İİİİİ Okay, I finally got myself to write the next part to the series.İ This is going to be pretty short, seeing that itís sort of a filler chapter.İ The next part will be better, I promise.İ Longer, too.
İİİİİ Disclaimer (a.k.a. Stupid Legal Jargon):İ Starfox, Starwolf, Andross, and all related characters, places, and things are to Nintendo.İ Jesika Starwatcher is my character.İ Donít use her without my permission, yada yada yada.İ You get the picture.
İİİİİ Okay, now that thatís over, letís get this show on the road, shall we?
İİİİİ The Good and The Bad: Epilogue
İİİİİ ìOne man alone canít fight against the future.î
İİİİİ --Cigarette Smoking Man, The X-Files
İİİİİ General Pepper looked out of his window dejectedly.İ He had just gotten a message from one of his most trusted lieutenants.İ Fortuna had fallen to Venom.İ There had been a vast number of casualties on both sides, many of which were civilians.İ Now they were headed to Katina. That would be an even worse situation.İ The population was much greater there.
İİİİİ ëIt canít go on much longer like this.İ One side is going to break soon,í he thought.İ ëAnd it looks like itís going to be us.í
İİİİİ He looked out the window one more time and then picked up a phone.İİ After dialing a number, a familiar face popped up on the screen.
İİİİİ ìAh, McCloud.İ Itís good to be able to talk to you,î Pepper said with a fake sounding jovial tone.İ The young vulpine saluted his superior.
İİİİİ ìSame here, sir,î Fox said.İ He frowned at the dogís obvious worry.İ ìWhatís wrong, sir?î
İİİİİ ìI need your help, Fox.İ Venom is getting footholds on almost all of the Cornerian allies.İ It wonít be long until they make it here.İ We have to do something.îİ
İİİİİ ìIíll gather up some team members.İ I already have a few people in mind,î Fox sighed quietly.İ Pepper nodded appreciatively and closed the connection.
İİİİİ Fox sighed deeply.İ Peppy had talked to him about reviving the Starfox team, and he had agreed to it.İİ This was too soon, though.İİ Sure, he had always wanted to be on the Starfox team, but this wasnít what he had in mind.İ He wanted to fly with his father.
İİİİİ Of course, now such a thing was impossible.İİ
İİİİİ * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *İİ
İİİİİ Inside the maintenance center of the Cornerian military, two toads were hard at work.
İİİİİ ìYouíre doing a fine job, Slippy,î the older one said.İİ Slippy looked up and smiled.
İİİİİ ìThanks Dad,î he answered in a high, squeaky voice.İİ Slippy frowned and looked back at the vehicle he was working on.İ It was a sort of large tank. İìDo you think weíll ever get it to work?î he asked.
İİİİİ ìOh, Iím sure we will,î his dad said.İ ìYouíre an excellent mechanic, Son.İ I wasnít half as good when I was your age.îİ He smiled proudly at his son.İ ìCímon, Slippy.İ Itís getting late.İ Letís go home.î
Slippy shook his head.İ ìNo.İ I want to stay a little later, Dad.İ Iíll catch up with you,î he answered.İ His father nodded his head.
İİİİİ ìDonít be out too late, okay?îİ He said.
İİİİİİ ìOkay,î the boy said.İ
İİİİİ * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
İİİİİ ìGet out of my way, punk,î a rough, burly cheetah said to the young avian he had just run into on the sidewalk.İ The avian sneered at him while standing up, showing that he was at least a head taller than he was.İ The cheetah backed up.
İİİİİ ìWhat were you saying, Jerod?î the avian asked.İ
İİİİİİ ìNothingíî Jerod said quickly.İ ìIt was nothiní, Falco.îİ Falco smiled back at him.İ
İİİİİ ìHey, donít worry about it,î he said.İ ìYouíre a hot-rodder.İ I wasnít going to attack one of my own teammates.İ At least as long as you look where youíre going next timeÖî
İİİİİ * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
İİİİİ The next day, Peppy Hare was sitting watching the vid-screen gloomily.İ There was a news report on about the attack on Fortuna that had happened earlier that day.İ It gave him a case of dÈjı vu.İ It was just like the mission he was sent on with James and Pigma.İ The search-and-rescue mission that happened so long agoÖ
İİİİİ I wish this war would just be over, he thought.İ How long can it go on like this?İ
İİİİİ ìHey Dad,î a voice behind him said.İ He turned around to see his ìdaughterî, Jesika, standing there, holding a soda in her hand.İ She looked like someone who just awoke after a late night party since her white-and-black streaked hair and hair was unkempt and her black-tipped bangs were hanging sloppily in her face, which was usually the case.İ He smiled slightly at her.İ She was a somewhat humorous sight.İ It was hard to believe that she was going to be fifteen in a week.İ
İİİİİ "What happened?"İ She asked, a bit of concern in her voice as she looked at the screen.İ
İİİİİ "Venom took over a base on Fortuna,î Peppy answered quietly.İ Jesika frowned and sat down beside him.
İ İİİ "Oh."
İİİİİ Peppy put a hand on her reassuring hand on her shoulder.İ "Hey,î he said, "we'll beat them.İ Don't worry."İ She looked over at him and smiled half-heartedly.
İİİİİ "I hope you're right," she mumbled.İ "Can I talk to you about something, Dad?"
İİİİİ * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
İİİİİ Fox stuffed his hands in his pockets as he walked down the street.İ It was getting to be winter on Corneria and it was getting colder everyday.İ He knew he needed to get to his destination, though, before his objective left.
İİİİİ Finally, he saw the building he was looking for: an old engineering building for the Cornerian Army.İ He walked inside and sure enough, Slippy was still there, fast asleep on the tank he had been working on.
İİİİİ Fox smiled, walked up to him, and tapped him on his shoulder.İ The toad jumped and spun around, then broke out into a grin.
İİİİİ ìFox!İ I havenít seen you since graduation.İ How have you been?îİ Slippy exclaimed.İ The vulpine laughed.
İ İİİ ìFine, I guess.İ Beltino said I would find you here.İ He says youíve been working all night.îİİ Slippy blinked for a second in surprise.
İİİİİ ìAll night?î
İİİİİ ìYeah, itís 10 a.m.î
İİİİİ ìOops,î the toad mumbled softly.İ
İİİİİ ìAwwwÖ donít worry.İ Your dad didnít seem mad about it.İ In fact, he sounded sort of proud.î
İİİİİ ìOkay,î Slippy said.İ ìWhat are you doing here, anyway?îİ
İİ İİİİİ ìWell,î Fox said, ìYouíve heard about the attack on Fortuna, Iím sure.îİ He said.İ Slippy nodded.İ ìPepper called me up about what I could do about it.İ I had told him about how I was thinking about starting up my fatherís old team.îİ Fox gulped sadly for a second and then continued.
İİİİİ ìI was wondering if you would like to be on it,î he said finally.İ Slippy looked at him, stunned.
İİİİİ ìY-you really think Iím that good?İ To fly on the Starfox teamÖî
İİİİİ ìWith a little bit of practice, yes.İ Plus, we really need a good mechanic.îİ Fox looked back at the tank that he had found Slippy working-or rather, sleeping-on.İ ìWhatís that?î he asked.
İİİİİ ìItís called the Landmaster.İ I doubt Iíll ever finish it,î Slippy answered dejectedly.İ
İİİİİ ìYou never know,î Fox replied.
İİİİİ * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
İİİİİ Falco looked around the bar quietly as the bartender gave him another beer.İ It was a rather low-class joint, with a couple of pool tables in a run-down building.İ Still, it was better than where he usually hung out.
İİİİİ "Hey, Lombardi!" He felt a hard clap on the back.İ It was Nick, a tiger from an allied gang.İ His breath smelled of alcohol and his ears were droopy.İ Falco chuckled at the stupid grin on his friend's face.
İİİİİİ "Wuz'up, my man?" Falco laughed.İ Nick pointed over his shoulder stupidly.İ Following the gesture, Falco groaned as he saw what he was pointing at.İ It was Katt Monroe.İ She was looking over at Falco dreamily.
İİİİİ "Dang it," the young avian growled and jumped out of his chair, heading towards the door.İ Katt quickly blocked his way and smiled.
İİİİİ "Why hello there, Sugah,î she said.İ He growled and pushed her out of the way.
İİİİİ "Why don't you leave me alone?"
İİİİİ "You know, Falco, that isn't the way you're supposed to treat the ladies,î she said as she followed him out the door.İİİ Falco decided to change the subject.
İİİİİ "What are you doing in a bar, anyway?İ You're underage,î he mumbles.
İİİİİ "So are you!"
İİİİİ "Yeah, whatever,î he growled.İ They continued walking in silence for a short while with Falco trying to walk fast enough so that Katt couldn't keep up.İ That is, until a lizard and a wolf blocked their way.
İİİİİ "Well, well, well.İ If it isn't Lombardi,î the wolf said.
İİİİİ "You're out of your territory, kid,î the lizard growled.İ
İİİİİ Falco looked at them both uneasily.İ They were members of the rival gang, 'Blood Stars'.İ He actually knew the lizard's name.İ It was Leon something-or other.İ They had gotten into a fight a long time ago, and Falco had given Leon a deep scar in the chest with a broken bottle.İ "I was just passing through, really.İ I'll be on my way now,î he said quickly.İ The two gang members, however, were looking behind him at... Katt! He had forgotten about her.İ
İİİİİ "Who's your girlfriend?"İ The wolf asked, licking his lips.İ He started towards her.
İİİİİ "Katt, get out of here!"İ Falco hissed angrily.İ She started to back away from the wolf when he grabbed her arm and roughly pulled her towards him. İ
İ İİİ "You ain't goin' nowhere, sweety," the wolf whispered.
İİİİİ "Oh yes, I am,î she replied curtly.İ With that, she kneed him in the groin.İ Hard.İ The unfortunate wolf howled in pain and dropped to his knees.İİ
İİİİİ Leon dove at the Falco.İ The avian caught him in the air with a roundhouse kick, knocking him to the ground.İ Falco started to attack him again.
İİİİİ "Falco!"İ Katt screamed from behind him.İİ He spun around.
İİİİİ The wolf had recovered from her attack and grabbed her again.İ He had a gun pointed at her face.İ She was still struggling and kicking at him.
İİİİİ "Checkmate, Lombardi," Leon laughed.İ He grabbed Falconís collar and slammed him against the wall.İ Falco cursed quietly and stopped struggling.
İİİİİ İ'Dang it, Katt.İ Why did you have to follow me?'İ He thought silently.İ The avian didn't have time to dwell on it, however, as Leon drew out a switchblade and pressed it to his throat.
İİİİİ "Say goodnight, Lombardi," he hissed.İ Falco closed his eyes and waited.
İİİİİ "You could put an eye out with that, you know,î a voice growled from behind Leon.İ The lizard spun around, dropping Falco.İ He wasn't fast enough, however.İ The stranger kicked him hard in the stomach, knocking him to the ground.
İİİİİ The wolf was so surprised by the attack that he threw Katt to the ground and ran towards the opponent.İ The wolf tried to attack him and caught a kick in his stomach.İ He was sent sprawling across the ground and dropped his gun.İ Falco, who had just recovered, grabbed the weapon and pointed it at Leon.
İİİİİ "Damn," Leon cursed and struggled to his feet.İ He looked over for some support from his partner.İ The wolf was running away at top speed.İ "You coward!"İ Leon roared.İ He started after him, shouting back threats back at Falco the whole way.
İİİİİ Falco started to follow them, but decided against it.İ He turned around to face his savior and found it was a male red fox.İİ He couldn't see his face since his back was turned to him.
İİİİİ "Thanks, hon,î Katt thanked the fox as he helped her to her feet.İ He nodded curtly and then turned around to face Falco.İ
İİİİİ A wide smile spread across the young avian's face as he took in the countenance of an old friend.İİİ
İİİİİ "Fox!İ Is that you, man?"İ Falco laughed.İ Fox smiled slightly and nodded his head.
İİİİİ "You never could keep yourself out of trouble, Falco," he said jokingly and gave his old friend a backslapping hug.İ
İİİİİ "What brings you here, McCloud?"
İİİİİ Fox turned to Katt.İ "If you're alright, Katt, I'd like to talk to Falco in private."
İİİİİ She smiled sweetly at him.İ "Why, of course I'm alright.İ Thanks to you."İ To show her appreciation, she ran her tail right under his nose.İ He pushed it away seriously.İ Katt sighed.
İİİİİ "Your loss," she whispered as she walked away. Fox rolled his eyes and looked back over at Falco.
İİİİİ "As I said," Falco persisted, "what brings you to these parts?"
İİİİİ "Well, General Pepper called me yesterday and..."
İİİİİ * * * * * * * * * * *
İİİİİ Falco and Slippy looked around the Great Fox with wide eyes.
İİİİİ "Welcome to your new home, guys,"İ Fox said to the wide-eyed pair.İ "How do you like it?"
İİİİİ "It's...umm..."İ Slippy started.
İİİİİ "Really nice,"İ Falco finished for him.İ Fox smiled.
İİİİİ "Well, make yourself at home, fellas,"İ he said.İ "We got some preparing to do tomorrow."
İİİİİ Fox looked over to see Peppy standing in the doorway.İ He walked over to his old friend.
İİİİİ "So this is our new team, huh?"İ Peppy muttered.İ
İİİİİ "Yeah..." he nodded.
İİİİİ "You're dad would've been proud of you," the old hare said softly.İ Fox just nodded.
İİİİİ * * * * * * * * * * * * *
İİİİİ Jesika scurried up the climbing wall in the Great Fox gymnasium.İ Fox had been out all day to get Falco and Slippy for the new team, and Peppy had been talking and planning for different battles with Pepper, so she had no one to spar or practice on the flight simulators with.
İİİİİ 'Everyone's preparing for the war except me,' she thought bitterly.İ 'What can I do?'
İİİİİ She knew that Fox wouldn't let her be on the Starfox team and she found it hard to blame him.İ The only one of the pilots she could outfly was Slippy, and even that was difficult.İ
İİİİİ "Yo, Jes!" a voice split through the silence.İ She looked down towards the ground and saw Fox looking up at her.İ She smiled down at him and waved.İ "Get down here," he said.
İİİİİ "No.İ You come up here," she retorted.İ He raised an eyebrow and sighed.
İİİİİ "Do you wanna spar or not?" he answered.İ Jesika smiled slightly and started to climb down until she was six feet up.İ Then she just jumped.
İİİİİ Fox started to yell at her for jumping, but decided there was no use.İ They walked over to the mat and took off their shoes and got started to fight.
İİİİİ At first glance, it seemed like a poor matchup.İ Jesika was smaller and not as strong as Fox was, which gave him the distinct advantage of having a longer reach.İ Jesika, however, was faster and more agile than Fox was, making her much harder to hit.İ
İİİİİ They fought for over a half hour, rarely saying a word to one another.İ There were very few easy wins in any of the rounds, and they soon tired themselves out and sat down to take a break.İ
İİİİİ "You've gotten better,"İ Fox said between gulps of air.İ Jesika nodded breathlessly.
İİİİİ "You too,"İ she whispered.İ They sat in silence before Jesika spoke up again.İ "How's the team going?"
İİİİİ He looked over at her.İ She was looking at him with a questioning, almost skeptical, look.İ
İİİİİ İ"Good.İ Falco and Slippy are getting settled into their new quarters."İ He raised an eyebrow.İ "Are you mad at me for not asking you to be on the team?"
İİİİİ "Well..." she said quietly.İ
İİİİİ "You're only fourteen years old, Jesika,"İ he continued.İ "It's not safe for you to be on a mercenary team."
İİİİİ "I'll be fifteen pretty soon, Fox," she retorted.İ "Besides, I was the Salutatorian of our class.İ I think I can handle it." Jesika bit frowned, her voice gaining volume.İ "I'm sick of being the only one doing nothing while this stupid war's going on."
İİİİİ "But the reason you scored so high wasn't because of your piloting skills.İ You scored higher on other stuff.İ Why don't you work on those skills?İ Who knows, maybe you'll be a master spy or somethin'."
İİİİİ "That's kinda what I needed to talk to you about," she said, pausing.İ "I was thinking about working on my own and getting my own place."
İİİİİ Fox frowned slightly.İ "Have you talked to your dad about this?"
İİİİİ "Yeah.İ He wasn't too crazy about the idea, but he halfway gave me permission if I promised to stay out of trouble."
İİİİİ "Where are you going to live?İ What are you going to do?"
İİİİİ "I'm going to be a spy, like you said.İ I think I'm gonna live on Fortuna.İ Where my parents..."İ her voice trailed off.İ Fox smiled half-heartedly.
İİİİİ "Awww... little Jessie is growing up,"İ he joked.İ "As long as you visit sometime, I don't have a problem, I guess."
İİİİİ Jesika grinned.İ "Thanks Junior!" she said as she walked out of the room.
İİİİİ * * * * * * * * * * * *
İİİİİ Nearly a week later...
İİİİİ Fox walked into the Great Fox laboratory to find Slippy Toad hard at work on the Landmaster.İ The huge tank-like machine was slowly beginning to take shape and was near the stage of completion.İ The toad looked up at his superior.
İİİİİ "Hiya Fox,"İ Slippy greeted.İ Fox smiled.
İİİİİ "You're doing pretty good on that thing, Slip.İ It looks like it's almost ready to go."
İİİİİ Slippy shrugged.İ "I don't know about that.İ Its engine needs a few more parts and it needs some paint, but I think I may have it done by the end of the next couple of weeks, at least."
İİİİİ Fox nodded approvingly and then his expression turned serious.İ "Slippy," he said,İ "I was wondering if you could do a favor for me.İ I need you to build me..."
İİİİİ * * * * * * * * * * * *
İİİİİ "This is too easy."
İİİİİ "She doesn't even suspect anything."
İİİİİ Two figures were whispering to each other outside the living quarters of the Great Fox.İ They were in black, hooded shirts, making it very hard to discern their identity in the dark.İ
İİİİİ Silently, they approached a door at the far end of the hall.İ The shorter of the pair opened it and stepped in.İ They both smiled as they saw their objective sound asleep in a bed, having worked out all day in the ground mission simulators.İ The taller intruder pulled a black piece of cloth out of his pocket and approached the girl.
İİİİİ His victim was pulled out of her sleep by someone grabbing her roughly by her shoulders and pulling her out of her bed.İ She began to kick at her attacker when the second stranger, whom she couldn't see because the first one had tied the cloth around her eyes, grabbed her feet and they both lifted her off the ground.İ
İİİİİ "Let me go!" she yelled, hoping someone would hear her.İ No response.
İİİİİ 'Ugh, there's a ship full of boys and not one've them'll help,' she thought angrily and started trying to kick the one that was holding her feet as they dragged her down the hall.
İİİİİ After several minutes of this, her captors stopped and the one holding her feet let go.İ Immediately she tried to stomp on the other one's foot when he jerked her blindfold off.
İİİİİ "Surprise!"İ she heard a chorus of voices.İ The girl looked around to see Peppy and Slippy standing in front of her next to a large object covered in a white sheet.İ She then looked over at her attackers.İ Fox and Falco.
İİİİİ "Wha..."İ Jesika blinked.İ
İİİİİ "It's your fifteenth birthday, silly,"İ Peppy said.İ "We wanted to surprise you."
İİİİİ "Well, you did," she said curtly and walked over to Fox.İ "You scared the hell outta me, Junior.İ I thought some Venom soldiers got on board,"İ she hissed.
İİİİİ "You can pay me back later,"İ he whispered curtly.İ "You have presents."İ Fox motioned toward a table.İ It was covered with small packages wrapped with bright paper.İ She walked over to it and started opening the presents.
İİİİİ There was a wrist communicator from Fox that she was told to use if she needed any help.İ There were some CDs from Falco and a CD player from Slippy, which most likely had been planned.İ Peppy gave her a journal with some fine pens.
İİİİİ "Awww... thanks you guys.İ You didn't have to go to all this trouble,"İ she smiled.
İİİİİ "Hey, there's one more thing we got,"İ Fox said and led her over to the covered object.İ She looked at it cautiously.
İİİİİ "Well, pull the cover off,"İ the vulpine urged.İ Jesika pulled it off slowly.İ
İİİİİ It looked like an arwing but much smaller.İ There was a red stripe painted on the tips of each of its wings.İ She gave them a questioning look, but an obviously happy one that seemed to ask 'Is that really my ship?'.
İİİİİ "Fox and I designed it and Slippy built it.İ We figured that if you were serious about working by yourself, it would help to be able to get around."İ
İİİİİ Jesika grinned and nearly ran up to Slippy and hugged him, but he backed away shyly.İ She shrugged.İ "Thanks,"İ she said to all three of them.İ "It must've taken a lot of work."
İİİİİ Slippy shrugged it off.İ "I had some help,"İ he said, motioning to Falco.İ Jesika started to say something, but Falco waved it off.
İİİİİ "Don't mention it, Starwatcher."İ Apparently, he was a bit tired.
İİİİİ "Go on and get some more rest,"İ Slippy said.İ "I'll explain the different controls in the morning."
İİİİİ * * * * * * * * * * * *
İİİİİ Later that day...
İİİİİ Peppy and Fox were in the War Room, planning their next mission against Venom.İ A door opened to reveal Jesika with a bandanna tied around her forehead and a backpack thrown over her shoulder.
İİİİİ "I guess I better be going, huh?"İ she whispered.İ Fox and Peppy followed her silently to the docking bay.İ When they got to her ship she turned around to face them.İ She threw her bag into the ship and walked over to Fox first.
İİİİİ "I guess I'll see you later, Junior," she said, tears brimming her eyes.İ
İİİİİ "Oh no, Jesika.İ Don't you dare cry,"İ he warned, messing up her hair like he did when they were kids.İ "You just take care of yourself, okay?"
İ İİİ She nodded and turned to Peppy.İ She started to run over and jump in his arms when he reached into his pocket and pulled out an orange pendant attached to a thin thread.İ Tears were threatening to overflow his eyes also.
İİİİİ "I forgot to give this to you last night,"İ he said shakily.İ "It's the Titanian symbol for peace and protection.İ I thought it may help."İ With that, he put it around her neck and gave her a long goodbye hug.İ "You take care of yourself.İ And don't be a stranger."
İİİİİ The young vixen nodded, trying not to cry.İ She turned around and got into her ship, determined not to look back.İ She waited for them to move out of the way, then took off to Fortuna.
İİİİİ She finally broke down and looked back at the Great Fox.İ She wasn't all that sad, however.İ Somehow she knew that this decision may have been the right one.İ There was only one way to find out, though.İ
İİİİİ To go for it...
İİİİİ * * * * * * * * * * * *
İİİİİ Author's notes:İ Wow, that took awhile, huh?İ I'm sorry.İ It shouldn't have taken that long, I know.İ I'm making up for it, though.İ Because maybe, just maybe, you'll get to find out just what's up with Jesika's little birthmark next time.İ No promises though.
İİİİİ Anywho, if you have any praise, fan mail, flames, questions, comments, or death threats, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .İ Thank you and stay tuned.