Okay, here it goes. Starfox, Starwolf, Andross, James, Peppy, Pigma, Rob,
General Pepper, Vixy, and all other characters, things, and places are copyright
to Nintendo. Lyrics are copyrighted to Chumbawamba. Used without permission.
Jesika Starwatcher and Justin Starwatcher are copyrighted to me. If you want to use them,
ask first. They can't be used for any x-rated stories, so forget it. On with the show.

******************

"I get knocked down,
but I get up again.
You ain't never gonna keep me down."
--Chumbawamba, "Tubthumping"

*****************

The Good And The Bad

"General Pepper, sir?" A young fox saluted as he entered the office.

"Ah, yes. James McCloud. Please sit down. I'm afraid I have some bad news
for you. It concerns the army base on Fortuna," the hound said solemnly.

James felt his throat go dry. Many of his former friends from the academy
were stationed there. "What happened?" he asked carefully.

"Well, you know that Andross attacked Corneria a few days ago?" Pepper
asked. James shuddered but nodded.

"Andross apparently used Fortuna as a test area. We don't know how bad it
is. All we have to go by is there hasn't been any contact with them for several
days."

"So what does this have to do with me?" James finally asked.

"Could you check it out, James? We need a small team like yours to search
for survivors. This needs to be as low profile as possible," he explained.

"Yes sir. I'll go get Peppy and Pigma and we'll leave first thing in the
morning," the mercenary choked out, walking out of the office.

******************************

A day later on Fortuna, three arwings raced across the horizon.

"James, I'm cold," Pigma wailed. It was cold, too. Even with the heater
turned up to eighty degrees. James had had enough of Pigma's whining though,
so he simply ignored him.

Finally, they got to the base. The only thing left was a few pieces of
rubble. Even what the rubble used to be was hard to decipher. All three pilots were
sickened, especially James.

"How could someone do this?" he whispered, eyes wide, "How could someone be
so cruel? There were innocent women and children here!" his voice grew into a growl,
unaware his com-link was on.

Both his teammates heard him. Pigma began to feel sick as he looked at the
charred scene, and he suddenly regretted having those six burgers at Mom's Galaxy
Cafe. Not much upset the pig's stomach, but this surely did.

Peppy was deep in thought. He shared both his comrades' feelings, but they
ran deeper for the hare. He had once been stationed here as a cadet, and he had
befriended the eldest captain, Justin Starwatcher. Unfortunately, it appeared his
old friend couldn't have lived through such an attack. With any luck, he was gone
when it occurred , but...

"Well, we better get down there and search for survivors," James sighed,
cutting through Peppy's thoughts. Pigma wasn't quite as 'enthusiastic'.

"Come on James," he squealed, "let's just leave. There may still be
Venomians looking for slaves."

"All the more reason to rescue any survivors," the leader shot back. Pigma
shut up immediately.

They landed their ships and started rummaging through the rubble and snow.
It was depressing work. They found only one or two badly mangled bodies. The rest
must have been taken captive or completely destroyed. The whole mission started to
get to them when they found what appeared to be a young child's tricycle that was burnt
almost beyond recognition.

Just when they were about to give up, Peppy heard someone crying.
It came from under what appeared to be the hull of a ship. James had heard
it too. Both the mercenaries worked to pull the hull off while Pigma sat back shivering
and griping.

Finally, it came off. Under it, partially covered in snow, was a tiny arctic
fox kit. Her fur was dirty and she was so tiny they were sure she was a newborn. Sure
enough, the hospital bracelet was still on her wrist. It read: "Starwatcher, Jesika".

Peppy sat down with a moan. He had known his friend's wife had been
expecting, but he didn't know the child had been born yet. Worse yet, he knew Justin
would never leave the base without his daughter. All hope of him being gone when the
attack happened had been lost.

"Any survivors?" a cold voice split through the silence.

"Nope," another answered, "Other than the handful of slaves the shock troops
found, they must have all been killed in the attack."

"Oh well," the first one said nonchalantly, "Sacrifices must be made for the
greater good, I suppose."

The three pilots crouched behind a rock, with Peppy holding Jesika. They
peered over cautiously, and recognized them both instantly.

The first one was none other than the evil Dr. Andross himself. He had a
long red robe around him that rippled in the wind. His eyes matched his soul. They
were cold, red, evil eyes that showed no remorse for any wrongdoing.

Next to him was Commander O'Donnel of the Venomian Army. He was a cruel
space pirate who showed no mercy in battle. His son, Wolf, was around sixteen years
old and seemed determined to follow his father's footsteps example. It was sad, really.
Such a promising young pilot throwing his future away like that.

Peppy drew his gun, yearning for revenge for Justin's death. The hare was
usually the vengeful type, but destroying a base where innocent women and children were
deserved vengeance. He would have pulled the trigger if James hadn't stopped him.
"What do you think you're doing?!" he hissed. "If you shoot at them, we'll
get captured."

Peppy put the gun back in it's holster. He glanced at Jesika. She was
shivering. He took off his coat wrapped it around her, and immediately cringed as the
ice cold wind blew across his body. The kit stopped shivering. She nuzzled against his chest
and cooed. Incredibly weak and malnourished, she still fell asleep with a smile on her lips.
It was painfully clear that she needed medical attention.

"I guess we should get her to the hospital," the hare whispered. His
teammates nodded and started sneaking back to their arwings.

"Sir, did you hear that?" O'Donnel yelled when they were about halfway to
their ships. Then, the sound of approaching footsteps came.

The three mercenaries broke into an all out run. They heard gunshots and
yelling, but that only made them speed up. James's ship was the closest, so Peppy handed
Jesika to him and told them to take off.

He turned around, fired a few shots, none hitting their targets. After James
was about fifty feet in the air, he hopped into his own ship and took off. Pigma was already
half way to Great Fox.

When all three pilots, with a young child in tow, made it back, the crew was
exhausted. Pigma promptly fell asleep on the couch, while his friends took Jesika to sick
bay.

After waiting a few hours, one of the med-bots brought her back out. She was
sleeping quietly in a crib. She had been bathed, so now they could clearly see her fur.

The young fox had all the usual markings of her species. Most of her fur was
frosty white, save for her ears, paws, and the tip of her tail was black. She had a
small hole in her left ear, a wound from the blast that-even though it wasn't very
noticeable- she'd probably have the rest of her life. One thing caught their attention
more than anything. On her forehead was a small solid black star.

"What's this?" Peppy wondered aloud. "It looks like a birth mark, but
neither of her parents had one."

James shrugged, too exhausted to answer. He gave the robot some of Fox's old baby clothes
and told it to dress her and put her to bed. He then 'practiced what he preached', went to
his own quarters, and passed out into la-la land.

* * * * * * * * * *

The next few days went by quickly. Jesika had quite an appetite for someone so tiny.
In two days, she had gained five pounds. It appeared the little fox would recover
nicely.

Finally, they made it back to Corneria. Just after they landed the ship, none other than a three-year-old Fox
McCloud came toddling up to see his dad.

"Daddy!" the toddler giggled. James picked him up with a smile and put him on
his shoulders. Vixy came walking after Fox.

"How'd it go, honey?" she asked softly, kissing him on the cheek.

He sighed, "We only found one survivor. Justin's daughter."

"Justin's daughter?" she questioned, "I didn't know he had a daughter."

"It looks like she had just been born," he whispered, putting his son down. Vixy gasped.

"Is she all right?"

"They're doing one more checkup, but it looks like she'll make it."

* * * * * * * * * *

"We're back, sir," James said as he, Peppy, and Pigma entered the office.
General Pepper jumped to his feet. "How'd it go? Were there any survivors? How's the base?" he fired questions
at them. James was the first to answer.

"Sir, the base was completely destroyed," he said somberly. "There was one
survivor."

"Who?" the general asked sadly.

"A baby, sir. Her name is Jesika. We think she must be Justin's daughter,"
Pigma cut in.

"Oh dear," said Pepper as he looked through some computer files, "It
appears the poor thing doesn't have any family left. She'll have to be put in
an orphanage."

"Why can't I take care of her?" Peppy blurted out suddenly, earning a few
surprised looks.

"Well, I'm not really the one in charge of these sort of matters, Hare,"
Pepper grumbled. "And besides, you're a mercenary. Who will take care of her while
you're off fighting?"

"She could stay with my wife, Clare," Peppy answered, his voice leaving no
room for argument. The general stared at him for what seemed like forever before he
answered.

"Alright," he sighed. "You can have custody of her." The small team nodded
and left the office.

James turned to Peppy. "Are you sure you know what you're doing?" he asked,
concerned.

The hare nodded, "Clare and I... we can't have kids anyway. Besides, I
can't let that poor girl get sent to one orphanage after another," he closed his eyes.
"I grew up in a loving home and she deserves to grow up in one too."

James looked at him and nodded, deciding the matter was pretty much settled.

* * * * * * * *

A year and a half later...

"Hello Mrs. Hare. Is Peppy here?" James greeted as he walked into the house.
Fox ran in after him, playing with a model plane he had gotten for his birthday a few
weeks ago. Clare, who was trying to keep Jesika from getting out of her crib, walked up to
James.

"Hello James. Peppy's at the general's office right now. What's going on?"
She looked down at Fox. "Well, hello little guy. What's that you've got in your hand?"

"An arwing." he said smiling. He walked up to Jesika.

"Is dis Jesika?" he asked his father.

"Yes Fox. You've seen her before, remember?"

"Oh yeah. How come she's living with Peppy when she's a fox and he's a
rabbit?" Fox asked. James sighed.

"Peppy takes care of her since her parents are gone."

"Oh. Where'd her parents go?"

"It's a long story, Fox. One I'm not particularly in the mood to tell right
now."

Peppy finally came in. He greeted James and they sat down on the couch,
eating a bag of potato chips and chatting.

"Well, what did Pepper have to say?" the elder fox asked.

"Oh, nothing. He was just talking to me about our mission yesterday..." The
adults went on chatting and trying to brag about who shot down the most fighters.
Meanwhile, Jesika was still trying to get out of her crib. Finally, she managed to
reach over the side and grab Fox's tail. She fell out, landed on him, and started to cry.

"Oh Jesika!" Clare ran over and picked her up, trying to comfort her. Peppy and James ran
over too.

"Are they alright?" Peppy asked worriedly.

Fox walked over to his father whimpering and holding his head. Jesika stopped
crying and looked down at him. She squirmed around like she wanted down. Clare set her
down gently and Jesika crawled over to Fox. She pointed her tail at him and looked up sadly.

"'Orry," she whimpered.

He grabbed it and pulled it lightly. She smiled and crawled closer.

"It looks like she tried to make up for falling on him," James said, surprised at the display.

Fox sat down so that he and Jesika were at eye level with each other. He picked
up the model arwing he had.

"This is an arwing," he talked with an air of importance about it. "This is
what my daddy and Peppy fly. I'm gonna fly one too when I get big enough." He smiled at her,
feeling as if he just taught the younger kit something great.

* * * * * * * * * *

Eight years have passed. Fox and Jesika are both enrolled at the academy.
This day was just like any other.

"Those two are something else, James," Pepper whispered admirably, watching
them fight on the flight simulator. "Fox has broken all the records for speed and flying.
And young Jesika is moving faster than a lot of the others in her age group. I'm thinking
about moving her up a few grades. We need more soldiers to combat Andross anyways."

James smiled, something he rarely did these days. His wife, Vixy, just died in a
terrible car accident. He glanced at Fox. The boy had taken it pretty hard. He hadn't let
it slow him down, though. In fact, Fox was more determined than ever. But something seemed
to be bothering Jesika since the accident. Almost as if she blamed herself.

"Ah man!" her voice broke though his thoughts.

"That's two out of three," Fox said happily. James and Pepper smiled as
the two cadets gave each other fives.

The general cleared his throat, "I was just telling James how spectacular
your performance has been."

"Sir! We didn't hear you come in," Jesika said, saluting. Fox followed suit.

"It's past lights out, you two," Pepper hinted, looking at his watch.

"Goodbye father," Fox sighed as he started toward his quarters.

"Bye James," Jesika said hurriedly, not making eye contact. She walked
quickly to her room.

**********

Three arwings dodged through the enemy fighters. They were on Venom, and weren't
having much trouble. A 12-year-old Jesika watched with childlike curiosity. She didn't
know how she got to Venom, she was just.... there. Some things you just don't question.

One of the arwings suddenly swooped down behind her. Jesika watched it
land, but couldn't tell who the pilot was. So, she glanced back up at the sky and gasped.
The remaining two were badly damaged now. Worse still, more and more enemy fighters piled
on top of them.

'GET OUT OF HERE!' a voice rang through her head.

'BUT...'

'NO BUTS. LEAVE NOW!!!!'

One of the arwings turned around slowly and flew out of sight. Only a few
seconds later, remaining ship spiraled to the surface and burst into flames less than a
hundred yards away from the shocked vixen.

She stood there, frozen as the waves of heat pounded her. Finally, the shock
waves stopped and there was nothing but the crackling of the smoking arwing.

'No one could have survived that,' she thought in despair. 'Peppy...
James... Pigma... who was it? I have to find out.'

Finally, Jesika gathered up all her courage and started walking slowly
toward the rubble. Just when she was about there, however, someone grabbed her from
behind and clamped a hand over her mouth.

"I don't think so, squirt," a familiar voice hissed.

Jesika woke up in a cold sweat, almost screaming, but not quite. She sat bolt
upright in bed and looked around. It slowly dawned on her she was in her room on Great
Fox, in her own bed. Jesika laid there a little while, trying to shake off the terrible
dream and get back to sleep.

After about fifteen minutes of lying there wide awake, she cursed under her breath and
got out of bed. After getting dressed in her blue jumpsuit, she walked into the
hall to get something to eat.

Suddenly, a noise in the communications room startled her. She walked up
slowly to it and peered in. Pigma was turning off the com unit he had been using. He spun
around and saw her.

"What are you doing up so early?" He tried to say it nicely and failed miserably.

"What are YOU doing up? I don't remember you ever getting up before eleven,"
she growled back and turned away. He snorted indignantly.

"Stupid little smart-aleck," he mumbled under his breath.

Jesika ignored him and left. After walking about ten feet into the next
room, she started feeling very sick. Her head throbbed and her whole body started
to ache.

'What is wrong with me?' she asked herself silently.

There was a couch near the opposite wall. She stumbled over to it and lay
down. The vixen soon lost consciousness.

The next morning Peppy walked up to morning breakfast. He sat down while
Pigma tried his best to cook the pancakes without burning them. After about three tries,
he put them on the table and started eating. Fox walked in a few minutes later and sat
down next to his father.

"Where's Jesika?" he asked. "I knocked on her door to wake her up and she
didn't open the door. I thought she was already at breakfast."

"I thought she was still asleep," Peppy said, a bit startled. "I'll go see if
I can find her. She'll be mad if she misses out on pancakes."

The hare got up and started searching the ship. He started in the
communications room, thinking she might be trying to call one of her friends. When he
didn't find her there, he looked in the training room, the gym, and the den area. Finally
he looked in the rec room, where she was still fast asleep on the couch. Peppy knelt down
beside her.

"Jesika, time to get up," he said softly, trying to wake her. She stirred
and slowly woke up, her vision blurry.

"Dad, is that you?" she asked tiredly, blinking. He frowned and rubbed her
forehead. She was burning up.

"Yes, it's me. Who'd you think?" he answered quietly. "You're pretty warm.
Why don't you stay in bed for today. Fox'll watch you until we get back."

"Get back? From where?"

"We're going to Venom today, remember?" he smoothed her black-streaked white
hair back and got up to leave.

"Venom?!" she asked, eyes wide.

"Is there something wrong with Venom? We've been there before and didn't have any
trouble."

She shook her head.

"Well then, don't worry about it. We'll be back by lunch time."

'If I tell him about the dream, he'll think I'm crazy,' she watched him as he
walked out the door. 'It's just a dream, after all. It doesn't mean anything. Does
it?' With that thought, she drifted back to sleep. The first dreamless sleep she'd had
in weeks.

* * * * * * * * * *

A few hours later, Jesika woke up, at first remembering nothing of the dream.
She got up and stretched, feeling great. In fact, she hadn't felt so energized in quite a
while. After getting a soda out of the refrigerator, she walked down to the swimming pool.

Fox was there, sitting on the diving board dangling his feet in the water. It
looked as if he were meditating, something both the foxes had learned from Peppy. Jesika
could never sit still enough to do it.

'This is perfect!' she thought evilly. 'I'll show him for beating me in the simulators.'

Making as little noise as possible, she inched closer to Fox. Her weight was
off balanced by his since she was so light. Once she got close enough, she shoved him
as hard as she could, sending Fox flying into the water with a yelp.

Jesika sat there for what seemed like an eternity laughing her head off. After
a few minutes, she looked out into the water, trying to imagine the face of her friend
when he got out. He was no where to be seen.

"Fox?" she called nervously. There was no answer. She crawled to the very end
of the diving board and peered over. She bit her lip. It was a big pool. What if he had hit
his head and was still underwater? You couldn't see through all of the water at the same
time so she stood up.

Suddenly, something grabbed her ankle and pulled down hard. She let out a
scream and fell into the water. Once she managed to come sputtering to the surface, she came
face to face with a smirking Fox McCloud.

"Why you..." she started to yell at him. He laughed and dove under the water.
She followed suit and tried to catch him without much luck. After a while she came back to
the surface and climbed out.

"He must've gotten out," she muttered. "It doesn't matter. I'll pay him back
later."

A few hours later...

"I beat you again!" Fox bragged. Jesika glared at him.

"Congrats Junior. At least you can beat me in something," she said coolly. He
smirked.

"Something?! You haven't beaten me in a single thing your whole life," he
laughed and messed up her hair to make her mad.

"Oh yeah? What about on the survival course?"

"Oh, right. So you beat me in one thing," he mumbled. "And don't call me Junior."

"Sure thing, Junior," she answered back and turned off the video game they
had been playing. He sighed and got up to get some pizza off of the rec room table.

"What ever happened to you being sick?" he groaned.

"I dunno. I feel fine now. Must be one of those couple-of-hours bug," she
answered, grabbing a piece of hamburger pizza.

"There's no such thing."

"There should be. They have twenty-four hour bugs, so why not?"

They ate in silence for a few minutes. Finally, Jesika asked the question
that had been on the edge of her mind since she got up.

"What's up with Pigma?"

"What do you mean? He seemed fine to me this morning. Kind of excited about
the mission. But nothing that out of the ordinary," he said, a bit startled.

"Since when is he excited about going to Venom?" she asked nervously. Fox
looked at her strangely.

"The general's paying them a lot of money for this, Jes," he said quietly. "You know
Pigma's a bit greedy. That's why he's so excited."

"I guess you're right." She sighed and decided to change the subject. "How
are you and that girl Fara getting along? Is she still your girlfriend?"

Fox smiled. "Maybe... I'm not..." Before he could finish his sentence, an
alarm sounded throughout the ship. They looked at each other for a moment in surprise and
then dashed off to see what was wrong.

Within moments, they were in the control room. Fox turned to Rob.

"What's happening?!"

"Twenty enemy fighters approaching from the right," the robot droned.

"Well, shoot them down!" Jesika yelled over the alarm.

"Negative. One arwing is approaching the ship also."

Fox and Jesika stood there, frozen in place.

"Just one?" Fox choked out.

"Affirmative. The ship has been identified as Pigma's," Rob said, his metallic voice
devoid of any emotion. Fox looked at Jesika a moment and then turned towards the docking
bay.

"You stay here," he said firmly. "Open the doors. Shoot down any Venomians who try
to board."

"No way! I wanna go see what the he..."

"Forget it, Jesika! You need to stay here and try and contact Pigma," With
that, he ran out of the room.

'Besides,' he thought grimly, 'if one of those jerks got a hold of her and
hurt her, I'd never forgive myself.'

In a few minutes, he burst into the docking bay. The arwing had already
landed and the pilot was about to get out. Slowly, the cockpit opened and out climbed...

"Peppy?!" Fox blurted out. "What are you doing in Pigma's..."

"Dad!" a young voice interrupted him. He turned around to see Jesika jump off
the stairs and run up to the hare. Her smile soon disappeared when she got a good look
at his face.

He had a pretty deep cut just above his left eye and his fur was dirty. It
looked like he had been crying. Peppy didn't cry very easily, so something must be
seriously wrong.

"What happened?" Fox asked frantically. "Where's my dad?"

Peppy looked at him sadly for a moment and turned to Jesika. "I need to talk
to Fox in private," he said softly, his voice ragged. She nodded and turned around.

"See ya," she whispered to Fox, her tail and ears drooping slightly. She
walked slowly out of the docking bay and went into her room. Sitting down in her red
beanbag chair, she whimpered and looked up at the ceiling.

'I knew it!' she thought angrily. 'I knew this was going to happen! How could
I make the same mistake twice?!' A tear rolled down her cheek as she remembered how Fox's
mother had died years before. Jesika had had a feeling that something was going to happen.
Something horrible. But since she was a little kid, she hadn't said anything, thinking
they'd figure she was just watching too many horror movies.

'If I had said something, Fox's mom and dad would still be here.'

The young vixen got up and walked slowly to her bed stand. On it was a small-framed
picture of her parents. They were newlyweds, just coming back from their honeymoon.
Justin had his arm around his wife, Tina's, shoulders. They were smiling at the camera.

Jesika looked a lot like her mother when she was younger. Her fur and
markings were almost identical right down to her dark brown eyes. Except for that star.
Jesika looked in the mirror at it. Some of the ruder kids at the academy teased her about
it, but some of them thought it was kind of neat looking. Jesika didn't particularly like
it. She didn't like the way her teachers whispered to each other about it. To her it was
what was causing her to have these terrible nightmares.

She then looked at her father. He was a handsome fox. His hair was almost jet
black, which looked kind of odd next to his frosty white fur. She had been told that she
acted a lot like him. Justin had been reckless and stubborn, just like her.

Jesika heard yelling down the hall. Fox. She didn't have to hear what he was
saying. She already had a pretty good idea what had happened. Something had happened to
James, and she wasn't sure she wanted to know exactly what. Whatever it was, Jesika doubted
they'd ever see him again.

Peppy looked down at the ground blankly. He had just told Fox the news about
what had happened to his father. About Pigma's betrayal and their capture. About how
the guards had told him that his friend was dead. The boy had denied that it furiously and
ran out of the room.

'I better call Pepper,' he thought glumly. 'He needs to know about this.'

"Dad?" Jesika said sadly. He turned around slowly and looked at her. She ran
up to him.

"Something happened to James and Pigma, didn't it?" she asked quietly. He looked at her
and shook his head.

"No," he growled, "Pigma's fine! That greedy low-life sold us out to Andross.
James and I were shot down and captured." He paused and wiped a tear from his eye.

Tears were running down Jesika's cheeks also as Peppy told his story. She was
sure now that the dream was real.

For the person who had kept her from helping the downed pilot had been Pigma.

"When I woke up, I was in a cell. The guards were talking about what Andross
had done to James."

"What did they do?" Jesika asked, a bit apprehensively. He ignored her
question, wanting to spare her from the horrible descriptions he had heard.

"You better go and see where Fox is," he whispered, changing the subject. "I
need to talk to the General." She looked at him sadly for a bit, not really satisfied
with his answer. But some things she was better off not knowing.

Jesika walked out of the room and down the hallways. She worried about Fox.
He wasn't in his room like she suspected. Instead, she heard what sounded like someone
hitting something inside the rec room door. Se opened it and walked in.

Fox was beating the stuffing out of a punching bag. The white bandanna tied
around his head was already soaked with sweat and tears. The fox was moving with more power
than Jesika had thought he had in him. He didn't acknowledge her presence.

"You know, Fox, you're going to break that chain," she said blankly, not
really knowing anything that would help her friend. She walked behind the bag and held onto
it to keep it from swinging so much.

Fox eased up a bit and looked closely at her face. At first, he thought she
hadn't heard what happened. But after he got a good look at her red eyes and tear streaked
cheeks, it ignited more of his anger, and he started crying again and hitting the bag much
harder.

"Just wait till I get my hands on Andross!" he growled. Jesika wasn't
listening. She just held on to the bag and stared at the ground dumbly.

* * * * * * * * * *

Six months later...

"Now, the next step is to cross the red wire with the green, and then you
turn the knob counter-clockwise 168 degrees..." Mr. Patterson went on and on. He glanced
up over the class and immediately spotted a young avian sleeping with his head down on his
group's table.

"Now then, Mr. Lombardi," Patterson asked in a commanding voice. "Could you
tell me how you are to disable a standard issue Venomian bomb?"

"Hmmm.... uh you're supposed to cut the green wire?" Falco stuttered
shakily, trying to shake off his drowsiness. The elderly badger looked disapprovingly at
his pupil.

"That would do quite well, if you want it to blow up in your face! Now do
you see why I can't pass you. If you'd get into a situation like this and did just that,
it'd kill you and probably more. And if you don't get your grade up this time, you're going
to be held behind..." Patterson went on with his rambling, not even looking up as a young
coyote walked into the classroom.

The boy was only dressed in a denim jacket with the sleeves cut off and some
jeans. Around his neck he wore some dog tags. It was an odd sight indeed for someone to come
inside the Academy unannounced and without a uniform on, but everyone was too interested
in what their teacher was telling Falco to give him any mind. He sat down at the nearest
table and looked around nervously, not wanting to get kicked out of another class. The boy
listened in on the conversation two of the girls at his table were having.

"Fara," the first one, a pink cat, kicked the fenec fox, "you see that cute
hunk of bird over there?" Fara looked up at her.

"The one getting yelled at by the professor?"

"Yeah, whatever. Do you think he'd be the least bit interested in little old
me?" the first one answered back.

"Katt, you could do sooo much better," she said, smirking. "Heck, if you
want I could get you hooked up with some hunk. Of course, he wouldn't compare to mine."

Katt smirked, thinking about Fara's boyfriend, Fox. She glanced up at
Jesika, who was sitting next to them.

"Hey Jesika," she hissed. Jesika looked up from her notes.

"What?"

"How's Fox doing?"

"I dunno. Fine I guess," she mumbled. The vixen felt her cheeks turn beet
red when she saw the coyote that was sitting across her. She looked back down at her
paper, blushing. Katt saw the look on her face and smiled. She leaned over closer to the
younger cadet.

"Think the new kid's cute, huh?" she whispered devilishly. The fox looked up
at her for a second and then down again, blushing even more. It was a good thing it's hard
to see her skin through her thick fur.

"No," she mumbled back. Katt, however, wasn't that easily fooled.

"Come on, talk to him. You'll never get a date if you never say a word."

"I told you, I'm not interested in getting a date!"

The coyote was trying to make out what they were saying, but without much
luck and it was making him uncomfortable. He decided to try talking to them himself.

"Umm... hi," he said, a bit of a quiver in his voice, "My name is Tobias.
Tobias Reynard."

Katt kicked Jesika from under the table again. Jesika looked back at her
sourly, but complied.

"Pleased to meet you, Tobias. My name is Jesika Starwatcher. Are you new
here?"

"I guess you could say that. I don't have enough money for tuition,
actually. Maybe if my old man would get off his lazy a..." Tobias stopped short and shook
his head. "Forget it. I shouldn't be bothering you with my problems."

"No, no. It's alright."

"Class dismissed," Patterson announced a bit suddenly. The students quickly
got out of their seats and started gathering up their books so they could go home for the
day.

One of the older cadets slid his chair back roughly, knocking it into
Jesika.

"Watch it, Terrance!" she growled at the wolf. He laughed and brushed some
of his black hair out of his deep green eyes.

"Sorry," he said coolly. "You shouldn't have been in my way, toots." She
shoved him back and started gathering up her books.

"What a loser," she mumbled quietly. Katt and Fara looked nervously over at
Terrance and nodded their agreement.

"I'm the loser? At least my parents didn't abandon me," he smirked, his eyes
narrowed.

"My parents were killed by Andross. You don't know what the hell you're
talking about," she retorted. The gray wolf stood up and looked at her seriously.

"Oh yeah. And how can you be sure? How come they never found their bodies?
Or even their dog tags?"

"Because they must have been destroyed in the blast," she growled, less
certainty in her voice than before.

"I can give you a better answer than that. The right answer," an evil grin
spread across his muzzle. "Your parents didn't want you. And who can blame them? You're a
freak of nature." He pointed at the star mark on her forehead.

"Shut the hell up," she said coldly, ears back. He put his hand on her
shoulder and pulled her closer.

"You know what? Your dad also asked my father for some leave time for him
and his wife. Right before you were born," Terrance's eyes sparkled. "He said he needed the
address to the nearest abortion clinic. He didn't want you. The only thing that stopped
him was the fact that you were born the night before it was supposed to happen. Too bad."

Jesika looked at him, eyes wide. She didn't want to believe him. But there
was no evidence to disprove it. The doctors that delivered her were dead. General
Darkspirit, Terrance's dad, had been her parents commanding officer. He had been gone when
the attack had happened, away at Corneria for a meeting. And they had never found her
parents.

Her anger and denial got the best of her. She shoved him back as hard as she
could and he hit the side of the table behind him. He got up quickly and dove at her.
Tobias stepped in and blocked him before he reached her.

"Let me go, punk! This ain't your fight," Terrance growled, teeth bared.
Tobias pushed him back a bit and turned to Jesika.

"You have an awful short temper," he hissed. She shrugged and glared at
Terrance. The wolf dusted off his uniform and started to walk off when Mr. Patterson
stopped him.

"Oh no you don't!" the badger roared. "No one roughhouses in my classroom
without punishment. You just got yourself a trip to Pepper's office." Jesika started to
laugh at the boy's misfortune when the professor turned towards her.

"As for you, you have two days detention."

"But..."

"No buts. You know better than that."

"That's not fair! He started it!"

"Well you shouldn't have shoved him. Now stay here. I need to call your guardian so
he'll know that you'll be staying after."

The badger walked out of the room with Terrance following after him, trying
to talk his way out of the punishment. Jesika watched them with anger burning in her eyes
and propped her head up with one paw.

"I hate Engineering class," she seethed.

* * * * * * * * * *

One year and a half later...

Peppy looked around the banquet hall. It was graduation time, and blue and
white banners adorned the walls. There were many other parents, relatives, and friends
of the graduates were sitting around, talking and laughing while eating the buffet that
had been prepared. It reminded him of his own graduation. James, Pigma, and he were young
then, but even at that time they were still friends. Hard to believe how it all turned
out...

He looked over at Fox and Jesika. They seemed to be arguing about something.
The hare got up and moved closer to find out what all the fuss was about.

"I beat you again," Fox said playfully. Jesika glared up at him with
challenging brown eyes.

"Not by very much," she replied snottily, her morterboard tipped down with
her finger as if it were a cowboy hat. "I was Co-Salutatorian, you know."

"I beat you and Bill by fifty points. Fifty!"

"So!"

"Have you told Peppy about the simulator you broke? The one that Slippy
offered to fix and you said no? And ended up breaking it worse?" Fox snickered, almost
threatening. Jesika looked at Peppy and frowned, knowing almost immediately that he heard
by the look on his face.

"Shut up!" she hissed back and kicked him under the table.

Peppy smiled softly and elbowed Pepper-who was sitting next to him- in the
ribs.

"Some things'll never change, I guess," the hare chuckled.

* * * * * * * * * *

Well, that ends my first ever fanfic. Aren't you guys proud of me?

*silence with a little bit of booing*

*shrugs* Hey, if you have something other than that to say about it, please
e-mail me at jesika_starwatcher@rockforlife.zzn.com. Praise, flames, and death threats are
accepted.

Oh yeah, and a special thanks to my beta reader, Alex Foster. I don't think I would've
had the courage to post this if it weren't for him.