Author's Notes: Finally, I'm free from that torture known as freshman year. Free from all of the ignorant jerks and self-righteous idiots. Free to write and do whatever I feel I need to do without any interruption from so-called "school work".

Disclaimer: Starfox, Starwolf, Andross, and all related characters, locations, and indices are copyright to Nintendo. No copyright infringement intended.

However, Jesika Starwatcher, Terrance Darkspirit, and any other characters you don't recognize are copyright to me. Don't use them without my permission.

Now, without further ado, please enjoy the story.



A Sign of Courage: Part 2

"I always prayed that I'd be something someday. Guess I should've been more specific."




"Dammit!" Wolf O'Donnell cursed as he fell out of bed. He had barely made it to his small barracks when he all but passed out from the alcohol he drank. He was still drowsy from it, his head and stomach hurt, and he was in an overall bad mood.

The commander looked over at his alarm clock. It was 6:30, meaning that breakfast had already started. Wolf lazily got on his uniform and boots, praying that Pigma hadn't eaten all the decent food there was.

Within a few minutes, the leader stumbled into the cafeteria in an uncharacteristic sloppy appearance. He grabbed a hot mug of black coffee and some donuts.

Leon and Pigma were sitting on the other side of the room. Pigma was, of course, wolfing down three plates of waffles and pancakes at an alarming rate. Leon was looking on in a mixture of horror and disgust. Wolf almost smiled at the irony. Andross's head being grossed out by his teammate's eating habits.

He sat down next to the chameleon and the pig and started to eat in silence. That is, until the intercom came on.

"All members of Star Wolf are to report to Emperor Andross immediately!"

The three teammates looked at each other. "Must be about the mission yesterday," Leon muttered in disdain, throwing away the last of his eggs.

Wolf groaned in dread as he remembered the battle yesterday. He had forgotten completely about it.

This was going to be a long day.



* * * * * * * * * * *



Andross smiled at the young girl that was sitting before him. She was bound to a chair and unconscious, but alive, just as he ordered. Her face was somewhat burnt and her clothes had a few small tears where she was dragged, but she was in good condition.

Her captor also stood before him, arms crossed with a smug smile spread across his muzzle. He looked expectantly at the bag of credits that Andross had lying on his desk.

The ape addressed the wolf with an official air. "Well done, Mr. Darkspirit. I commend you for your efforts and bravery in capturing the renegade spy." With that, Andross sat down in his chair and started writing something.

Terrance frowned. "Aren't you going to pay me?"

"Pay you?" the ape asked incredulously.

"Yeah, you moron! Pay me! You said I'd be rewarded for bringing you the kid."

Andross felt his face become red at the young wolf's insult, but he quickly smiled to cover it up. "So you want to be rewarded for your services? Very well."

As if on cue, two burly guards came in and grabbed both of his arms-holding him tightly in between them.

"You're going to be the first one in my grand new army. It is quite an honor, young one. You will help conquer and rule entire galaxies within a few hours."

"I don't wanna be in any of your stupid armies!"

"You don't have a choice," Andross answered back as the guards dragged the struggling boy away.



* * * * * * * * *



Peppy Hare walked into the communications room of the Great Fox, thoroughly exhausted. He hadn't slept a wink last night, worrying about Jesika the whole time and wondering why she hadn't called with any information.

Fox had said that she had told him she would go back to Fortuna, so he sat down and dialed up her number. Five, six, and seven rings, no answer. He frowned in worry and hung up just as Fox walked in.

"Mornin' Pep," the young vulpine yawned.

"Good morning, Fox," the hare replied half-heartedly. Fox frowned at his long-time friend.

"What's the matter? Has Jesika still not called back?"

"No, she hasn't," the hare said soberly.

The young leader put a reassuring hand on his shoulder, "Hey, I'm sure she's just fine, Peppy. She knows how to take care of herself. She's probably still asleep."

"I hope you're right..."



* * * * * * * * *



Jesika stirred slightly in her pained sleep. Questions swarmed through her head as she tried to regain consciousness. Where was she? What happened? Why was she still alive?

The young vixen tried to move, only to find that her paws were bound tightly behind her. A wave of paranoia hit her and she opened her eyes suddenly, cursing the bright lights that blinded her.

She blinked slowly to clear her vision. It was now obvious that she was in an office, tied to a chair and sitting in front of a desk. The vixen pulled and struggled against the ropes tied around her paws until she heard a voice coming from the chair that was turned away from her.

"It seems that our sleeping beauty has awakened..."

She jumped at the voice and said shakily, "Wh-who're you?"

To answer, the chair turned around, revealing none other than Andross. He smiled warmly at the terrified vixen and stood up, walking towards her.

Jesika pressed her ears back against her head instinctively as the emperor grabbed her chin and turned her face from side to side, examining her.

The vixen cringed as he intentionally irritated the burnt side of her face. She jerked her face away and growled lowly, dark eyes narrowing. He laughed.

"My, my. A tough little vixen, aren't we?" Andross said, standing back up and circling her. "We'll just have to give you a little attitude adjustment."

Jesika opened her mouth to reply, but an intercom came on unexpectedly, silencing her. "Emperor Andross," a female voice said, "The Star Wolf team is on their way."



* * * * * * * * *



Wolf stormed down the hall angrily with Pigma and Leon following him in silence. How could my day get any worse? He thought soberly. Out loud he said, "Where's Andrew?"

"Hmm... I don't know," Leon replied. "Maybe he's already with Andross..."

"I doubt it," Pigma interrupted. "He's probably hiding somewhere."

Wolf stopped, "And why would you think that?"

"Oh well... heh... because he kinda said that he was going to tell Andross about what happened last night..."

"What?" Wolf asked suddenly.

"Y'know, about the bar..."

Wolf stood there with his back to his team in silence. After what seemed like an eternity, he spun around and grabbed the pig by his shirt collar.

"Has it never occurred to you that some information might be useful to me?"



* * * * * * * * *


Jesika looked at Andrew, who was in turn staring back at her. Her immaturity got the best of her and she stuck her tongue out at him. He stuck his tongue out at her. She made a stupid face like a monkey. Taking offense to this, he pulled out several strands of her hair and turned around, "Uncle Andross, who's this girl?"

"She's a spy we caught snooping around," Andross answered, his back turned to them.

"Oh really?" the younger ape asked, turning around and patting her on the head. "Can we keep her? She's cute."

Jesika, who was still smiling stupidly, replied, "Can't say the same for you."

Andrew started to reply when Andross interrupted him, "Private Carter, take the prisoner over to that corner. And keep her quiet."

The young husky guard, who couldn't be older than Fox, grabbed onto the back of Jesika's chair and started dragging her over to the corner by the door. The young vixen cringed at the sharp squeaking noise it made, but she didn't say anything.

Once he got her over there, he bent down and whispered, "Don't make any noise or I'll have to gag you, okay?" His voice had a hint of pity in it, but it soon disappeared and he stood, leaning against the wall.

Just then, Wolf, Pigma, and Leon came in the door. Jesika's brown eyes widened at the sight of the pig, a pit forming in her stomach. She stooped down in her chair, a feeble attempt to hide from him. If they found out who she was, she would be in deep.

They didn't look at her, though. Instead, the small team walked up and bowed before Andross. "You requested us, Emperor?" Wolf said reverently.

"O'Donnell, I'd like to talk to you about the battle yesterday with the Star Fox team." Andross started, not an ounce of humor in his voice. "You guaranteed me victory, Wolf. What happened?"

The leader cringed, looking back at his teammates for some backup. "Well, you see..."

Andross listened to the wolf's excuses for several minutes before he interrupted him, "That's enough, Commander. You may leave. I'll decide what to do with you later."

They nodded and turned around to leave. They walked with their heads down, but Pigma glanced up momentarily and stopped, staring at Jesika.

The young vixen continued to look down at the floor as the pig walked over, grabbed her chin, and tilted her head up. He smiled evilly at her. "Well, well. What have we here?"

Jesika jumped in fear, but soon put on some bravado and growled lowly, saying only one word under anyone's earshot but Pigma's. "Traitor!"

The traitor continued to smile at the teenager, "Nice to see you too, Squirt." He then turned around and smiled at Andross. "Emperor, I think I have something that will stop Star Fox in their tracks..."



* * * * * * * * *



Wolf couldn't believe his luck. All this time trying to stop that damned McCloud and his group of idiots, he suddenly had an easy way to do it. Simply tell Fox and Peppy that Venom was holding their precious little vixen and they'd do his every whim.

Of course, to make it extra effective, they had to show Star Fox how she would be treated if they refused. So the first stop was to Leon's "work area."

He looked back at Jesika, who was being tugged along between two large guards. The girl was trying to act brave, but it wasn't working very well. She simply walked with her head and tail drooping, ears pressed to her head.

He then looked over to Leon, who was matching him stride for stride, smiling darkly. It had always sort of terrified Wolf out at the way Leon acted before he went to work, but he never said anything about it.

Pigma and Andrew weren't there. Pigma because he was being both questioned and punished by Andross for not telling him about her sooner. Andrew didn’t come because he was too much of a coward to come. Not that Wolf could really blame him. He himself usually stayed as far away as possible.

"We're here!" Leon said pleasantly, breaking the silence. The lizard slid a card through the lock and it opened obediently with a hiss.

It was a damp, dank room with numerous shackles and manacles lining the walls. There were also numerous devices scattered around. Some were recognizable, some were things it was almost impossible to determine their use. All were designed for one purpose-to inflict pain.

Wolf heard a whimper behind him. He turned to see the young prisoner lose the last bit of bravado she had and started struggling desperately. She no longer looked like a prisoner of war nor a mercenary spy. She looked like the terrified teenage girl that she was.

"No! Please! I-I don't know nothin'!" she said in fear, eyes wide.

"Too bad for you," Leon said cruelly, approaching her.



* * * * * * * * *



Terrance Darkspirit sat in his cell sullenly. He couldn't believe it. That stupid monkey had thrown him in jail after he had brought him the brat.

I'll get him back for that one! he thought.

A noise came from down the hall as two guards came down and stood in front of the cell door and opened it, dragging him out.



* * * * * * * * *



Jesika looked down at her feet as she sat in her cell. The world had just painfully returned to her a few minutes ago after nearly five hours of "preparation." She was almost glad there wasn't a mirror in there. She knew that she didn't want to see what she looked like right now.

She no longer had the Venomian uniform that she had stolen. It had been replaced with a too large tattered gray POW jacket and pants that had dried blood on it.

She reached under the jacket collar and felt the small necklace she always wore. The one her "father" had given to her on her fifteenth birthday. It was a symbol of protection.

Some good it's done...

She looked up and down the hall. All of the cells looked like hers. Cold, dark, and damp with green electric bars. They were all empty except hers.

The young vixen looked up. There was a ventilation shaft on the ceiling. Only problem was that there wasn't a way in.

She sighed and pulled off the bandanna she was wearing, a bit surprised to find it, and gently wrapped an open cut on her left arm that was bleeding freely.

Suddenly, the silence was broken as a door at the end of the hall opened to reveal Wolf and Pigma. Jesika jumped back and flattened her ears against her head, growling as they came to her cell and stopped, smiling at her.

"Wow! I love what Leon did with her!" Pigma exclaimed, delighted.

"Shut up, Stupid," Jesika growled back at him, only making him laugh harder.

Wolf pulled out a card and slid it through the slot, deactivating the bars and walking in.

The arctic fox, seeing a small opportunity, tried to jump to her feet but immediately fell back to the ground in pain, clutching her right ankle. She looked up to find Wolf smiling down at her.

"We had to, well, do a little operation on your tendon. Let's just say you will want to stay off it if you ever want to walk again," he said casually, grabbing her arm and jerking her forward. "C'mon. It's time to make a little call."



* * * * * * * * *



Fox McCloud was sitting down at a table, studying some documents that were lying before him. Simple stuff like battle plans that had been stolen from Venom, a schedule for attacks, and anything else that could possibly be useful. They were going to Katina today, having heard that there was going to be an attack on the base today.

The young leader was quite excited about going. It was most likely going to be quite easy and he would get to see Bill, his best friend. They hadn't seen each other since graduation.

Fox looked up to see Peppy walk in and sit down across from him. The hare hadn't been able to calm down the whole day. His worry was beginning to become contagious, as Fox shifted nervously in his seat.

"Any word from her?" the leader asked.

"Not yet," came the sullen reply.

McCloud nodded slowly.

The silence was broken by ROB's voice coming over the intercom. "Fox, Peppy, there's a call coming in for you."

They looked up simultaneously. "From who?" Peppy asked.

ROB replied, "The sensors indicate it's from Venom."

The two teammates looked at each other in shock, neither wanting to voice their fears about just what the call was about. Fox jumped up and ran over to a vid-phone with Peppy after him, activating it.

Wolf O'Donnell appeared on screen, holding a bound and gagged Jesika in front of him. The vixen was obviously scared and in excruciating pain, with burns, cuts, and lacerations all over her face and body. Her eyes widened at the sight of her adoptive father and her friend. She tried to say something, but it was muffled.

In front of him was Andross, talking into the screen.

"Missing someone?" Andross asked, laughing much to the two's anger.

"You son of a..." Fox began.

The captor silenced Fox with a jerk against Jesika's neck, choking her temporarily. "Now, now. Try to control your temper, McCloud. You're in no position to be making insults.

"Listen up. Here's how this is going to work. For every pilot of ours you shoot down, the more the girl will be tortured. If you kill one of Venom's lieutenants, she won't get to eat. And if you dare fly into Venom airspace, she will die a death more painful than you can imagine.

"Now, I'm not heartless. If you do as I say, her condition will improve. She will be moved to a comfortable cell and get to eat something besides bread and water. But until this happens, things won't change."

Peppy got a bit closer to the screen. "Let me talk to her, Andross. Please!"

The ape chuckled and nodded towards Wolf, who took the gag out of her mouth.

"Dad, I-I'm sorry," Jesika managed to whisper just as Wolf clamped his paw over her mouth again.

"That's enough," he whispered into her ear.

"Do we have a deal?" Andross asked.

Fox looked over at Peppy, who nodded, his face creased with worry.

"Good!" the emperor said. "And remember the conditions, McCloud. Goodbye."

The transmission ended.



* * * * * * * * * *



Jesika continued looking at the screen long after the transmission ended. What had she done? What had she gotten herself into?

She felt Wolf jerk her over to the side, holding her in front of Andross. He let her go, allowing her to fall to the ground in front of the emperor.

The ape smiled and grabbed her chin. "Now then, let's see just how good of a job Leon did on you."

He tilted her head from side to side, and then stopped suddenly, staring at her. He pulled on her chin until she stood up on one leg.

"What the..." he mumbled.

"Sir? Is something wrong?" Wolf asked, grabbing onto Jesika to balance her.

Andross shook his head and slowly smiled. "Leave her here, Wolf. I'd like to speak with our young guest in private."



* * * * * * * * * *



Peppy dodged in and out of the enemy fighters, not wanting to fire on any of them. He bit his lip. Unless they did something to take them down, there was no way that the Husky and Bulldog Squadron could take care of it for themselves.

He looked over at Slippy and Falco. They carried on and shot down the enemy fighters as if nothing was wrong. Although sympathetic, they both had said that losing one life was better then losing thousands. Of course, they were right. The hare still couldn't bring himself to put Jesika through any more pain.

Fox wasn't faring much better. He only shot down bogeys if they were putting an ally in immediate danger. This made him so nervous that he had shot down many Cornerians already, fortunately not killing any.

"Peppy!" a voice came through his com, startling him. "It's Bill. Are you alright?"

"Yeah, I'm okay," he lied.

"Well shoot someone down. We need all the help we can get right now."



* * * * * * * * * *



Jesika was leaning against a wall, chained up to it to keep her still. Andross was smiling at her, pacing back and forth in front of her. He seemed to keep looking at her birthmark as if it was something sacred, which made the vixen only feel more uncomfortable.

"What do you want?" she asked finally, the silence getting to her.

He stopped pacing and walked up to her, bending over and then looking into her eyes, studying them. He broke into a chuckle. "Aww... little Jesika. You have no idea how powerful you are, do you?"

Surprised by this, she replied, "Powerful?"

Standing back up, the ape nodded, "Yes, powerful. You have the Sign of Courage on your forehead. It symbolizes all the power you possess as one of the Senshi."

She blinked, "What?"

The emperor sighed, "You're not too bright, are you?"

Jesika smiled and shook her head.

"Fine then. Around fifteen, sixteen years ago, I was told that a child was born at a base on Fortuna. She was said to be one of the Bushido Senshi because she had a star on her forehead." He paused for a second to let it sink in.

"Now this child could be quite dangerous to me if she fulfilled this little legendary prophecy. So I sent my pilots to kill her and make it look like a random test." He paused again to look at the girl's horrible recognition of the tale.

"Most people, the lucky ones, were killed on the impact of the bombs. I had figured you were as well because that's what your parents told me.

"Yes, your parents were one of the unfortunate few that lived. They didn't for long, however. Your mother died of pneumonia a few days after she got here. Her death was painless enough, I suppose.

"Your father, however, lived for months after his capture working in the mines on Macbeth. He died from the exposure to radiation. A quite retched way to die; covered with chemical burns. Wouldn't you say?"

He grabbed her left ear, rubbing along the side of it and feeling the barely visible scar she had gotten as a child in the attack. "You see, girl, all of those people died because of you. Your parents, the children that would’ve been your playmates, they're all gone. And it's all because of you..."



* * * * * * * * *



"The core is exposed. Stand by for attack," Bill announced as Fox flew toward the core, aiming a bomb carefully. Thoughts swarmed through his head, waging war against each other. If he shot, he'd be pretty much torturing his friend himself. If he didn't, then it would destroy the base and all the people in it would die.

Shoot, it's not worth it.

Don't shoot; you couldn't live with yourself.


Don't shoot...

Suddenly, two arwings swerved in front of him. It was Slippy and Falco. They started shooting wildly at the core, knowing that their leader couldn't do it. It worked. The core buckled in and the ship started falling towards the ground, just away from the base.

Their actions weren't without consequences, though. Slippy's ship was too badly damaged to make it out from under the ship in time. The edge of it clipped his wing, sending him spiraling down to the ground below.

"Slippy!" Fox yelled.



* * * * * * * *



Author's Notes: I've decided to split this part into two parts. I'm going on vacation tomorrow so I won't be able to work on it, so that's why. So this is another "To Be Continued." Sorry. :-(