large box in his hands.
"Well, what's this?" asked Tipro.
"Looks like something for us," teased Iuna, she leaned over and kissed her husband.
Wulfe walked carefully over and placed the box on the table. His mother carefully pulled away the paper and opened the box. Inside was a new, fourteen-inch, silver painted V-40 `Foxx' fighter model. Wulfe's parents both gasped," It's beautiful, Wulfe," said Iuna.
"Good job, son," said Tipro, he patted his son's head.
Wulfe was pleased. He had made his parents proud of him.
When Wulfe was 12, and making his way through school, his parents decided it was time to move back to the space station. The cost was cheaper, and they were asking for workers as well. Tipro jumped at the chance to get a better job than the one he had, and he had loved living on the space station.
After Wulfe finished his semester, they moved. Wulfe had no memories of this place. HE was only a few months old when he was last here. Wulfe instantly went around looking for the room that would be his. He emerged from a large room saying," Can I get this one?"
"Sure, now get your things," said Iuna.
Wulfe ran down the hall toward the cargo area where their luggage was still piled up. He was maturing normally, but he still had a childish streak that his parent hoped would soon disappear. The first thing Wulfe did once they were moved in was mount his model from his bedroom ceiling.
That evening, during dinner, Wulfe asked an important question," When will I be old enough to join the Air Force?"
Tipro and Iuna looked at each other. Their son's love for flight had grown each year, and he now owned many books and holo-videos. They knew what might happen if their son joined the Air Force, but they also knew what he wanted to do with his life.
"You need to wait a few more years," said Tipro, "When you're sixteen you can apply for the Academy."
"Cool!" said Wulfe, he put another forkful of food in his mouth.
That night, Iuna came into Wulfe's room to kiss him good night. He was on his bed playing with his toys. He had a jet in each hand, both were locked in combat with the other. Wulfe made zooming and shooting noises as he made his ships fly.
"Time for bed, Wulfe," said Iuna.
Wulfe looked up at her," But mom, I'm saving the galaxy!"
"Oh, I see," said Iuna, "Well even pilots need their sleep, come on."
Wulfe put his planes away and got into bed. Iuna leaned over and kissed his forehead," Good night."
"Good night, mom."
Finally the day came: it was Wulfe's sixteenth birthday. Just as they were finishing with the presents, Tipro pulled out a piece of paper from where he had been hiding it, inside a book high on the shelf where Wulfe couldn't reach. Wulfe was very excited as he took it from his father. The title read: APPLICATION FOR ROYAL CANIS NAVY ACADEMY. Wulfe howled for joy. He hugged his parents and ran around their quarters a few times, then calmed down.
Wulfe filled out the form that night and it was mailed the following morning. The next few weeks were excruciating. Wulfe would check the family's INBOX every day to see if his reply had come. It arrived after four weeks and three days. Wulfe ripped open the envelope and pulled out the light blue piece of paper. He read it out loud, " Dear applicant, We at the Royal Canis Navy Academy, after reviewing your application and carefully scanning other possible applicants, have chosen you to attend the Academy next semester." Wulfe stopped there and jumped in the air. He howled and smiled. This was the happiest day of his life!
Wulfe looked very nice in his Academy uniform. The dark blue with gold trimmed clothing was a perfect fit. Iuna almost cried as he boarded the shuttle that would take him to the Academy on the planet Thebes. She and Tipro watched as the hatch closed and the shuttle lifted off. They stood there for a few minutes and then walked slowly back to their quarters.
The first few weeks at the Academy were hard. He had to march for miles with a heavy load on his back, with his superiors shouting all the time. Wulfe thought that if this was what it took to become a pilot, he would put up with it. After a few months of that they were assigned their requested positions and life became easier.
Wulfe joined the Air Force training course. He spent his first few weeks in a simulator, learning all about the plane he was flying, how everything worked, and basics like takeoff and landings. Out of the simulator he learned about fighter tactics, how to get a bogey off your tail, weapons operation, dogfighting, and mother exciting stuff. Wulfe learned that they would be flying next week.
Wulfe left the hanger and walked out onto the runway. He looked up at the sun and blinked a few times, then put on his dark sunglasses. He joined the rest of his class around one of their superiors, an ace pilot named Captain Steele. He was a black and white malamute breed from Canis, with blue eyes and a big toothy grin. Steele had fought in the RCNAF for a long time. He had made his way through the ranks faster than any other Canine ever, which made him the perfect role model and flight coach.
"Now," said Steele in his deep gravelly voice," You'll each get your chance to get up in the air. But there aren't enough planes to go around. You'll go three at a time for twenty minutes each."
Wulfe was listening, but his mind was already in the air. He didn't even hear that he would be going first, until one of his classmates jabbed him with his elbow. Wulfe beamed as he made his way to his assigned fighter. The short, stumpy fuselage was very familiar, and Wulfe had been looking forward to this for a long time. The V-40 was a little different than the one he had hanging from his ceiling in the way that it had no weapons. It was simply a training jet.
Everything Wulfe had learned in the simulator flowed back to him as he began the startup procedure for what seemed like the hundredth time. The engines whined then hummed to life. After a few seconds Wulfe hit the accelerator and flew along the runway. he retracted the landing gear and pulled back on the stick. He took the ship into a gentle climb up to 3000 feet then leveled out.
"OK Wulfe, it's all yours," the voice over the radio said.
"Roger," said Wulfe. Wulfe barrel-rolled a few times then pulled back on the stick.
He did a few somersaults and then banked to the right. Wulfe kept his eyes on what he was doing. He wanted to be a very careful pilot, but aggressive as well. he would keep his cool while the bogey in his sights freaked out as Wulfe's lasers crashed against his ship. But the twenty minutes went by fast and Wulfe came in to land; a perfect three-pointer.
Wulfe emerged from his ship to the cheering and clapping of his teammates. The other two students got out of their fighters as well. Wulfe smiled as he climbed down the ladder and walked over to the rest of the students. Steele patted Wulfe on the back," Well done Wulfe. You're a good pilot."
"Thank you, sir," said Wulfe.
After a week of flying, the students got to fly mock combat. Each fighter would have a set of laser pointers attached to the weapon's hardpoints. The hits would be counted up and the student would be informed when he or she was shot down. Wulfe was very good at this. He could come up behind and just let loose salvo after salvo of laser shots. Most hit his target, but some did not. Nevertheless, he won most of his dogfights and ended up in fourth place out of thirteen students. As he watched the final dogfight, the fight between the winning student and Captain Steele, Wulfe looked around at the rest of the students.
He remembered who had beaten him as well as those he had beaten. They were all of average height, some shorter than him, others slightly taller. Wulfe was 6' 2" tall, which was normal for his species, but some had grown to be as big as 7'. Wulfe had met a few of these Canines but didn't want to be like them. The cockpits were too small to fit a pilot that size.
The dogfight ended quickly, with the student eliminated. When Steele had landed he addressed the others," Now, anyone who can shoot me down will graduate with honors. The rest of you will have to earn it another way," he smiled.
Wulfe liked Steele, and admired his piloting skill. Wulfe wanted to be like him by the time he was finished at the Academy.
And Wulfe would soon get his wish. The longer he was at the Academy, the more he learned. He soon moved up the ranks from fourth, to third, to second; but he could never beat the top pilot, a younger pilot named Skydd. Skydd always seemed to pull some crazy maneuver and end up on Wulfe's tail. Wulfe spent most of his time drawing in his dorm, trying to recreate the previous dogfight and try to come up with a strategy. What Skydd would do it pull up and slow down, then he would allow Wulfe to pass him and then shoot him down. Wulfe finally got a plan.
The next day during the dogfight, Wulfe waited for Skydd to pull his maneuver. When he did, Wulfe was ready. As Wulfe passed below Skydd he hit his accelerator and pulled back on the stick. His `Foxx' shot into the sky like a rocket, directly towards the sun. Skydd looked around trying to find his target, but Wulfe was in his blind spot. Then he came down, diving from eighty feet above Skydd. Skydd didn't see him until it was too late. Wulfe fired his lasers and Skydd's shields dropped to zero. A second later the radio crackled," You're out, Skydd."
"Dang!" cursed Skydd.
Wulfe pulled even with Skydd and looked at him. Skydd just glared back. Wulfe pushed his stick forward and headed towards the runway. He was now the top pilot.
That night, Wulfe was sketching again. He was developing some tactics with which to use against Captain Steele next week. He had watched Steele many times, and had gotten his tactics down pretty well, but he knew that every pilot always keeps an `ace' up his sleeve. Wulfe drew arrows and lines and letters designating the ships. As Wulfe turned out the light he felt very confident. he knew he could win, he just had to prove that he was the best!
The fateful day finally came. This would be the dogfight to end all dogfights. Wulfe was ready. He had listened to loud music with his headphones to get himself pumped and ready. After gently touching his model; as if to somehow add to his luck, Wulfe made his way to the hanger. Steele was waiting for him.
"Good luck, son," said Steele.
"Thank you sir," replied Wulfe, `I'm gonna need it!'
Wulfe took off, followed by Steele.
"We'll take it nice and easy. No advantages," said Steele.
"Roger," acknowledged Wulfe, he knew what to do. Wulfe came to 4 000 feet and turned to face Steele who was coming directly from the opposite direction. This way, no one would have an advantage; it could end here. Wulfe carefully aimed his sight and fired a few shots them pulled up. Steele tried to lead him but missed. Then Wulfe flew past his canopy, only inches away. Steele spun his ship to meet with Wulfe but Wulfe was gone.
"Nice job," whispered Steele.
Steele straightened out and tried to find Wulfe, but had no success. He banked to the right and pulled back on his stick. Then Wulfe zoomed by again.
"Man that kid's fast!" gasped Steele.
Steele tried to follow Wulfe but couldn't get to him. Wulfe was coming around again. Steele straightened out and aimed at Wulfe. Wulfe let a few shots go and then spiraled out of the way. Steele took a few hits but missed Wulfe. Wulfe flipped his fighter upside-down and pulled back on the stick. He dove for the ground, with Steele right on his tail. Steele began firing. Wulfe took a few hits, but stayed on course. Then he slowed his fighter and pulled back. His slow speed allowed him to do a quick somersault, which landed him right on Steele's tail. Wulfe let his lasers do the talking. They hit their mark with deadly accuracy. Steele watched as his shields dropped and then failed. He pulled back on his stick and headed for the sky. Wulfe followed. With one last salvo he finished off Steele.
"Good job kid," said Steele," You earned this one."
Once on the ground Steele shook Wulfe's paw," Well, I never was one to go back on my word," he said," See you at graduation Wulfe."
"Yes sir, thank you sir," said Wulfe. He was too excited to think of anything else.
Wulfe decided to write another letter to his parents to tell him what had just happened. They would be so proud of him. He was allowed one letter every month, but he had already mailed one this week. He managed to get the Officer in Charge to let him use his letter for next month. Wulfe took the piece of paper and the envelope and began writing:
Dear mom and dad,
You won't believe what just happened! I beat Captain Steele in a dogfight, and he promised that anyone who beat him would graduate with honors. I can't wait until next year when I graduate. I am very excited! I am just a little sad that you're not here to see me, but I hope you will come to my graduation! Please do not expect another letter next month because I am writing this letter on my paper for next month. Sorry, but I was SO excited!
Wulfe carefully folded the letter and slid it into the envelope. After licking the envelope and sealing it Wulfe gave it to the Officer and walked back to his dorm. The mail would not be sent for another few days, or so the Officer told him. Wulfe lay down in his bad, reflecting on the last few hours. He then sighed and shuddered. He knew he had won by chance. Just some good flying on his part, but could he do it in real life? Wulfe sadly pulled the covers up to his neck and rolled onto his side. He loved to fly, but the dogfight today had really scared him. Wulfe blinked a few times in the dark then fell asleep.
The message came a few days later. A massive fleet, that had been moving through the galaxy for the past week, had attacked and taken over Canis. All of the space stations had been destroyed, and the Royal Canis Navy was in shambles. This came as a heavy blow to Wulfe. His parents had lived on one of the stations. Wulfe wanted to know where the fleet had come from. He was told it came from Venom, a planet in the Lylat system ruled by the evil Emperor Andross.
With this news, Wulfe prepared to leave the Academy to destroy Andross. He was caught by Captain Steele.
"Now what the heck do you think you're doing?" asked Steele, catching Wulfe halfway up the ladder on a fully armed V-40.
"Andross killed my parents," said Wulfe," I'm going to kill him!"
Steele walked over and put his hand on Wulfe's shoulder," Now look. He's got a whole fleet behind him. You'll be killed yourself."
"Then I would have died trying," said Wulfe, looking back at the fighter.
"You know I have to stop you," said Steele.
Wulfe looked directly into Steele's eyes," But will you?"
Steele stared back. He knew what Wulfe had to do, but he wouldn't have a part in it. He knew Wulfe had the skill to be a great pilot, but Wulfe was also still young and cocky. He'd just go out and get himself killed.
"Fine," said Steele," But just a few things before you face Andross. One: get yourself your own fighter. Can't have you running around with stolen property. Two: don't just rush into things. Find someone to help you. Teach you everything they know, like a mercenary or something. And finally three: be careful"
"Thank you sir, I'll try," said Wulfe.
They shook hands and Wulfe climbed up the ladder. Just as he was halfway up again he turned and kicked Steele in the jaw. Steele flew backwards and hit the runway with a loud grunt.
"Ahh! What was that for?" shouted Steele.
"I wanted it to look good," said Wulfe," I wouldn't want you to get in trouble."
"No, of course not," said Steele, rubbing his jaw.
Wulfe got into his fighter and took off. As soon as he was in space he headed towards Canis. He knew it was a stupid idea, but he had to see things for himself.
He arrived a few days later. Canis was surrounded with space debris, mostly parts of ships. He found that some of the space stations were still intact, but not possible of sustaining life. Wulfe let a small tear run down his face. He made a promise to make Andross pay for what he had done.
Then an alarm went off in his fighter. There were four bogeys approaching. he wanted to fight it out, but then he remembered Steele's words. He turned his ship around and set his engines to full throttle. The fighters were slower than him, and could only let a few shots off, hoping to hit him. Wulfe managed to escape, and he would remember this encounter. Next time he would be the attacker.
At Steele's advice Wulfe found the best place he knew of to find a partner; the third moon of the planet Shiret. There was a spaceport built on the northeastern hemisphere that was known for many illegal operations, including bounty hunting and hired guns. Wulfe landed his fighter and paid security enough to ensure that it would still be there when he returned.
The first thing he wanted to do was buy a new ship. With the new fighter in his possession now he knew he could sell it to anyone for a good price. He looked around for any sign that a ship was for sale, then he found it. There was a sign hanging that said "Used Starships". Wulfe cautiously entered the dark, smokey room and looked around for any sign of life. A fat, rodent of some sort popped up from behind the counter.
"What do you want!" he demanded.
"I'm looking for a fighter," said Wulfe, direct and to the point.
"What kind of fighter?" asked the rat.
Wulfe thought for a moment, then answered," That depends on what you've got."
"Shrewd, eh? Well, alright. Come on into the back."
Wulfe followed the rat into the back of the establishment. There were many different types of ships there. Large cargo freighters, small fighters, and some small shuttles. Wulfe saw a fine looking ship that he had read about in one of his books.
It was from the frozen planet Therma. The planet's inhabitants had just recently begun building their own defenses, and the limited resources they had allowed them to build this ship; the T4-662 "SNOWFLAKE" It was round in shape, with two turbocharged laser cannons and two concussion missile launchers. Wulfe felt lucky, this was a good ship. It was relatively fast, had good weapons, and its deflector shield was adequate.
"How much for this `Snowflake'?, "asked Wulfe.
The rat walked over and looked at the ship," How's about...... two-hundred."
"Two-hundred...?" asked Wulfe.
"Two-hundred, as in two-hundred thousand. What are you, stupid!?"
Wulfe looked down at the rat, who seemed unintimidated by Wulfe's superior size.
"Do you take fighters in trade?" asked Wulfe.
"That depends on what you've got," said the rat, imitating Wulfe from a few minutes earlier.
"How would you like a brand new, fully armed Royal Canis Navy V-40 `Foxx'?" asked Wulfe, grinning.
The rat's eyes lit up like a supernova," Really? Well, just for you kid I'll even make sure everything on this bucket works."
The rat walked back to his counter and shuffled through some papers. He pulled out papers that were in different locations in the pile and then, after creating quite a stack, returned to Wulfe," I'll need you to fill these out."
"What's this?" asked Wulfe.
"Oh you know, name, place of birth, excetera, excetera, excetera," said the rat.
"If you wouldn't mind, I'd like to make this a private, under the table sale," said Wulfe.
The rat's whiskers twitched," What, are you in some kind of trouble or something?"
"I'd just like to keep all records that I was ever here... nonexistent," said Wulfe, raising one eyebrow to prove his point.
"You know what kid, I like you. You come in here, you know what you want, and then you start going on like you've been buying illegal fighters all your life. Tell you what, you fly that jet of yours over here and I'll give this one. The go down to the weapons trader a few hangers down, tell 'em Stinker sent you. They'll set you right up," said the rat.
"We have a deal then?" asked Wulfe.
The rat held out his dirty paw," Deal!"
Stinker couldn't keep his paws off the `Foxx'. He was running around it, putting his hands on it and drooling the whole time. He obviously had a buyer in mind and could make quite a bit of money off this one. As promised, Stinker ran a systems check of the entire ship. Everything worked fine.
Wulfe took his new jet down to the weapons trader. After quickly telling his story the two mechanics nodded their heads and began to work on the "Snowflake"'s weapons. They were able to make the targeting computer lock on faster than usual, and upgraded the concussion missile launchers to Advanced Concussion Missiles, which were both faster, more powerful, and more maneuverable. Wulfe also had his ship painted a deep grey colour and had a wolf painted on the fuselage in various places, four in total. This would be his symbol of revenge.
Then Wulfe began his quest for a mercenary to aid him; to further his training. he found a bar and decided that this might be a good place to start looking. he got a few strange looks from the people inside but had no trouble getting in. He sat at a table and ordered a drink. he had plenty of money left over after the upgrades were finished so Wulfe also ordered a large meal. he didn't want to flash his money around so as not to attract any extra attention.
The food came, hot and steamy, along with the Canis Gtyou he had ordered. He had been told by his Academy buddies that Canis Gtyou was the best thing you could drink. It was sweet, but kind of bland, and it could get you drunk in less that half a glass. But Wulfe would be careful not to have too much.
It was good but, as his buddies had said, bland. He could feel it working its way through his body. Wulfe straightened himself and began to eat. He scanned the room for any unsavory character that might suit his purpose. He spotted a Canine across the room. She was of the Shepherd breed and had a long knife attached to a belt around her waist. She was leaning against the bar with a large glass of something reddish in colour. She had an eye patch over her left eye with a large pink scar showing on her cheek. Wulfe decided that this was a very unsavory character.
She looked in his direction. Wulfe looked away and went back to his meal. Though he didn't see it, she had smiled to herself and put the glass down. After paying the bartender she slowly walked over to Wulfe, sending other patrons scrambling out of her way. her name was Sakey Yonule, and she was known in these parts as a rough, tough, mercenary for hire. Any job for twenty-thousand. She had no mercy, and rarely let her victims survive. She stopped in front of Wulfe's table and put her hands down on the back of one of the empty chairs.
"I saw you looking at me over at the bar," she said," Is there anything in particular you were looking at?"
Wulfe looked up at her. She now had her hands on her hips, her scar stretched by her wide grin. Judging by the reaction of the crowd, Wulfe perked his ears and kept his wits about him.
"Yeah," began Wulfe," I'm looking for a mercenary to teach me. I need to avenge the deaths of my parents."
"Oh really," said Sakey," Well, you're looking at the wrong mercenary."
Wulfe looked at her a few seconds then took another mouthful of food. Sakey began to sit down. Wulfe looked up as she reached over and took one of the small pieces of meat. She slowly raised it to her mouth and ate it," Not all that good."
"It's good enough. better than that crap at the Academy," said Wulfe, he himself taking a piece.
"Ooh, the Academy. I thought I recognized the outfit," said Sakey.
Then Wulfe remembered that he was still wearing his uniform. That would explain the looks.
"Do you mind if I finish this for you, you're too young anyway?" asked Sakey reaching for his drink.
"Not at all," said Wulfe," I didn't feel like getting myself plastered right after I left."
Wulfe watched as she drained the glass with one gulp. Then she placed the glass on the table and looked back at Wulfe. Wulfe took another piece of meat and shoved it in his mouth. After chewing it slowly he then swallowed. Sakey watched for a few seconds then spoke," What would I get for helping you?"
"Well, along with my thanks, about..." Wulfe fumbled through his pockets and pulled out all the money he had," ...about thirty," he said, remembering how the rat had said it.
"Hmmm, thirty-thousand eh?" said Sakey," Okay, it sounds interesting. But first you've got to tell me about your parents."
Wulfe and Sakey had stayed behind after closing time. The bartender, who didn't want to mess with Sakey, left the door locked and told them to just close it on their way out. Wulfe had poured out his entire life story to Sakey, who had revealed minor details about her own past. But Wulfe didn't care, he knew he would get more from her in time.
"So, what do I learn first?" asked Wulfe, eager to start as soon as possible.
Sakey laughed," A little bit quick eh? A bad quality in a mercenary. You need to be patient, slow to move. But quick thinking is good. How quick are you?"
"Pretty quick, even quicker in a fighter," said Wulfe, cocking one eyebrow.
"A pilot too. Good quality in a mercenary. What's you ship?"
Wulfe stirred the contents of his glass," Well... I left the Academy in a V-40 `Foxx' but I just sold it and got a T4-662 `Snowflake' and did a major overhaul on it."
"I see," said Sakey," I've got a nice little fighter of my own, modified beyond your wildest dreams. All illegal of course. Remember, if you're going to be a mercenary you need to be able to survive."
Wulfe took a sip of his drink," Just a bit off topic here, what happened to your eye?"
Sakey moved her hand up to her eye and placed two fingers on the red patch," A bounty. I was jumped from behind and he had a knife. I'll never see out of this eye again."
"No offense, but I'd hate to lose my sight. That'd mean no more flying, and right now that's about all I've got going for me right now."
Sakey straightened in her seat, the alcohol taking over her body," Well, at least you're still in one piece. Just wait. This business has its ups and downs, and you need to be able to take the bumps and bruises that comes along with it. You need to be mean. Show no mercy. Don't trust anyone, even your friends."
Wulfe finished his drink and leaned back in his chair," I'd better find a place to stay for the time being. Any good spots around?"
"Nope, I sleep in my fighter," said Sakey.
"Well, where's your fighter?"
Sakey stood up and began to walk away.
"Wait, how will I find you?" asked Wulfe.
"You won't, I'll find you."
And with that she was gone.
The next morning, Wulfe woke up at the sound of someone climbing the ladder to his fighter. he leaned over and looked out the glass canopy. Sakey's face appeared. She was carrying a large sack and had a few more weapons strapped to her body," Wake up kid, we've got a job!"
Wulfe flew alongside Sakey's fighter, one of the Lylat fighters; the Arwing. It was small, but very fast, and had many interesting features. Wulfe had known a lot about these ships. They had a complicated stabilization system called a G-diffuser, which allowed them to pull quick, high-G maneuvers that would otherwise be impossible for normal fighters. They could somersault and U-turn in a split-second, and their barrel-rolls were capable of deflecting laser shots. But Wulfe knew that everything had a weakness. The Arwing couldn't recharge its shields once it had taken damage, but his T4-662 could.
She had told him very little about the mission. All he was told to do was follow her and do what she said. They were approaching a planet that had a small amount of ships around it. Then Sakey came over his headset," Okay kid, here's the plan. We've got to get past those ships and make it in ne piece to the planet's surface. There we're supposed to destroy a building that has a very important person living in it."
"Sounds interesting," said Wulfe.
"Consider it your first assassination."
They quickly approached the small fleet of ships. Almost at once fighters began to emerge from inside the larger ships. Wulfe counted eleven in total.
"Eleven," came the same total from Sakey," Think you can handle it kid?"
"Piece of cake!"
"Alright, lets do it!"
They split up. Wulfe took the right flank, with Sakey on the left. The first pass went well with limited success. Wulfe managed to take out two ships on interception and was looking for another target. He spotted a group of three trying to assemble for a minor wing attack on either him or Sakey. Wulfe was able to recognize the tactic and flew directly towards the trio. He fired his lasers and the ships tried to split up, but either were shot or crashed into each other. That was five down for Wulfe.
Sakey was doing well herself. She had bagged three bogeys and was trying to nail another when she got nailed herself. The cruisers were firing missiles at them. Sakey had to divide her attention between the fighters and the missiles. Wulfe was under attack too and came to help out. He was able to keep the missiles busy while Sakey engaged the fighters. With them gone they approached the cruisers.
They had very poor shields, and must have been designed to rely on their fighters and missiles for protection. Wulfe and Sakey began the descent towards the ground target.
"You okay, kid?" asked Sakey.
Wulfe adjusted his shields before replying," Everything's A-OK."
"Good. I'm feeding you the coordinates for the target. Use your missiles and take it out. I'll cover you up here."
Wulfe followed the coordinates and soon came into view of a small building. After doing a fly-by to designate the target he came around and locked on his missiles. he let two salvos go and then pulled up for the sky. The building exploded.
"Well done," said Sakey after Wulfe had regrouped with her," I must say you were very efficient, not a word I use often. You're got the makings of a good mercenary, out here. Let's see how you handle yourself out of the plane."
Wulfe was a little upset. Sakey had only promised him 30% of the pay, but he had done most of the work! Nevertheless, he followed her into the dark room. She leaned over and whispered to him," This is the fun part. Trying to make a deal to get ALL of your money."
Wulfe looked down at her, then at the dark figure behind a large wooden desk. Two large guards stood at either side of the doorway. They obviously weren't there for guarding the doorknobs. Wulfe followed Sakey up to the desk, she put her hands down onto the smooth wooden surface," So, where's my 30 000?" she asked, direct, and to the point.
"What 30 000?" asked the figure, in a deep voice.
"The 30 000 you're paying me for wasting Chief Ferrin, that's what 30 000!" shouted Sakey. She was obviously a pro at this sort of thing.
"Oh that, 30 000. Well, I think you only deserve half. What do you think?"
Sakey gripped the edges of the desk," I think you're out of your mind!"
The figure turned his back on them by rotating the chair," You see. The one thing you don't understand is that I never pay for what others do for me. That's how my business works. If I paid every two-bit mercenary who did a job for me I'd be a very poor man."
"You'll be a very DEAD man if you don't pay up!" said Sakey.
The deep voice laughed," I don't think so."
He raised his hand and snapped his fingers. Wulfe felt a heavy hand on his shoulder. Sakey was grabbed by the other guard," Okay boys," said the figure," Take out this trash."
Before the guard could move, Sakey drew her blade and dislodged herself from the guard's grip. The guard screamed and held his sliced hand. Wulfe took the hint and jabbed his elbow into his captor's stomach. The guard groaned and bent down, just low enough for Wulfe to kick his face. The guard flew backwards. Sakey had finished with her opponent and now faced the figure behind the desk," Now," she said," About our pay."
"Alright! Alright!" said the once deep voice, now high and frantic.
Sakey looked over at Wulfe," And something extra for my partner over there."
Wulfe sat in his fighter counting the money he had gotten from Sakey. She had given him his 30%, plus an extra 20 000. She sure had her way with people. Wulfe knew what it meant, she wanted him to watch her and do what she did; to learn first hand. She had been impressed with his moves in the room, which Wulfe feel proud.
But now, as he counted the money, he remembered his quest. He jumped out of the cockpit and made his way to the bar where he had first met Sakey. She was at the same place at the bar. He walked over to her and put his hand on the bar. It felt cold and wet from a recently spilled drink, but he didn't care," We still have our deal," he said," I need to become a mercenary, like you."
"Kid," said Sakey, finishing off a drink," Nobody could ever become a mercenary like me."
"I can get pretty close," argued Wulfe.
"Not close enough."
Wulfe let out a small, low growl. He was through taking her pointless babble," Are you going to teach me or not?"
Sakey took a step away from the bar," Alright, kid. I'll teach you something."
Before Wulfe could say anything Sakey grabbed him and threw him over a nearby table. Wulfe crashed through the cheap wooden furniture and landed on his rump. He turned quickly to see Sakey leaping towards him. He strafed out of the way and punched her as she passed by. Sakey fell over and landed on another table. She wiped the blood off her lip," Very good!"
Then she reached back and pulled out one of her knives. She threw it at Wulfe. Wulfe thought quickly and ducked behind the shattered table. The knife cut deeply through the wood and nearly penetrated into Wulfe's head. Wulfe stood up and saw her coming at him again. Wulfe stood up, ready to face her. She tried to kick his head, but Wulfe ducked and grabbed her leg. She turned quickly and kicked him with her other foot. Wulfe stumbled backwards and let go of Sakey's leg. She came at him again, her fists flying. By now they had drawn quite an audience. Everyone wanted to see who would win. Bets were being passed around. Would Sakey finally meet her match, or would her knife have another notch added to it by tonight?
Wulfe was fighting well. His size and strength was his main advantage, but Sakey had years of experience behind her. She laid blow after blow on Wulfe, who barely got his licks in himself. The fight lasted for the next ten minutes. The two combatants were both bloody and battered, but neither submitted to the other. Then finally, Sakey started laughing and sat down in a chair. She was done in.
"Well, kid. I admit it. You had me there for a second. No one's ever beaten me before," said Sakey between breaths.
Wulfe lowered his fists and leaned against a post that was holding up the ceiling. The disgruntled audience went back to their business, disappointed. Wulfe sat at the opposite side of the table from her, to make sure that she had no more tricks. She had none. She had tested him and he had passed.
That night, Wulfe was walking back to his ship when Sakey appeared from behind a garbage bin," I've been waiting for you, Wulfe," she said.
Sakey walked over and stumbled. Wulfe caught her and noticed she had alcohol on her breath," Woah there. You need to get back to your ship."
"I'd rather go sleep in your ship," said Sakey, smiling," With you."
Wulfe's lip twitched slightly and he helped Sakey stand straight," I think you're going to go easy on the drinks from now on, Sakey."
"Why? Am I too much for you to handle?"
She wrapped her arms around his neck. Wulfe didn't know what to do. He just tried to keep Sakey from falling over. "I'd better get you back to your ship," he said.
Sakey grabbed his head and pressed her lips against his. She held him firmly for at least thirty seconds. Wulfe managed to push her away," Sakey, control yourself!"
"Don't you want me?" asked Sakey, the drunken smile on her face growing larger.
"Not now. Not like this," said Wulfe.
Sakey laughed out loud, her voice carrying down the wide corridor," Then take me home, partner."
Wulfe picked her up and carried her back to he ship. Once she was asleep; or passed out, he went back to his own ship and fell asleep.
He woke up the next day, tired and feeling half dead. He was still sore from the fight, and still lightheaded from the kiss. He had dreamt that he and Sakey weren't mercenaries, but a happily married couple with a family, living on Canis. But Wulfe knew it would never happen. he had more important things to do.
He met up with Sakey at the bar again. She was a wreck. Her fur was all messy, and she looked like she had gotten two hours of sleep," I did only get two hours of sleep," said Sakey after Wulfe's comment.
"Do you remember anything from last night?" asked Wulfe, almost hoping.
"Nope. I remember getting drunk, of course with this hangover how could I not?" joked Sakey.
Wulfe smiled back and sat at the table with her. After a quick breakfast of some weird type of sausage they `set up shop' down the hall from the bar. People were bustling by and many were carrying various things. Weapons, packages, starship parts; there was a wide variety. Wulfe tried to imitate Sakey's look as he scanned the crowd. Anyone looking for a job to be done would be able to recognize a mercenary by their look. After a few hours they were approached by a tall lizard," So, what kind of jobs do you guys do?" he asked, his tongue flickering in and out.
"Anything for 20 000," said Wulfe, knowing their asking price.
"Alright. I need you to do something for me," whispered the lizard," I want you to kill my brother."
"Any reason?" asked Sakey.
"He's been around too often if you know what I mean. You know, hanging around with my wife too often. I think something's going on," said the lizard.
"So you want us to put him on ice?" concluded Sakey.
"Here's seven thousand in advance, I want it done tonight," he replied, handing her a roll of bills.
"Just give us the time and place, we'll be there."
Wulfe was tense. Shooting down another pilot was different that just going up and killing someone, but he had to learn to become a mercenary. After waiting a few hours after dark, they finally spotted their target; another tall lizard creature. This one was slightly darker than the other, and had many spots on its back and arms. It slithered quickly among the piles of crates in the cargo storage hanger.
As expected, he met up with another lizard who was much lighter, and a purple in colour. They appeared to be performing some type of ritual greeting then clasped their claws together. Sakey took careful aim with her blaster rifle. She aligned the two sights with the lizard's head. When the shot was lined up perfectly she pressed the trigger. There wasn't much left of the lizard's head. It's body was now a flailing mass of arms, legs, and tail. The other lizard screamed and ran away.
Wulfe turned away. He couldn't watch it any longer. Sakey looked over at him and punched his arm, "Hey, you softy. What's wrong, can't take it?"
Wulfe leaned over the pile of crates and vomited.
"Softy," said Sakey, and she began to pack her gun.
Wulfe had now been working with Sakey for many weeks now. he had learned many things, and had managed to get over his distaste for bloody encounters. He was now a hardened mercenary; what he had wanted since he first arrived on this rock. He hesitated, then leaned over and kissed Sakey on the cheek.
"Thanks for everything," he said, a bit on kindness still remained in his heart.
"Hey, kid. Go kick some butt," said Sakey.
Wulfe turned back to his ship and climbed the ladder.
"Don't give me a bad name!" she shouted after him.
"Don't worry, I won't," replied Wulfe.
He started his engines.
"And don't get yourself killed," she said, finally.
Wulfe just waved and closed his canopy. Sakey allowed a small tear to roll down her cheek. Then, as Wulfe took off and became a speck on the horizon, she wiped it away and made her way back to her corner in the bar.