Chapter One

 “Torture is very overrated.  Yes, you suffer in those tortures, but what about that happy feeling of relief you get when it’s over, if you lived through it?”

         --Leon Powalski, Starwolf

 Bill Grey, Commander of the Corneria Military and Grand Admiral of the Katina Military, had a hard time of adjusting his new life.  It has been three months since his hell with Leon in the underground prison of the Venom Base, and still he was utterly depressed and paranoid at times.  Plastic surgery had made him look completely normal, but his mind still bear the many scars from that torture, and it turned worse as days progressed on.  He spent the first month of “recovery” in bed, and he would get so violent when sleeping that he had to be tied down by doctors since he swings wildly during those nightmares.  His screams disturbed the other hospital patients, so he was quickly sent to a less populated floor.
 When he came home, he still wasn’t ready yet to work, and had several visits to therapy, but those didn’t help.  When he finally went back to the Katina Base to work, his fellow employees helped by doing most of the work for him, but his stress made him a depressing sight, and insomnia, temper outbursts, and Leon showing up in daydreams didn’t help him all that much.  He quickly became a pain to work with.
 One summer day at home, Bill received a letter from his cousin that lives in Fortuna as a research scientist.  It seems that Roverans missed him, and wanted him to come to visit when he’s on leave from military duty.  He was already vacationing at the time, so Bill quickly packed up his bags and caught the first transporter to Fortuna.
 Roverans met his famous relative outside a small airport near the only base of the frozen planet.  He was a little taller than Bill, and was wearing a thick coat to keep him warm.  There was no blizzard going on at the time, but it was still very cold.  The sky was cloudy but not threatening of sleet storms and hail, and there was just a slight breeze of wind.  The dalmatian had a cheery look on his young face, but he still knew what Bill had gone through on that terrible week in the Venom underground.
 He shook paws with Bill.  “Greeting, Bill.  How are you faring?”
 The dog just shook his head.  “I don’t know, Roverans.  I guess I should be thankful that I’m alive, but there are times when my nightmares are so horrible, that...”
 “Let’s not talk about that now.  Despite my coat, I’m still cold here.”
 Bill looked around, feeling the weather.  “What?  In comparison of the storms here, this is tropical Fortuna weather right now!”
 Roverans made a short chuckle.  “Tropical.  That’s one climate I wish to go to anytime.  Are you hungry?  There’s a restaurant inside the Base.”
 “It’s not the Saloon here, isn’t it?  I heard that’s a rowdy place.”
 “Believe me, it is.  No, this one a bit far off.  We got an hour before the passenger trans car get here so that we could get to my home, so we’ll be here for a while.”
 Bill nodded.  He was hungry anyway.  There were times when the illusions of Leon would spoil his appetite though.

Chapter Two

 “Some say that only God is perfect in this whole universe.  If that’s the truth, then how can it be that I exist?”

         --Wolf O’Donnell, Starwolf

 The restaurant in the Fortuna Base was a small rectangular-sized room that has only fifteen tables and a small bar that serves only coffee and soda, no alcohol.  A door leading to the kitchen in the back had a stripe-imprint on it, as well as the blue lamps on the four corners of the place, giving the restaurant a bluish tint of light.  Unlike the noisy Saloon on the other side of the Base, this place was quiet, with only a few customers wearing suits.  Even the waiters were snobbish, and tip was high there also.  Still, Roverans goes to this place often, because he enjoyed the peace and quiet, and thanks to his high salary, has the money to afford to eat there too.  Bill and Roverans Naroman sat at one of the tables closest to the kitchen, and they could hear the sizzling sounds of frying food.
 The dalmatian sipped his black coffee and then sputtered a bit, politely though.
 “What’s wrong, Roverans?”
 “Ah, it’s the coffee.  I usually like it, but today it is strong.  Too strong, I think.  Let me check,” the scientist said and put a knife into the coffee mug, and let go of it.  The knife slowly leaned to one side of the mug.  “Yep, it’s strong alright.  I’ll tell the waiter when he comes.”
 Bill silently laughed, and shook his head.  “Remember Old Fernam, the one who lived in a lonely house in Daranba Hills?”
 “You mean the one with the eagle-head walking cane that amazed us when we were pups?  Oh yeah.”
 “I remember once when I was just five, and the day before I forgot my jacket there, so I went back to his house the next morning.  He invited me in for tea, but he had coffee, and had dunked about eight spoonfuls of grounded coffee beans to his mug.  Disgusting!  That’s why I never had coffee before.”
 Roverans laughed, and nodded his head.  “He was a great cat, but his eating habits was something else.  What was it he had with his sardines?”
 “Don’t remind me, but he has red hot chili and orange juice mixed together with the sardines.”
 Roverans squirmed, and so did Bill.  “How is life here in this cold planet?”
 The dalmatian shrugged.  “Oh, it has the ups and downs.  I liked my work, the pays good, and I get all the peace and quiet, since I live with only five other people like me that wanted peace also.  However, one time I was walking in the snow for a long time and I suffered frostbite.  Surgery healed it, but I’m afraid of it now.”
 The waiter came and gave Bill a plate of catsmeal delight, and Roverans a plate of tornba crab.  They both dug in soon after the waiter left.
 “So, I heard that the Venom forces had pulled out of Herot Base.  What happened there?”
 “General Pepper had counter-attacked the Venom forces, and regained the base.  I think Venom had taken over that base to get to me.  Maybe that’s why I was tortured.”
 “Have you made any progress with your recovery?”
 “Oh I don’t think so.  That bastard Leon shows up in my mind now and then, either with that electronic shocker or miniature table saw.  Some people told me that it’s best if I try to forget it, but how can you forget something this hideous?”
 “There are some memory potions that could do it easily.”
 To Roverans’ shock, Bill refused.  “No, now that I have thought of that, I don’t think it’ll be good if I use such measures.  That would make Leon think he had won, and I won’t give up and allow him to get away with what he did to me.  Either death in fire and smoke, or by the bang of the judge’s gavel, he must be punished.  I will go through the nightmares, the illusions, and memories all for the rest of my life, so help me God.  I hope you understand, Roverans.”
 “Of course.  How’s the delight?”
 Bill looked at the orange-colored slop-style meal on his plate.  “Well, it’s okay, I guess.”
 “You better like it,” his cousin said jokingly.  “That costs 15.50.”

Chapter Three

 “To me, everyone has a purpose in life.  Every soldier that serves me exists because they obey me and die for my beliefs and greed.  Everyone that dares to oppose me have a purpose in life too, as slaves under my Empire and to die as a lesson for natives of other galaxies.”

         --Andross, Venom Emperor

 Bill and Roverans went aboard the hovering car that would transport them to a research post fifty miles north of the Base.  It was named by a serial number, 89674, but Roverans called it Salisa, named after his sister that died when only days old.  Salisa had seven small buildings and one large building in a snowy field with hills surrounding it.  Roverans’s home was at the edge of the road, but he never complained because traffic was low.  It has gray steel walls, with snow covering the funnel-shaped roof, and a frosted window.  There were five other buildings of the same design in a single file formation; the homes of the other scientists.  One other building of the same size serves as a storage area and that one lies a few yards away from the biggest building, called “Command” by the residents.
 It was surprisingly warm inside Roverans’s one-storied house.  Bill took off his heavy coat and hung it in a closet near the door, and sat on a red couch in the “living room”.  There was no television, and only a computer to be used as a telephone, no pictures hung on the wall, a huge fireplace, a small bathroom on the far side of the house, and a kitchen that has a small table with two small metal chairs.  On another room was a bed and a sleeping bag for a guest.
 “I know it’s a boring place to live, but here, it’s work, work, work unless in off duty days, which are rare.  This is my first day off in several months, and tomorrow, it’s back to the salt mine for me, if you know what I mean.”
 Bill agreed.  “I go through the same busy schedule like yours.  Some old veterans may think that all I do is fly, surf, and relax.  Being an officer at wartime is very tough.  It’s paperwork, fulfilling the demands of my lower officers, attending meetings with Pepper in Corneria, and risk my life in aerial dogfights.  And yes, I do fly, surf, and relax, at times.  How long have you been working here, anyway?”
 “Four years, Bill.  Been here ever since I graduated from the Macbeth Technological Institute, at high honors.  When this stinking war is over, our research progress to make this frozen hell on Fortuna a suitable colony planet will be on the motion again.”
 “The war stopped your progress?”
 “Delayed partly, Bill.  We still do our work like always, but we haven’t been funded as well as before.  The Corneria Ruling Council thinks weapons and fighter jets are more important than science and chemicals.”
 “Oh of course,” Bill replied, showing his support for the military.  “After all, we need a defense, and I don’t think Andross will care of your research if he takes over.  That reminds me, have this place ever been under alert of an invasion?”
 “Well, I know this is scary, but we have no alarm system in Salisa.  We don’t have weapons, force fields, or any means of defense.  It would take twelve minutes for a squadron from the Base to come here, and the military can warn us of an attack, but what if we were sleeping, and can’t here the computer phone ringing?  We’re just not all that valuable enough for Venom to take, so Corneria decided to save the money by putting up defenses here.  Thankfully, Venom never bothered to fiddle with us even when they occupied Fortuna for a time, so we were never attacked.”
 “So you were never worried?”
 “Oh yes, of course.  We may not have anything that Venom really wants, but who knows?  Maybe Andross will be bored and wants some destruction, or something like that.  Still, I try to get through life day by day, as boring as it may be, and things often go uneventful, but I think that’s okay with me.  Well, it’s getting dark.  My sleeping bag is quite warm even in the night.”
 Just then, as if in cue, Bill yawned.  “Yeah, I’m getting sleepy.  I’ll unpack first and change my clothes and go to sleep.  It has been a restless couple of months.”
 As Roverans slept soundly on his comfy bed, Bill slept inside his green thick sleeping bag in the living room, tossing and turning as always.  He was having one of those nightmares, again.
 “No!  Stop it, please!”  Bill screamed for mercy as Leon opened another wound on his arm in the second day of that week of hell in the Venom dungeons.  The exhausted dog prisoner panted heavily and painfully, and Leon was enjoying every moment of this.
 The evil chameleon stepped back and put away his knife, the weapon dripping red liquid.  He stared at Bill, his yellow eyes beady and dangerous, and the muscles at his mouth curled back into a devilish grin.  “Okay, for this minute.  I need to wipe your blood off my face anyway.”  He then grabbed an already bloody handkerchief and rubbed his face clean.  Once finished, he picked up that dastardly shock phaser, and the hum was sickening to Bill’s ears.
 “You’re really enjoying this, are you, Leon?”  Bill managed to say with a fast-paced heart.  “However, do you actually think that you will live to cherish this cursed event?  Once Fox finds out, he’ll-”
 “Shoot me down, right?  He never shot me down before, and he never will.”
 “What about that battle in Fortuna?”
 Bill screamed as shock waves entered his brain as Leon stuck the phaser into his chest, where it hurts the most for some reason.  Leon’s face neared to Bill’s scarred face, snarling.  “It was that idiot Falco Lombardi that did the impossible.  He was lucky, but he won’t this time!  I wasn’t fully in concentration, and I was having a bad day.  I’ll bet today will be a day you’ll want to forget, eh Bill?”
 More shock waves entered Bill’s brain, and he let out another scream, but also spat at Leon’s face.  Leon stumbled back, wiping his face madly.  He growled, then smiled.  “Oh, that was a mistake, Bill.”
 Bill shook his head when he saw Leon reach for the palm-sized table saw.  Just then, he awoke from the nightmare in Roverans’s living room, all quiet except for the wind howling outside.
 After so many disturbed nights, Bill had finally cracked.  With a burst of uncontrolled anger, he roughly unzipped his sleeping bag and stood up quickly, his fists hurting the palm of his paws.  He grumbled loudly, and reached for the door and burst outside.
 Fortuna was legendary for it’s coldness, but that was during the daytime weather.  At night, especially with heavy winds and snowstorms, it becomes deadly.  However, when Bill got out wearing only his sleeping clothes, he didn’t even feel a chill.  As the snowflakes blasted upon his face, he ran a couple yards on the snow, and knelt, his angry face towards the sky.  He hurled his fists above his head, and felt no pain as his fingernails dug into the palm of his paws.  He was too angry to feel pain, or any cold for that matter.
 “Leon Powalski!!!!!  Curse you and all the pukes that you call comrades!”  He yelled, drowning out the howling of wind.  “There will be a day when we meet face to face, either in our jets or any other means, and I will see to it that you suffer the consequences!  Let’s see if you could meet me soldier to soldier, and not using your precious objects of torture, and we’ll see who’s the best!  You are a coward, Leon!  Without your weapons, and all that’s left of you is your rotting and ugly flesh and bone, and your maniacal mind, you yellow-bellied, tongue-flicking, no-good, bastard!  I will get you, Leon!  Just wait and see!!!!!”
 He then laughed like an insane dog, ignoring the blizzard all around him.

Chapter Four
 “Power only breeds war.”
         --Slippy Toad, Starfox

 Bill woke up late the next morning.  Roverans must have already left for work because he was nowhere to be found in his home.  Everything was quiet, and serene.  Even the wind outside had died down.  He got up from his sleeping bag, shivering now from the effects of his insane oath last night.  Immediately, he went over to the kitchen and poured some hot tea and sat by the table alongside a report of Roverans’s work of the day.  He tried to read it, but it was too scientific for him to understand, so he left it alone and nursed his tea alone.
 Halfway finished with his tea, he heard a series of yelling outside.  He was a bit suspicious, but dismissed those as commands between scientists.  He took stock of the kitchen.  Despite not having a television or even a stereo, Roverans had high-tech kitchenware, and since Bill knew Roverans had straight A’s in home economics courses in high school, this doesn’t surprise him one bit.  The oven was steel-framed and capable of cooking up to 1000 degrees, for some strange reason.  Maybe I’ll use this oven to cook a certain chameleon, and make him feel what I did for one terrible week.  The fridge was voice sensitive, for people too lazy to open the door themselves, complete with a two-pound ice maker.  The stove top is gas-burning, and there were many cupboards and shelves with spices.  If Roverans failed to be a scientist, then certainly he would be a great chef.
 Once again, he heard faint yelling, and then silence.  Curious, Bill went to the living room and looked out the window.  What he saw was totally unexpected.  Outside, all six scientists, including Roverans, were kneeling on the snow, shivering, in a single file line with their paws behind their backs.  They faced one direction, towards the house Bill was in, and a lizard carrying a laser machine gun pacing back and forth, his weapon aiming at the prisoners.  Three other lizards in Venomian uniforms were standing near two transporters and two Invader-class jets.  They were joking and laughing, obviously pleased with capturing six innocent, unarmed scientists.  Bill looked at his cousin, and Roverans for a moment saw him.  When their eyes met, Bill could see the fear on the dalmatian’s eyes.
 Bill couldn’t take it anymore.  He rushed to his suitcase and pulled out a phaser and set it to level 3.  He wanted those lizards killed, and who cares why they decided to attack this harmless place?  With the chill of the phaser’s metal cooling his paw, Bill waited by the door, for the right moment to attack when he’s prepared and focused.  Several moments later, he opened the door quickly and burst out yelling his battle scream.
 One of the lizards by the jets was immediately killed by Bill’s first shot.  The machine-gun carrying lizard aimed at him to fire, but one of the scientists grabbed the gun and stalled the lizard long enough for Bill to make an accurate shot at his chest, killing him as well.  One of the remaining two lizards frantically reached for his phaser, while the other desperately ran at Bill, hoping he would be fast enough to stop him.  He wasn’t, and the lizard stumbled forward into the snow with a smoking hole on his head.  Bill aimed for the last lizard, but his opponent had already fired, and the laser luckily struck only Bill’s phaser.  The dog screamed as the laser burned his paw, and dropped his weapon.  He knew he had lost.
 “Stay right there, you mutt!”  The lizard angrily yelled and walked over to him and picked up Bill’s phaser.  “All of you get inside the closest transporter, now!”
 The scientists and Bill rushed into the transporter, and once inside, the lizard clasped them into the walls of the small ship, forcing them in a sitting position, unable to move their paws.  He then hurriedly closed the door, and went over to his pilot’s chair, and left the science outpost, leaving behind the two Invader jets, the other transporters, and the still smoking bodies of his fallen comrades.  Just minutes later, several Fortuna jets had reached the abandoned outpost, their culprit already far away.

 A few minutes later, General Pepper, the leader of the Cornerian Military, received a desperate message from one of the captains in Fortuna.  He already heard about the incident, but this was the first time he would get news of the result.
 “General Pepper, sir!  We were too late,” was the captain’s first words.
 The hound grumbled.  “Why in the world would Andross want a couple of our scientists?”
 “It’s not confirmed, sir, but in my opinion, Andross might want their intelligence to work for him.  That may not be it, but it sounds possible.”
 “Any casualties?”
 “Three sir, all lizards of Venom.  All the scientists are gone, but the remaining soldier had left behind a transporter and two Invader-class jets.  There’s another possible hostage sir, unfortunately.  Commander Grey was here, according to the Fortuna airport logs.  He might be the one who killed the lizards, because scientists here are not allowed to carry weapons.”
 Pepper shook his head in disbelief.  “Damn it.  Is that all?”
 “At the moment, sir.”
 “Good.  Keep me informed.  Pepper out,” he said and the screen went blank in the Corneria Command Center.  He mentioned to one of the console officers.  “Where is Starfox?”
 The leopard looked his screen and replied, “All four of them are currently on their way to Zoness, sir.”
 “Hail them and tell Fox about the news.  I’m very, very sure he would take his team to rescue his friend Bill at the first moment.”

Chapter Five

 “Corneria is scum.  They dare to face Andross and for that, they deserve to be destroyed.”

         --Andrew Olkonney, Starwolf

 Captured again.  Just my luck.
 Bill sat silently along with the other scientists, the lizard on the other side of the wall flying towards Venom or wherever he wished.  There were no windows, so they had no idea where they’re at.  He tried to break free of the clamps that held him, but no avail.  He quit struggling, and shook his head.  Roverans was on the opposite wall, alongside a tiger, a gray fox, and an otter, all wearing their white robes, and all of their faces showed depression.  Bill sat between a hamster and a jackal, showing the same moods.
 The hamster, Dr. Francis, let out a sigh of disgust.  He twitched his nose, moving the whiskers angrily.  “If only if we were allowed to have weapons with us for self-defense!  We would have been able to fight off those creeps!”
 “Weapons are outlawed in Salisa for a reason, and you know it,” replied the tiger.  “We were never trained in using the skill of gun handling, and besides, how can we do against professional soldiers?”
 “We would have been shot and killed,” said Roverans.  “How’s your paw, Bill?”
 Bill shrugged.  “Oh, It’s fine, if only if I could move them at all.  Those clamps are so tight that I think my paws are numb.”
 “How long does it usually take to get to Venom from Fortuna?”
 “At transporter speed, about seven hours.  I think two hours had passed now.”
 The group no longer had the will to talk, so everything was silent.  Another hour went by, and Bill silently went to sleep, awaiting his fate in Venom, or in some Venom-controlled outpost or planet.  Once again, his nightmares crept into his mind.
 It was shivering cold in that damp cell at the most bottom of floors in the Venom dungeons.  The dripping at the other side of his cell constantly irritated him, and he kept an eye on that spider on the above corner of the cell, and ears listening to the sounds of footsteps.  His newest wound on his leg was painful as usual, and because it was a deep gash, it was still bleeding overnight, and Bill worried of infection.
 He heard Leon coming to his cell, and he cowered in fear.  No more, please.  No more!
 The green-scaled chameleon smiled as he came inside the cell, carrying his dreaded suitcase of torture objects.  “Well, this might be the last day.  Wolf could be coming tomorrow, or maybe I would not be finished yet and continue this on.  It depends on your luck.  You know what to do.”
 Bill grunted with disgust and positioned himself on the wall.  During the first two days, he struggled to get himself tied to the wall, but now, he had gone too depressed.  Leon easily clasped him on the wall with the tight pawcuffs.  Leon put his suitcase on the bench, and opened it.  However, Bill saw a new item in it; a phaser type object with a long needle stuck out on the front.  It had buttons and blinking lights.  Leon picked it up like it was a sacred object to him.
 “Ah, you should thank yourself, Bill.  I have saved the best for the last!  This is my only invention, and I call it the Brain Mess.  Good name, isn’t it?  Even the name tells the victim what it does to him or her; specifically your brain.”
 “Amuse me, Leon.  It’s boring sitting here.”
 “Alright.  What this does is it sends waves to your brain and warps your good memories and turn them into your worst ones.  If this doesn’t drive you insane, I don’t know what will!”  He then laughed, throwing back his head.  He then stared at Bill with his cold, yellow eyes.  “Now, stay still as I position this needle near your right eye.  If you move even your pupil, then the waves being sent to your brain will hurt you,....real bad.  Stay still, and you won’t even feel them.  Okay?”
 Leon held the device near to Bill’s eye, the needle just barely touching the eyeball.  The needle sent several blue lights of some kind into his eye, and though it didn’t hurt, it partly blinded him.  After several moments, Leon put away the Brain Mess device.  “That’s it for now.  The waves will do the rest of the job for me.  Ta-ta!”
 Bill was left alone, to the mercy of the brain waves.  The effects came almost an hour later.  His first sudden memory was his kind mother, smiling as she was stirred a deliciously smelling stew in the kitchen of his puphood home long ago.  Bill was just five years old.
 “What’s in the stew, Mother?”  He said, anxious with curiosity.
 Without saying anything, his mother dipped in a large spoon, and pulled the liquid out for Bill to see.  It dripped of red, and there were several lumps on it.  With a cheery voice, his mother said, “Why it’s your blood dear, with a brain added here and there.”
 Another flashback came suddenly.  Roverans and Bill, both ten years old, were running and frolicking in a long grass field somewhere in Corneria.  The young dalmatian pup found a red, sharp rock on the ground and picked it up.  Bill came up next to him to take a closer look.
 “Looks neat, doesn’t it?”  Roverans said, admiring the rock.
 “Yeah.  What do you want to do with it?”
 Roverans looked at him, his eyes unnaturally evil.  “THIS!!”
 And with that, his cousin stabbed the sharp rock on Bill’s eye.  There was a rather graphic scene of Bill’s eye bleeding, Roverans laughing with glee.
 Flashback again.  Bill was an adult now, and graduating with honors from the Academy.  It was graduation day, and Bill had just received his diploma and met his best friend Fox after the ceremony.
 “We finally did it!  We got through!”
 Fox was sullen, which was a feeling that he wasn’t known to feel.  “Yeah,...we made it.”
 “What’s wrong Fox?”
 “Nothing.  Nothing’s wrong.  Or maybe, it’s you.”
 “What?”  Bill exclaimed, his eyes filled with shock.
 “I’m jealous.  You are already destined to be a Captain in Katina, while I will just be a mercenary.”
 “That was your choice, Fox.  I didn’t ask for the job.  It was Pepper who gave it me, and I just accepted it.”
 “Yeah, sure.  You might have begged for that stinking job.  I hate you, Bill.”
 “Fox!  What’s the matter with you!?”
    “I’m sorry, but I have to do this.”  Fox then did something that he never did in reality: he punched his best friend in the face.

 Like a gauntlet of terror, yet another memory burst in.  He was the Commander of the Katina Military for the third month now, and was anxious to await the very first battle against Venom.  He was flying around in his Bulldog class jet when Fox’s picture was shown on the comlink screen.  Fox looked horrible, and was flinching like he was in battle.
 “Fox!  What’s happening?”
 A flash appeared on the screen.  Fox must have been hit by a laser.  “Bill!  Venom fleas had ambushed me and my team!  We’re losing here!  My shields are almost down!  Falco’s killed, and so is Slippy!  Peppy is almost gone, and the Great Fox is destroyed!  Help me, help me!!”
 “Where are you, Fox?  Where are you!?”
 “I’m in near Zoness!  Help me, Bill!”
 “But I’m too far away!  I’m in Katina, and it’ll be too late-”
 Fox’s burning eyes stopped Bill’s sentence short.  “You won’t help me, Bill?  Curse you!  Aaaaaahhhh!!!!”
 The screen went static, and all contact was gone.  “Fox!  Fox!  Nooooo!!!”

 Bill awoke, reality engulfing him.  Dr. Francis, the hamster, was nudging him on the shoulder.  “Sir, we landed somewhere.”
 The large back door opened, and the same lizard that captured them came up to his hostages and released them from the transporter’s walls, but they were still pawcuffed.  “Welcome to Macbeth, losers!”  He said in a mock greeting.  “You will be staying at a dungeon under Crena Base, and you will have no room service, no television, no phone, no contact with the outside world, and no life after two days!  Ha, ha, ha, ha!”
 The seven hostages were forced out, and they took stock of their new home for now.  Crena Base had a upside-down bowl look to it, with the dome having a bluish-tint and sparkling under the sun.  All around the Base were landing strips and parked fleas of many kinds in the hundreds.  Escorted by three armed lizards, the hostages were sent two floors down into the only prison floor of the Base, or dungeon.  The prisoners were thrown into their cells in pairs, and Bill was stuck with Dr. Francis.  The cell was larger than the one Bill was in for a week several months ago, and was completely dry and full lighted.  However, unlike the steel rods, the door for this one was a metal black door with a small window, and living in this cell was like being in a very small house.  There was a bunk bed, but the mattresses were not comfy at all, and there was a metal bench which the depressed hamster immediately sat on when the door closed, shutting them in.  Bill was too desperate, and he pounded on the door with his fists, shouting Roverans’s name into echoes.
 “Forget it, Bill.  That door is double-plated steel.  I don’t think your cousin can hear you from here,” the hamster said.  He took off his white robe and threw it in a corner.  With a sigh, he laid his orange and white furred body on the bench, while Bill sat on the bottom mattress.  He covered his eyes with his paws mournfully.
 “Don’t worry Bill.  Starfox will come here and rescue us.  Their Great Fox ship has a good scanning device, and they will know we are here.”
 “How did you know about that?”
 “I’m a good friend of Beltino Toad, sir.  He helped design that majestic ship for James McCloud, you know.  I met Slippy before, though briefly.  Just two weeks ago, I received a letter from him.  Fox is still paying the bills for the Great Fox.  Poor guy.”
 “Yeah, but he’s taking that pretty well.  He doesn’t blame his father for dumping that debt on his shoulders.  His love and respect for him was just too great.  What’s your first name?”
 “Skip.  I was teased because of that name as a kid in school, but I think it’s a good name.”
 “Yeah.  It’s easier for me to say Skip than Dr. Francis, alright.”
 The hamster sat up, chuckling.  “You’re right!  It surely is.  Um, I don’t think it’s okay for me to say this, but you was moving around a lot when you was sleeping in the transporter.”
 “Nightmares, from the torture several months ago.”
 “Oh yes, that.  Is there any hope for you to escape from those fears forever?”
 “Yes, but I would refuse if I got the chance.  Some may call me crazy, but I believe having those nightmares will remind me of that torture.  I wanted to use those reminders as a weapon when I meet Leon for the last time.  Those nightmares may scare me out of my wits at times, but in order for me to truly win in this physiological battle, I must live through it.”
 “Did you went through therapy?”
 “Oh yes.  You see at first, I wanted to forget my past, but I wanted to do it the hard way, and not by those memory potions.  One appointment after another, I tried to at least head in the right direction, but I failed miserably.”  Bill laid down on the mattress, thinking another memory.  He made a short laugh.
 “Here’s a story that might seem interesting.  One of my therapists had made up a method to test me of my hatred towards Leon.  He had a green punching bag, and painted a rather crude portrait of Leon Powalski.  He then ordered me to pretend that this was the real Leon, and with all my hatred, turn against this punching bag with violent fury.”
 “What happened then?”
 “You don’t want to be inside that punching bag on that hour.  My therapist later said that my eyes showed fury and boiling anger, and after it was all over, my paws were bleeding because my fingernails had dug into it when I balled my paws into fists.  I punched that bag, and boy did I destroyed it!  I actually screamed Leon’s name as I did, hurling one punch after another, and it was torn open, and sand was pouring out.  Still, I went on.  When the bag lacked the sand to stay level with me, I kicked it again and again.  After just ten minutes, the whole floor of the room was riddled with sand like a beach, and the bag?  Well, it didn’t look like a bag after what I did to it, if you know what I mean.  I was relieved for a while, but this method was more of an additive rather than to help me.  I never done it afterwards, however.  What a shame.”
 “Whew!  I don’t think I have the stomach for it, but what is your greatest fantasy on what to do with Leon if you beat him paw to paw?”
 Bill told the hamster, and Skip was holding his stomach as he tried to digest the graphic scenes Bill had told him.  He hated Leon also, but the picture of his bloody head being thrown into a bed of nails and then pounded against it, and then thrown into a furnace rather sickened the poor scientist.

Chapter Six

 “Anyone that says physiological warfare in terms of tortures, P.O.W. life, and suffering in the aftermath of a war is not an effective tool in general warfare is a complete and utter fool.”

         --Leon Powalski, Starwolf

 In the next morning, a lizard armed with a phaser came into the cell and mentioned for Skip to come with him.  When Bill was alone, he could only fantasized on what was Skip was going through, and he didn’t like the thought of that, due to his own experiences.  After two long hours, the same lizard opened the door, without Skip.
 “Come with me, Mr. Grey.  There’s someone waiting to meet you.”
 “What about Skip, the one you took earlier?”
 “Never mind him.  Come with me, now!”
 Bill gave up already and was escorted by the lizard across the hallway between cells, and there was little sounds except for the stomping of the lizard’s boots and Bill’s heartbeats.  They finally gotten into a room that was completely empty except for a wooden chair in the very center, bolted down and straps attached to it.  A typical torture chair, thought Bill.  He knew all too well what would happen to him.  With only the lizard doing the job, Bill was tied to the chair, and then was blindfolded by a black handkerchief.
 “What’s this for?”
 “This guest wants this to be a surprise.”
 Because he could see only blackness, Bill relied on his ears.  He heard the lizard walking away, and closed the door, leaving him all alone inside.  After several minutes of complete silence, he heard the door open again and was quickly shut.  He heard a short, rather faint sound of something being laid on the floor, and two clicks followed it.  Soon, he heard the frightening hum of a shock device.
 “Hello Bill.  How nice to see you.”
 Bill gasped, and snarled.  That was a very, very familiar voice!!  “Leon!”
 His blindfold was taken off and Bill stared straight into the yellow eyes of the chameleon who was responsible for all the pain and nightmares he was suffering for the last several months.
 “We meet again, wether you like it or not.  Looks like I wasn’t finished with you yet.  You haven’t paid your bills, Bill.”
 Bill moved his mouth and gathered his saliva.  With one huge spurt, he spat out a gunk of saliva right at Leon’s snout.  Leon backed off, wiping off the spit.  “Can’t you learn from your mistakes, Bill?  I thought I gave you a lesson the last time you did that!”
 Bill screamed when Leon stuck the shocking device on his chest.  Sparks flew, and for a moment, his heart paused, his nervous system frozen from the sudden shock.  Even after three months, they were still licking their wounds.
 Leon backed off again, laughing and patting his knee with his green-scaled claws.  “Yes!  And just when I thought I will never hear that from you again!  Can you do that for me again?  One more time for old times sake?”
 Bill refused.  He knew why Leon enjoys torture.  To him, it was the greatest pleasure.  Beating someone up with the victim helpless is power in his view.  He was greedy for power, and the screams and begging for mercy were music to his ears.  One way to win against this maniac was just simply not do what he wants you to do.  This time, he decided to be brave.  This time, he would tough this one out.  With a firm voice, he declared his refusal.  “Not a chance.”
 Leon was dumb-struck, but only for a second or two.  He slitted his eyes into yellow lines.  “So, you have finally gotten smart.  Well, no matter.  I have won against toughies like you.”
 He laid the shocker against Bill’s arm, burning it on contact.  Electricity shocked his brain.  Bill grimaced, but didn’t utter a sound.  Again and again, Bill suffered the shocks, but no scream escaped his mouth, and not a grunt was spoken.  For the first time, Leon looked frustrated, but then he smiled.
 He went over to his suitcase and put away the shocker.  He then picked up the palm-sized table saw.  Bill felt despair.  Shocking waves was one thing, but this was another.  How can he brave this one?  He actually avoided construction sites because of the noise this one brings!!
 Leon turned it on, and the buzzing sound was almost too much for Bill.  He shook his head wildly, closing his eyes.  He awaited the extreme pain when the saw even barely touches his skin.
 Leon was about to use his saw when a shot was fired.  It was faint and must be coming from upstairs on the ground floor.  Curious, he turned off the table saw and laid it in the suitcase.  “Now what?” he grumbled, and walked out of the room.  Bill was left alone again, but he was sure that Leon would be back.
 Minutes passed and nothing.  Bill was wondering what had become of Leon.  Even if he did fled, he would never leave his precious torture weapons.  True to his word, Leon came back, but with frantic eyes.
 “You’re very lucky, Bill!” the chameleon grumbled as he closed the suitcase and ran off like a bat out of hell.  Bill laughed.  Leon really was a chicken, running off when he spots the enemy, or something that must have spooked him.
 Another couple of minutes passed.  Faintly, he heard the sounds of the elevator turning on, and then a loud blast of laser fire.  He heard footsteps, and they could belong to a rescuer.
 “Help!  I’m over here!!”
 A figure appeared at the doorway, armed with a phaser.  Bill’s spirit leaped with joy.  It was his very best friend, Fox McCloud.
 Fox smiled and rushed over to him, untying the straps.  When the hurt commander was released, he almost hugged him.  Fox was reluctant.
 “Come on, Bill.  We got to get out of here!”
 They rushed out of the room, and Fox handed him another phaser.  Bill was now hoping to find Leon, to exact revenge, but Leon was already far gone; escaped.  They reached the prison command room next to the elevator.  Slippy was waiting for them, but Bill went to a console and typed a couple keys on it hurriedly.  Fox was impatient.
 “I can’t leave my cousin here!”
 “What do you mean?,” Slippy asked, puzzled.  “I-I checked all the c-c-cells and you was the only one.”
 Bill looked at him with frantic eyes.  “What?  No one else?  But there were six others with me!”
 Slippy could only shrug, and then the elevator door opened, with Falco inside.
 The tall bird was bleeding, wounded on the right arm.  “Crud!  I got hit here!  Those stupid idiots are really banging upon us!  If we don’t get out of here, we’ll be in a whole load of crap!  Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!!!”
 Slippy got in the elevator, and Fox too.  Bill was still scrambling over the console.  “I got to find Roverans!  I have to find him!”
 Fox was in no mood to argue.  He grabbed his best friend and dragged him into the elevator.  When the elevator door closed, Bill became distraught.  “No!  I can’t leave him!”
 “We have no choice here, Bill,” replied Fox.  “Once we get the hell off this planet, we’ll talk more of this.”
 Bill couldn’t listen, and shook his head in frantic depression.
 Peppy met them once outside the base, hiding behind a crate and periodically stood and fired at the four remaining lizards firing at them.  The Starfox team, including Bill, all returned fire, and all the guards were killed off one by one.
 Fox pointed at an Invader-class jet.  “Bill, you know how to fly those?”
 Bill knew what to do.  He nodded and ran towards the jet.  The Starfox team ran to their Arwings as more guards fired upon them.  The four Arwings and Invader jets safely launched into space, leaving behind the base once and for all.
 The Great Fox was waiting for them, and the five jets docked in there.  The Great Fox soon turned towards Corneria, and with a blast of it’s engines, accelerated at top speed.

Chapter Seven

 “Leon Powalski is an abomination to nature itself.  He is a coward who feels powerful only when his victims are tied up and helpless to fight back.  He deserves to be killed on the spot, and I will be more than happy to be the one who pulls the fatal trigger.”

        --Bill Grey, Katina Commander

 Falco was treated with his wound in sickbay as the Great Fox cruised along space towards home.  Peppy and Slippy, satisfied of a job well done, were enjoying themselves in their rec-room.  Bill, with bandages on his burnt areas, sat on a bench somewhere in the cruiser, his head bowed mournfully.  Fox sat next to him, his right arm around his friend’s shoulder.  He shared his sorrow.  He knew Roverans also, and knew him as a friend as well.
 “If only if we had more time.  Just more time...”
 “Bill, just because we don’t know what happened to him doesn’t mean he’s dead.  He might escorted off someplace else, alive and well.”
 The dog sighed.  “I don’t know how I can go through this.  Roverans wasn’t just my cousin.  He’s a great friend of mine.”
 “I know.  I would feel just the same, even worse if I lost you.  Look, just live through this day by day.  Maybe luck will shine on you and Roverans will be at your door, with his cheery smile and eyes.  Just keep your faith, my friend.  Just keep your faith.”
 Bill nodded, and said no more.
 As the Great Fox closed to home, Bill stared out a window, looking at the endless blanket of stars.  “If you are alive, Roverans, then I will find you.  And if I find you, Leon Powalski, make sure you bring a scarf bag with you, because when I meet you, things will get ugly!!”

The End