Fighting fire with Fire - Second part of the "As the Raven flies" series.

By Zoe E.L Stead.

All characters and StarFox related ideas that are not mine are copyright Nintendo and their

respective creators. If anyone wishes to use Tregar Folessa/ Raven Helix/ Jiles Helix/

Zenobia Steadfast/ Rad Strouda or General Tufurrow, please contact me first.

Warning: there is a small amount of blood and a fight scene but nothing at all graphic.

Thanx and enjoy part 2.

Dedicated to my good friend Rob who provided inspiration for the continuation.

Fighting fire with fire

Tregar Folessa was reclining in one of the comfy chairs that cluttered the lounge aboard

Great

Fox. Ever since he had accepted Fox's proposal to stay on with the team for a while, he had

found his new way of life most satisfactory. It was one thing being able to do as he liked,

fighting Venomian ships, hanging out where he liked, under no obligations from anyone, but

living like this, not having to constantly watch his back for old enemies, was another. In one

paw

he held the remote for the large vidiscreen that was currently on a news programme, the

reporter

standing in Corneria City, a huge mass of cheering citizens behind her.

"And thanks to the bravery of the StarFox Team led by Fox McCloud, the Bio-weapon was

safely recovered and taken back to-"

"Hey! What about me?" Tregar exclaimed, noticing his name had not been mentioned in the

report, "We'll that certainly ain't gratitude is it?"

"I wouldn't worry about it Treg," Falco replied, who had been flicking through some flight

magazines in one corner, "Do you think we ever hear out names either?"

"Come on you guys," Fox shrugged, when he saw his two companions looking straight at

him,

"It ain't my fault."

Tregar and Falco exchanged knowing looks, and went back to doing what they had been up

to

before.

"Ah, there's never anything decent on," the mink complained, flicking through the channels

and

finding nothing remotely interesting, "What d' you say for going out tonight?"

"Sounds good to me," Falco answered throwing his magazine down on the table, "Think

there's

a decent band playing in the City tonight, some of the old guys I used to hang around with are

members. I'm

sure I could get tickets."

"Cool," Tregar grinned, he knew that his and Falco's taste in music were pretty much the

same.

"What about you Fox?"

Fox held up some paperwork that he had been attempting to sort out on his lap.

"I take that's a no,"

"Come on Treg, lets leave Mr Sunshine here for a while. If I remember correctly my mate

Rad

was assigned to this base on Fortuna not so long ago. We'll pay him a visit."

"Sure suits me." Tregar answered, getting up and tossing the remote to Fox who immediately

turned the screen off.

"Catch you later then."

Fox nodded, Tregar shrugged at Falco, and they left.

 

Rad Strouda stormed into the engineering bay of the Cornerian Military Base, Hyperion, that

had

been newly constructed on the desolate ice-covered planet of Fortuna. It was a large building

with shiny grey panelled walls and smelt faintly of fresh paint and jet fuel.

"I want some answers and I want them NOW!" Rad growled, flinging down a clump of

papers

that had been in his paw, onto the wing on a nearby aircraft, "Will someone please tell me

what's been going on around here?"

Suddenly there seemed very few creatures about who were willing to explain. Exasperated,

Rad

grabbed the nearest animal to him, a young lynx trainee mechanic who looked frightened out

of

his wits, and held him to the spot with a firm paw.

"Hey stop shaking kid! Gee, I'm not gonna bite your head off!"

The lynx tried to compose himself, but the look in Rad's eyes was enough to make anyone

quail

under his glare. Rad was a red wolf, and not usually given to a violent temper. But after

finding

out he was no longer in command of Hyperion, and had been relieved of duty whilst he had

been

on leave, the slightest thing going wrong was enough to make him boil over.

Rad Strouda had been brought up around planes and had joined the flight academy on

Corneria

as soon as he could, where he had been fortunate enough to pass with commendation and

gained

captaincy over a large warrior-class ship, the Nostromo. This he had led against Venomian

forces many times, the crew having a large amount of respect for him. He had several years

of

good service under his belt when he had been offered his current post, at which he accepted

readily, feeling it was time for a change. It was a good thing he accepted, as several weeks

later

the Nostromo was attacked and overpowered by Venomian forces, and all the crew were

reportedly killed. Being the last surviving member of the Nostromo, Rad found it had

affected

him more than he thought and from that day on, swore never to take up a piloting command

post

again. Seeing as the young wolf had excelled at mechanics in academy, the command of

Hyperion suited him enormously, finding after the incident he now enjoyed being around the

planes rather than flying them especially with Andross's fleet ever present to shoot down

anything invading its airspace.

"Lost you're tongue?" Rad questioned, his patience slipping again.

"General Tufurrow said he was taking over," the lynx burst out, worried what might happen

if

he failed to answer promptly, "We couldn't really do much about it. They said you were

running

this place like a, like a-"

"Giant space hotel for pirates, I believe are the works you're looking for."

Rad turned sharply to see a smartly dressed female jet pilot, smiling at him.

"The name's Zenobia Steadfast," she held out a gloved paw, "One of the many 'pirates' you've

been giving refuge too. Call me Zen if you like, I've got no preferences."

"So you know what's been going on while I've been away?" Rad said, leading her towards a

more private area, so they could continue their conversation in peace.

The vixen nodded, "Tufurrow said freelance pilots like myself were not to be allowed to use

Fortuna's facilities. Apparently it's a great waste of money, seeing as the Cornerian Army get

nothing in return. I don't think he realises that it's thanks to rebel groups like mine that

Andross

ain't ruling the system. StarFox is the famous example, but they ain't the only ones who like

ëdoing things their own way'."

Rad smiled at her dry humour, "I agree. So tell me, who are you exactly and what brings you

here."

"My ship, Sapphire, took a laser through the fuel injection duct and needed repairs. I heard

this

was the place to come, so I came. Now, however, I've got a day to get repaired and haul my

tail

out of here before I'm kicked out. It's impossible though! That duct needs replacing, whichëll

take me at least another day to do on my own. For goodness sake I can't just Sellotape the

thing

back on you know."

"Tell me about it."

Rad led her into his office and was slightly disgruntled to find that it had been cleared out, all

of his private possession packed into boxes which were now littering the floor. He motioned

Zen

towards a spare seat, while perching himself on the desk. Someone would pay dearly for

taking

his office chair.

"Although this base is for the production new military craft the only way we can advance is

to

see other ships, other fighters, that's why I offered our services as repair engineers." Rad

explained, "Some of these ships are classics, paw assembled, lovingly cared for. Others like

FV21's, double fuel injected B19's, Arwings, Firetails, beauties all of ëem, fly like dreams. In

my

opinion it's the only way forward. The only way to combat Andross's own designs."

It was Zenobia's turn to agree, "Yes, that's true. Y' know I like you, we're on the same

wavelength. You're a pilot too, aren't you. Yes, I can tell."

"What gave it away?"

She winked at him, "I said I can tell. So do you think you can help me out?"

"I don't know," Rad said, scratching his chin thoughtfully, "I haven't fixed an A17 in years."

Zenobia looked stunned, "That's not what I meant, I was talking about this whole kicking you

out business. Without you running this place I'm in deep do-dah," she paused, a little taken

aback, "I never realised you were a mech too?"

"A wolf of many talents," Rad replied, paws akimbo.

"Well then," she answered cooly, peeping through the half closed blinds in the office, "Those

talents of yours look like they're gonna be put to the test. If I'm not mistaken, that's General

Fancypants coming towards us right now."

Rad looked through the window and frowned as he got up, knowing he had to face the

General,

and not feeling to confident at the prospect. Opening the door and striding purposefully out,

Zen

close behind him, Rad straightened his jacked in a business like manner, ready to face

whatever

was thrown at him, but could not help having misgivings over the outcome of their

conversation.

The general did not look in the mood for reasoning.

It was Rad that spoke first, addressing the General as respectfully as he could. From his years

under Cornerian rules and regulations as a pilot, he knew that discretion was the key to

winning

these type of verbal battles.

"So, what's this I hear about me no longer commanding Hyperion then?"

The General stared insolently at Rad for a moment before replying, "You know why," he said

angrily, gesturing to Zenobia, "You've cost this base three times it's allowed funding by

allowing these....these pirates to dock and repair here."

"Watch your mouth," Zen snarled, incensed at being called a pirate, "I've never stolen

anything

in my life."

"Except your plane," he cried, turning on the young fox,

"It was Venomian!"she cried, "I shot it down! I'm hardly gonna fly it back to Andross and say

'Hey pal I think you've lost something?' am I?"

"Why you little-"

"Enough!" Rad shouted, his paws in the air, "Look General, I'm mighty annoyed at being

treated

like this. No one's telling me anything, and I think I'm at least owed an explanation. I see that

what I do might cost a bit, alright, we'll make some cutbacks. But in the long run it's going to

be worth it. It's not like we're offering free repairs for the whole system or anything, and we

do

get all the latest mods for our military designs. If we want to advance we need to work

together,

not fight."

"Yeah," Zen said, backing the wolf up, "Or do you sack everyone who has a good idea?"

"Rad Strouda has not been sacked, he's been relocated."

"Redundant, sacked, kicked out, re-located, same thing," she replied disdainfully.

"Re-located? Where?" Rad asked, suddenly concerned.

"Aquas."

"Get real, I ain't going there," Rad replied testily, "I hate water."

"You wouldn't be in the water stupid," the General sneered, making Rad all the more furious.

"I know that! I mean I don't like water, being under it in a sub or on it in a boat. I DON'T

LIKE

WATER, understand? I DON'T LIKE WATER!"

"I can vouch for that."

They all turned around to see who this newcomer was. Standing just behind them was an

Avonian, dressed in a dark green StarFox uniform and a mink in a black, leather mercenary

flying jacket.

"Falco! What you doing here?" Rad asked, giving his old friend a warm paw-shake, instantly

forgetting his current predicament, "Hey if it's about those five credits I owe you-"

"Nah-" Falco grinned, "I heard you were having a bit of trouble with funding on this place

and

that some idiot wanted you kicked out."

"I am kicked out as such, just ask General Tufurrow here."

The General seemed to squirm a bit where he stood suddenly coming under the Avonian's

gaze.

Being in front of any member of General Pepper's favourite mercenary team made him feel

awkward and he certainly did not want to make himself look like he was being unreasonable,

especially if Pepper got to know about it.

"Look, if it's cash you're after, Fox said he'd make a small donation to your cause," Falco said,

addressing the General, "Four thousand credits min, only one condition."

"Which is?" Tufurrow replied stiffly, not liking the idea of being blackmailed.

"Rad gets his old position back and a raise naturally."

"I'll have to discuss it with-"

Falco looked impatient, "This is a now or never deal guv, going once going twice..."

"Alright, a deal!" the other added quickly, "But I can tell you headquarters won't be happy

about

this. I can imagine the Admiral will have something to say about your behaviour too. Barging

in on private military affairs!"

"Let him say what he wants," the Avonian replied icily, watching as Tufurrow picked up his

coat

and strode towards the exit, his two lieutenants, who had been patiently waiting by the door,

following close on his heals, "I certainly won't be listening."

The door closed with a bang.

Rad turned to Falco and shook his wing again, "Whoo, thanks pal! Looks like I'm back in

business. You must thank Fox for me, he hardly knows me. I must say your timing was

excellent,

how did you know I was in trouble?"

"I didn't. I overheard the conversation and decided to butt in. Fox knows nothing about it."

"But-" Rad stammered,

"Take it easy!" Falco grinned, "He'll see it my way, no sweat. Anything for an old pal."

Rad calmed down a bit and nodded, "So, whose your friend?"

"Tregar Folessa," the mink said, holding out a paw amiably.

"Never!" Zen interrupted in total shock, "The scuz ball that shot down my ship six months

ago?"

They turned to face each other, Tregar noticing her for the first time. He chuckled slightly,

seeming amused at her angered expression. "I would hardly call it my fault. Your plane still

had

Venomian ID codes, it was an easy mistake to make."

"I radioed you but you wouldn't listen!"

"My com was broken, how could I?"

Zen glared, "I've heard your excuses before."

"Shall we leave them to it?" Falco asked Rad as the pair continued to fight, "In fact the real

reason I came was because I heard you were playing down the City tonight. Any chance of

some

free tickets for an old mate?"

"Yeah sure, no problem. I'm lucky that I got some time to practice. This gigëll be the best

yet.

Shame you still can't play lead with me, we used to rock."

"I know, but Fox gets us practising circuits every weekend now, and what with missions and

all......"

"Don't you walk away from me Tregar Folessa!"

"Yeah? Make me!"

"How about a drink?" Falco suggested as the faint noise of high pitched voices wafted over to

their ears.

"Sure. Canteen's this way."

"Think they'll be alright?"

Falco looked around as saw the mink and the fox standing face to face yelling at each other,

until

Tregar stopped any further complaints by kissing his opponent firmly on the lips.

"Nah, I think they've made friends now."

Rad nodded and walked off with Falco, sure he would quite enjoy a strong coffee and a good

sit

down, not mentioning the twinge of jealousy that came over him when he saw what had

happened.

A few minutes later....

"So you decided to join us?" Falco grinned mischievously when he saw Tregar and Zenobia

walking into the cafeteria.

The vixen looked at him with a frown for a moment before talking a seat next to Rad and

replying.

"Tregar's agreed to help me with the repairs on my ship, we were just taking a look.

Apparently

he used to fly the old A17's himself."

"Tregar is it now?" the Avonian questioned casually.

"Shut it," the mink growled.

Rad intervened, somewhat stiffly, aiming his look directly at Tregar, "That's great Zen, but I

thought I said I was gonna help you with your plane."

"You can both help me, I'm sure two lots of paws are better than one," she said, not noticing

the

tension between the two, "You said you hadn't worked on my class of ship for a while, so

with

Tregar's help I'm sure we'll all get the job done much quicker."

Tregar and Rad glared at each other, "I dunno about that."

Falco coughed, seeing where the conversation was going, "Look about tonight-"

Rad looked to his friend, realising he wanted to change the subject.

"Yeah, I'll give you key to my personal box in the stadium, no need to bother about tickets,

just

show them this," Rad handed Falco a swipe card, "The guy on the door ëll know you're

friends

of mine with this."

"Cool."

Rad then turned to Zen, "What about you? Wanna join me backstage after the show?"

"I'd love to!" she agreed excitedly, "I'd love to hear you play. I bet you're good."

The wolf's face glowed with pride, sneaking in a sideways glance at Tregar, who was looking

more than a little peeved at the remark.

"Until then, you boys wanna help me with Sapph?"

"Sure thing," Tregar said standing up instantly.

"Uh, I've really gotta get some stuff done, seeing as I'm not going anymore," Rad said, letting

Tregar win this bout, "Falco want to help me?"

"Sure, I suppose," the Avonian said with a sigh. Manual labour was not his idea of fun.

Zen nodded and walked off in the direction of her jet's docking bay. Tregar was about to

follow

when Rad caught him by the sleeve.

"You need to learn some manners bounty hunter."

Tregar eyed him coldly, flicking the offending paw from his jacket sleeve like a piece of dirt.

"Maybe you do too, wolfie."

"I'll meet you on level seventeen in two hours. Then we'll see whose gonna do the teaching."

"Suits me."

"Me too."

"Fine."

The gave each other one final glare and set off in opposite directions.

Tregar soon caught up with the vixen who was wondering where he had gotten to, but said

nothing on the matter. They walked over to Sapphire together, finding it was docked up with

a

whole host of wires and cables coming from its open panelling, and looking quite a state.

"Looks like they started but didn't want to finish," Zen said with a sigh, "I hope you're as

good

as you say, my ship needs a lot of work."

"I'm sorry if I embarrassed you," Tregar apologised, turning her around to look at him, not

listening to what she had been saying before, "I couldn't help myself, I've never met anyone

like

you before."

"That's alright," she replied, brushing the fur covering his eyes away, with a gentle paw,

"Now

you gonna help me or not?"

"Sure."

Zen got out the blueprints of her jet and laid them out on the table, pawing over the more

essential lines of work that had to be covered. They chatted as they worked, finding they kept

good company. Zenobia went and got some refreshments some time later, leaving Tregar to

work on the fuel duct by himself and only a flashlight to see what he was doing.

"So, you were telling me you used to be a journalist?" Tregar's voice echoed metallically

around

from inside the duct when he heard Zen's returning pawsteps.

She nodded, then realising he could not see her replied, "Yes. Before Andross attacked

Corneria

and destroyed my home town I used to work in the City for a large newspaper company. I

was

reporting on the increasing number of Venomian attacks when it happened, pretty ironic

huh?

My family thought I was mad, reporting my controversial opinions on what a scum-ball

Andross

was, but I enjoyed the adventure."

"Hydro spanner."

Zen went to the toolbox and picked up the item, continuing her narrative.

Back then I was foolhardy, reckless, and intent on one day learning to fly. My stories

eventually

began to circulate round planes as I got more and more interested. I even went undercover a

few

times to try and sneak a look at Andross's new Venomian jet: the Wolfen. My stories were

popular and soon I got a position on the science team. That's how I got my first ship."

"Who taught you to fly?"

"A friend of mine, a reporter too. I remember the day well, it was the day Andross killed my

family. They didn't stand a chance, the whole town was burnt down, I would have been too if

it hadn't been for my friend. He offered to start training me that day and I was kept over after

work for a few hours. Andross had attacked the outskirts, not the main City, so when I

returned

home all I found was utter carnage."

She paused, recalling the sight.

"I did not know what to do after that. Eventually I gathered what belongings I could salvage

and

moved to the City where I dedicated all my time to my lessons. I still kept up my reporters

job

and was lucky enough to be assigned to report on the shooting down of the very team that

destroyed my town. The StarFox team were the ones who brought them down. They weren't

well

known then, but now if I were to say StarWolf you'd know exactly who I meant."

"Yup, that's true," Tregar said, pulling himself out of the duct and wiping his brow with his

rolled up shirt sleeve. "

"Unfortunately it wasn't all good news. During the attack this gal who was with the team got

shot down. I forget her name, sounded like some bird I think. It was a shame, she was a fox

too

y' know."

Tregar stopped rummaging around in his tool box and turned her to face him.

"Is that really true?"

"Of corse it is," Zen said, stunned at his seriousness, "Why would I lie?"

"Nothing," Tregar said with a shake of his head, "Sorry, I wasn't thinking, it's nothing."

"Alright if you say," she replied, eyeing him suspiciously, "Now show me what you've been

up

too. Your drink's on the table."

"Things have certainly changed since I served on the Nostromo," Rad commented dryly when

he picked up a box of his belongings and the bottom subsequently fell out, spraying

everything

out across the floor, "Back then I had a bit of respect, an officer was an officer."

"I've never had that problem," Falco joked, "I'm always respected, it's in my contract."

"You, Fox, all of StarFox, you make your own rules. I'm fed up with ëem here."

"I thought you wanted respect? Only rules gain that."

"No freedom's what I want," Rad exclaimed, "I thought this base would give it to me, but no!

It's hardly been six months and I already have General Wotshisname coming round and

telling

he how to run my life. I'm just a pawn in their big chess game, to be moved around as they

like.

I mean, Aquas?"

"Hey, don't get too deep Rad!" Falco warned him, "You're beginning to sound clever."

The wolf threw an old rag at his friend, who ducked it easily.

"No Rad, I'm serious. You need a rest, you need to enjoy yourself. I heard what you said to

Treg.

That weren't at all smart."

"I don't care, I'll stuff him full of his own ego," the wolf growled, heaving another box onto

the

desk.

"He's a trained bounty hunter Rad! He knows more moves than I do on the pull!"

Rad raised his eyebrows in disbelief,

"No seriously," Falco continued, "Be careful, and I'll only say this to you. Even I wouldn't

savour a fight with Folessa. He lives tough, he acts tough. He is tough."

"He had no right to kiss her," the wolf found himself saying.

"Jealous..."

"No of corse not," Rad sniffed dismissively, "No, it was just extemely rude. She might be a

merc

pilot but she's still-"

"She seemed to like it."

The wolf thumped his fist on his office desk, "Right, that's it! He's gonna pay! I'm decided.

That

mink ëll find his self with a black eye if not worse by the morning."

"Me and my big beak!" Falco cursed himself.

Hyperion's weight room. A little while later......

"So you showed up?" Rad asked coldly, eyeing his opponent contemptuously.

"I ain't no coward, wolf."

"Good. Step into the ring. I wanna prove that before I take your word on it."

It was now mid afternoon and Tregar Folessa and Rad Strouda were standing in the base's

small,

but well equipped, weights room, that doubled as a boxing ring.

"Leave the gloves," Tregar said, as he saw Rad picking a pair up, "Or are you the coward?"

"Not me, mink."

The wolf threw the gloves down and took up a tensed position. Tregar did the same.

Falco, who had decided, or rather had been forced, to referee, rang the bell and the two

lunged

at each other. It was obvious from the start that the mink was better suited to the sport. He

dodged and swerved and leaped about, hoping to tire his opponent before he had to make a

blow.

Rad knew exactly what Tregar was doing, and tried to use this against him. He raised his

paw,

ready to strike when he saw an opening in the mink's defences, seeing he was more likely to

be

stronger when it came to full on strength. Unfortunately he was too slow, despite all this and

soon found himself reeling backwards, his snout stinging, Tregar's mocking laugh ringing in

his

ears.

"Looks like I'm doing the teaching don't it?"

"I ain't finished yet!" Rad snarled, rubbing his snout and shaking his head to stop the swirling

shapes from spinning around.

Immediately he lunged again at Tregar, who dodged and wove about, managing to get in

short

punches and stinging blows every way the wolf turned.

Rad yelped again, when the mink dealt him a stinging uppercut to the jaw.

"You ready to quit yet?" Tregar asked, feeling slightly ashamed for fighting Rad in the first

place. He was a bounty hunter, and Rad was a mechanic after all.

"No way," the wolf growled and persistently raised his fists again. The mink could do

nothing

except admire him for his pluckiness. In fact, Tregar must have been so busy doing this that

he

failed to see a quick left paw come hurtling towards his face. The blow caught him full on

with

tremendous force and he staggered back in shock. Rad saw his chance and pounced, dealing

Tregar an uppercut to beneath his jaw. Dazed and wounded, the mink fell onto one knee,

blood

trickling from the side of his mouth. He raised a paw to the cut and wiped the blood away, all

the time looking up at Rad with loathing.

"Just when I was beginning to like you, you go and do a thing like that," Tregar murmured

viciously, getting to his paws and advancing on his opponent, "You're gonna pay for that

Strouda. You're gonna pay real good."

Rad suddenly saw that he had made an real enemy here. Tregar's eyes flashed with malice

and

anger as he rolled up his shirt sleeves and clenched his paws into two tight knuckled fists.

The

wolf knew this time, Tregar was not going to play with him.

"What on Corneria's going on here?"

They both looked up to see Zenobia Steadfast, still dressed in oil stained overalls and holding

some engine part in her paw, looking very hot and flustered, "I heard off Lyndon you two

were

having a fight! Looks like I came just in time."

She jumped down the steps and swung herself over the ropes and into the ring. She lifted a

paw

and touched the spot on Tregar's jaw where he had a nice purple bruise forming. He winced.

"Don't be sucha baby," she chided, "Come on, shake paws and be friends. If this whole thing's

over my stupid plane then I rather if neither of you helped me. You can either be friends with

each other and my friend too, or I'll take my friendship elsewhere. There's no third option."

The two creatures looked at each other and begrudgingly shook paws.

"That's better. Treg, you go get that wound seen to."

"Yeah alright," he complained, walking off to nurse his bruise and his feelings.

Zenobia turned to Rad and placed a kindly paw on his shoulder while examining his cheek,

"You'll have black eye in the morning, and a bruise here."

He winced too when she touched it, but she said nothing except, "It was very brave of you to

challenge him."

Rad shook his head, "More like stupid."

Zen smiled lightly, "There's on old saying that applies very much to you Rad Strouda. With

you

around, space is that little bit less darker. Think about it."

She tossed him a towel and swung herself easily out of the ring.

"I'll see you tonight. Our ususal time?"

He looked at her questioningly, "What do you mean."

"I mean we'll meet when we decide to show up."

"Alright," Rad agreed, feeling somewhat happier "I'll get you some flowers."

"I ain't the sloppy romantic type," she countered as she reached the door, "But if you must get

me something, I prefer chocolates!"

Rad chuckled to himself.

"So do I," he said, "So do I."

Back aboard great Fox........

"Fox, you sure I can't interest you in joining us?" Falco questioned one last time as he made

his

way through the lounge and towards the docking bay.

"Uh huh," Fox muttered, his head in between the pages of a book.

"You should get out more!" the Avonian commented.

Fox raised his head and looked at him, "Some of us have something called ëwork' to do. I'm

sure

you don't know what that is, but it is something I'm all too familiar with, alright?"

Falco sighed and walked out.

"Ready Treg? Boy that bruise sure looks nasty."

"Shut your beak feather brain," the mink said dryly, "It ain't as bad as the black eye I gave

that

miserable excuse for a doormat."

"Touchy!" Falco exclaimed.

But Tregar was no longer listening. Instead he had climbed into the Lamda Bravado's cockpit

and was already gaining permission to leave the docking bay.

Out in the vastness of space another ship was waiting.

"Hey Treg, thanks for finishing off the repairs for me! It's great to have Sapph back in my

loving

paws."

"No prob Zenobia," Tregar radioed, "Anything for you. Now let's wait for bird boy and then

we

can get going."

Yeah, look I don't mean to be nosy but can I ask you something?" she asked.

"Fire away."

"Call it my old reporters instinct but I found this disk, I figured it must have fallen out of

your

pocket, I was gonna return it, but I stuck it in my computer."

Tregar gulped.

"I saw the vidicom screen. That gal was Raven Helix, the pilot who crashed after the fight

with

StarWolf. I couldn't believe it at first, you see I lied to you Tregar, I knew who you were

talking

about all along. Raven Helix was my cousin!"

"Hey guys everything alright?" Falco's voice cut in, "Bit quiet today Treg. Not that I'm

complaining."

"No....Yes..I mean, I'm alright," Tregar managed to stammer.

"He alright?" Falco asked Zen, sounding concerned.

"Sure," she replied, "We're both fine."

The evening was a huge success. Rad performed better than he had ever before and all to a

huge

turnout, the stadium buzzing, the atmosphere electric. It was not often in these days of

constant

worry from Andross's attacks that the creatures on Corneria managed to have a good time.

Rad

and his band certainly supplied it that evening though. After the show was over, he showed

Zen

backstage and they went out with the other band members to a local club, where they spent

most

of the night, and their credits, enjoying the nightlife.

Falco and Tregar returned to Great Fox, except instead of hitting the sack, Tregar sat up in

his

quarters reading, finding no matter how hard he tried he could not sleep.

Zenobia knows about Raven. Zenobia knows about Raven, was all his mind kept saying to

him.

He was determined more than ever to talk to her in the morning. She had been sly enough to

sneak the disk from his pocket, there was no way he could have dropped it. It looked like he

had

a partner to work with on this little mystery. Touching the bruise on his chin and smiling

thinly

the mink slumped down on his bunk and looked to the ceiling with a sigh. Tomorrow would

bring some answers. He would make sure of that.

The next day........

"This is Zenobia Steadfast requesting permission to dock in bay 4. Great Fox do you copy?

Over."

"Great Fox here, permission granted, over."

"Thank you. Over and out."

Sapphire skimmed lightly into one of the large docking bays under Great Fox and came to a

halt

with a hydraulic hiss of air-brakes. Immediately several mechanics came out and began to

attach

fuel pipes and mechanical wiring to the ship. Zen grinned as she got out, met by an elderly

looking hare and a toad.

"Efficient round here aren't you," she said in honest sincerity.

"We aim to please," the hare chuckled, "Welcome Miss....um"

"Zenobia Steadfast, call me Zen if you like. And you are?"

"Peppy Hare and Slippy Toad marm."

"Oh the StarFox team, I'm honoured. I've met the Avonian, Falco, but what about the

legendary

Fox McCloud? Is he around too?"

"Right here."

Zenobia saw a tall hansom fox standing admiring her jet. He held out a friendly paw in a

gesture

of friendship, "Pleased to meet you. I believe Falco said something-"

"Yeah, bet he did," Zen replied knowing what he thought about her and Tregar, "Cool place

you've got here. Very state of the art, I like it a lot."

"Thank you," Fox said, leading her out of the bay and towards the lounge where it was more

comfortable, "But I believe it's Tregar you wanted to see. May I inquire why?"

"Business," she said simply.

Seeing he was not going to get any more out of the vixen than that, Fox contented himself

with

small talk until they reached their destination.

"Make yourself at home. Treg 'll be around shortly, I think he's gone up to level 19 for some

reason. I'm sure he won't be long."

Zen settled herself down in one of the many comfortable chairs speak throughout the large

room,

watching Peppy and Slippy help themselves to a drink. They offered her some, but she

declined.

They sat in awkward silence for a few seconds.

"Sssso, what's the power output on your jet?" Slippy asked, trying to make conversation the

only

way he knew he could.

Peppy snorted, "I'm sure the young lady has better things to talk about than-"

"18990KJ of combustible hydronucleotide petroleum per engine. Got two, and added a

secondary thruster to the back for increased manoeuverability. I also upped the power to

output

ratio by a third, but the stabiliser on the left wing still reads less than 89 percent and the

schematics say it should be at least 95. I'm still working on the fuel ducts too. Though they're

now functional, they could be a lot more efficient, but the A17's were never meant to be used

for deep space missions. I'm lucky to have done what I have on it."

"Have you tried upping the quantum threshold of the Z drive and remodulating the amplitude

of the-"

"Done that, been there and brought the T-shirt."

"What about the L dampers? Sometimes that can cause disruptions to the stabiliser output."

"The dampers? Now there's an idea."

Peppy groaned, it was too early for his mind to be taking in all of this. Luckily for the old

hare,

a face popped round the door and hailed them in a friendly manner.

"Hey Zen, morning you guys."

"Morning Tregar," Slippy said, "Me and Zenobia were just talking about-"

"I know, I heard. Good idea that, should have thought of that myself. Anyway, you wanna

come

this way Zen?"

"Sure. I'll see you later alright."

They nodded, Peppy glad to be left in peace.

"You wanted to see me?" Zen said, referring to the message she received via her laptop that

morning.

"You think I could have never seen you again after what you said to me yesterday?"

"Hah, this sounds like a serious relationship we got going here!"

"No, I mean about Raven! Gees you know what I'm going on about. I'm surprised you're

joking

when she was your cousin!"

"She wasn't. I don't even know the girl," Zen said cooly, "I just wanted to get the truth out of

you. You know about what happened to her, yet you have recent video footage of a fox that

matches her description. You think I could pass up on a story like that? I mean, you gave the

game away when you asked me if I was telling the truth. I can read you like a book Tregar

Folessa."

"Why you sneaky little-"

Tregar ran after Zen as she ran shrieking down the passage way, laughing, as he tried to catch

her. She was not looking where she was going and ran slap bang into a creature walking the

other way.

"Watch it young'n," the creature said holding up his paws.

"Zen, meet Jiles Helix. Head engineer of StarFox," Tregar said bounding up to the pair, "Zen

this is Jiles." They shook paws.

"I'm sorry I bumped into you," she apologised, "It's just with a mad mink on your tail....."

"You're forgiven," he answered though a little absently, "My I just realised you look so much

like-"

"Come on Zen" the mink said impatiently, "See you around Jiles."

"Yes,...uh...bye."

"Raven's father?"

"Uh huh," Tregar confirmed when they are out of earshot.

"This is strange," Zen said, becoming serious all of a sudden, "I've been doing some research,

believe it or not, and all records state that Raven Helix died in a plane crash. No body was

ever

found so it was believed that, seeing as the plane exploded....well work the rest out for

yourself.

However, your tape proves otherwise. Problem is no hospital has any record of a creature

going

in for surgery as extensive as we've seen her to have. I checked all names and backgrounds,

knowing she could have changed it, but none came up. Her father has a mechanical limb, that

was easy to find out, but I don't think that makes any difference to what's going on here. The

only other explanations are that she had surgery on a Venomian Base or-" she began to

whisper

"The rumours about Equinox are true!"

"Whoa!" Tregar exclaimed, "You've been busy!"

"I don't fool around when there's work to be done." she said, "So, are we gonna work on this

together?"

"I thought you liked Rad."

She stopped and looked at him, "What's he got to do with this? I like Rad, I like him a lot,

same

as I like you a lot. Just because I'm friends with him doesn't mean I can't work with you does

it?"

"No I suppose-"

"Good. Now take me to a net terminal. There's a friend I want to contact. I've got something

for

you to do as well."

"Oh and what's that?"

"I'll show you when I get to that terminal, but meanwhile I've got something for you."

She reached up and planted a small kiss on his bruise.

"I feel like I owe you. That's for the repairs on my ship."

She kissed him again, this time more firmly on the lips.

He was stunned but did not complain.

"And what's that for?"

"I'm simply returning an insult," she replied.

"So now we're equal."

"Exactly. Now come on, we've got a lot of work to do."

They grinned at each other and headed off to try and solve this little mystery once and for all,

not realising that maybe, simply by taking it upon themselves to find out the truth, they were

wading in beyond their depth. Oh yes, oblivious to the hidden dangers that awaited them both

Zenobia and Tregar were heading out of the frying-pan and into the fire.

Author's note: A bit shorter this one, but believe me the last instalment will be one to wait

for.

I must thank my friend Rob for letting me use him as a character and I hope that you all

enjoyed

reading my little contribution to the world of fanfics. As usual any suggestions etc are

more than welcome at the normal address.

Zoe Stead AKA Double Helix.