Chapter One

 “Without a good pilot, even the most advanced and superior of all fighter jets would be almost worthless.”

        -- Major Amy Johnson, Venom
 “Ace One to Base, Ace One to Base, please respond,” the cheetah pilot of a Venomian transporter spoke to the Macbeth Secondary Base by comlink.  “Ace One requesting permission to dock.”
 “Base to Ace One, permission to dock granted.  Proceed to West Dock, Pad 67,” a male voice called back.
 The pilot made a silent cheer and made his way to his landing pad.  Once the transporter landed, the cheetah turned his seat around and faced his three passengers, all of them wearing their black uniforms like him.  The leader of the team smiled, exposing his malamute fangs.
 “Well, we made it this far, thanks to Jo’hara’s device that would fool the radar people into thinking we are actually associated with those stupid Venomians,” Gordon said.
 Bandit, the raccoon next to the bigger dog, nodded, putting his laser phaser on his holster.  “Yeah, if they knew that we are against them, they would have killed us.”
 “Blown to bits, more likely,” a female chinook behind them added.  The tawny-furred dog clasped in a knife on a scabbard fastened across her slim chest.  “We ought to thank the Justice Cadets for their contribution.”
 “Thank them later, Lizbel,” the malamute said.  “We got a job to do.  Everyone understands Mr. McHara’s orders?”
 His team nodded their answers.  The leader armed his laser pistol with a silencer that could shoot a lethal laser with a barely audible whisper.  “Well, get prepared for the onslaught.”
 “Right,” the cheetah said and walked over to his armory bag and got out a belt of grenades, chuckling with anxiousness.  The team was sent over to this base for valuable information, and while it was wise to keep a low profile, they could kill any enemy in sight.  It was the first time they were sent to a mission like this, and Hadran Loisoa, the cheetah, was shivering with excitement.  Just four weeks ago, he was just a lowly computer hacker, causing nothing but minor trouble.  Then, he was hired by someone named Clark McHara and his partner Jason Wolfman, and was sent to their hideout in Fortuna.  He was almost instantly respected as a computer specialist.  He donned his deadly belt across his slim chest, and also his comlink helmet, which was thinner and lighter than the one Fox McCloud owns.  They were against Venom, but Mr. McHara refuses to ally with Corneria.
  Bandit Forhawk, the one tightening his laser-proof vest, was the so-called scouting expert.  His role was to scout ahead, looking for danger before they could see them.  He once went over to Zoness on a spying mission, but came back one week late.  He wouldn’t explain the cause of the delay, and since he got the vital information, Clark never bothered going further with it.
 Lizbel Crusasa was sent to this mission for one main reason: she could fight and does it well.  Of all of the four members of this team, she had the martial arts experience, and her strength was one that hides until needed.  Gordon may outweigh her by forty pounds, but even the malamute knew he wouldn’t have a chance on fighting her.  A small bruise under his left blue eye proved that.  A nice kick to the chin would make anyone regret fighting her, since that was her trademark move.  She was a little taller than Bandit, and her brown eyes sparkled more than sun-bright mud.  Like all Chinooks, she looked like a golden retriever, but was less and darker furred than the much more populated breed.  In fact, except for relatives, Lizbel had never seen another dog of her kin, and that was heartbreaking for her.
 Gordon Braunheart was a veteran in Clark’s militia, which was still unnamed.  His trust to his fellow team and bravery had made him a worthy leader, and the others respected him for it.  Though all malamute dogs were massive, Gordon was heavier than most, with large biceps and the strength to match.  He would rather shoot than fight, though he’s no wimp at that field either.  Just don’t be on the receiving end of a black, furry fist hurling at your smaller face.

 When they got out of the transporter, it was dark and quiet.  The Secondary Base was a little used outpost, only to store food rations and stockpile weapons.  However, Hadran, while working on a computer in the militia hideout, had found a cargo pilot’s log that some vital information about the secrets of some ultra-powerful weapon was stored in the Base, since it might be the last place anyone would look.  Clark wanted the info for himself, so just two hours later, Hadran and the others took a stolen Venomian transporter and they were on their way.
 With their pistols drawn out and ready to fire, the team took advantage of the darkness and crept across the paved ground of the Dock toward the only building in the Base.  Noticing two guards standing on alert by a sliding door under a large lamp, the team hastily hid behind another transporter, about thirty feet from the leopard guards.
 Gordon made one final check on his pistol, and let out a gasp.  “Alright fellas.  Once we get inside the building, we will find an outlet so that Hadran could get into the main computer and find the location of the targeted file.  How long can you find the right location?”
 Hadran tapped his laptop computer he was carrying.  “A few minutes, no more.  At least it should be.”
 “Let’s hope so.  This is going to be quick in and out.  Our transporter will not be able to outrun an Invader if it chases us, so unless we have to, we don’t want to make too much noise.”
 The others nodded in agreement, and Gordon snatched a look at the two guards.  “Who’s going to take care of these idiots?”
 Hadran smiled and touched one of his grenades.  “Would putting them to sleep help?”
 “Do it,” the leader said simply.
 The cheetah almost chuckled out of luck and came out of hiding, facing the guards.  “Hey fellas!  I got something for you!”
 The guard on the right aimed his laser machine gun at him, but didn’t fire.  “Halt!”
 “Hey, hey, I’m just generous, okay?”
 “Well, just give it to us and be on your merry way, alrighty?”  The guard said, a bit annoyed with this stranger’s attitude.
 Because Hadran was out of the light, and that he was wearing a black uniform, the guards failed to see him picking out one of his grenades.  “Here it is!  Don’t cover your face or you’ll spoil the surprise!”
 Once the guards saw a black grenade rolling next to their feet, it was already too late.  Suddenly, a blast of smoke came upon the guards, and with their senses dulled, they fainted and went to sleep.  As the smoke cleared, the both of them were laying on the ground.  Hadran signaled the others out of their hiding place, and they came upon the door.
 “Nice job, but I could just simply shoot them quickly,” Bandit said.
 “Hey, where’s the fun in that?  You need to add some spice in your life, Bandit,” the cheetah responded and connected a password decoder device on a security box by the door.  “You know, if we could break those update-happy Venom codes, then I don’t have to bring all these decoders with me.  I would already know the codes to open this door in the first place.”
 “Gee, where’s the fun in that?” Bandit threw back his words.
 The decoder did it’s work and doors slid open.  The large hallway was completely empty when they came in, but they were still cautious in case of an ambush.
 “What’s with the silence here?”  Lizbel asked to no one in particular.  “This Base is not all that abandoned.”
 Gordon grunted.  “I dunno, but I prefer it this way.”
 Doing his job, Bandit went ahead, carrying along a life-scanner that could spot an enemy within a fifty foot radius.  After several minutes, he shook his head.  “No one here at the moment.”
 Hadran had already found an outlet connecting to an comlink monitor hung on the hallway wall, and laid his laptop computer on the cold, white-tiled floor.  He plugged in a cord from the laptop into the outlet, and the computer screen began to buzz with activity.  He sat on his tail and began typing on the keyboard.  “Okay, I’m in!  Let’s see now...”
 As he typed in a few commands, his fingers a blur, Lizbel watched the corridor nervously.  She never liked to use her pistol since the lasers fly so fast you could barely see them.  If the enemy aimed right, then she wouldn’t have a chance, and that spooked her.  And what is going on with the security around here?  Only two guards and no one else.  No alarms ringing?  Nothing stirring around here?  Isn’t this just a bit too easy?
 “Man, this silence is giving me the creeps.”
 Bandit turned his face at her.  “Well thank you for breaking it with your chatter.”
 Lizbel was almost shocked with Bandit’s tone of voice.  He wasn’t the one who usually makes annoying sarcastic remarks.  Also, Bandit seemed to have showing some new light or something.
 Hadran clasped his spotted paws.  “Yes!  The location of the file you wanted is found and marked!  However, it had not actually downloaded into the central computer so we have to get it ourselves.”
 “Those guys are getting smarter by the month,” quipped Gordon.  “Bandit, Hadran, stay here and guard the exit.  Lizbel, you’re coming with me.  I need to know where the file is around here.”
 “Room 130.  You go down the hallway to the first intersection, and go left.  That room has thousands of files, so it’s going to take me a while to find the right one.”
 “Find it as fast as you can.  I got the feeling this silence will go up in fireworks anytime too soon.  C’mon, Lizbel.”
 The malamute and the chinook hurriedly ran down the hallway, pistols ready to fire.  As soon as they turned left and gotten out of view, Bandit pulled out his own pistol, and stood behind Hadran.
 He wanted to say something, but it was Hadran who spoke first.  “Um, Bandit, is there something wrong with you lately?”
 “What do you mean by that?  I’m fine,” the raccoon said, checking his pistol.
 Hadran continued to type in more commands.  “Well, you seemed to be a little nervous before we left Fortuna to get here.  Also, you just made a sarcastic remark and that’s out of character for you.”
 Bandit rubbed the cold steel of his pistol with his caressing paws.  “Don’t worry, Hadran.  I’m fine.”
 The cheetah shrugged his shoulders.  “Fine, whatever you say.”
 With a confident sneer, Bandit pressed the chilling barrel of his laser pistol against the nape of Hadran’s neck.  The cheetah stopped typing.  “Um, Bandit, what the hell are you doing?”
 “This,” the raccoon replied cooly and fired a laser through the victim’s neck.  The laptop computer screen was splattered red at once, and the corpse of Hadran Loisoa leaned lifelessly forward, and stopped with his head touching the top of the laptop screen, blood trickling over the screen like raindrops on a window.
    The silence was so eerie that even Gordon was worried about it.  He and Lizbel had reached their destination, but another strange obstacle had been thrown at them.  Room 130 was on the right side of the hallway, but on the left of the hallway was another room with the numbers 130.
 “Oh great, which one’s the right one?” Lizbel said in disbelief.
 “Now why would there be....you take the left one, I’ll take the right.”
 The huge malamute had gotten inside the right Room 130, and found himself facing a large cabinet, which was the only furniture in the room.  He opened the middle drawer and found hundreds of CD files.  He readjusted his head comlink.  “Hadran, I need the exact location of the file.  What does it look like?”
 Nothing answered.  Only silence, something that the malamute had been hearing ever since he got here.  “Hadran?  Please respond!  This is no joke!”
 The door behind him closed suddenly, shutting Gordon inside.  With increasing panic, he rushed at the door, hoping to bring it down, but he couldn’t even make a dent.  He roared with frustration.  “What is this, some kind of trap?”
 He noticed green gas coming out of the overhead vents.  He covered his face in sheer desperation, and rammed the door again and again.  “Liz!  Liz!  Get me out of here!!”  The gas was spreading to his face right now, and he could feel his life draining away.  “No!!!  Get me...out...”
 With a staggering limp, Gordon fell to his knees, and as the gas over flooded his lungs, he made a groan of hopelessness as he toppled his body into the floor, lifeless.  Gordon Braunheart, one of the most respected members of Clark’s militia, was clouded by the lethal poisonous gas that filled the entire room.
 As soon as Gordon’s door closed, the same thing happened in Lizbel’s case.  She hopped with frustration when she couldn’t budge the door to break down, and went back to looking through the files in the lone cabinet.  She already tried to contact the cheetah, but when Hadran didn’t respond, she gave up quickly and rummaged through the countless CD files with fruitless hope.  “Now how can I find the right one?  If that stupid cheetah had turned off his comlink, I’ll will hunt him down and give him a kick up his-”
 The door opened behind her with a whisper, but it was loud enough for Lizbel to turn in alarm.  Standing on the doorway was Bandit.  The raccoon looked spooky, and he had some blood spots on his black shirt.
 Lizbel gave him a confused look.  “Bandit?  What are you doing here?”
 “I have a mission of my own, Liz.  Something you won’t like.”
 Lizbel couldn’t understand that at first, so she ignored it.  “Where’s Hadran?  Gordon?”
 “Dead,” the raccoon said simply.  “This mission had been aborted.”
 “Bandit....what’s going on?”
 To her horror, Bandit aimed his pistol at her.  “You will abort just like this mission.”
 With quick senses, Lizbel leaped just as the traitor fired a shot that passed the same spot where she was a second before.  Pulling out a knife as she rolled on the floor, she threw it expertly at Bandit’s pistol, throwing it out of his paws.
 With a scream of pain, the raccoon held his paw, eyes staring at his former teammate with cold eyes.  “So, no laser weapons allowed, eh?  I may know your fighting skills, but I’m more lucky than you are.”
 Lizbel was stilling having the shock of this twist of events, but she now knew that the raccoon before her was an enemy.  She raised up her fists, daring him to fight.  “You betrayed us, Bandit.  That won’t be taken lightly.  C’mon, let’s see how lucky you can get.”
 Bandit confidently chuckled and with a battle cry, charged at the lighter-framed chinook with eyes of fury.  Lizbel sidestepped and grabbed Bandit’s right wrist.  Holding on to him as he passed by, Bandit was forced to swing around, and then was punched in the stomach.  Still holding him, Lizbel threw him over her shoulder and the raccoon crashed against the wall.
 Growling, he staggered as he got up, not giving up against someone like her.  Lizbel jumped up and gave him a roundhouse kick that connected to the side of his face, sending spit flying across the room.  Stumbling back again, he could not retaliate from the blow, and Lizbel side-kicked him on the chest and followed a three-hit combo to his stomach.  Bandit finally bounced back, kicking into Lizbel’s ribs, and then grasped her shoulders and simply threw her onto the cabinet like a rag.
 Her back collided the metal cabinet with a loud clang and grunt, and Bandit punched a right to her stomach.  Just as quickly, he grabbed her neck, trying to choke her.  They wrestled back and forth across the room, and then Lizbel kneed him on the groin, releasing his choke hold.  To give herself room, she made several flips backwards, while Bandit stood, the wind taken off him.
 Lizbel waited for the right moment.  Five feet away, Bandit swayed back and forth, noticeably dizzy.  Finally, he stopped and simply stood like a sitting duck, his mind too busy on the pain under his waist to notice what Lizbel was about to do.  With expert swiftness, Lizbel rushed forward at him, and snapped her right foot up.  Bandit’s chin connected her shoe and was thrown back, knocked out from the heavy blow.  The raccoon landed back first with a thud, and couldn’t get up.
 Mind racing with revenge and the heat of battle, Lizbel walked over in top of him, grabbing his shirt with one paw, his right ear with the other.  “Your luck had just run out.”
 The almost unconscious raccoon merely chuckled weakly.  “Try to get out...alive..., which you...won’t...” he spoke before his eyes closed into a concussion.
 Lizbel heard footsteps coming from the hallway.  She let go of her former comrade on the floor and got out, pistol already on paw.  “Oh great, now they come?  Figures.”
 A turtle guard came into view, and he was shot the moment he spotted her, and another guard came, firing with reckless aim.  That one too ended up with a smoking hole on his chest.  Lizbel ran toward the West Dock exit, firing the guards behind her at times.  The lasers flew by her, staining the walls with burnt marks.
 Lizbel gasped and almost hesitated when she saw what had happened to her cheetah friend.  Hadran was still in his sitting position, head peacefully resting on the laptop, a puddle of red around him.  Escape was too much on her mind to send her sympathy, so she passed him without a glance and burst outside, still dodging enemy fire.  She took refuge behind a large cargo ship, and used it as a shield against the guards’ relentless laser shots.  As the lasers made the ship’s outer armor into swiss cheese, Lizbel would shoot back at them, sometimes killing a guard or two.  However, at this point, she knew that the hope of escape was getting dimmer and dimmer.  Her transporter won’t be of much help, since it’s too slow to outpace the Invaders, but what else could she do?  Surrender?
 Absently she clasped her paws over her uniform and suddenly felt something bulky on her right pocket.  It was a grenade that she must have gotten when they were preparing to attack back in the transporter.  She frantically devised a short plan, and spotted an absent Invader-I jet with the canopy open just ten yards from where her cargo ship shield was.  Thanking herself for quick thinking in such a panicky situation, she crept to the edge of the cargo ship, waiting for the right moment to throw the grenade.
 Risking her life, she jumped shortly into the open and threw the armed grenade into the crowd of guards.  Before she could even get shot, she dived right back behind the ship, the lasers cutting the air just centimeters from her body.
 A loud explosion rang to her ears, and with reckless abandon, she ran for her life toward the Invader jet and hopped into the cockpit in a blur.  Since Invader jet pilots never use keys to turn the jets on, Lizbel just pushed some buttons and the jet’s engines were roaring.  Hope glimmering back into her mind, her new jet hovered upwards, and with a blast of engines, she thrust herself into the sky, the base soon becoming a dot behind her.  She was so much in the lead that the Venomian guards never bothered to chase her.  Lizbel Crusasa had escaped, but her mission had failed, lost a friend and a leader, and gained a new enemy.

Chapter Two

 “Traitors have no place in any organization, no matter how evil or good the organization is.  They just simply have no place in them.”

        --Darwin Dracka, Clark’s militia
 Darwin Dracka was upset.  The orange tanned-furred cougar had searched high and low for new recruits for Clark’s militia in a city somewhere in Corneria, but found nothing with pilot experience.  As his transporter reached Fortuna orbit, he let out a sigh of frustration.  “23 so-called pilots, and not one of them could fly a simple Protector jet.  What a bunch of phonies.”  He turned on a private communications line to the hideout of the militia.  “Hey stupid, talk to me.”
 A female voice answered.  “Hey moron, found any more pilots?”
 “None, Dekslan.  23 people came to me, but they can’t even make a paper airplane fly.”
 “Well shoot, Darwin.  Maybe you scared them away.”
 Darwin shook his head and ignored that comment.  Dekslan was talking about his weird eating habits.  He eats soup with a fork, hates potatoes but loves french fries, and loves sardine and rutabaga pie.
 “We haven’t gotten any new pilots for the past month, Darwin.  How can we kick Andross’ butt with only ten pilots?”
 “Hey, Starfox has only four and they are threatening to the Empire.”
 “Look, I may be a great pilot, but even Slippy can fly circles around me.  And they have arwings.  What do we have?  Greenies, of all jets.”
 “Well what about the custom-made jets that Clark is building?”
 “Still under construction, the last I’ve heard.  Those things will never get finished.  How are you doing, numb-skull?”
 “Fine.  Got a little scare when one of the mercenaries that applied attacked me when he was told that he wasn’t worthy enough to join in.  I fended the idiot off, but I got a knife wound on my right arm.  It’s almost healed now.”
 “That’s good news, I think.  Hear any news from Gordon’s team?”
 “Nothing.  I lost contact with them some time ago.  I’m entering the atmosphere of this cold planet now.  I’ll see you later, butt-head.”
 “C’ya, don’t wanna be ya,” was Dekslan’s response.  While they call each other names and such, Darwin and Dekslan were best of friends, though their relationship was never romantic.  Darwin already have a lover; a chinook named Lizbel.
  Darwin and Dekslan were friends even before they were hired into the militia three months ago.  They were both C+ Academy graduates, and both had never flown a Bulldog jet before, but they still considered themselves average-to-great pilots.  For several months, they served together in a unit of the main Cornerian Air Force, and had fought in dogfights against Invader jets before, but military life was not their lifestyle.  They wanted more than just following strict duties and rules.  Therefore, when Jason Wolfman came to them with an offer to join in the militia, they jumped at the chance.  Dekslan became the communications officer, while Darwin became the main recruiting officer.

 Darwin was a bit upset when after two weeks gone, the hideout had not improved much in construction.  A shortage of workers must be the culprit, but then Clark have enough money to hire all the workers he wanted.  However, Clark, for a rich ape, was cheap.  After all, his pilots fly Greenies instead of Bulldog class jets or arwings.  Oh sure those custom-made jets, whatever they are called, are a treat, but when would they be finished?  The hideout of Clark’s militia consisted of a cylinder-shaped building with a dome, two hangars, an airstrip, and a smaller building close by the main one.  The southern hangar stores the Greenie jets, the transporters, and the Violet Vision, Jason Wolfman’s cargo ship.  The northern hangar stores the custom-made jets, which were unnamed at the moment.  The smaller of the two buildings was the quarters for the construction workers and mechanics hired by Clark, which are numbered around half a hundred.  The domed building was the Base, where all the pilots and officers live in, and where they often be in when they are not in missions.  It was quite large, about the size of a wide 5-storied building, and it has yellow windows lined up on the rounded walls.  The dome was red-colored, which was Clark’s favorite, and therefore the symbol color of the militia.  Darwin often wished to have the militia to think up a good name for themselves.  Clark’s Militia just doesn’t catch on all that well.
 Darwin landed his transporter by the southern hangar, and braved the cold as he trekked across the snow to a side door to the Base.  He punched his password on the security box, but the door refused to open.
 Darwin groaned and wrapped his jacket tighter.  He tapped his comlink on his head again.  “Stupid, I need your help.”
 “What now?”
 “Door 34 won’t open again.  When is that stupid box going to be fixed?”
 “When Fortuna gets a hot weather streak.  I can open it for you.”
 “Good.  Do it now.  I’m getting cold out here.”
 “Don’t freeze your butt off, Darwin.  Say it.  You know what I’m talking about.”
 Darwin lowered his head in disbelief.  “Oh c’mon, Dekslan!  Now?”
 The female voice was more firm.  “Say it.”
 Darwin made a loud groan and muttered a couple words.
 “What was it you said?  I couldn’t hear it good enough.”
 “Then get a hearing test!!”
 “You know, I could just leave you out here in the cold.”
 “There are other doors.”
 “They are broken down as well.  Most of them are under repair at the moment.  Say it, idiot.”
 “Yeah, yeah, yeah.  Borzois rule and cougars drool....”
 The door finally opened.  Dekslan spoke again.  “Thank you, Precious.”
 Darwin came inside, shaking his head with embarrassed disgust.  “You’re welcome, Cupcake,” he muttered in a sarcastic tone.  He heard some laughing on the other end.  He took off his comlink and put it inside his large jacket pocket, marching casually toward Command Central, the brain nerve section of the Base, to issue his report.
 Dekslan Menesan was waiting for him at the door to the Central, grinning like a lucky dog she was.  The tall borzoi had brown and white curly fur, and brown eyes that sparkled under the flourescent lights on the ceiling.  She wore a brown pilot suit, and as always, a comlink was attached to her head, the microphone close to her muzzle.  Darwin wondered if she really wears that when she goes to bed.  Probably not, but then again...
 Darwin hugged his best friend warmly, not knowing that tragic news would come within an hour.  “Hello, Dekslan.  Everything fine here?”
 The borzoi nodded and opened the door to the Central.  “Well, except for the outer doors breaking down and giving the mechanics and electricians a headache, everything is okay here.”
 “How is Terra?” Darwin asked, referring to one of the pilots that had just came in a month ago.  The bobcat was a friend during the Academy, but she quit since she was forced to help her father in Katina.  Her father was one of the more respected pilots of Katina before he retired.
 The borzoi shrugged.  “Haven’t seen her.  She’s still hanging around in her room, playing that racket.”
 “That’s a cello,” Darwin corrected her.  “She makes beautiful music.”
 “Huh, that’s your opinion.  To me, she makes racket, and I’m not talking about tennis.”
 The cougar shook his feline head and wrote his report on an electronic clipboard.  “Lizbel is expected to be back today, right?”
 “Yep.  Gordon’s team should be here in about three hours, unless they decided to escape in style and steal those Invaders under the stupid Venomians’ noses, then they will be here in about an hour.”
 “Does Clark as any more missions for us?”
 “None so far.  You need to rest, you moronic cougar.  Interviewing 23 stupid pilots must be a headache for you, eh?”
 Darwin nodded.  “Oh yeah.  There are times when I want to scream, ‘Get me out of here!!’, and shoot them out of their misery.”
 “Well good.  You need a headache now and then.  Spices up your blood.”
 “You are one sick dog, you know that?”
 “I’m one sick borzoi, you mean.”
 “A dog is a dog, Dekslan.  I’ll be in my quarters.  Hope you trip over your own feet in front of Clark,” he mused, laughing.
 “Har, har.  Go hack a furball.”
 The two friends laughed together and waved each other farewell.  It would be impossible for Darwin to insult Dekslan or the other way around, since they use insults in a good way.

 “Damn it!”  Terra Hartford cursed, controlling herself not to put her anger on her cello.  She sat on a wooden chair, the cello between her knees,  the top almost touching her left ear.  “Why can’t I get that note right?” she complained, waving her bow in the air.  She let out a sigh, laid the horse-hair bow on the strings of the cello, and tried again.
 The music replayed smoothly, the low, mourning sounds almost calming her.  The sounds filled her room like a solo-orchestra.  A screeching note startled her.  “Not again!  I’m never going to get this right!”
 “Get what right?” Darwin asked as he came in her living quarters.  Terra often have a habit of leaving her door open, and the hallway was usually louder than it should be because of that habit, which irritated Dekslan.
 The bobcat looked up in surprise, and smiled.  “Oh, hello Darwin.  Oh, it’s nothing.  Just a note I couldn’t get right.  I’ve been trying for days to perfect it.  Find any pilots?”
 “Don’t remind me,” the cougar said and sat on her bed.  Terra laid down the cello in it’s storage suitcase, and clasped her knees.
 “A nightmare again?”
 “23 pilots, and they’re all phonies.  They probably just want Clark’s money.  How are you doing?”
 “Okay.  The stoves needed clean-up, so I helped the janitors on that.  Been fiddling around my cello for a while.  It’s has been an uninteresting day.  Is there a meeting in the Hall sometime today?”
 “In three hours after Gordon and his team gets back.  They should be due anytime now.  Well, I-”
 A beeping sound from the monitor phone interrupted them.  Alarmed, Terra went over to her desk on the other side of the room and turned on the screen.  It was Clark McHara, son of Andross and leader of the militia.  His eyes were filled with sorrow.  On the background was Lizbel sitting on her reserved meeting chair in the Hall, weeping inaudibly.
 “Something wrong?”
 The ape Clark nodded.  “Yes, and it is very disturbing.  Gordon and Hadran were killed.”
 Terra gasped quickly.  Gordon was the nicest dog she had ever met...
 Darwin came up beside the bobcat, equally in shock.  “How?”
 “Bandit had turned against us when Gordon’s team were storming the Macbeth Secondary Base.  According to Lizbel, Hadran was killed with a shot to the neck, and she doesn’t know what happened to Gordon.  She escaped with an Invader, unhurt but scared to her wits.”
 Darwin muttered a short curse toward the raccoon that had stabbed him and his comrades on their backs.  “This mission was a trap.  Just a trap.  I’ll bet that information about some secret weapon was just a lure, and we took the bait.  That raccoon must have planned this for some while.”
 “I want all pilots to the Hall immediately.  Drop whatever you are doing and go.  This is urgent,” Clark ordered and the screen blinked off.
 Darwin angrily pounded the desk with his fist.  “That Bandit!!  C’mon, let’s go to the Hall!”
 Terra wiped a tear and followed the cougar to the Hall.  She wanted to tell him about a special feeling she has toward him, but that would come later.  After all, Darwin was already in love with Lizbel.  What right does she have to come between them with her secret crush?

Chapter Three

 “Some people believed that I went against Venom because they stole my pretzels.  Well, that may be the main reason, but not the only reason.  Didn’t I tell you that I’m not that obsessed with them?”

        --Jason Wolfman, Clark’s Militia
 Grief and tension filled the air as the two co-leaders of the militia and their 7 pilots gathered in the Hall.  It was a large room directly above the ceiling of Command Central, and on the center was a large table with forty chairs.  Most of them were empty, but that may change whenever a new pilot would be hired.  Dekslan, Darwin, Terra, and Lizbel sat on one side of the table, while the three other pilots: Trekan Goropa, Frederick Dungala, and Chris Napalma, sat on the other side.  Clark and Jason Wolfman sat together on the front end, their faces sharing the grief expressions.
 “I would like to thank you all for coming on such short notice,” Clark began.  “The sudden deaths of Gordon and Hadran is very tragic news, but they will not die in vain.  We must never allow their deaths to dampen our spirit to achieve victory against the murdering scumbags of Venom.  Lizbel had told me what had happened in Macbeth some minutes ago, and because Bandit know our hideout, we must evacuate immediately.”
 The lion Trekan, a member for two months, shook his head.  “Why can’t we just stand and fight?  How can we achieve victory if we turn our tails and run?”
 Chris, a dingo with a chipped ear, agreed.  “He’s got a point.  If we leave, then where can we go?”
 “Because this situation came so quickly, Clark and I had never really firmly owned a secondary base,” Jason answered.  His purple-iris eyes sparkled in the well-lit room.  “Therefore, we should evacuate to Katina and set up a small camp there.  Then, when things has calmed down-”
 The meerkat Frederick rolled up his eyes and stood up.  “We are unprepared for this.  We are disorganized!  You two were slow in progress, and now we will suffer the consequences!  Oh sure, after just four months, this Base had come from an abandoned airport to a livable place, but what about our jets?  Are they still under construction?  Also, Mr. McHara, if you wasn’t so strict on hiring pilots, we could have a hundred pilots under your disposal!  We would have gotten a chance!  How can we win with only 7 pilots?  But if we leave, then all of the work that we suffered through, all those materials we bought for the re-construction of this base, our custom-made jets, and our homes, will be lost once those Venomians take control of this place or destroy it.  Since we only have Greenies to fly, we might not have a chance against the Invaders, and we will be vastly outnumbered, I’ll bet.  We stay, we die.  We leave, it’s back to square one, since we have nothing to fall back on.”
 Clark tapped the table with his fingers.  “My decision still stands.  We evacuate immediately.”
 Trekan growled.  “Then this is it.  We have been reduced to cowards.”
 Darwin shook his head in anger.  “Trekan, is pride worth risking your life over?  Should we take a suicidal move to ensure that we will go down in history as brave heroes or something like that?  Most of Corneria have no idea that this militia actually exists, and dead people have no more need of pride.  If we die here, then we will be forgotten.  To live is the only way to go.  I say, we evacuate.”
 Trekan and Chris were about to protest, but Clark came in between.  “We don’t have time to argue about this!  I gave you my order and it is your duty to obey!  Pack what you need, climb aboard your Greenie jets, and get the hell off this planet!  Now!  Dekslan, call the alarm!”
 The borzoi nodded and ran out.  As the distant alarms went off and the pilots filtered out in a great hurry, Clark remained at his seat, massaging his forehead.  Jason remained with him, understanding what his partner was feeling.
 “Look around us, my gray fox friend,” Clark spoke mournfully.  His world was crashing down all around him.  His dream was being shattered.  “The result of months of rebuilding this base when it was once an old piece of junk no one wanted.  Imagine all of the money, my money, that was being put into the construction, all down the drain.  I may be rich, but I’m not confident anymore that I can be so in the later years.  My workers had toiled and suffered to make this Base operational again, only to see it turned to ruins or under the grimly paws of the enemy.  There is absolutely nothing that I can do to deserve this.  And those jets under construction.  Those were the result of stressful planning, and work under dedicated workers.  Now, those jets will never even lift off the ground.  Am I cursed, Jason?  Have the Gods became angry at me for being the son of the ape that caused the war that killed thousands of people from both factions?  Is this my destiny, to go down in flames just like I wanted my father to end up in?”
 “What are you saying, Clark?  We may not have a base anymore, but this dream of yours is not vanquished yet.  I have faith that we will return to fight twice as strong as before.”
 “Faith....is not enough.”
 “You underestimate it’s power.  Look, shouldn’t we get going?”
 Clark sighed the sigh of an ape without hope.  “You go.  I’ll catch up with you.”
 A loud beep shattered the following silence from the overhead speaker.  “Mr. McHara, sir!” a console officer spoke frantically.  “Radar shows thirty Invader-I jets, ten Velcon bombers, and four Venom trooper transporters!”
 What, already?  It’s like Bandit have been in contact with those Venomians under my nose!  “Oh, drat.  When will they reach to here?”
 “Five minutes at the most!”
 “Looks like we won’t have a choice but to fight our way out.  You better get out of here on the double, officer!”
 “Yes sir!  You’ll better do the same, sir!”
 Oh how wise of you.  Without further word, Clark stood up along with Jason.  “To your ship, Jason.  I have to get some vital things in my quarters.  I will catch up to you.  Wait for me, but if the Venomians stormed the base, leave without me if I can’t be fast enough.  Now go!”

 The next few minutes in the hideout was full of orderly chaos, if there was such a thing.  Dozens of workers and officers rushed to their transporters, their loosely closed luggage dragging behind them.  A slow blizzard was forming outside, shivering the running pilots to the bone as they ran to their Green-class jets.  Inside the hangar, the seven pilots literally jumped inside their cockpits of the green-armored jets, and their engines purred.  As the workers continued to flee to their ships around them, the seven jets hovered a few yards up, and slowly cruised out of the hangar.
 As soon as the snow splattered on their canopies, they spotted numerous dots on the eastern sky.  Since Gordon was killed, it was up to Darwin to take his place.  “Venom jets coming!  We have to stall them till everyone is out!”
 Trekan snickered with anxiousness.  “‘Bout time for a fight.  Let’s show ‘m what we’re made of!”
 The seven jets sped into the sky, heading toward the squadron of Invaders and Velcon bombers.  The Venom squadron had their Invaders up front in a V-formation, and the Velcon bombers, with heavy armor but little firepower, were behind them.  The harmless transporters were further off distance.
 The first lasers criss-crossed between them, and the dogfight had begun.  Darwin shot one Invader down and got into the tail of another.  After his second kill, he spotted one of the bombers going off formation and try to make a break for it toward the hideout.  He also spotted his girlfriend’s jet close by, shooting an Invader down.
 “Lizbel!  There’s a bomber heading to the hideout!  Take care of it!”
 “I’m on it!”  The chinook quickly answered.  With expertly skill, she made a U-turn and let loose a heavy barrage of lasers at the lone bomber.  A blast of fire and smoke flashed from the doomed Velcon, thus saving part of the hideout for now.
 “Ahhh!  I’m hit!”  Chris yelled out, smoke spilling out a trail from his right wing.  Attempting to shake off a pursuing Invader, he swerved right, but suffered another hit before his engines failed.  He screamed as his jet plummeted into the snowy ground, and was consumed by fire that had engulfed him when he crashed.
 Dekslan flinched as a spark flew from her controls, almost burning her eye.  “There’s too many of them!  We can’t stall them much longer!”
 “Hold them!”  The meerkat sputtered out, his jet going up in flames.  “Hold them!”  One final laser struck Frederick’s left wing, breaking it off.  He spiraled to the ground, and thawed yet another patch of snow.
 “Frederick is down!  I see one of our transporters making a break for it!”  Darwin replied.  The mentioned transporter was flying off into the sky, dodging lasers.  Finally, it safely got out of the crossfire unharmed.
 Darwin whooped as he gained a small yet satisfying victory.  “The first transport is away!  C’mon, pilots!  Just a couple more!”  He shot another Velcon down as he flinched off a laser hit.  He spotted two more transporters taking off, and then he also saw four Velcons almost directly over the two buildings, their bay doors open.
 “Oh drat!”  He cursed at them.  He knew it was already too late.  The Velcons dropped their napalms and a series of loud blasts rang into his ears.  The smaller of the two buildings was obliterated instantly, while some of the main Base’s walls crumbled into the snowy ground.  One of the transporters on the ground was caught under the falling debris, and exploded under the sheer weight of the beams.  The luckier transporter took off, but it was instantly destroyed by Invader laser fire.
 Darwin suffered another hit, and his right wing was 65% damaged.  As the smoke from the ruined Base cluttered the sky above it, the cougar caught on one of the Velcon’s tail and blasted it apart, an act of revenge fulfilled.  He went back into the dogfight, but he knew that he and his comrades must escape, and soon.
 Trekan seemed to be next in the continuing, bloody list of war victims.  The four Invaders on his tail were too much for him, and the others were too busy to help.  He downed one final Invader before he himself went down in fire and smoke.  The militia had now lost almost half of it’s pilots in this battle.
 “Jason!  Are you getting out or not!”  Darwin yelled frantically through his comlink.
 “Just a few more minutes!”  The gray fox answered back, waiting in his ship.
 “No!  Leave now!  We can’t hold them off!  Get the hell out of that hangar or you will be bombed!”
 The cougar heard the gray fox muttering a curse, and finally spotted the Violet Vision hovering out of the hangar.  “Is Clark with you?”
 “No!  He’s still in the base!”
 It was Darwin’s turn to mutter a curse.  “Leave him there!  We must get out of here and we must do it now!”
 “You read my mind!  Let’s go!”
 Darwin shot one more Invader down.  Even in Green-class jets, he and his comrades seemed to be doing well.  “All pilots, retreat!  Retreat!”
 The militia pilots stopped their shooting and accelerated their busted up jets toward space.  Some of the remaining Invaders gave chase, but since they only wanted the hideout destroyed, they didn’t chase them for long.
 The trooper transporters landed among the ruins of the hideout.  Venom troops, armed with lethal laser machine guns, burst out of the ships, and stormed the Base, hunting for the one ape that could have been their next Emperor.

 Clark was found in a ruined storage room in the Base, and was roughly escorted out into a large garage, which wasn’t finished yet in it’s construction.  A large hole on the ceiling high above, caused by the bombs, shone light into the garage.  Clark, with four troops holding him, was thrown onto the concrete floor.  The ape knew he was about to be killed as he staggered up.
 “So, Mr. McHara, it appears that you have failed to achieve your stupid dream.”
 Clark whirled his head and faced his back-stabber, the raccoon named Bandit.  “You!  You will pay for what you have done!”
 The five troops in the garage aimed their machine guns at the prisoner.  Bandit laughed.  “Brave yet foolish words in such a dooming position.  On your knees,...Boss.”
 Clark resisted of course, but a troop struck him at the nape of the knees with the butt of the machine gun.  The ape yelped with pain and knelt down, still facing Bandit.  “Why?  Why did you betray me?”
 “Actually in a sense, you betrayed me.  When I first came in your militia, you told me that we will strike soon.  However, I’m an impatient raccoon, and after several months, I grew tired of the delays.  Remember that mission to Zoness when I came back a week late?”
 Clark responded by simply staring at him.
 “Well, I was captured by the Venom military, but they saw my worthiness, so they allowed me to live.  They also gave me a large sum of money, so....”
 “You greedy pig...”
 Clark screamed again as a trooper struck him with the gun on the head.  Bandit clicked his tongue and shook his head.
 “Clark, Clark, Clark, when you will ever learn?  You go against Venom, and you die.  That’s a simple rule, isn’t it?  You know, the Great Andross really liked you at first.  After all, you are his son.  When you tried to murder him, that was actually you signing your own death warrant.  Now, I tire of this.  Got any last words?”
 “Only this,” Clark answered.  He spat on Bandit’s shoe a couple feet away.  Bandit looked at his saliva-stained shoe, and sighed.
 “Kill him, boys.”
 Five laser machine guns shook and their rat-tat-tat sounds echoed throughout the garage.  Clark didn’t even grunt out a sound as his clothes were tattered with holes and burnt marks, dead within a second.  The machine guns continued on spilling their lasers, and after several seconds, the troopers stopped firing.  The ruined ape toppled over, and landed on the bloody concrete floor with a sickening thud.  Smoke was flowing out of him, and Bandit smelled death, and smiled as a response.
 “Clark McHara, son of Emperor Andross the Great, is now Swiss cheese.  Talk about a degradation of character,” he amused, and laughed.  “Okay boys, we have no need of this place.  Destroy this stinking Base.”

Chapter Four
 “Clark is dead!  Hallelujah!”
         --Andrew Olkonny, Starwolf
 At least Katina is not as cold....
 Darwin, Lizbel, Terra, and Dekslan landed on a grassy field somewhere far from civilization in Katina.  Weary and in mourning for the loss of their co-leader, the pilots dragged themselves out of their almost ruined jets and stretched among the tall grass.  The only transporter that had escaped landed some ways off, and the Violet Vision landed between the transporter and the jets.
 Dekslan patted her jet as she shook her narrow head.  “Man, are our jets busted or what?”
 Terra grunted a response.  She couldn’t disagree with her friend.  All four of the jets were almost to the state of worthlessness.  It was a wonder that they could still fly.  Terra’s jet especially.  Her jet’s right wing was on the fringe of being broken off, and blast marks were littered all over.  Half of the controls were broken, and forget about repairing the main engine back to health.  Terra counted over twenty blast marks.  It seems that the power of the outdated, inferior Green-class jets had been underestimated.
 Jason stepped out of his disk oval-shaped cargo ship and scanned the area.  “Yes, this could be a suitable place for a temporary camp.”
 “This looks like the end of the militia,” Lizbel said.  “How can we grow strong without a base to live in, or money, now that Clark is gone.  How can we fight back?”
 Jason could only shake his head.  “I don’t know, Liz.  I just don’t know.  Someway or the other-”
 He was interrupted by a crashing sound.  Terra’s right wing has broken off, and now a slab of metal on the ground.  The bobcat found this amusing.  “I knew it was going to break off, but I’m surprised that it happened now.”
 A lynx worker, wearing oily clothes, ran toward Jason from the transporter.  “Mr. Wolfman!  I have just received a call from someone named Natlarn.  He wants to speak to you.”
 “Natlarn Berola?  Now what does he want?  Well, I’ll be in my ship.  If you see any jet coming around here, let me know.  At the meantime, just settle around.”
 The four pilots nodded and went for their supplies in their jets, and Jason rushed back into his purple-colored cargo ship to a monitor phone in the control room.

 “Hey, Jason, you alright?  I heard the news,” the cheetah leader of the Justice Cadets spoke in the monitor phone.
 “Fine, fine.  We don’t have a home or any good money to restart the militia, but other than that, we’re fine.  How did you know about what happened?”
 Natlarn smiled.  “Jo’hara cracked into your mainframe computer of the militia’s control room and found out it’s last reports.”
 Jason shook his head as he grinned.  “You mean to tell me that he was snooping on my militia?  We’re supposed to be your friends!”
 “Hey, we still are.  Jo’hara doesn’t call something like this snooping, but ‘gathering information’.  There’s a difference between the two.”
 “Not much for me to tell apart.  What’s up?”
 “We just got back from Corneria.  Caught another criminal and got the reward, blah, blah, blah.  You have no place to go?”
 “We’re staying in Katina to set up a camp till I could find a good base.”
 “Why don’t you guys come over to our place and stay for a couple days?  You are welcome anytime.”
 Jason’s grin widened.  Ever since the beginning the militia, the Justice Cadets have been helping them so much.  “Really?  Well thank you.  However, isn’t your place too small for us?  We still have about ten to twenty people left.”
 “We have five rooms that we can change into bedrooms.  The rest can stay in your ship.”
 “Hmmm, alright then.  We got nowhere else to go.  However, the four pilots I have remaining...well, their jets might not be able to make it back to Fortuna.  Busted up, you see?  In fact, Terra’s right wing just fell off.”
 “Then leave the Greenies in Katina.  You still have the blueprints for the custom-made jets you never completed?”
 “Yeah, so?”
 “Why don’t you leave the construction of those jets, whatever they are called, to us?  We can have those done within a few weeks.”
 Jason laughed.  “A few weeks?  It took more than thirty workers to built those things, and even after three months, they aren’t even-”
 “I have a friend living in Corneria that owns a company that makes jets and ships.  I just simply send the blueprints to him, and he will send me back the completed results in no time.”
 “Those jets are supposed to be unique to us only...”
 “Don’t worry.  I trust this fella.  I’ll tell him that once all is done, the blueprints will be destroyed.  Okay?”
 Jason sighed.  “Fine then.  You keep helping us and we might never find a way to repay you guys back.”
 “Just kick Andross’s butt for us.  I’ll see you in Fortuna.”
 “Farewell, Nat.”

 The home of the Justice Cadets was mostly underground, but it has a hangar for their arwings that were given to them by “a secret friend”.  Located in a very deserted frozen desert in Fortuna, they often get very little contact with others, but they were often not home.  As bounty hunters, they fly throughout Cornerian-owned space, catching criminals and turning them in.  They live on the rewards they received, and because they have no other source of revenue, they often catch criminals with a big price on their heads.
 The building other than the hangar was cylinder-shaped like the main Base of the militia, but it was one-eighth the size.  In fact, there was nothing inside but a password-coded trapdoor, itself hidden by a rug.  No one except a trusted few knew where they live, so when the transporter carrying the remaining workers of the militia came, they were told that before they leave, they would be given memory potions to erase their memories of the location.
 “This is a nice place, Nat.”  Jason praised as he strolled across a carpeted living room.  There was a large television on one corner, and a portrait of General Pepper, given as a gift, was hung on the west wall.  Flourescent lights flooded the room, and a computer, which was always turned on, was stationed on the other corner opposite of the television.
 Natlarn nodded.  “Well thank you, Jason.  Well, that’s the tour.  You’re welcome to stay here as long as you want, but I have a feeling that you want revenge quickly.”
 “I couldn’t agree with you more, my friend.  Where are the others?”
 Natlarn shrugged.  “Tigress is probably in her gym, showing off her body-building equipment to your pilots.  Tera might be upstairs telling your workers what to do.  They are living in your ship, right?”
 Jason nodded.  “They won’t go anywhere.  Until I could find a base, I can’t find any use for them.  They are only mechanics and construction workers.”
 “Well, I do have a couple bugs to work out in my arwings, thanks to a recent bounty mission involving a shrapnel bomb that exploded near my arwing.  I’ll find them something to do.  Is there anything else I or we can do for you?”
 Jason pulled out a disk from his leather jacket.  “This is the blueprints to the unfinished jets.  You need Jo’hara’s help for this?”
 “Of course.  Computers is his field.  Follow me.”
 Jason was led through a hallway with five connecting bedrooms, and on the other end was a room dubbed ‘The Wired Room’, which Jo’hara was often spending most of his spare time in.
 The room didn’t get it’s name for nothing.  While there was only one huge computer on the back wall, there was a large virtual reality area on the west side, and a large radar screen showing the entire Lylat System on the opposite wall.  Along side the other walls were dozens of equipment with blinking lights and small screens showing information that Jason cared little about.  A crack-coder was humming, using hundreds of passwords per minute to try to break the billion-character passwords to the Venom Mainframe Computer.  A device that makes password decoders was right next to a small storage container that holds cameras the size of microchips.  It was wall to wall of state of the art technology that would make any computer company CEO jealous.
 However, the one thing that got Jason’s attention was Jo’hara himself.  He was a black-furred puma, about the same height as Natlarn, but lighter framed.  Wearing black leather clothes, his features were hard to see.  If the room was dark, no one would know he would be in the same room.  A dark shadow with the heart of gold, Jo’hara holds the role of computer specialist in the Justice Cadets.  While he wasn’t very pious, he never liked killing and prays whenever he kills someone, whether it was an accident or not.
 Jason tried not to stare at his eyes when they shook paws.  Jo’hara’s eyes were coal black like the rest of him.  It looked like two black holes in space.
 “Hello again, Jo’hara.  Still playing around with your toys?”
 Jo’hara chuckled.  “Only you will call a four million dollar piece of equipment as a toy.  How are you feeling?”
 “I’m still sad about Clark’s apparent death, but I have gotten better,” the purple-eyed fox replied, giving the puma the disk.  “This is the blueprints of the custom jets.”
 “Ah yes, those.  Let me put this in my disk drive and I will send it to Numor in Corneria.”
 “That’s the friend I told you about earlier, Jason.”  Natlarn explained.  “He’s in charge of an ultra-secret weapon manufacturing company.  I don’t know the company’s name, but I do know that they can build anything faster than any other company.  They provided the technology you see here, free of cost.  At least for us.  Numor says that the stuff here is so advanced that even a decade from now, it would still be considered high in technology.  That’s what he predicted.”
 “Well, I don’t want anyone else to know the blueprints for this..”
 Natlarn held up his cheetah paw to confirm him.  “First off, there are so many characters and obstacles that no hacker can break them and intercept any messages between us and Numor.  Even if someone can, then Numor can catch that, send like forty troopers to the hacker’s home, and kill the suspect or suspects.  It may be a bloody affair, but it had not happened yet.  Now, when the blueprints reached Numor, he will take every precaution to keep the blueprints away from the computer to prevent another hacker from getting it, though that had never happened before, and he alone will know it.  His workers are just as hush-hush as he; they live in extreme seclusion and if they ever spill any beans, then he or she will be killed along with four members of the suspect’s family.  Believe me, it’s that strict when it comes to secrecy.  Then, when the jets are completed, the workers will drink memory potions that will wipe out the memories of them building them.  Not even General Pepper knows about this.”
 “Then why are you telling me this?”
 Natlarn grinned.  “I just wanted to have an excuse to shove a memory potion down your throat.”
 “Huh, somehow I knew you were going to say something like that.  Well, alright then.  Send the blueprints to this Numor fella.”
 Jo’hara punched a few commands on his computer.  The screen showed a few windows saying that the information from the disk drive was being sent to Numor.  One second later, the transfer was complete.
 “Wait a minute, this computer can send 120 gigabytes of memory in just a second?”
 Jo’hara laughed.  “Welcome to the future, pal!”

Chapter Five

 “One time, there was an idiot of a reporter that told me that I had an unfair prejudice against anyone that serves Venom.  I didn’t punch the guy’s snotty little nose, but I did told him that the Venom scumbags deserve the prejudice that I have toward them.  I will never even feel sorry for a Venomian.  I will never even think a good thought toward them.  The only way I want to touch them is by kicking them or punching them.”

        --Tigress Mondale, Justice Cadets
 Two weeks passed without incident.  The militia pilots had settled in easily, and they became even better friends with the Justice Cadets.  However, Jason was getting more and more depressed.  He was on a fruitless search for another base, and the frustration was showing on him.  Finally, and suddenly, he quit.
 One night during dinner, Jason stood up as the Justice Cadets and the four pilots were finishing their meals.  They silenced themselves and watched the cargo pilot sniff and cleared his throat.
 “Everyone, I have something very important to say.  Yesterday, the workers that reside inside my ship were getting tired of waiting around doing nothing, and since the hopes of the militia restarting is dim, they want to disband and go their own ways.  I agreed.”
 There was a murmur among the pilots.  Of all people, Jason was the one who kept the faith to have the militia alive even when Clark had died and their base gone.
 Jason continued on.  “Tomorrow, they will pack up and leave on the transporter which got them here, and it will be up to them on what to do with their lives.  I have tried my best to keep the dream of Clark’s revenge alive, but to no avail.  Therefore, Clark’s Militia is disbanded.”
 Darwin gasped and shook his head.  “But what can we do now?  That dream was the one that holds us together!”
 “That is all up to you.  I will continue to stay here, but when the new jets are delivered, I will leave shortly afterwards.  I don’t like to do this, but the situation is dim.  I’m sorry.  I’m very sorry.”
 “What will you do once you leave?”  The badger Tera asked.
 “I will restart my career as a cargo pilot.  Since I’m a wanted fox in Venom, I will deliver cargo for Cornerian-owned businesses.  I’m not out of your picture yet though.  I might bump into you fellas occasionally.  This is my decision, and it will stand.”
 With that, Jason pushed his chair into the table, and left the quiet room to his bedroom.  About four and half months ago, Clark and Jason had hired the first pilot, Gordon, for the militia.  Now, Clark’s dream was truly shattered.

 Jason sat on his bed, slowly munching on a pretzel as he stared at an empty wall.  He carried a bag of his favorite food on his right paw, and his face was expressionless.  His revenge against Venom would never be completed.  Those weeks in the Venom HQ jail, the suffering he endured there, and all five of his barrels of pretzels were gone, all those sinful acts at the paws of the Venomians will never be compensated.  While he looked forward to be an average cargo pilot like he used to be, he would have an empty spot in his heart, and only the complete and utter destruction of the Venom Empire would fill it.
 “Can I come in?”  A female voice asked.  It was Lizbel.
 “Huh?  Oh yes, come in.”
 The chinook sat down next to the gray fox.  “I’m sorry to see you go.”
 “I’m sure everyone is.  I disbanded the militia because I realized that you, Darwin, Terra, and Dekslan don’t deserve to fight for the dream of Clark all your life.  Especially when we are just so away from our goals.  We don’t have the money to buy a sensible base to use as headquarters, and while the Justice Cadets are great pilots, I don’t want to pull them into this.  So what will you do?  Darwin was right.  Being in the militia was the only glue that holds us together.”
 “Oh, there’s more.  There’s our friendship, our will to help each other, understand each other, and to fight together.  And there is my love to Darwin.  I love him so much that my world won’t be complete without him.  We even talked about marriage the other day.”
 Jason widened his eyes.  “Really?”
 “Well, we just talked about it,” Lizbel replied, almost blushing.  “It’s not like Darwin knelt before me with an engagement ring or something.”
 Jason laughed and clasped his knee.  “You want to get married?”
 “Yeah, I do.  I don’t know if Darwin does.”
 “Well, if he loves you the same that you love him, then he might lean toward it.  I won’t be surprised that the next time I see you, Darwin will be your husband.  If you do get married, where will you and Darwin live?”
 “Oh, we haven’t really talked about it, but we’re thinking about Corneria.  Darwin wanted a job as a clerk in some trendy department store, so we might move to Corneria City.  I dunno.”
 There was another knock at Jason’s door.  It was Terra.  “Excuse me, where is Darwin at?”
 Lizbel hummed a bit.  “He’s in the gym.”
 The bobcat smiled.  “Okay, thanks,” she replied and walked away.
 “A clerk?  Darwin?”
 Lizbel laughed.  “You don’t know him as much as I do, Jason.  He actually likes trendy, fancy stuff.  He may never be able to afford them, but that’s just his taste.  I don’t particularly care for it, but I tolerate it.  When it comes to true love, compromise and toleration are two very important factors.  That’s my opinion.”
 “I agree with you.  I may not have a girlfriend now or in the past, but I have enough common sense on this field.”
 Lizbel nodded and stood up.  “I will miss you.”
 “I will miss you too.”
 Lizbel was just about to leave when Jason stopped her.  “Wait.  There’s one thing that I want to do.”
 Jason reached in his bag of pretzels and pulled out two of them.  “This is something that I have never done to anyone in the past.  Here you go.”
 Lizbel received the two pretzels with a shocked expression.  “You?  Giving someone else pretzels?  That’s way out of character for you.”
 Jason chuckled a bit.  “Four months can change a person.”

 The first thing that Terra saw when she came at the doorway to the gym was Darwin walking on a treadmill.  His shirt was taken off and tossed aside, exposing his muscular chest.  Terra gulped at the sight of him.  Ever since she first saw him a few months ago, she felt attracted to him, despite him being in love with Lizbel.  She was a bobcat that wanted to love someone, and Darwin fitted her bill.  She could care less about Lizbel’s involvement with him, but she knew about Darwin’s commitment to Lizbel also, so she kept her crush a secret.  However, how much longer can she resist the temptation of having him close to her?  She wanted to touch him in ways she never done before.  She wanted to feel his hot breath as he...
 “Yes, Terra?”
 The bobcat was knocked out of her trance.  “Huh?  Oh nothing, I just wanted to see how you doing,” she answered, clearly embarrassed.
 “Oh.  Well, I’m fine, but why was you staring at me like that?  You in some trance?”
 “No, no.  I’m sorry if I did stared at you.  Well, if you’re okay, then I’ll be leaving then.”
 Darwin waved her bye as she left, confused on why she would want to know how he was doing.  It was like she made some mistake and thought up a fake reason for it.  Darwin shrugged it off and turned the treadmill back on, wiping the sweat off his chest with a damp towel.

 The next day, four jets, as a gift from Numor, were waiting at the surface above the home of the Justice Cadets.  The four pilots of the now dead militia cheered as they ran to their jets.  Though they have the option of not having to continue going against Venom, just the betrayal of Bandit was enough to bond together.  They used to fight against Venom to destroy them and overthrow Andross for Clark.  Now, Bandit must die, and the four pilots wanted to be the ones to expire his life.
 The jets were indeed unique.  They shone with crimson red armor and black canopies, and they were the size of arwings, though their wingspans are longer.  The wings were curved inward, and the laser guns were at the tips.  However, while an “average” jet have wings on the middle, these have wings on the back, giving a “T” shaped look to it.  It was streamlined for speed, and at the nose was a foot long needle.  They were beauties, and the pilots intended to fly them were sure that they will serve them well.
 Jason shook his head.  “Well, well, well.  Numor had done it.”
 “He’s a genius and trusted friend alright,” said Jo’hara.  “You already packed?”
 “Yeah.  The workers and mechanics had already left in their transporter, so all that’s left of us is me and these happy pilots right here.  Hey fellas, why don’t you give these birds a spin?”
 The pilots cheered their agreement, and hopped in their cockpits like young children.  Within seconds, they were off and away, soaring the clouds.
 “What are these jets going to be called?”  Tigress asked.
 “Hmmm, I have already thought of one.  One of my best pilots in the militia was a malamute named Gordon Braunheart.  He was a very nice guy, so it is fitting that these jets will be called, Braun-class.”
 Jo’hara had a comlink with him, and turned on a frequency to the four pilots.  “Hey you four, how are those jets feeling?”
 “Wah-hoo!  Man, these jets kick butt!”  Darwin yelled out, laughing as he made a barrel roll.
 “Those Venomians better watch out for us!”  Dekslan added.  “Hey butt-breath, wanna race?”
 The cougar laughed.  “You’re on!”
 “What are we going to call ourselves, since we are not in Clark’s Militia anymore?”  Terra asked.
 “What about the Crimson Firehawks?”  Lizbel suggested.  “After all, crimson is the color of our jets, and Firehawks sound good.”
 Darwin agreed.  “Crimson Firehawks, it is!”
 The others agreed as well.  The Crimson Firehawks, at that moment, were born.  They now have a new mission; to find Bandit Forhawk, and destroy him.

 By high noon, it was time for the co-leader of Clark’s militia to go.  As the Violet Vision’s engines hummed and waiting to let loose and fly, Jason Wolfman hugged his former pilots before he stepped onto the entrance ramp of his ship.
 “Good luck on your delivery business, Jason!”  Natlarn said, a tear running down his face.
 “Yeah!  And kick a lizard for me!”  The huge tiger Tigress added, laughing.
 “I will do so, Tigress!  Well, I might see you all again!  I wish you luck on hunting Bandit down!”
 Dekslan nodded.  “Oh we will, Jason.  We will!”
 “Goodbye you all!  Goodbye!”
 The Justice Cadets and the Crimson Firehawks waved their farewells, cheering him luck and best wishes.  Jason went inside his ship, and seconds later, the purple-colored ship hovered upwards from the snowy ground, and with a final blast of engines, flew off into space.

Chapter Six

 “While I have a secret crush on Darwin for some time, there will be a day when I will express my love to him.  If Lizbel would dare to interfere my feelings toward him, then I must do whatever it costs to have her understand that he deserves to have me, not her.”

       --Terra Hartford, The Crimson Firehawks
 “Sir Bandit, I have a message for you,” a lemming messenger reported to the raccoon Second Admiral of the Macbeth Defense Forces.  Bandit Forhawk, the one who betrayed Clark McHara and literally destroyed his militia, took the electronic clipboard from the lemming.
 “Who is it from?”
 “From some group called the Crimson Firehawks, whoever they are.”
 Puzzled, Bandit read the message:
 Bandit Forhawk, this message is intended for you, and read it well.  It is a warning.  You may have heard of us, and you will hear from us in the near future.  Darwin Dracka, Dekslan Menesan, Lizbel Crusasa, and Terra Hartford have banded together to form a name that you will soon hate, The Crimson Firehawks.  Our new goal is not to destroy Venom, but to destroy you.  Bandit Forhawk, we will haunt you till you burn in the fires of Hell.  You will never have a decent night’s sleep, and you will never feel safe again.  You will crumble before us, and you will stopped.
         --The Crimson Firehawks
 Bandit laid down the message on his desk and laughed.  “Foolish pilots!  They don’t know what they’re getting into!  I will show them the true might of the Venom Empire!  Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!!!”
 The room echoed with his laughter, and Bandit dismissed the messenger.  “So,...Crimson Firehawks, you will suffer the fate that I had brought on Clark!  Me?  Burn in Hell?  I will see to it that you four will be the ones to burn!”

The End

 Author’s Note
 The pilots of the Justice Cadets and Crimson Firehawks, Clark McHara, Bandit Forhawk, and the slain characters of Clark’s Militia will not be used without my permission.  That is also the case with me, Jason Wolfman, and Numor.
 Also, Lizbel is a chinook.  Don’t be confused with the wind current chinook and the Native American chinook with the dog breed chinook.  If you wish to learn more about this sledding dog, then e-mail me and I’ll give you a link to a website dedicated to the rare American dog breed.  Or, go to a search engine and look for one yourself.
 One final word.  I will make a sequel to this because the story ended unfinished in a way.  Hopefully, this next story would be the final climax between Bandit and the Crimson Firehawks.