When Midnight Falls

        "I told you to leave that alone!"  Star yelled, storming into the
docking bay on Great Fox.
        "You didn't tell me that it had an alarm on it!"  Fox protested.
Star walked over to Midnight Fox, her custom-made arwing.  Fox stepped
back as Star turned off the alarm and looked it over.
        "Fox, I told you to stay away from my jet and I meant it.  I love
this jet and if you even scratch it, I'll hafta kill you," Star ran her
paw along the sleek frame of the aircraft.
        "Sorry.  It's a sweet jet, much better than our arwings," Fox
replied.
        "I know, but you should see her little sister, Arctic.  Now
there's a great jet.  She's sleek as a cat and as sly as a fox, but she
fights like a tiger.  She can only hold five Nova bombs though, and she's
pretty small.  She handles well.  I've taken her on a test flight, and
man is she ready for a dogfight."
        "Why don't you fly that jet then?"  Fox asked.
        "'Cuz this baby's still goin' strong, and she's what I'm used to
for now.  Besides, when someone gets shot down in a fight, I can pick
them up because of the expansion Midnight has."
        "Hey, Star.  I was just wondering, how you added an extension to
that," Slippy said, walking in.
        "That's a secret.  But it was pretty simple.  You should see my
Dune-Skipper, though.  I only use it on Titania, you know, because of all
the sand.  But that thing can move!  Much better than your Land Master,"
Star said, looking down at her amphibian friend.
        "Yeah, but have you made any submersible vehicles?  My Blue
Marine can out swim any sub and can hold more missiles," Slippy pointed
out.
        "No, I've been working on a sub, but it hasn't gotten past the
drawing board stage.  I've also got this snow rover vehicle.  I haven't
figured out a name for it yet, because I'm not finished with it, but
it'll be one sweet rover when I'm done."
        "Jeez, Star where do you keep all these things?"  Fox asked, he'd
been listening to the whole conversation.
        "Nice try, big bro, but I'm not telling anyone where my den is.
It's a complete secret," Star smiled at her brother.
        "Hey, so this is where you've been.  C'mon, let's go do some
target practice, or somethin'!"  Falco said, as he walked in.
        "Gee, Falco, you couldn't fly for a few weeks because of your
wing, and now your acting like you haven't flown in over a year!"  Star
teased.  Recently, Star had taken Falco's place on the team because he
had a broken wing.
        "I'm just a bit itchy to get back in the cockpit.  Let's go!"
Falco said, pulling his helmet on.
        "We can't leave without Peppy," Slippy said.
        "Right. I'll go find him," Star said.  "And don't mess with my
jet.  Any of you!"
        "What?"  asked Fox.
        "Us?"  Slippy asked.
        "Never," Falco replied.
        Star shook her head and ran off to find Peppy.  If he's
telepathic, why doesn't he know when we wanna go somewhere?  Star
thought.  As she ran through the living room on Great Fox, an alarm
buzzed on the main computer.
        "Oh, jeez, talk about coincidence," Star said.  She turned the
computer.  "Talk to me."  She said to whoever was on the screen.
        "Star McCloud, that is no way to greet authority!"  a familiar
voice said, over the audio/visual screen.
        "Well, you never know who's in authority.  I mean, if you're
signed up to be in the Cornerian army, you're in authority.  If you work
on Great Fox, Fox is in authority.  If you're hungry, then the pizza
guy's in authority.  You see what I'm sayin'?"  Star asked.  General
Pepper glared at her.
        "Where's Fox?"  Pepper asked.
        "How should I know?  I'm not my brother's zoo keeper," Star
answered.
        "Star!"
        "Alright!  Alright!  I'll get him!"  Star yelled.  Star
telepathically called to Fox.  'Fox, phone for you.'
        'Who is it?'  Fox thought back.
        'General Salt and Pepper,' Star replied.  She looked back to the
screen.  "He's coming."
        Soon Fox was in the room with Slippy and Falco.  Star left to
find Peppy.
        "Hey, Pepster, where ya been?"  Star asked, walking into Peppy's
room.
        "Oh, no where in particular.  Just around," he answered, trying
to shove something under his bed without Star seeing.
        "Yeah, well, General Pepper's on the a/v screen.  Sounds like
he's gotta mission for you guys," Star said, looking curiously at the box
Peppy had tried to hide.
        "Are you going?"  Peppy asked.
        "On the mission?  No, Falco can fly again, so I think I'll just
head home and relax."
        "Alright.  We'll miss you Star," Peppy said, getting up and
walking to the door.  He put his arm around Star and led her out.
        Darn it.  I wanted to see what was in that box, Star thought.
Peppy held back a chuckle.  He could sense that Star wanted to go see
what he had hidden, but he wouldn't let her.  He didn't want anyone to
know about it...
        "So what you're saying is that you want us to burn our tail
feathers on Solar for something that might be a miscalculation?"  Falco
was saying to Pepper.
        "Lombardi, if you start picking up on Star's bad habits I'll-"
Pepper started.
        "You'll what?  Besides, Falco always back-talked.  Just not to
you," Star laughed.
        "As I was saying," Pepper continued, glaring at Star, "We're
pretty sure that strange activity has been going on on Solar and I'd like
you too-" Pepper looked at Star who had begun a  sneezing fit.  "What's
wrong Star?"
        "I don't know *ah-choo*, I think there's some pepper in the air
or something. *ah-choo!*"
        "You have your orders.  Pepper out."  The screen blinked off.
        Fox glared at Star.  "Why did you do that?  I wanted to ask him
something."
        "How did you make yourself sneeze like that?"  Slippy asked,
amazed.
        "My own creation," Star smiled.  She pulled a small bottle out of
her sleeve.  "Sneezing powder.  Guaranteed to give you a sneezing fit for
up to a minute, or more.  I just finished working out the bugs.  I've
been waiting for weeks to do that!"
        The team cracked up.  Even Fox laughed a bit.
        "So where're you guys goin' this time?"  Star asked.
        "Solar to check out that bio-weapon we took out there," Fox
answered.
        "Oh, that thing?  That was a facsimile of a coinciding bio that
was being fabricated at the opposition's complex," Star said, casually,
selecting a soda can from a wall cabinet and opening the flip-top.
        "Could you repeat that in the universal language we all use?"
Fox asked, looking as confused as everyone else.
        "That was a model of something bigger being made on Venom," Star
translated.
        "Oh," Fox said.
        "Well, I guess you guys gotta go.  Oh, and be sure to stop by at
Katina on your way.  There's going to be an attack there.  And watch your
step in Meteo.  That place is completely taken over by Andross's
minions," Star said, leading the team to the docking bay.  "See ya.  Oh,
and I'm leaving today.  I've done my share of work and I'm going home.
Take care.  Bye guys!"  She pushed Fox to his arwing and handed out their
helmets.  "And Fox, I'm changing my a/v number so you can't call me
again.  I'll know if you need me.  Trust me."
        Starfox left, heading for Corneria.  Star got in her jet and
sighed, looking at the sleek interior of her arwing.  "It'll be nice to
get home," she said to herself, and then she took off.

        "Ramsy, I found something!"  Ben Rogers said, excitedly.  "It's a
computer chip that isn't supposed to be in the main computer.  I'm sure
this time.  No mistake."
        "You're positive?  Last time, Wolf was ready to kill us."  Ramsy
said, walking over to his teammate.  Ben nodded.
        "Hey, can we get some pizza, or something?"  Guy asked, just
walking through the door to his team's dwelling on Venom.  "I'm hungry."
        "Shut up, Guy.  We think we just found the leak in the system."
Ben said.
        "Oh, not again!  I say we just forget it.  That Star chick's
probably behind it," Guy said perching on the arm of a chair.
        "That's 'Starfox' not 'Star chick'."  Ramsy looked at the
youngest team member.  "Why can't you sit on a chair right?"
        "'Cuz I don't want to.  And I don't mean Starfox.  I mean Fox's
sister, Star.  She's a spy and she was here recently.  She played
Starwolf like a piano."  Guy found a potato chip bag on the floor and
looked through it for any chips.
        "If Starwolf knew who the leak was, he wouldn't be making us do
all this.  And even if Star found out some of the codes, Andross has had
all the codes changed so she couldn't know what's going on now."  The
lion looked back at the computer screen.  "How can you be sure?"
        "This chip has been scanned and the computer says it was put
there by a spy.  The spy was found out and killed, but the chip wasn't
found," the leopard turned in his seat to see Ramsy.  "Do you know what
this means?  If we could take this straight to Andross and not Starwolf,
we could go on our first real mission.  Think about it Ramsy, I'm sure
this time and Starwolf doesn't have to know about it."
        "What if it's another mistake?  You were sure last time and
Starwolf nearly killed us," the team was silent, remembering the beating
they had gotten from Wolf, Leon, and Pigma.  Ramsy continued,  "Andross
will kill us if it's a mistake."
        "If you two wanna risk it, go ahead.  But this time, I'm staying
out of it," Guy got up to leave.
        "You can't stay out of it.  We're a team," Ben said.  But Guy had
already left.
 
        "Natlarn, I'm bored," Tera complained.  "When are we gonna do
something?"
        "Yeah, we haven't done anything for almost a month," Tigress
said.  She punched a punching bag swiftly and hard.
        "Careful, don't rip that," Natlarn warned.  The cheetah rubbed
his head.  "There'll be something to do soon enough.  Right Jo'Hara?"
        "I'm not entirely sure.  Something seems to be going on Macbeth.
I'm trying to break the code but it'll take time.  We can't do anything
unless we know what's going on," the black panther turned back to his
computer screen.  Tigress punched the bag again and sand spilled onto the
floor.
        "I'm getting tired of waiting!  Let's go to Macbeth now and get
the facts later!"
        "Great, now we've gotta clean that up," Natlarn growled.  "Tera,
get the vacuum."
        "Why do I have to get it?"  the badger asked.  Walking to the
hall closet.
        "Because you know where it is," Jo'hara said, looking up with his
coal black eyes.
        The team, called the Justice Cadets, had come together a while
ago to take out a team of people who were going to sell out to Andross on
Katina.  They had settled a base on Fortuna, because hardly anyone lived
there and it would be easy to send messages to Corneria and Katina.
Since then, the team didn't have much to do.
        Natlarn Berola was the leader of the team.   He and Tera had
served on the Cornerian Defense at Katina.  Tigress had been a mercenary
until Brad, Tera's cousin, told Tera and Natlarn to ask her to join.
Tigress was strong and enjoyed pounding anything and anyone Venomian.
Jo'hara was the last addition.  He was a computer specialist and could
crack any Cornerian code.  Venomian codes took a while longer to break,
but he was working on that.  Jo'hara used to be a pilot but the killing
had disgusted him. Now he'd pray for anyone he killed, accidently or not.
        Suddenly, the screen on Jo'hara's computer blinked and the image
of Brad showed up.  "Hey, I've got a job for you guys.  Meet me at my
place in three hours," the screen blinked off as suddenly as it had come
on.
        "That was brief," Natlarn said, looking surprised.
        "It must have been important," Tera said.  "He doesn't like
visitors, and I don't think he trusted the connection he had.  Otherwise
he would have talked a little longer."
        "Let's go!"  Tigress yelled.  "I don't wanna just stand here
thinking about it."
        The team was on their way to Titania within minutes.  "Hey," said
Natlarn, "Did anyone clean up the sand?"  No one answered.

        "Are you sure?"  Brad asked the vixen sitting in his room.
        "Yeah, I'm sure.  I've been monitoring this team for a while.
Now that they know about that chip, they can track it here.  Then I'm in
trouble."  Star sipped her lemonade.
        "Why don't you ask Starfox to help?"  Brad asked, refilling his
glass.
        "I'm sick of dealing with my brother.  Peppy's always telling me
what do , Falco's always got some smart-alec response, and Slippy is as
annoying as-"
        "Hello Brad!"  Tera said, walking in.  The rest of the Justice
Cadets followed him in.
        "Hey cousin.  Haven't seen you in a while.  How've you been?"
Brad shook his cousins hand and then Natlarn's.
        "Bored," Tigress muttered.
        "I see you haven't changed," Brad gave her a quick hug.  Jo'hara
peered around the badger.
        "Star?  Is that you?"  Jo'hara asked, incredously.
        "Yeah, Jo.  It's me," Star smiled.  She gave old school friend a
hug.
        "Hey, you still know all the codes on Corneria?"  Jo'hara asked.
        "Yeah, and I can break Venomian codes, too."
        "No way!  Venom just updated the entire system," Jo'hara said.
        "I have my ways.  Hey Nat.  How are you?"  Star asked.
        "I'm fine.  Where've you been?"  Natlarn shook Star's hand.
        "Around," she answered, curtly.  "You must be Tera, Brad's
cousin.  He's told me all about you."
        "Good things, I hope," the badger smiled and shook Star's hand.
        "And your Tigress Mondale.  Able to kill a Venomian lizard in one
punch.  Nice to me you."  Star shook Tigress's hand.  "Alright.  You're
probably wondering why I asked Brad to call you guys here."  The Justice
Cadets nodded, listening intently.  "Two reasons: One, I'm sick of my
brother's team; Two, I need help."
        "The great Star McCloud is asking for help?"  Jo'hara asked, in
mock horror.
        "You know, I could ask someone else to help me," Star glared at
the black puma.  "Anyway, I had a Cornerian spy plant a spy chip in the
main computer several years back.  The spy was caught, my chip wasn't.
Now, there's a little squadron working for Andross who have discovered my
chip.  They haven't reported it yet, but they will.  Can you help me get
in there and move the chip somewhere else?"
        "I don't know," said Natlarn slowly.  The cheetah thought it
over.  "It sounds more like a job for Starfox."
        "We'll take it," Tera said, hurriedly.
        "Yeah, we can do it," Tigress backed Tera up.
        "C'mon Nat.  This is easy," Star prompted.  "I'll even pay you
for this."
        "O.K.," Natlarn said.  "But you don't need to pay us."
        "Right," Jo'hara said.  "We don't need the money."  Tigress and
Tera nodded in agreement.
        "Alright.  Here's the plan..."

        "Hey Guy!  What's your hurry?"  Andrew yelled, catching up with
the bird.
        "Huh?  Oh, I'm just....tired of being thought of as a kid," Guy
explained.  "Ben thinks he found the leak, but I think he's mistaken
again.  I don't wanna get beat again."
        "Who beat you?"  Andrew asked.
        Guy shook his head.  He hadn't meant to tell Andrew about the
beating Leon had given him.  He could still remember Leon's fists...
        "No one.  I don't know what I'm saying," Guy picked up his pace.
He didn't know where he was going, or why.  He just wanted to keep going.
 Andrew grabbed his arm and spun him around.
        "Who beat you?"  the ape repeated, looking into Guy's eyes.  Guy
probably could have pushed Andrew away, but Andrew was his friend.
        "Leon," Guy muttered.
        "That stupid, dirty son of a-"
        "Andrew please don't tell him I told you," Guy pleaded.  "He'll
hit me again."
        Andrew considered this for a moment.  "I won't tell him now, but
if he does it again, I'm telling Uncle Andross.  Wanna get a drink, or
something?"
        "Yeah, sure."  Guy followed Andrew to the nearest bar.
        "ATTENTION!  ATTENTION!  ALL PILOTS REPORT TO YOUR AIRCRAFT
IMMEDIATELY!"  The voice came over the speakers that were posted all over
the city.
        "Oh man!  I can't get back to the hangar in time!"  Guy said,
starting to run back.
        "That's why you hang with me," Andrew said, catching Guy's arm.
A hover truck was just passing by them on the street.  Andrew leapt and
caught onto the back of the truck.  Guy followed him.  The two friends
were at the hangar in less than two minutes.

        "Guy, c'mon!"  Ramsy yelled.  The lion was waving to Guy,
hurrying him to his jet.
        "What's going on?"  Guy asked, jumping in his jet and adjusting
his helmet.
        "ATTENTION, ALL PILOTS.  THIS IS NOT A DRILL.  REPEAT, THIS IS
NOT A DRILL.  FIVE PILOTS ARE ATTACKING VENOM AND HAVE PASSED THE
DEFENSE.  NO PILOTS HAVE BEEN IDENTIFIED.  STAY WITHIN YOUR SQUADS AND
SHOOT DOWN THE ATTACKERS."  The loud-speaker blared.
        "Conquest Squadron, report," Ramsy said, wiping the sweat off his
forehead.
        "Conquest two is go," Ben reported.
        "Conquest three is go," Guy reported.
        "Alright, departure in ten seconds," Ramsy counted down the
seconds and then the team all took off at the same time.

        "Starwolf, hold on," a lizard was chasing the four pilots as they
began to get into their Wolfen fighters.  "Andross says that you're the
last defense.  Stay near the base."
        "Great, it's not bad enough that we haven't gone on a mission in
weeks, now we're the last defense!"  Leon yelled, getting into his jet.
        "Calm down, Leon," Wolf said.  "We'll show Andross.  Just not
now."

        "All units report!"  A nervous hyena said.  His brother was
normally in charge of attacks like this.  He was just a fill-in while his
brother was on vacation.
        "Flame Squadron is go," one team captain reported.
        "Shredder Squadron is go."
        "Take-over Squadron is go."
        "Conquest Squadron is go."
        "Domination Squadron is go."
        "Diversion Squadron is go."
        The hyena swallowed nervously.  "Flame and shredder squads, take
the front defense.  Take-over, take care of the left ravine, Conquest
take the right.  The left ravine is a dead-end  so trap the pilots and
take them alive if possible, Take-over.  Domination, cover the left of
the right ravine.  Diversion, take the right of the right ravine.  Good
luck," he flew to take his place among his team on the front defense.
        "I wish we had the left ravine," Guy complained.
        "The enemy usually doesn't go down dead-end ravines," Ben pointed
out.
        "Exactly."
        "This is our chance to prove to Andross we can handle missions,"
Ramsy said.  "Don't mess this up."

        "The electric defenses are down, but the fighters aren't.  Are
you ready, Star?"  Jo'hara asked.
        "I'm ready if you are, Tigress," Star replied.
        "I'm ready.  Let's pound some lizards!"  Tigress said.
        Star led the attack with Natlarn close behind.  Tigress was on
his left wing, Tera on his right.  Jo'hara followed close behind.
"Jo'hara, what's the quickest way to the base?"  Star asked.
        "We've got to pass the front defense then we come to a fork.  I
suggest we stay together instead of splitting up, so we'll all go right
because the left is a dead-end.  After that, there's another fork.  The
shortest route will be the left, but that has more fighters.  Which way
do you think, Star?"  Jo'hara asked.
        "The right.  After we take out the fighters, we'll land and
Tigress and I will go it on foot.  Good luck," Star replied.  She flew
right through the center of the front defense, shooting two pilots down,
and damaging the shields of others.  Almost the entire front defense was
taken down.
        "Wow, that was fun!"  Tera exclaimed.
        "Hold on, Tera," Star warned.  "We're not done yet."
        The team flew down the right of the ravine.  A lion shot
Jo'hara's left wing, but he was shot down by Natlarn.  Star sent a
leopard careening toward the cliff.  She looked down just in time to see
the ground units as they came at her and her comrades.  A Smart bomb
should take them out, Star thought.  She fired one quickly.
        By that time, the team had come to the second division and flew
down the right passage.  Only a few bogeys tried to stop them, but they
soon fell.  Suddenly, the pilots from the ravines that the team hadn't
flown down appeared behind them.
        "Rendezvous at the end of the valley once you've taken all the
pilots down," Star instructed.  She took down three pilots in one shot
and damaged a lot more.
        "Help!"  Tera cried.  "I can't get out of the way."
        "Hold on, Tera," Star said.  "I'll be there in a minute."  Star
flew in front of the bogey on Tera's tail and distracted it.  She flew
straight toward a cliff and at the last second, pulled up, sending the
unlucky pilot into the wall.  There's too many of them, Star thought.
Time to do something drastic.  "Natlarn, take your team and land at the
end of the valley now," Star commanded.  "I've got an idea."
        Natlarn hesitated for a moment and then commended the Justice
Cadets to follow him.  Star stopped anyone from following them by flying
circles around them.  Then, she fired a Cloud Burst bomb, another one of
her own creations, and smoke filled the air.  Jets crashed into one
another, since they couldn't see each other.  Star flew out, unharmed and
she landed with the team.
        "Alright, Tigress, you come with me.  The rest of you be
carefull."  Star said.  She waved them away as Tigress joined her on the
ground.  "Remember the plan."
        "I know," the Tigress quipped.  "I just wanna get going."
        Star smiled.  She watched as the guys flew against the only team
guarding the base.  Star knew it was Starwolf, but she also knew that
Natlarn, Tera, and Jo'hara could fly circles around them.
        "Shields are down, Star," Jo'hara told Star on one of the private
lines.
        "Let's go."  Star and Tigress ran from the ravine toward the
base, hoping that one of the Starwolf team wouldn't happen to look down
and see them.  The door to the base was locked, by the security system
and a regular lock.  Jo'hara had taken care of the security, and Star was
ready for the lock.  She pulled a knife from her boot and picked the
lock.  Tigress looked surprised.
        "Where did you learn to pick locks?"  Tigress asked.
        "I have a few friends who used to be thieves," Star replied,
pushing the door open.
        "I could have opened it myself," Tigress pointed out.
        "But then the element of surprise would have been ruined," Star
replied.  Her sharp ears picked up a noise.  "Someone's coming."  Star
quickly looked for an escape.
        "So let them come.  I can handle them," Tigress smiled,
tightening her hands into fists.
        "You hold them off," Star said, spying a vent in the wall.  "I've
got a idea."
        As Tigress fought the lizards that attacked her, Star used her
laser to shoot the vent.  Luckily, it was a big vent and Tigress would be
able to fit through it.  The grate covering the vent fell and Star turned
to her friend.  She shot the remaining lizards and turned to Tigress.
        "Give me a hand up and let's get out of here."  Tigress helped
Star up and then pulled herself up.  "Good job with the soldiers."
        "Thanks," Tigress grinned.  "I love smashing anything Venomian."
        "Now, we've gotta find our way to the main computer room..."

        "Ramsy?  Ramsy!"  Guy shook his leader roughly.  "Wake up!"
        Ramsy shook his head and sat up slowly.  "What happened?"  he
asked, groggily.
        "You and Ben were shot down.  Don't talk, you're bleedin'
like...like... I dunno what you're bleedin' like.  I've never seen anyone
bleed so much."
        "Where's Ben?"  Ramsy tried to sit up.
        Guy pushed Ramsy back down.  "I'm gonna see if I can find him.
You stay put."  Guy handed Ramsy some painkillers and some water and went
to find Ben.  He didn't have to look far to find the leopard's jet,
burning.
        "No!  Ben where are you?"  Guy tried to look around the flames to
see if his teammate was still in the aircraft.
        "I'm up here!"  a voice called.  Guy looked up and saw Ben
hanging on the cliff.  He had tried to bail, but his parachute had gotten
caught on the cliff.  "Help me down!"
        Guy smiled and called for a transporter to get Ben down.

        "I found it," Star whispered to Tigress, sitting at a computer.
"I'm setting the locks back on the doors to keep the lizards out of here,
but it won't be long before we're found out and they start trying to
break the door down."
        "I'll watch the door.  You take care of the computer chip,"
Tigress said.
        Star opened a computer panel and searched carefully through the
computer's inside.  "Got it!"
        "Open this door!"  Someone yelled from outside.
        "Hold'em.  We're almost outa here," Star re-inserted the chip
inside the screen instead of the PC.  Then, she put the panel back on the
computer and screwed it on.  She turned and blasted the security panel on
he other side of the room.  "To confuse them." Star answered Tigress's
questioning look.  "Let's go!"
        Tigress pushed a chair up against the steel door and helped Star
up into the vent again.  After Tigress had crawled into the vent, Star
screwed the vent back on so the Venomian soldiers wouldn't be able to
find them easily.
        "Is there an outside vent?"  Tigress asked.
        "I think so.  Give me a minute to find it," Star paused and
sniffed the air.  "That way, I can smell that poison atmosphere
anywhere."
        Soon, the two were outside.  "Jo'hara, we're out.  Distract
Starwolf while we get to our jets."
        "Will do, Star," Jo'hara answered.  "But hurry up.  They out
number us by one."
        Star followed Tigress as they ran to the ravine.  It was only
several feet ahead of them when-
        "Well, what have we here?"  Wolf snarled over the intercom.
        "Hurry up, we've been spotted!"  Star yelled.  She leaped inside
her jet and got into the air just as Wolf and Leon both came at her,
firing unceasingly.  Natlarn and Tera tried to take them down, but Andrew
and Pigma held them back.  Tigress shot down both Wolf and Leon.  Andrew
got scare and landed.  Pigma followed him.
        "Yeah!  Let's take them out!"  Tera yelled as he dove after the
fallen pilots.
        "No, my jet can't stay in the air too much longer," Star said.
"I've got to get out of here."
        "Alright, we're out of here," Natlarn said, his team following
him.  "Can you make it to Titania?"
        "Yeah, I think so," Star said, checking her shield and frame
systems.  "Midnight can hold out for another hour or so, but her boost
engines are shot.  The brakes aren't responding."
        "How are you going to get back to your base?"  Jo'hara asked.
"Where is it, anyway?"
        "Don't worry about that.  Shoot!  My right engine just failed!"
Star pounded her fist on the dashboard and the engine sputtered back to
life.  "That should last another two minutes."
        "Where is your base?"  Natlarn asked.
        "That's a secret," Star said.  "If I told you, I'd have to kill
you."
        "Why can't you tell us?"  Tera asked.  "We won't tell anyone."
        "No, I'm not telling anyone."
        "Except Brad," Tera pointed out.
        "Listen, striped dog," Star said, "If I choose to tell Brad and
not to tell you it's my choice.  Got that?"
        "Sure, Star."  There was an awkward silence for awhile.
        "We'll be arriving on Titania soon," Jo'hara said, when the red
planet came in sight.

        "Who were those guys?"  Andrew asked.  His team was sitting in
their rec room.  Wolf was drinking a glass of beer and watching Leon and
Pigma play ping pong.
        "The Justice Cadets.  They're Starfox wannabes as far as I'm
concerned," Leon answered, smashing the ball back to Pigma.
        "Star was there, too," Pigma said, returning the ball quickly.
They had been playing for five minutes and Pigma was sweating like a-
well you know.  A pig.
        "She must have led the attack," Wolf said.  "Why would they
attack Venom?"
        "I dunno, maybe that team that you hired to find the leak would
know.  Who were they again?  The Conquest Squad?"  Leon asked, easily
returning the ball to Pigma, who missed it.
        "I'm finished playing.  Are there any more chips in that bag,
Wolf?"  Pigma asked.
        "Yeah, here," Wolf tossed the bag to the swine.
        "Andrew, want to play?"  Leon asked.
        Andrew was surprised by the offer.  Leon didn't normally talk to
him unless he was in trouble.  "Sure, but I'm not that good."
        "You'll learn."  Leon served the ball as Andrew picked up the
paddle.

        "How ya feelin', Ramsy?"  Guy asked, standing over his leader's
bed in the hospital.
        "Fine, how's Ben?"  Ramsy asked.
        "He's fine.  He's home already.  The doctor said you'll be able
to come home tomorrow," Guy swallowed.  Ramsy didn't look good.  His head
was bandaged and he had broken his arm.  The doctors said he was lucky he
didn't die from blood loss.  Ramsy said it wasn't luck, Guy had pulled
Ramsy out of his jet and held a bandage against his head once he had
called for a transport.  After the blood flow slowed, he had wrapped up
Ramsy's head and then bandaged his arm.  Guy refused Ramsy's thanks and
said it was his job.
        Ben was home and feeling O.K., the only thing wrong was that when
he went sailing into the canyon's wall and ejected he twisted his left
ankle.  Now he was on crutches when he walked, which wasn't often.  He
normally spent hours at a time on the computer so adding another two or
three hours didn't affect him much.
        "Go home, Guy.  You can't do anything here.  Help Ben figure out
why that team attacked us," Ramsy said, weakly.  He was falling asleep
and the nurse had told Guy he'd get tired quickly.
        "I'll be back tomorrow," Guy swallowed, nervously.  "See ya."
        The sparrow walked home quickly, the air burning his lungs.  He
only noticed the poison in the air when he was breathing fast because
he'd gotten used to it.  He thought about the pilots who had attacked.
Only one pilot was known, the others were a mystery.  Star McCloud was
the known pilot.  Why didn't she get Starfox to help her?  Guy thought.
There had to be reasonable explanation for that.
        Guy almost walked right past the dark shadow at his dwellings
door, until it grabbed his arm.  Guy spun around his laser ready.  "Who
are you?"  he asked, straining to see what this person looked like.
        "Calm down," a firm hand pushed the gun down.  "I'm not a
threat...To you anyway.  My name's Liam.  Give me a call when you can."
The stranger held out a card for Guy.  He took it warily.
        "What do you want?"  Guy asked.
        "Call and find out."  With that, the dark figure disappeared.
Guy looked at the card and walked inside, planning on telling Ben about
their mysterious visitor.
        "Guy!  Thank gods you're here.  I found out why the pilots were
here.  You know that chip I found?  Well, it's been moved and I can't
find it.  I also know who one of the pilots was, and unless I've missed
my guess, I know who the rest of them are!"  Ben was sanding at the
computer, a triumphant grin on his face.
        "Ben slow down!  Where's your crutches?"  Guy looked around the
floor and saw that Ben had knocked hem on the floor when he stood up.
"Everyone knows who one of the pilots was.  Star McCloud."
        "No, not her.  I know one of the others.  He was a rival of mine
back at the Cornerian Academy.  Jo'hara Prather.  He could hack into any
system I knew.  I bet it was his chip but he sent Star and Tigress in to
move it," Ben sat down and clicked some buttons.
        "Who's Tigress?"  Guy asked, stooping to pick up the crutches.
"And why wouldn't he go in himself?"
        "Maybe he was scared.  Tigress Mondale was a mercenary pilot
until she became part of the Justice Cadets.  Don't you see?  It's
perfect.  While Jo'hara had the systems down, Star and Tigress snuck in.
Star knows as much about computers as he does and Tigress would make the
perfect body guard."  Ben was still clicking buttons at the keyboard.
        "The Justice Cadets?  You mean the Starfox wannabes?"  Guy shook
his head.  "I can't believe they got past us!  Wait, why would a female
make a good body guard?"
        "Tigress packs a punch to kill and she hates anyone on Venom.
Some prejudice she's carried since she was a cub.  Here," Ben sat back so
Guy could see the computer screen.  "Just some files I could find on her.
 Her other files are protected with strong security.  Jo'hara's security
no doubt."
        Guy looked at the screen and saw a big tigress.  She was tall and
looked very strong.  In the picture she was scowling and holding up her
fist with brass knuckles on.  I f she was trying to look tough, she
succeeded.
        "I found files on the other Justice Cadets as well."  With a
click of a button, two more pictures came up.  One of a cheetah, the
other of a badger.  "That's Natlarn Berola and Tera Christa.  Both Katina
pilots until the scandal Andross pulled there.  Natlarn was on to the
scheme and was sentenced to death but Tera got him out.  They got a tip
that Tigress would be a helpful part of the team and then Natlarn got
Jo'hara interested in it."  With another click, a picture of an entirely
black panther showed up.  The look of him sent shivers down Guy's back.
He was completely black, with black leather clothes.  But what scared Guy
the most was his eyes.  They were completely black; no iris, no pupil, no
nothing.  "He had a rare disease at birth which caused his eyes to be
that way.  I couldn't get any information on Star so I'm guessing she's
got her files heavily guarded."  Ben spun around in his chair to look at
Guy.  "What do you think?"
        "I think that's one freaky dude," Guy was unable to take his eyes
off the picture.
        "Not about Jo'hara!  About my suggestion that it was his chip I
found and he got it moved," Ben changed the screen from the panther's
picture to a text file.
        "I think you may be right."  Guy sat down on a couch.  "Did you
order dinner yet?"

        "Star this jet is not gonna get you home," Natlarn said, looking
Midnight over.  "It looks beyond repair to me."
        "I can repair it," Star said, confidently.  "Let's go in and see
Brad."
        The badger greeted them, smiling.  "There's some food in the
lounge if you want some,"  he said.  "I'll be in, in a minute."
        The justice Cadets left the room, leaving Star and Brad behind.
"I can't believe they busted my jet!"  Star said angrily.  "It shouldn't
have happened."
        "Well, now you'll be able to fly that other jet you've told me so
much about.  I've got some crab cooking in the kitchen and I've gotta go
check on it."  Brad left and Star walked to the lounge.
        The team was relaxing and talking, Tigress told about being
inside the base while the others told about their fighting experience
they had with Starwolf.  Jo'hara stood as Star entered the room.
        "Do you need a ride home or something?"  he offered.
        "No thanks, I'm fine," Star sat in an overstuffed recliner.
"I'll call my brother to get me."
        "You guys leaving any time soon?"  Brad asked, appearing in the
doorway.  "Not to rush you or anything."
        "It's O.K., Brad.  We know you hate company," Tera stood up and
stretched.  "We're leaving.  Right, Natlarn?"
        "Alright," Natlarn said, reluctantly.  "You're sure you don't
want a ride or anything?"
        Star grinned.  "I'm sure, now get going.  If I need anything I'll
give you a call."  She hugged Jo'hara on his way out and watched the team
leave.  Then, she turned to Brad.
        "I'll be going, too.  I'll pick up Midnight tomorrow," Star
walked around to the other side of the shack where she'd covered
Dune-skipper, her desert rover, with a canvas tarp.  "Later, Brad."  She
turned the engine on and roared away.

        "Geez, am I hot!"  Fox said as he walked onto Great Fox, tossing
his helmet onto the couch.  He sat down in his favorite chair and
relaxed.
        "I'm not ever gonna do that again," Falco turned the
air-conditioner up all the way and laid down the couch, tossing Fox's
helmet onto the floor.  Peppy picked it up and put it on the coffee
table.
        "I'm taking an ice-cold shower," the hare said.  "Fox, you should
call General Pepper and tell him we took out the bio-weapon on Solar."
        "Yeah, I will.  Just let me cool off for a minute."  Fox replied.
        "I hope we never have to go to Solar again!"  Slippy exclaimed.
"I'm taking mud bath.  Don't expect me out for an hour."  As the frog
walked through the room, he bumped into the coffee table, sending Fox's
helmet onto the floor next to Fox's feet.
        "If Pepper tells us to go to Solar again, just forget it," Falco
said.  "I'm not doing it again."
        "And you were complaining that you hadn't done anything in two
weeks," Fox smiled.  "I wonder how Star managed to update her jet so that
she could take those temperatures."
        "We might never know.  She left today," Falco got up to get a
soda from a wall cabinet.  "I doubt we'll see her again."
        "Toss me a soda, Falco.  I think we'll see her again," Fox caught
the soda Falco threw.  "Once she gets involved in something, she doesn't
like to back out."
        "Your sister's really somethin', Fox.  It was cool havin' her on
the ship."
        "I'm glad I saw her.  Everyone thought she was dead, because her
ship was found crashed on Titania.  I knew she wasn't dead, but I missed
her."
        The two friends sat sipping their sodas until the audio/visual
screen blinked on.
        "Starfox, how did the mission go?"  General Pepper asked.  Falco
and Fox jumped up to salute, but Fox tripped on his helmet and fell down.
 Hastily, he stood up and saluted.
Pepper and Falco had to try not to smile.
        "It went well, General.  The bio-weapon is gone."
        "Good work, Starfox.  You're check is on the way."  The screen
blinked off and Falco started laughing.
        "Smooth move, Fox.  Falling over your own helmet!"  The bird laid
back down on the couch and laughed.  Fox kicked his helmet into the
doorway and glared at Falco.
        After Falco stopped laughing, he sat up and read a magazine.
"What is that, Falco?"  Fox asked.
        "It's a flight magazine, not a Playbird," Falco held it out so
Fox could see.  "Not a chick in it."  Fox nodded and went back to reading
a book Star had given him.  About an hour later, Slippy walked in and
picked up Fox's helmet.
        "What are we gonna do about dinner?" he asked, setting the helmet
onto a chair.
        "I dunno.  I actually got used to Star's cooking," Fox put his
book down and thought about dinner.
        "Pizza," Falco volunteered, sitting up.  "With pepperoni, garlic,
pineapple-"
        "I don't think so," Peppy said, walking in with a towel around
his neck.  "I'm not eating pizza with those toppings."  He sat down on a
chair and winced.  He pulled Fox's helmet out from under him and placed
it on the table again.
        "How about Siamese take-out?"  Slippy asked.
        "Yeah, I want shrimp and lobster sauce," Fox said.
        "I want the Sauteed Siamese Vegetable," Peppy said.  "And rice."
        "Shrimp with Siamese vegetable," Slippy said.  "Don't forget the
rice."
        "Order three boxes of rice," Fox told Falco.  "And whatever you
want."
        "Alright," Falco said, getting up.  He tripped on a leg of the
table and went sprawling on the floor, sending Fox's helmet under his
feet again.
        The team laughed as Falco stood up and walked to the a/v. After
the food was ordered, Falco went to his room with the magazine he'd been
reading and Slippy leafed through a mechanics manual.  Peppy got himself
a tall glass of carrot juice.
        Suddenly, the a/v screen blinked on again.  "Hey!  Anyone there?"
 Bill asked.
        "Bill!"  Fox stood up quickly and tripped on the helmet.  He lay
still for a moment while his comrades laughed.  When they stopped he
said, "What is this?  A conspiracy?"
 
        Star frowned, looking at her small jet.  Arctic was perfect, but
something didn't seem right about her.  "I got it!"  Star said, snapping
her fingers.  She ran to her bedroom and came back to the docking bay
with two small pictures in her hand.  She climbed into the cockpit and
taped the pictures to the dashboard.  She looked at them with a sense of
longing.
        One was of her parents in their Cornerian home laughing at
something.  Vixy looked like Star and taught her to sew and cook.  She
had also learned a bit on spying from her mother, who was a part-time
spy.  Star remembered her mother as always laughing and enjoying life,
even if she didn't enjoy flying much.
        James smiled into the camera, his dark glasses covering his green
eyes.  His smiled made him look ten years younger than he was.  He was
care-free and, at times, reckless.  His debt on making Great Fox had just
been paid off by Fox.  James was a hero to his children and Fox felt that
he should live up to his father's reputation, and walk in his footsteps.
Star didn't look up to anyone, but she deeply respected her father.  She
missed her parents terribly when they died.
        The other picture was of Fox and Bill on Zoness with their surf
boards.  Bill looked eager to get to the water.  He had been a friend of
the twins' for a long time.  He was their most trusted companion and Star
and Fox would probably do anything to help Bill, and vice-versa.
        Fox looked seriously into the camera, only a small smile on his
lips.  He tried to be serious a lot and look like his dad, but the only
time he really looked like James, was when he was relaxed.
        Star sat back, remembering.  The trio had lived close together on
Corneria since their childhood days.  They had gone through the Academy
together, though Star had a fake name so no one would know she was
James's daughter.  Bill had always been laid back and relaxed.  He always
had a joke or quick remark that made people laugh.  He'd been a surfer
since he got his first board and was great on a surf board.  He was also
good at football and he often talked the twins into playing with him.
        Fox was into soccer and flying.  The only other people who could
equal his skills were Star and Bill.  He'd set several records in gym and
so far no one had beaten them.  At soccer, Fox ruled.  He could move the
ball so fast, all you'd see was a black and white blur moving by, unless
you knew which way he was going, which Star always did.  Fox tried to
block his thoughts from his sister when playing, but she was always a
step ahead of him, although she wasn't as good as him.
        Star played hockey and she was damn good about it.  She was best
with regular street hockey on roller blades, but could play ice hockey as
well.  Defense or offense, she was the best and she graduated the Academy
first in the class, with Fox at second, and Bill at third.  She could
fly, cook, survive, maneuver, spy, and hack into hidden computer files
better than anyone.  Why that thought she was dead was a mystery to her.
        Star shook her head, remembering the day she ran away.  It was
before her father's funeral and she couldn't take it.  She'd lost her
mother almost two years before her father and it still hurt to think
about her.  Fox looked so much like James that Star couldn't take it.
She left, not really knowing where she went.  Before she knew it, she was
out of gas and her jet did a nose-dive to the planet below her, which was
Titania.  Before the aircraft hit the ground, Star ejected and made it
safely to the ground.  After about two weeks, Star met Brad who helped
her get her own underground den.  She used scrap metal, thrown away by
the cities on Titania to build equipment and furnished her home.
        The den was quite comfortable now, with seven rooms, a docking
bay, and all the electronic devices one would ever need.
        In her living room, she had three computers, a T.V., an a/v
tele-communicator, a recliner, a couch, and up-to-date magazines.  In her
bedroom was a cozy bed and desk with neatly arranged papers and letters.
Plus a trunk for some of her items, and a closet.  She had a library with
all kinds of books.  Horror, mystery, reference, fiction, fantasy,
non-fiction, romance, etc. and big beanbag chairs to relax in.  Star also
had a bathroom, kitchen, darkroom, and washroom.  She was proud of the
little den.
        Star yawned and looked at her watch.  Ten-thirty already?  She
jumped out of the jet and walked to her room.  She stopped in the living
room and turned on the second computer.  This computer normally would let
her see what was going on in Great Fox through a micro chip she planted
on Fox's helmet put since her stay on Great Fox, she'd slipped a chip
into the main computer so she could see what the security cameras were
seeing.
        The picture showed Fox talking to Bill on the a/v screen and
eating Siamese take-out food in the living room.  The rest of the team
was there, too.  Star wondered why her brother's helmet had a dent in it
as if someone had stepped on it.
        Star didn't listen to what they were saying.  Instead, she
switched cameras to see Peppy's room.  A corner of a box was peeking out
from under the bed.  She zoomed the camera in on it and then told the
computer to show her what was inside.  The box was full of pictures of
her parents and Fox when he was a kit.  It also contained James'
sunglasses and Vixy's favorite, diamond necklace.
        No wonder Peppy kept it as secret.  Fox still wasn't ready to
remember his parents, although he had a picture of them in his jet.  Star
wished she could see the pictures closer, but she couldn't get the
computer to see each picture individually and she was tired.  She turned
the computer off and went to her room to sleep.

        "She WHAT!!?"  Fox yelled at Bill on the a/v screen.
        "Whoa!  Chill, Fox.  She's alright.  Well, maybe her jet's scrap
metal now, but other than that she's fine," Bill said.
        "Star practically attacks Venom and you say she's O.K.?  I can't
believe she did that!  She could have been killed.  And if she was going
to do that why didn't she ask us to go with her instead of that rookie
team?"  Fox yelled.
        "Hey, don't call them rookies.  Two of them used to be on the
Cornerian Defense.  Besides, she probably knew you'd say 'no'."  Bill
smiled.  "Don't worry about her.  I just thought I'd let you know where
she was."
        "I wonder how many times she's done that before," Fox said,
thoughtfully.
        Bill laughed.  "I'll bet a lot more times than you think."
        "What was she doing on Venom anyway?"  Peppy asked, finishing his
dinner.
        "I'm not sure, you'd have to ask her," Bill turned to look behind
him.  "Uh oh.  I'm late for a meeting with General Pepper.  I've gotta
go.  Ten four."  The screen blinked out.
        "I can't believe she asked those inexperienced pilots to go to
Venom instead of us!"  Falco said, sipping his soda.
        "Maybe she just wanted a break from us, or she wanted to give the
Justice Cadets a chance.  They can't be that bad if only Star's jet is
damaged and their's aren't," Slippy said, trying to spear a shrimp with a
chopstick.
        "I don't care what the reason is.  She shouldn't have been on
Venom," Fox said, dropping his plate down the washer slot.  He threw his
napkin away and walked to his room.  Peppy followed him a few minutes
later.
        "What do you want?"  Fox asked, hiding something under his
pillow.
        "Just to talk," Peppy sat down on Fox's bed next to him.  "You
know, sometimes I'll give you advice and sometimes you listen, sometimes
you don't.  Star doesn't like to listen to anyone.  I'm sure you know
that by now."
        Fox nodded.  "Yeah, but does she have to be so reckless?"
        "You're reckless, too.  Falco's reckless and you don't complain
about him."
        "That's because I know he knows what he's doing.  Star's never
flown with a team until she flew with us.  I get worried about her."
        "Why are you worried about her?  From what I've seen, she can
take care of herself, she never gets caught doing something wrong, and
she doesn't get into trouble."
        "You don't know her the way I do.  She doesn't get into trouble
often, but when she does, it's hard to get her out of it."  Fox smiled,
remembering something.  "Like when Star used to surf with me and Bill a
little.  She tried to do a trick she didn't know and she fell off into
the undertow.  Dad had to swim out and save her, even though she was a
good swimmer."
        "She's a good pilot, too."
        "And a good spy, and a great computer hacker, she can talk back
to Pepper, she finished first in our class in the academy, she's not
scared of anything, she can do whatever she wants and she doesn't get
into trouble.  It's not fair!"  Fox yelled.
        "I think you're jealous of your sister," Peppy said, gently.
        "I'm not jealous.  I'm just...just...Yeah, I guess I am a bit
jealous," Fox hung his head.
        "Everyone's afraid of something and no one's perfect," Peppy
said.  "Is something else bugging you?"
        "I guess I'm scared of losing her like I lost mom and dad. If I
lose her then...I lose everything.  She's the only family I've got left."
        "She's worried about losing you, too," Peppy said.
        "No, she's not.  She didn't even cry when mom and dad died.  She
won't care about me."
        "Then why did she come out of hiding to save you on Venom?  And
why did she endanger her life to pull you out of the Landmaster?  She
even told me that she wasn't going to lose you like her parents."
        "Then why did she abandon me when we found out dad was dead?"
        "I thought she said it was too painful to stay, because you
looked so much like James."
        "I didn't run away when mom died, and she looks just like Star."
        "You both have different reactions to things.  Sometimes you're
exactly alike and other times, complete opposites," Peppy stood up.
"C'mon, let's get out of here and take a look at the Landmaster."  Fox
followed the hare out of the room.

        "Well, that was exciting," Tera said, flopping down on the couch
in the rec room.
        "It was fun while it lasted, but there's not much to do now,"
Tigress said, walking through the room to the small gym room.
        "On the contrary, I've got plenty to do," Jo'hara said, sitting
at his computer.
        "What are you doing now?"  Tera asked.
        "Trying to find out where Star lives.  Did you notice how she
wouldn't tell us where she lived?  But she told Brad?"  Jo'hara watched
the screen in front of him clicking away at the keyboard.
        "Good luck.  Brad says her codes are harder to crack than
Venom's."
        "Where's Tigress?"  Natlarn asked, walking in.
        "I think she went into the gym.  Why?"  Tera said.
        "She hasn't cleaned up the sand she spilled on the floor yet."
Natlarn started to walk away.
        "Natlarn, we've got an incoming message from Corneria.  I'm
putting it on the screen now," Jo'hara said.  A minute later, Star's
image was on the screen.
        "Guys, can you hear me?"  Star asked.
        "Yes, loud and clear," Jo'hara said.
        "I'm in trouble.  I'm stuck on Corneria and I can't get through
to Prority One or Starfox.  I'm trapped in my jet."
        "But I thought your jet was a scrap pile," Natlarn said.
        "I tried to get home in it anyway.  I need help!"
        "Alright, we're on our way," Jo'hara said.  "Justice Cadets,
out."
 

        "Great," Star said, clicking her visual communicator off.
"They'll be here any minute."  She yawned and stretched.  She had just
woken up and figured out a way to pay the Justice Cadets back for their
help on Venom.
        A few minutes later, she saw four jets on the horizon.  They were
zooming in on her radar.  Star clicked on the communicator again.  "The
terrain ahead is too dangerous for arwings," Star said.  "Leave them
where you are."
        "It doesn't look so bad," Tera commented, on the screen.
        "That's why it's so dangerous.  It doesn't look so bad."  Star
messed with a few knobs and buttons on her control panel to make the
screen fuzzy.  "I'm losing control of this thing.  Hurry!"  She switched
the screen off.
        Star sat back and enjoyed the scenery for a moments.  She hadn't
been on Corneria in long time, and being on Titania for so long makes you
long for trees, grass, paved streets...
        "I thought you said you were in trouble," an angry voice cut
through her thoughts.  Star turned to see the Justice Cadets walking
towards her.
        "I did need help.  I needed you here so I could repay you for
helping me," Star smiled.
        "I told you we weren't taking any money from you," Natlarn said,
looking annoyed.
        "I know you won't take cash so I'm paying you back in a different
way.  Like my jet?"  Star asked.
        "Wow, I didn't even notice," Jo'hara said, walking up to the jet.
        "I call her Arctic, because off the color and since Midnight was
dark, I figured she should be white.  She's got cloaking, nine Nova
bombs, and some of my special assorted bombs, Hyper Lasers, and double
the shields of an ordinary arwing."  Star proudly showed off her
aircraft.  "The seat is leather, it cost a fortune, but it was worth it.
Inside the seat there's an extra ration pack and med-kit.  And a blanket,
in case I get stranded somewhere and need to keep warm.  Of coarse I've
got my laptop that I can plug in here and get information on bio-weapons,
secret bases, stuff like that.  Plus, the brakes work smoothly and hyper
drive goes faster than any other aircraft."
        "How are you paying us back?"  Natlarn asked.
        "Would you chill?  I'm showing off my jet right now," Star said.
        "Star, we've got things to do, people to see, places to go.  So
either pay us, or let us go."
        "Oh, c'mon, Natlarn," Tera said.  "We're not going any where and
we don't have anything to do."
        "Tigress has gotta clean-up the sand she spilled."
        "That can wait till later," Tigress said, looking at sleek
interior of the arwing.
        "No, it can't.  Let's go."  The cheetah began walking away.
        "Hey, you can't leave yet," Star said, jumping out of the cockpit
and following Natlarn.
        "Why not?"
        "Because you're not supposed to. Natlarn, let's go back.  C'mon
you stubborn cheetah!  You're not doing anything else."
        "Yeah, Nat," Jo'hara said.  "You hafta look at this jet.  It's
the best you'll ever see."
        "I don't care about the jet.  Star, I said I didn't want you to
pay us ba-"
        "No, you said you wouldn't take money.  I'm not giving you money.
 It's something else."
        "Like what?"  Natlarn walked into the clearing where the team had
left their arwings and stopped.  Where the four old jets had stood were
four brand-new arwings with "Justice Cadets" painted on the side.
        "Like that," Star said.  She walked up to the jets and looked
them over carefully.  "I had them do the best they could.  Looks good,
anyway."
        "Who made them?"  Tera asked.
        "Priority One, of coarse.  Who else?"  Star said.
        "We can't accept these," Natlarn said.
        "Yes, you can," Star said, firmly.  "You helped me, now I'm
helping you.  There is no reason you shouldn't take them.  They're
brand-new and specially made for you.  Besides, the others were
rattle-traps and weren't going to survive your next dogfight."
        "Alright!"  Tigress yelled.  "Let's test these babies out!"
        Star tossed out the keys.  Only Natlarn hesitated.
        "Go on, try it," Star encouraged him.  That was all he needed.
While the team was getting used to their new jets, Star slipped away for
Titania, looking forward to a hot bath and a long nap.

The End.

*Author's note*
Star, Ben, Ramsy, and Guy are my characters and can't be used without
permission.  Special thanks to J. Wolfman for letting me borrow his
characters Brad and the Justice Cadets.  Send your questions and comments
to me at cmtr@juno.com.