Wulfe's fighter, now named The Howl of Canis, emerged from hyperspace. He was on his way to the planet Toul VII, to learn from the Master Tilor the ways of marksmanship. He had become pretty good, learning everything Sakey taught him, but he needed more. Sakey told him that the best place to go was Toul VII.
"Seek out Master Tilor, he will show you how to fire a blaster!" she grinned.
Wulfe had been gone only three days and already he missed her. He knew she was drunk that one time she had kissed him, but he felt that he had had a true impact on her life.
He landed his fighter on a landing strip a few miles from the town of Shynn and engaged the security system. Anyone who tried to approach the ship would be vaporized by laser fire. Wulfe put his controller in his pocket and began the long walk to Shynn. Halfway there he met up with a merchant on his hoversled.
"Hey, could you give me a lift into town?" asked Wulfe.
"Sure," said the merchant," Hop on."
Wulfe climbed up onto the hoversled and sat next to the merchant. He was a huge fellow, of some sort of ape-like creature," You wouldn't happen to be from Venom would you?" asked Wulfe.
"No, I was born here. What, afraid I'll blast you?" the ape laughed," I don't fight for Andross if that's what you mean. I live here, and sell my fruits in the market. Would you like one?"
Wulfe looked back at the bushels of ripe, red fruit. He reached back and grabbed the biggest one in the closest bushel. After one bite his mouth watered and he grabbed a few more.
"How much?" he asked, anxiously.
"I sell by the bushel or half bushel. $2 for half, $5 for a whole bushel." answered the ape.
Wulfe walked through the town with the bushel of fruit on one shoulder, keeping it steady with his left hand. As he walked he could smell all the goods of the market. There were baked goods, meat, and spices. The streets were soon full of people, of all imaginable species, and Wulfe had trouble moving through them.
Most of the creatures were short, and very quick as well, so Wulfe's height allowed him to survey everything around him. After a few minutes he spotted the object of his search. There was a small building with a large sign that read "Master Tilor's Gunshop". Wulfe smiled as he made his way over to the doorway. It was dark and smokey inside. Wulfe recognized the aroma of gun oil and ammunition. He heard a loud blast in the back of the shop, then an old man emerged from a doorway in the back of the room.
"How may I help you?" asked the man, bowing slightly.
"I am looking for Master Tilor," said Wulfe.
"I am he. What is it that you want?"
Wulfe placed the bushel of fruit on the floor," I wish to learn the marksmanship skill. I have heard of your great talent. I want to become the best so I can avenge my parents' deaths!"
"Oh, I see. I didn't think I'd ever get another student. I'm getting rather old you see," said the man.
Wulfe nodded slightly," I can pay whatever you ask."
"All I ask is that you pay attention, and learn everything. Every
"Seems easy enough," Wulfe kneeled on the floor," When may I start, Master?"
The targets flew by quickly. Wulfe focused on the very center of the spinning platform. Master Tilor had made a primitive shooting gallery, and now it spun with many bull's eyes mounted on it. Wulfe was thirty feet away, a `beginners' distance, or so it was called by Master Tilor. Wulfe pressed the firing trigger twice, succeeding in hitting in one of the targets. Wulfe tried again and again, each time taking out a target. But now there were only two left, and it was harder to aim for them. Wulfe shot off ten rounds then stood up. He clicked the rifle's setting switch to exploding ammo and aimed at the center of the spinning platform. He fired. The platform exploded.
"Hey! You punk! That took me a week to build!" shouted Master Tilor.
"I'll build you a new one," said Wulfe.
"You'd better. Now, you see how it is easy for you to hit them when they are many?" asked Tilor," You need to learn to aim individually. What if there was a certain target you wanted? Then you'd have to aim for it specifically, none of this exploding ammo crap!"
Wulfe had spent the last five hours rebuilding the shooting gallery. It was fairly simple, just a large wooden platform approximately fifteen feet across with multiple steel braces attached to a motor than spun the whole thing. As Wulfe worked, Tilor sat under a tree in the cool shade. Wulfe had his shirt off and his fur was matted down with sweat.
Wulfe walked over to a small table and grabbed his canteen. After a long drink he turned to Tilor," So, how long will it take for me to learn everything?" he asked.
"At the rate you're going, your money will run out before you learn a thing!" laughed Tilor.
Wulfe looked back at the platform. He was almost finished. It just needed to have a few more boards attached to it and then mounted on the axle from the motor. Wulfe looked over to the west, at the setting sun. It was a bright blue in colour, unusual for a star of its age. Wulfe could always finish the gallery tomorrow.
"I'll finish it first thing tomorrow, Master," said Wulfe.
"You lazy...! Well, alright." said Tilor," Get yourself a place to live, and wash up. You're starting to smell like a wet dog!"
Wulfe tried to ignore the comment. He grabbed his shirt and started for town.
Wulfe lay back in the uncomfortable bed. The room he paid for was small, but homey. There was a small bathroom with a clean sink and a bathtub. After a bath, which he hated because they always made his fur smell, he had gone straight to bed.
He sat for a few minutes thinking about the past day. How just a few days ago he had been rather content with Sakey. She was a very nice Canine, despite her appearance and reputation. Wulfe said decided that from then on he would judge his friends from the inside.
As Wulfe thought of her, he also remembered another thing she had told him," I sleep in my ship..." Then Wulfe remembered his fighter, parked on the landing strip outside of town. He knew his security system could hold any thief at bay, but perhaps not a skilled disarmer.
Wulfe rushed out of the building in the dark of night and ran at full speed to where his ship was parked. It took him half an hour to get to it. As he approached, he could barely make out two figures slowly circling the ship. Wulfe could smell something; it smelled like burning fur. He scanned the ground and saw the charred remains of some other animal. This guy had found about his security system the hard way.
Wulfe pulled out his blaster and shouted at the pair of would-be thieves," Hey you!" They whipped around and drew their guns.
"I'd drop 'em if I were you!" said Wulfe," Now get away from my ship!"
The two figures dropped their guns and backed away slowly. Wulfe kept his eyes on them and his ears all around him. He could sense no ambush. He climbed into his ship and took off. After landing beside the building where he had taken a room, and waking up a few other residents as well, Wulfe stretched out in his cockpit and fell asleep.
Wulfe looked up at the blue sky. The creamy white clouds floated by slowly. He sat up and cracked his back. There was only one bad thing about sleeping inside a fighter cockpit: the lack of space. He rubbed his rump and sat straight in the seat. His back had an imprint that matched the leather on the chair. Wulfe popped open the canopy and jumped down from his ship.
He made his way to Master Tilor's house and opened the door. Tilor was inside, arguing with someone. Tilor looked up at Wulfe as he came in," Ah Wulfe! This bum doesn't want to pay for his new piece!" said Tilor," Throw him out!"
"Okay," smiled Wulfe.
"Now wait," said the customer," I'm sure we can work something out?"
But before he could say another word Wulfe picked him up and threw him across the street. He returned to the counter, clapping the dirt off his hands," Now, shall I get on with finishing the gallery?"
"No, have something to eat first," said Tilor," Even mercenaries need to eat once in a while."
After Wulfe finished off several of the weird sausages, two rolls, and four of the delicious fruits he had bought the day before, he went out behind the house and began his work on the gallery. He estimated that it shouldn't take him any longer than two hours to finish it, maybe more maybe less.
His estimate was very close. One hour and forty-three minutes later he had the gallery spinning again. Wulfe smiled as he slapped at the targets. They fell over as his hand hit each one. Master Tilor looked on, recognizing the child in Wulfe still close to the surface.
Wulfe was now only 16, but he was big for his age. He now weighed close to two-hundred and fifty pounds, and stood six-feet four inches tall. He was fairly strong, and knew he would eventually become stronger, but also liked to work on lifting heavy objects to build up his strength. That afternoon, after a morning of tutering from Master Tilor, Wulfe went out and tried to move several rocks that were laying on the ground. Most of them were small, but others were as big as himself. He lifted them out of the way, or heaved, or shoved, as he made his way through the small valley not far from the town.
Then Wulfe got into some trouble. Three figures emerged from behind one of the larger rocks. Wulfe looked up as their scent was carried to him with the wind. They were the same guys from last night, the guys who had tried to steal his ship. They had obviously been joined by another member of their gang.
"I think we'll take your ship now," said one of them, the taller of the three. He was a big hairy creature of a species Wulfe had never seen before.
Wulfe's could feel his back hairs standing up," I don't think so," he growled.
"Ohhh!," taunted the leader," I think he wants to fight!"
"Yeah!," shouted the second creature. He was smaller that the first and of some sort of lizard species.
Wulfe took a step back and pulled out his gun," Don't make me have to use this."
"Don't worry, we won't," the taller figure said.
Then, like lightning, the hairy creature drew his gun and blasted the pistol out of Wulfe's hand. Wulfe watched as it flipped through the air and landed a few meters away. It was blackened and beyond use. The leader then aimed his gun at Wulfe. But then, as fast as the lizard's draw, Wulfe threw himself at him. They collided and the gun went off, the bright blue beam shot into the air.
They rolled over each other in the grass, exchanging blows. Wulfe managed to free both arms and linked his fingers together. He then swung his arms and hit his opponent full across the face. He fell limp. Wulfe stood up and turned his attention to the other two. They looked at each other then ran. Wulfe bent down and took the leader's blaster from the ground. After aiming carefully he fired. The hairy creature jumped a few inches away, then lay still. Smoke rose from the body. Wulfe looked at his singed fingers and bruised hand. He would remember this fight.
Wulfe returned to Master Tilor's house and told him what had happened. Tilor looked at the gun. It had a red emblem on it. Tilor looked up at Wulfe," This is the sign of a local gang. They often come by here and demand tribute to keep them from destroying this town. Now you have made it worse by killing two of their members."
"It wasn't my fault," said Wulfe," The first one ran into my security system, and the second was a loser. I actually enjoyed wasting him."
"Then they will enjoy wasting you!" said Tilor," You must leave."
"But you're not through teaching me," said Wulfe.
"Don't worry about me, I'll be fine," said Tilor. He began to put some things into a small sack.
"That's not what I meant. I still have much to learn. I can't go now."
"You will go or you will die!"
Wulfe looked down at the table. He ran his fingers over the knots in the wood. Their circular shapes reminded him of the gallery.
"I can protect you from these guys, tell me where their hideout is, or wherever they hang out. I can destroy it with one salvo of missiles."
"I cannot tell you where they are..."
"Why not? Are you still afraid?"
"Because I don't know where it is. They are well hidden."
Wulfe gripped the sides of the table. He wasn't sure what to do. Sakey would have an idea. Of course she would, she would run head on into the hideout with her guns blazing. But Wulfe didn't think like that, he had a better idea," What is the biggest gun you have?"
Wulfe stood on the roof of the tallest building in the small town. He was leaning on the huge Mark III bazooka that Tilor had given him. Wulfe didn't know where he had gotten it but it was a melee weapon from his home planet. Judging by the amount of other heavy weapons that Master Tilor had Wulfe concluded that he had been all over the galaxy, trading weapons before finally retiring on a backwater planet.
Wulfe was waiting for the gang to make its move. When they came to town again he would blast them. He had spent the past few hours setting up remote controlled guns that would fire in the direction of Wulfe's bazooka. He hoped to annihilate as many as possible before they reached the town, then Wulfe would sneak around and pick them off one by one.
The plan started off well. The gang, consisting of thirty or so aliens of different species riding on hover bikes, approached the town from the west. Wulfe waited until they were well in range then fired. The powerful blast erupted in the middle of the group, sending half of them flying off their bikes. The others kept coming. Wulfe switched on the remote guns and kept firing. The fifteen guns all fired in sync. They found their targets and the bikers fell.
As the gang got closer, they began to split up into several smaller groups and approached the town from seperate angles. Wulfe concentrated his attention on one group at a time, then jumped off the roof as the gang entered the town.Wulfe quickly found one of the groups and let them have a blast from the Mark III. With them gone he began looking for another of the five groups he saw enter the town.
They actually found him. A shot skimmed his left ear. Wulfe turned and fired again. The small shed behind them exploded and covered them with rubble. Wulfe clicked another shell into the firing chamber and continued his search.
This continued for the next hour until all gang members had been accounted for. Those who were still alive were locked up and the local authorities, a squad from a nearby metropolis, were to come and pick them up in a few days.
Master Tilor approached Wulfe," Are you sure you're not going soft, mercenary?"
"No way," then Wulfe thought," Why do you ask?"
"Because you were willing to risk your life to save this town from them," replied Tilor.
Wulfe laughed," I just wanted revenge on them. Now they won't bother anyone."
Wulfe left a week later. Tilor even let him keep the Mark III. "As a token of our thanks," he said.
Wulfe waved back to Tilor, as well as the few citizens who wanted to thank him, and got into his fighter. After powering up he flew off into the sky.
Wulfe's next destination was a small space station orbiting the planet Nebulor. After Wulfe landed his fighter he began to walk down one of the main passageways. It was a more luxurious place than Shiret, and Wulfe did not see any `scouts'. Unlike when Sakey had shown him the "mercenary's look" and how to attract a customer, this place was barren of any type of illegal activity.
Then Wulfe saw him. It was a small, frog-like creature leaning against the wall. He was glancing around with his arms crossed. Then his eyes met Wulfe's, they were deep grey. He was definitely a mercenary. Wulfe walked up to him and said," I've got a job for ya."
"Really, what do you have in mind," replied the mercenary.
Wulfe hunched over and looked the frog in the eye," I need you to do something for me."
"What might that be?"
"What is your greatest skill?"
The frog reached behind him and pulled out a small knife, one that Wulfe had been carrying around in his vest," Pick-pocketing," smiled the frog.
Wulfe snatched back his knife and glared down at the frog, now at his full height. He didn't want to learn this skill. He would earn enough money with his other jobs that he wouldn't have to stoop to picking pockets.
Wulfe nodded back to the frog then walked away, checking his things as he dissolved into the crowd.
Wulfe spent the next three hours searching for new skills. He had met a very strong mercenary, a very tall mercenary, and a very fat mercenary, but nobody who would teach him any new skills; not the way Sakey did. So Wulfe decided to just live on what he already knew and learn anything along the way.
As Wulfe left the space station he looked through his computer for planets or space stations with reputations for hired help. He found at least thirty that seemed appropriate. He ran his finger up and down the list and stopped on one. He looked at it and punched the coordinates into his navigation computer. The stars streaked into lines as his fighter entered hyperspace.
Wulfe arrived at Clas'tyr VI, also known as "The Moon of Mercenaries". He landed his fighter in one of the small fighter bays and secured his ship. Then he `set up shop'. Wulfe leaned against the wall and scrunched up his face in the "mercenary's look". After standing like that for about half an hour he was approached by a small, grey rat-like alien. She was twitching her whiskers and looking around but managed to utter a few syllables," I need your help."
"How so," said Wulfe.
"I need you to get something back for me. Something that was very dear to me."
"What was it?"
Wulfe slid through the shadows of the lower levels of the building. The rat had told him that some men had taken her daughter to the basements to either kill her or just leave her alone in the darkness. Wulfe tried to keep his emotions in check, he needed no sympathy to slow him down. Then Wulfe heard voices.
He drew his blaster pistol and peered around the corner. Down the hall were three men with big guns. In a chair was the rat's daughter, an exact duplicate of her mother, except that she was black. The man closest to her laughed as he stepped forward and slapped her. Wulfe slid along the wall, trying to stay as invisible as possible. Then he aimed carefully, with all the skill he learned from Master Tilor, and fired rapidly. His specially modified blaster pistol fired shot after shot into the three men. They screamed and fell. The rat looked up through the smoke that was slowly riding from the bodies.
Wulfe ran quickly to untie the rat, hoping that there would be no reinforcements.
"Who are you?" asked the rat.
"An employee," said Wulfe, using his informal title.
He grabbed her wrist and pulled her along through the depths of the basement.
Wulfe returned to the address given him by the rat. She opened the
and shouted out loud,
" Yakki! You're safe!"
"Mother!" cried Yakki.
They embraced at the door. After a few seconds they turned back to Wulfe," How can I ever repay you?" asked the rat.
"By paying my fee," said Wulfe.
"I don't have much, I can offer seven thousand?"
Wulfe thought for a moment. He knew that they could never pay the twenty-thousand he charged, but the good side to him finally came out," I only charge five-thousand."
"Fine. I'll go get it."
Wulfe waited at the door, looking around the room. It was very homey, with a couch and chair, many pictures hanging from the wall, and it smelled of homebaked things. The rat returned with a small box in her hands," Here you go."
The box was beautiful. It was carved out of wood and had a bit of gold around the edges. Wulfe opened it and took out the money. He then handed the box back to the rat.
"Oh no, please keep it!" she insisted.
Wulfe smiled a small smile and turned away from the door.
After dropping most of the money at his ship Wulfe went to one of the many eating establishments. None were what he was used to, or preferred. They were all large, high class joints. Wulfe was used to small, stuffy, smokey bars. He ordered a rather expensive meal from the menu, but since he was now loaded he didn't care.
The steaming plate was brought to him. Wulfe eagerly tore at the pieces of meat, ignoring the stares from the upper class customers. After chugging a bottle of fine wine Wulfe wiped his lips then got up from the table. He dropped a few bills on the table and walked out, full and content. He knew that he would learn nothing here. It was time to leave. But where to?
Then Wulfe got a crazy idea. He remembered the vow he had made back in his home sector, when he was chased away by the Venomian fighters," Next time I'll be the attacker!" He ran to his ship and took off. He inputted the coordinates for Canis into his computer and hit the hyperdrive activation lever. The stars streaked into lines as he entered hyperspace.
Canis was the same as it had been all those months ago. The wreckage of starships and fighters still drifted through space, but the enemy fleet had moved on. Wulfe was able to identify his home, the space station Canorb 4. It was still relatively intact, but most of it had been blown away. He carefully landed inside one of the hangers, ironically the same hanger he was in when he left for the Academy.
After carefully donning his Zero-G suit, which was hard to do inside his crammed cockpit, he opened the canopy and stepped onto the deck for the first time in months. The memories flew back at him. He closed his eyes and envisioned his parents still waving to him as he walked up the Academy shuttle's ramp. Then he felt a few small, warm tears run down his face. Unable to wipe them away with his helmet on he continued through the station.
His magnetic boots made travel ponderous but he didn't mind. With the Venom fleet gone he feared nothing, except de-pressurization! After a few minutes he finally reached his own quarters. He stopped and stood in front of the door for a few seconds before pushing the button that would allow him entry to his home once more. He finally reached out and pushed the button. Nothing happened, just a slight buzzing as the destroyed circuitry recieved power once again. Big surprise. Wulfe grabbed the crease where the two doors came together and pulled them apart.
Once inside, Wulfe was horrified. The windows had all blown out and the room had been ransacked by the pressure of air escaping into space. There was very little left in the room. He swallowed hard and made his way through his old home. The first room he went to was his bedroom. The books and videos of fighters and flight were thrown about, but most were missing. He looked up and saw the dangling strings that once held his model of the V-40 `Foxx', it now lay in pieces all over his room. Wulfe looked around the room once more and moved on down the short hallway.
He arrived at his parents room. The bed was jammed against the doorway; it must have been there since the quarters had de-pressurized. He carefully walked over it and allowed his magnetic boots to once again grip the floor. He looked around. There was very little left. The few pictures that once sat on the bedside table were smashed and on the floor. Wulfe picked one up. It portrayed himself when he was younger. His father had him on his lap and his mother was behind them both. Wulfe placed it back on the floor and began to look around the room again.
Then something sparkled and caught his eye. He bent over and picked up the tiny object. It was his father's ring. It had the family emblem on it; a circle with a howling wolf. Wulfe held it against his chest. This was his only link to his parents, and he wanted to keep it. He carefully put it into one of the many small zipped pockets on his suit and continued his search of the quarters.
Once he was done with his own quarters, he looked around the rest of the station. The memories flooded back to him once more. There was the public bath, the promenade, the stores, the theater. Wulfe smiled as he once again walked the home of himself now long gone. There was a dead Canine floating inside one of the buildings. Wulfe got a closer look and recognized it as the owner of the food store. Wulfe and his buddies had often harassed the owner; but now, with Wulfe seeing him like this, it was different.
Wulfe had seen enough. He slowly made his way back to The Howl Of Canis. He closed the canopy and took off his Zero-G suit. After retrieving the ring from his pocket, Wulfe slid it onto his finger. He spoke quietly to himself," Father. Mother. I swear that I will avenge your deaths. If it takes the rest of my life I will see your murderers suffer!"
Wulfe was now motivated. He flew out of the hanger and punched in the known coordinates of a nearby Venom base. He flexed his fingers and pulled the hyperspace lever.
As soon as he emerged from hyperspace Wulfe set his lasers to recharge and fed energy to his shields. With them backed up with an extra layer of energy Wulfe prepared for his attack. The communicator beeped. Wulfe pressed the `receive' button," We have you on our sensors. Identify yourself."
"You destroyed my planet and killed my parents!" shouted Wulfe," Prepare to die!"
Wulfe hit his accelerator and dived for the base. He armed his missiles and fired salvo after salvo. They impacted and left large holes in the base's superstructure. Fighters began to launch from the small hanger. Wulfe saw them and fired another set of missiles into the hanger. It collapsed, and the six fighters that had managed to launch were left alone, with him!
Wulfe wasted no time in shooting them down, then he hailed the base," Attention scum! I'm going now, but I'll be back in three days. You have that time to get out of here before I blow this whole place back to Venom!"
With that, Wulfe pulled up and headed towards space.
Wulfe made good his threat. After three days he returned and destroyed the remains of the base. But the Venomians were ready for him, and once the base was nothing but a pile of rubble Wulfe found himself surrounded by fighters.
He shot at the main group of fighters, making mental notes of the number of explosions. He checked his sensor window. There were at least thirteen red enemy dots. He adjusted his grip on the flight stick and pulled it hard to the left. His fighter banked smoothly and Wulfe aimed at two bogeys. They exploded. After that he pulled up and flew to four thousand feet, followed closely by the trigger-happy Venomians.
Then Wulfe cut his throttle and dropped straight down, and right through the enemy fighters. He fired as he fell, taking down four of them. They weren't able to turn as quickly and had to circle around. By the time he was in their sights again, they were in his. Two more went down. Wulfe was enjoying himself. Sure it was small potatoes compared to Andross, but this would quench his thirst for the moment.
The battle didn't last much longer than that. The ground was soon pockmarked with many craters created when the half-destroyed fighters hit the ground. Some weren't so lucky and exploded in midair. Nevertheless, Wulfe had made his mark on this Venom outpost. He checked his computer and made his way to the next one. He was hungry again!
The officer in charge of the Venom Air Defense Fleet was worried. Andross had ordered him to stop the rogue pilot who had so far destroyed three important research and military outposts.
"As if the Cornarians weren't enough," said the officer," Now we've got a mercenary on our hands."
"The Cornerians are a bit tougher, but this mercenary can be dealt with easily," said his second-in-command.
"How do you plan to get rid of him?"
"I've hired a mercenary of my own. And she will make short work of him."
The takeoff jets on The Howl Of Canis hissed as the ship rose above the surface of the small moon. Wulfe had hidden there, waiting for the right time to attack. Now he decided that it was a good time. A small freighter, obviously carrying supplies for the Venom base, had just entered the sector and was about to descend through the planet's atmosphere.
Wulfe hit his accelerator and sped towards the planet's surface. He fired a set of missiles at the freighter, as if to say "Get out of here" and then headed towards the base. As Wulfe passed the freighter, he didn't notice a small fighter detach itself from the ship. It was a small Arwing, and picked up speed towards him. Wulfe felt his ship shake as the Arwing's lasers hit his own ship. He looked back and saw his opponent.
"Not today!" said Wulfe.
He turned his ship around to face his antagonist. The other fighter fired a few more shots then dodged out of the way. Wulfe followed. The fighter barrel-rolled then dived for the planet's surface. Wulfe was right behind it. He fired his own lasers and watched as the bogey bounced once as the shots impacted.
The bogey pulled up and did a somersault, which landed it right on Wulfe's tail. Wulfe saw the maneuver and pulled his own ship in a somersault, but could not pull it off as sharply as the Arwing. He could not shake the fighter. Then Wulfe tried a maneuver that he had seen done by a fellow pilot at the Academy. He pulled up a bit then slowed his ship. The trick worked. The faster Arwing flew by, right into Wulfe's sights. Wulfe fired rapidly, scoring each time. The Arwing was almost dead.
Then the pilot came over his communicator," Who do you think you are?"
Wulfe recognized the voice. It was Sakey!
"Hey Sakey, it's me!" shouted Wulfe.
"Wulfe? Hey, how's it going?"
"Not bad. What do you say we land and talk things over, after I nuke this base?"
"Sounds good to me," replied Sakey.
As smoke rose from the pile of rubble that used to be the Venom base, Wulfe and Sakey met each other for the first time in the past two months.
"So, I've heard quite a bit about you," started Sakey.
"Oh really, then why did you try to shoot me down?" asked Wulfe.
"I said that I'd heard about you, but I never said I knew who you were. Some mercenary was attacking Venom bases and I was hired to shoot him down. And here I find you. Out to get revenge for your parents I suppose?" explained Sakey.
"Well, I said I'd help you out, so I will. Got any other bases marked?"
Wulfe looked at her. She just smiled back," Uh yeah," he sputtered," There's a base on Katina, very well defended. I could use some help on this one."
"Good. We'll work our way to Venom and then feed it to Andross!" said Sakey," It'd be worth more than what they were going to pay me!"
The captain of the Venomian cruiser Day Screamer was sipping a drink in his personal quarters when an alarm went off. He looked out the window and saw two fighters approaching. He ran to the opposite wall and punched one of the blue buttons," Commander! Launch the fighters!"
Sakey spotted the fighters as they emerged from the cruiser's hanger," I count eight bogeys."
"There's five more coming up from the base," said Wulfe, looking at his scanner.
"We'd better get cracking then!"
They split up again, as they had done so many times before. Wulfe took the left flank with Sakey on the right. They met the fighters and destroyed two on interception. Wulfe continued towards the base while Sakey held the fighters. Wulfe was able to destroy the three air defense cannons then started firing at the base.
Sakey was having fun. She was glad to be working with Wulfe again, even though she was still a rough and tough mercenary she had at least one true friend in the galaxy. Then an alarm went off inside her cockpit. Another group of ships was coming in. It was a Cornerian fleet! They immediately launched fighters of their own and joined together with Sakey.
"Pilot, identify yourself," ordered the flight leader.
"I'm just a friendly mercenary here to destroy these Venom scum," replied Sakey.
"You must be that pilot who's been giving the Venomians so much trouble?"
"Nope, you just missed him. He's probably got that base wasted by now!"
Wulfe was joined by four Cornerian Arwings, who helped him destroy the base's generator, leaving the base powerless. As soon as the Venom fleet was gone, either destroyed or retreated, the Cornerians landed one of their light cruisers and took control of the base. The officer in charge of the attack, a middle aged Canine Captain named Pepper, thanked Wulfe and Sakey for their help," Is there anything I can do to thank you?"
"No," replied Wulfe," I appreciate the offer, but my only payment will be Andross' head. he killed my parents, and I'm going to make him suffer!"
"I see," said Pepper," Well I'll be sure to call upon your services if I ever need them in the future."
They all shook hands and Wulfe and Sakey moved on to the next target.
In the gas cloud known as Sector Z, the Venomian task force Beta was preparing to attack. They had marshaled their forces and now had a large fleet. Their mission was to cruise into a Cornerian supply convoy and destroy it. With no defensive fighters the convoy would be space dust in a matter of minutes. The captain and crew made sure that there would be no mistakes. Then something went wrong.
Wulfe emerged from hyperspace and launched four of his seven remaining missiles. They hit home and left the lighter armed cruisers crippled. Then came Sakey, with her modified payload bay full of six Nova Bombs, which were reduced to three after her bombing run. This left an even bigger hole in the fleet. Then the two relied on their lasers.
They flew straight through the fleet, dodging laser blasts and firing at everything in their way. When they flew out the other end, they left behind them a heavily damaged fleet of ships. After contacting the Cornerian forces and revealing the location of the fleet, Wulfe and Sakey made their way to the Venom Air Defense Zone; their next target would be Venom!
They decided to stop at a small outpost to reload their warheads and get something to eat, and perhaps rest up as well. Wulfe still had plenty of money from his last job and Sakey was fairly well off as well so the money situation wasn't a problem. After getting separate rooms and eating a filling dinner, they called it a day and turned in for the night.
Wulfe awakened as the sound of someone walking across the floor came to his ears. He sat up and hit the light control. The room was suddenly illuminated and there was Sakey standing in front of him.
"Sakey!" gasped Wulfe," What are you doing here?"
Sakey stood there for a few seconds," Do you have to ask?"
She opened her bathrobe to reveal a very skimpy outfit. Wulfe's eyes grew wide. Sakey reached for him and kissed him. Then while he was distracted she pulled out a knife and cut his throat...
Wulfe's head shot up, sweat running down his face. He threw off the sheets and swung his legs over the side of his bed. He rubbed his face with his hands then got up and went into the small bathroom. After splashing cold water in his face he shook off the wetness and returned to his bedroom. After getting wrapped up in the sheets again he lay there staring at the ceiling. He began to think about Sakey.
She was 22, or at least that's what she had told him, and much too old for him. But he still couldn't get her out of his mind. She was the first female who had actually been his friend, he had never had any experiences like this before, and since his dad was dead he never got the chance to have "The Talk". Nevertheless, he rolled onto his side and went to sleep.
The next day he was awakened as the doorbell ringed. He got up, a bit groggy, and opened the door. It was Sakey.
"You look half dead!" she exclaimed.
"Trust me, I feel worse," groaned Wulfe.
"Mind if I come in?" asked Sakey.
"Sure." Wulfe stood aside as she walked past him, still wearing her bathrobe. Wulfe's ears perked up. The dream! He looked up and down the hallway and then closed the door. Sakey was now sitting in one of the chairs around the table in the center of the room. Wulfe offered her some breakfast, but she had already eaten.
Wulfe called room service and ordered a large breakfast, Sakey was looking at him with a weird look on her face.
"Do you usually eat that much in the morning?" she asked.
"I've been flying for three days straight without food, I think I've earned it. I've got to treat myself sometimes."
Wulfe almost half expected Sakey to say something like," I could treat you to something, Wulfe" but she didn't. Wulfe sighed, both sadly as well as in relief.
The food arrived a few minutes later, and Wulfe wasted no time in "wolfing" it down. After he finished he decided to have a shower. This time, Wulfe asked Sakey to wait for him in her own room. She left without any argument, which made Wulfe feel better. After he was finished he dressed and left the room.
He walked down the hall and pushed the button on the wall beside Sakey's door. She opened it a few seconds later. Wulfe smiled, now cleaner and more presentable. Sakey had gotten dressed as well, and wore her classic outfit with her knives.
They had agreed to take it easy for the next few days before they attacked Venom directly. They visited the various shops, and bought a few small items from a strange old woman that said that they would give them good luck. At this point Wulfe and Sakey were eager to accept anything that would help them on the dangerous mission ahead of them.
After three days, they agreed that they were ready and left the station behind.
The Venom Air Defense Zone was in view. Sakey and Wulfe tensed for the battle ahead of them.
"Yeah?" replied Wulfe.
"I just wanted to say.... it's been a pleasure knowing you. And I hope that if you make it out of this one that you'll have your revenge."
"Thanks, Sakey. It's been a pleasure knowing you too. And thanks for everything."
They were silent for the next few moments.
Then an alarm went off. They had been detected. Holographic projectors immediately shot out hundreds of tiny space mines towards the two incoming ships. Sakey fired two Nova Bombs and cleared a space big enough for them to pass through. Then came the fighters. They were small and lightly armoured, but were also fast and maneuverable. Wulfe had trouble getting one of them in his sights, but the fighter was soon a bright explosion in the center of his crosshairs.
Right behind the fighters came three cruisers. Wulfe first detected them when a high-maneuver missile impacted with his ship. He turned his attention towards the new threat.
"I'm engaging the cruisers, cover me!" said Wulfe.
"I'm on 'em!" replied Sakey.
Wulfe fired a volley of missiles at the cruisers. One of them, a lightly armoured craft, sparked and lost altitude. The other, heavier ships held on. They fired their lasers at Wulfe who allowed his shields to take the brunt of the attack. He succeeded in destroying one of the cruisers and began working on the last one when more fighters arrived.
Sakey had already destroyed the first wave and came to help Wulfe with the next one. The remaining cruiser acted as a firing platform to assist the fighters against the two attackers. Then Wulfe noticed two things: an alarm was going off inside his ship, and the cruiser's fire was being concentrated in another direction. He rotated his ship a few degrees until he could see the group of Cornerian cruisers heading towards them. Arwings soared past him, firing at the Venomian fighters.
Wulfe was glad for the help, but also disappointed. He wanted to either kill Andross himself, or go down in a blaze of glory while trying. Wulfe, with all the fighters too busy to notice him, flew on a direct course with Venom. After entering the planet's atmosphere he ran into trouble. Apparently Andross had his own band of mercenaries. They identified themselves as Coyote Squadron, and that they had been hired by Andross to take him down (you've heard it all before!). Wulfe smiled as the thought of fresh meat crept into his mind. Now here was a real challenge, a group of pilots worthy of his skill.
They were tough to start off, but soon became much tougher. Of course the four-on-one situation made it even more difficult, but it didn't bother Wulfe. His ship had the ability to recharge its shields. With the push of a button, Wulfe could redirect his laser energy to recharge his shields. Unfortunately the other squadron didn't have this nifty little feature. The first fighter went down, the pilot cursing Wulfe as his ship exploded. Wulfe didn't want these punks to walk away from this encounter, so he shot them while they were spinning towards the ground, therefore killing the pilot before he could even have a chance to survive the crash.
The other three were on his back now. Wulfe decided to try one of his missiles on the fighters. It impacted and the fighter's shields dropped to a very low level. Wulfe switched back to lasers and finished him off. Now there were only two left.
"You got lucky!" said the leader.
"I don't believe in luck, but you're going to need it!" replied Wulfe, with a slight growl in his voice.
Wulfe turned his ship around and fired several shots at the lead fighter, but he did a somersault and managed to avoid the powerful energy beams. Wulfe's lip twitched as he followed the second remaining fighter. It took a few hits but managed to pull away as well. Wulfe was getting bored. There were no targets to shoot at, so Wulfe did something about it. He pulled back on his stick and sent his fighter straight through the massive gas cloud that covered all of Venom.
As hoped, the two fighters pursued. Wulfe then cut his engines and dropped right on top of them. He fired a set of missiles point blank and destroyed one of the fighters, and at the same time crashed into and destroyed the other. Wulfe was pretty amazed! He decided to call it "The Lone Wolf Maneuver!!" and kept flying towards Andross' stronghold.
The first thing Wulfe saw was a swarm of Arwings flying around the large fortress that served as Andross' base of operations. There were an equal number of enemy fighters, and explosions appeared at random. Wulfe joined in the fray and soon bagged three kills. Then, to his relief, he was joined by Sakey.
"Come on Wulfe, it's open season on monkeys!" she said.
"Let's lock and load!" shouted Wulfe," Ya-hoooo!"
Wulfe let a rapid, unaimed volley of lasers out that destroyed two fighters and damaged an Arwing.
"Hey, watch it!" shouted the pilot.
"Oops! Sorry," grinned Wulfe. He was letting his excitement get the best of him. He bagged two more kills and watched as more fighters exploded around him. The Cornerians were winning. Andross would soon be sent up the river, and Wulfe was eager to be the one to sink his boat. He stuck around and helped the Cornerians eliminate the rest of the Venomian fighters and then watched as the Cornerian cruisers began to land, and the troops emerged from the hatches. The battle was almost over.
Unfortunately, Andross escaped from a secret hanger and his current location is unknown. But Wulfe has not given up. His life as a mercenary cannot be reversed, so he must hunt Andross during his many adventures. Read about them in the next story, "Bounty: Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut..."