A Rising Star

Chapter 1

        Fox's arwing cut through Zoness's atmosphere like a knife.  Three
other arwings followed him.  "Time for some shooting practice!"  Fox said
over his com.
         Zoness, the once prosperous vacation planet of the Lylat System,
now a toxic dump, wasn't under Andross's control anymore but it was still
sadly polluted.  Starfox used it as a target practice area because no one
was there and they had free time.  Andross had been defeated about two
months ago and the team was using their well-earned free time to stay in
shape.
        "Hey, remember coming here to surf and relax?"  Slippy asked when
target practice was over.
        "Yeah, and all those babes in bikinis..."  Falco said.
"Corneria's beaches are all right, but you always had a better view on
Zoness."
        Fox laughed to himself then said through his com, "I thought you
and Katt had been going steady since the seventh grade."
        "So?  Does that mean I can't look at other females?"
        "Technically, yes.  Didn't you and her get in a fight recently?"
Peppy asked.
        "Yeah.  Oh, well.  There's plenty of fish on Aquas," Falco
replied with a somersault.
        Suddenly, their coms buzzed and Fox clicked his on.  "Starfox
reading you.  What is your emergency?"
        "Starfox, this is General Pepper.  We just received reports that
there is strange activity taking place on Venom.  Will you check it out?"
 General Pepper asked.
        "Depends on how much you're gonna pay us this time, Pep," Falco
answered.
        "Knock it off, Falco!  Sure, we'll check it out, General," Fox
answered, trying not to laugh at Falco's cockiness.
        "Thank you, Starfox.  General Pepper out."  The audio/visual
screen blinked out.
        "Well, looks like we're off to Venom again," Slippy sighed,
taking his place behind Fox's left wing.  The rest of the team took their
usual positions.  Fox in front, Falco on his right wing, and Peppy behind
him.
        "Hold up, team," Fox said.  "Let's try something different.
Slippy, fall-back.  Falco, lead.  Peppy, take his position."  Fox
positioned himself on Falco's left wing.
        "Why the sudden position switch?"  Peppy asked.
        "I don't know.  Something just told me to."  Fox answered, not
quite sure why he made the switch.

        An hour later, Starfox was flying through Area Six.  The defense
station was dead.  Normally, the Venom outpost was a very dangerous way
to attack Venom, but since Venom's defeat, Area Six had been as silent as
a  tomb.
        "I almost expect the battle ships to come to life and start
shooting at us," Slippy commented, watching his radar for any life signs.
        "We'll be in Venom airspace in about-" a sudden laser shot nearly
took out Fox's wing, cutting off his sentence.
        "Enemy fighters coming from behind us!"  Slippy yelled.  "I count
about fifteen and more approaching."
        "Shoot!  Where are they coming from?"  Falco asked.
        "They're Venomian fighters.  Who knows where they came from?!"
Slippy answered.
        "Fox, we have to break formation and fight back!"  Peppy said,
and started to break.
        "No, keep formation.  Let's try Slippy's new fall-back Nova
bombs," Fox pressed a new button on his dashboard.  The hatch on the back
of his arwing opened and released a Nova bomb.  Three Nova bombs fell
back and blew the bogeys to kingdom come, but Fox's Nova bomb was stuck
in the back hatch.
        "Fox!"  Slippy yelled.  "You're bombs stuck in the hatch!"
        "I know!  I can't get it out.  It's gonna detonate in five
seconds!  All aircraft break-away!"  Fox yelled.
        "We're not gonna leave you to become space dust!"  Peppy said.
The bomb exploded.  The team couldn't hold formation and spun off in
different directions.
        "Aaaaaagh!"  Fox yelled as his jet was thrown towards Venom.
        "Fox, noooo!"  Slippy yelled.
        "I'm going after him!"  Falco said, heading in Fox's direction.
        "No, we've got more fighters coming our way and none of our
shields are strong enough to take them," Peppy said. "We'll head to
Corneria.  General Pepper will know what to do."
        Reluctantly, Falco and Slippy followed the senior teammate back
to Corneria.

        Pepper sat in his office looking at a photo he hadn't seen in a
long time.  It was of Fox as a kit standing seriously next to his father,
James, who looked down at him smiling.  Fox had been a determined kit,
following in his father's footsteps.  Nothing seemed to stop him, and
after his father's death, he seemed more determined to stop Andross than
ever.  Nothing ever seemed to stop his father either, but suddenly
something did.  And now it looked like Fox's turn to be stopped.  His jet
had crashed on Venom and there was no way to send a rescue transporter to
him, as Venom was once again protected by powerful defense posts.
        Pepper sighed again, wondering how he would tell the team he
couldn't do anything to help them.  If only...Suddenly, there was a knock
at the door and Husky Unit Commander Bill Grey entered.
        "You sent for me, sir?" the young commander asked, saluting.
        "Yes, have a seat, Bill.  I have some disturbing news and I
decided to let you know about it before you heard any rumors."
        "What is it, sir?"  Bill asked, looking like he could handle any
bad news that came his way.  "If it's about the Venom outposts-"
        "No, no.  It's not about that.  Read this," Pepper handed Bill a
piece of paper telling about Fox's misfortune.
        As Bill read it, the more Pepper could read his expression.  Bill
had been one of Fox's closest friends since he was a pup.  Bill suddenly
slammed the paper down on Pepper's desk.
        "No!"  He yelled.  "Fox can't be dead!  He's survived crashes
similar to that before.  Can't you send out a search and rescue team?!"
        "I'm sorry, Bill, but there's nothing I can do," Pepper answered,
spreading his arms to show helplessness.
        "Nothing?  Nothing!  You've got an entire army at your disposal!
I'll even lead the damn thing!  Just let me get Fox back!"
        "Bill, I know what it's like to lose a friend-"
        "No, you obviously don't!" Bill stormed out of the office and
left the building.  Once inside his jet, he began to calm down.  Fox was
like a brother to him and he knew that Fox wasn't dead.  Starfox couldn't
do anything without a leader and right now, no one was qualified for the
job.  Unless...Bill thought, unless...no.  That won't happen.
 

        Fox sat up and coughed.  He shook his head and tried to clear it.
 The pain in his neck just wouldn't go away and his leg was killing him.
He had just woken up and found himself on Venom.  Luckily, his shield had
taken most of the damage from the bomb.  He tried to pull himself free of
the crumpled arwing frame.
        "Aaaah!"  He yelled and sank back down into the cockpit.  He
wiped some blood of his face and realized his head was bleeding.  "I'd
better get my med-kit out and try to fix that," Fox murmured to himself.
Even though he was talking to himself, it helped calm him down.  After he
stopped the bleeding he tried to wrench himself free again.  This time
the pain hurt even more.  After a minute he gave up.  "Shoot.  My radio's
down and I can't contact Starfox with my com!  No one even knows where I
am.  This hopeless.  Unless...no.  That would be impossible.

        Back at Great Fox Peppy sat in a lounge chair with his eyes
closed.  The old hare was telepathic, but he couldn't tell what fox was
thinking or feeling at this distance, though he tried.  Slippy sat at a
computer frantically hitting buttons and trying to lock onto any life
signs on Venom's desert surface.  Falco paced back and forth the length
of the room.
        "I can't believe we're just sitting here while Fox is hurtin' or
dead on Venom!  We should go after him and do somethin'.  Sittin' here's
gonna drive me crazy!"
        "We have our orders," Peppy answered, quietly.
        "Yeah, to sit here and let Fox die!  He's the best friend I've
ever had and I'm going after him!"  Falco turned and headed toward the
docking bay.
        "Falco, you can't!"  Slippy said spinning around in his chair.
"Pepper will suspend your license if you do that!"
        Falco spun around and slammed his fist into he wall.  "Then what
can we do?"
        "I have an idea," a low voice answered from the doorway.
        "Who are you?!"  Falco yelled spinning around again.
        "No one can get on this ship without an access code," Slippy
said.
        "I'm here to help, whether you like it or not."
Chapter 2

        Andross laughed, watching the screen.  He could see Fox McCloud's
crumpled arwing laying on Venom's surface.  He was pretty sure that no
one could have lived through a crash that bad, but the McClouds had
always been survivors.  He learned that from James McCloud.  It had taken
nearly two weeks until James died from blood loss and starvation.
        "Send a squadron to that point and see if there are any signs of
life," the emperor commanded.
        "Yes, sir," a lizard answered.  Immediately, he sent a message to
the Conquest squadron.  "Emperor Andross has ordered you to check the
coordinates I am sending to you now.  Check to see if there are any life
signs and bring the remains to Andross."
        "What if the pilot's still alive?" the lion squadron leader
asked.
        "Andross wants him alive."
        "Will do.  Conquest squad, out." he turned his screen off and
turned to his team.  "We got ourselves job to do.  Ben, type these
coordinates into the radar screen and we're off."
        "Where are we goin', Ramsy?" a young sparrow asked, jumping from
his perch on the back of a chair to his leader.
        "A seek and deliver assignment, Guy.  Nothing to get excited
about," Ramsy turned toward the docking bay.  "Nothing important."  Ramsy
had grown up on Venom and was completely loyal to Andross.  Andross had
given him a small time job, but Ramsy had proven himself to be worthy of
having a small team.  The team only had three pilots, and they didn't
have much experience.
        Guy Mion was a young pilot at seventeen who would have flown for
Corneria's army, but he found that life on Venom would have a more
exciting future.  Ben Rogers was the team technician.  He could dissemble
a Cornerian robot in fifteen minutes, and still have time to set a timer
on a VCR.  He wasn't a bad pilot either.
        That was the entire team, and even though it was small, Ramsy was
proud of it.  He knew if Andross thought they deserved it, they'd get a
promotion.  Maybe even go up against the Cornerian army someday...
        "Closing in on target, sir," Ben's voice cut into Ramsy's
thoughts.
        "Any signs of life?"  Ramsy asked.
        "Negative.  Repeat, no signs of life.  No signs of anything
organic either," the leopard added, sounding confused.
        "Andross wouldn't send us on a useless mission.  Check the
equipment again."
        "I did.  I can't find any evidence of anything that was, or is,
alive."
        "Alright, let's head back.  Get ready for a lot of yelling
because I'd assume Andross is going to be pissed."  The lion turned his
jet fighter around and headed back to the command center.
 
        "WHAT?!"  Andross yelled.  Ramsy's team cowered at the bottom of
Andross's throne.  "I send you on an easy mission and you can't even
handle that!?"
        The team didn't respond for fear of getting a worse punishment
than whatever Andross had in mind.  The emperor thought for a while.
"Samuel, send out several search squadrons.  Alert Starwolf.  We're going
to find Fox at all costs.  You," he said looking at the team, "are
dismissed for now, while I find a suitable punishment for you."  And with
that, Andross left.
 

        "Who are you?"  Falco asked again to the stranger who remained in
the shadows.  "And tell us how you got here or I'll shoot."  His hand
moved toward his holster.
        "Tsk, tsk.  That's not anyway to treat your friend's sister,"
with that, a beautiful, young fox stepped out of the shadows.  At first,
she looked like Fox.  She had the same slight build, the same fur color,
and same way of moving.  But on closer inspection, one could see that her
hair was longer, she had a womanly figure, and she walked with a more
independent air.
        Falco's jaw dropped as he stared at her.  Slippy looked confused.
 Peppy shook his head and dropped his jaw, too.
        "Oh, c'mon boys, act like you've seen a fox before," She crossed
the room to Slippy's computer and looked over his shoulder.  "No, if
you're trying to find Fox you're goin' about it all wrong."
        "Who are you?"  Peppy finally managed to say.
        "I'm Star McCloud," she answered.  "I'm Fox's younger twin
sister."
        "Fox doesn't have a twin," Peppy said.  "I've known his father my
whole life and he never told me that he had a daughter."
        "Of course he didn't.  He didn't want anyone to know about me so
that if something happened to Fox, I could take his place," she pressed
some buttons on the keyboard then looked at Slippy.  "Excuse me for a
second."
        Slippy stood up and let Star take his chair.  Amazingly, she
seemed to know exactly what she was doing and he wondered if she had
experience in computers.
        "How did you get in here?" Slippy asked.
        "Oh, you have a simple code that you use here and it was only a
matter of seconds before I broke it."
        "Fox would have told us he had a sister," Falco said.  "I think
Andross sent you here and this is one of his maniacal schemes to take
over the Lylat system."
        "Big vocabulary for a bird who finished fifth grade with a "D" in
language," Star answered, not looking up from the screen.
        Falco blushed.  "How did you know about that?"
        "I know a lot more than that.  I was trained to be a spy as well
as an Ace pilot.  I know that you grew up in New Queens, Yorkton on
Corneria.  Your mother left you as a hatchling and your father drank.
You didn't go to school much.  You hung out in a gang called the Hot
Rodders.  Then, you met Katt Monroe who convinced you to come to school.
You met Fox and Slippy and when Fox needed a new Starfox team, he asked
you to join. And the rest is history."  Star never looked up from the
screen while telling Falco of his past.
        "No one knew about my parents," Falco said, quietly.
        "When you learn how to break codes, you learn all kinds of cool
things.  Like your dad died while driving drunk.  Your mom now lives in
Cedar Brook, Lacov on Corneria."
        "I didn't even know that," Falco said, awed.
        "Can you do that with anyone?  Slippy asked.
        "Sure, but right now, I'm trying to find my brother," Star
answered.
        "I can't figure out how to get by Venom's security.  If I could
get passed that, I could probably find out if they've got him, or not."
Slippy explained.
        "Sure, anyone could," Star said.  "Venom just recently updated
all it's security, but I found that they use a certain code for all their
other code gates."
        "What's that?"  Slippy asked, interested.
        "All the codes have something to do with Andross's plan to rule
Lylat."  Slippy watched as Star typed in "duolCcM llik" for a code
breaker.
        "What was that?" the young toad asked.
        "It was 'kill McCloud' backwards.  That's one of the simpler
codes to break.  Now, let's see if I can get into some personal files
and...Yes!  I'm in.  They don't have Fox in captivity but they found his
arwing.  It says, 'Chances are the young McCloud left the arwing and
tried to get away, but died somewhere in the Venomian desert.'  Young
McCloud?  Puh-leez!  He's eighteen!"
        "Your brother could be dead and all you can say is he's
eighteen?!"  Peppy yelled.
        "Calm down, Pep.  Don't get your telepathic waves in a knot.  Fox
and I have a strange type of link to each other.  When he gets hurt, I
can feel it and vice-versa.  Sometimes I can even feel what he's thinking
 I'd know if he was dead.  Trust me," Star brought up a picture of Venom
and clicked a button on the screen that said "search."  Seconds later, it
beeped saying had found something.  "Fox's com has homing chip in it and
we can follow it's signal right to him."
        "Then what are we waiting for?  Let's go!  Falco said, starting
to run to the docking bay.  Peppy caught his arm and stopped him.
        "First, I want to see something.  Star, call Priority One.  I
want to speak to General Pepper."
        "You still don't trust me, do you, Peppy?"  Star sighed and
called General Pepper on his private line.  Falco, Slippy, and Peppy
saluted when the general's image came onto the screen, but Star remained
seated.
        "Fox, is that you?  No, wait...Star!  I can't believe it!"
General Pepper exclaimed.
        "Hey, Pepper.  Listen, I've got a lock Fox's whereabouts and I'd
be appreciative if you'd tell Peppy who I am so I can go find my
brother," Star said in an off-handed manner as if to say she didn't have
to respect Pepper the way the rest of Corneria did.
        Pepper got over the shock of seeing Star after such a long time
and said: "Star McCloud, you have to salute like the others.  You're not
more important than them."
        "Yeah, whatever," she saluted in carefree manner.  Falco had to
hold back a laugh.  He'd never seen anyone disrespect the general like
Star was doing now.  Pepper was used to Star's cockiness and let it slip.
        "Star is James' daughter.  She was kept a secret in case
something happened to Fox.  I don't know where she's been till now.  Why
don't you tell us, Star."
        "Because I'd like to find my brother," one look from Pepper told
her she was going to far.  "Alright.  I've been here and there.   Most of
the time I was on Corneria learning how to break new codes and other
things.  I've been on Fortuna, helping out the scientists, backing up
theories.  I did some spy work on Macbeth for a while.  Sometimes I
dropped by to help the Husky and Bulldog unit on Katina.  When Bill
wasn't looking, of course.  Where is Bill anyway?  I haven't seen him in
a while."
        "Bill left earlier, after I told him about Fox.  He was pretty
broken up about it," Pepper answered.
        "Well, after I save my brother's tail, I'll go out and see him.
Can we get going now?"
        "Yes, Star, you'll lead the Starfox team to Venom.  I know you
work well alone, but you may have trouble getting to Venom without the
team."
        "Sure, Salty.  Starfox out," she clicked a button and the screen
went blank.  Star took a disk out of the disk drive and handed it to
Slippy.  "Put that in your arwing computer and send it to the other
arwings."
        "Sure, Star," Slippy said in awe.  He had never seen anyone talk
back to Pepper.
        Falco laughed.  "Do you always talk to Pepper like that?!  Salty!
Ha!"
        Even Peppy smiled a bit.  "Come on, team.  We've got to rescue
Fox."
        The team flew to Venom under Star's direction.  No one had to
call out for repairs, because Star watched her teammates more closely
than Fox and chose easy, but direct routes, to Venom.
        "Where did you learn to fly?"  Falco asked, watching Star come
out of a somersault and barrel roll to the side an asteroid.
        "Cornerian Academy.  Priority One sponsored my training.  Without
them, I wouldn't have gotten an education at all," Star answered.
        "Where did you learn how to break into secret files like that?"
Slippy asked.  "I've never seen anyone crack a Venomian code gate so
fast."
        "That, my friend, takes practice.  I'd expect that soon they'll
change every code and then I'll have to think a while before I can gain
access," Star glanced at her radar.  "Watch your six!  Enemy fighters
coming from behind!"
        She made a quick U-turn and headed straight into the fight.  She
broke the formation of the enemies and damaged a lot of their shields.
She quickly killed two, when she heard Slippy asking for help.
        "Don't worry, Slip.  I'll be there in a moment," she sighed.
Star knew Slippy wasn't a very good flier, but she didn't like being
called away from a fight to go save someone's tail.  General Pepper was
right.  She did prefer working alone.
        After the enemy jets were finished, shields were recharged, and
the team headed out.
        "Where to, Star?" Peppy asked.
        "Let's head to Bolse.  It's an easier way to get to Venom," Star
answered.
        "What? Too afraid to go to Area Six?"  Falco taunted.
        "No, but I'd rather not lose you guys there.  I move pretty
quickly in this jet," Star quipped.  Falco shut up.
        "Is that a custom made jet?"  Slippy asked.
        "Yup.  It can hold up to twelve Nova bombs, the back hatches
work, it can expand if I need to fit two people in here.  It's got ration
packs, med-kits, extra shields, whatever.  It can also take temperatures
over a million degrees.  I tested it on Solar."
        "Wow!  Our Arwings can barley take nine-thousand!"  Slippy
exclaimed.  "What do you call it?"
        "I call this baby Midnight Fox.  I've got another jet named
Arctic.  She's even sweeter than this one, but she can only hold nine
Nova Bombs."
        "Why aren't you flying that one?"  Peppy asked.
        "'Cuz that's my fall-back one.  If something happens to Midnight,
I've got Arctic to back me up," Star answered.
        "Where is this jet?  The only place I could think of to keep a
model like that would be at Priority One, but you don't serve under
General Pepper," Falco said.
        "Yeah, see, I don't trust the security there.  Or at Katina.  So
I've made my own base on some other planet.  I can't tell you where 'cuz
then I'd hafta kill you," Star saw the biggest planet in Lylat
approaching.  "Get ready, we're entering Venom airspace."
        "You sound just like you brother," Peppy commented.
        "I like to think of it as, he sounds like me.  Just because he's
two minutes older than me, doesn't mean I look up to him."
        The team was flying over Venom, tracking Fox's homing device when
Star got a strange feeling.  "Hey guys, isn't it strange that we didn't
meet any patrollers?"  She asked.
        "Yeah, I was just wondering that, myself," Slippy answered.
        "Make a right at that next boulder.  I think Andross can't find
him and he thinks that if we find him, then Andross won't have to."
        "But what if we're too late?  What if Fox is dead?  What if-"
Slippy was freaking out, but he was quickly cut off by anther voice over
the intercom.
        "So what if he's dead?  He'll see his father there and the Lylat
system is finally rid of the McCloud name," the pilot said.
        "Wolf O'Donnel.  Lived with your dad till age ten.  Then, James
McCloud took your dad away on charges you were to young to understand.
Tried to kill the fox, but the laser was on level nine.  Tsk, tsk.  Don't
you check your laser before you shoot it?  You could lose an eye like
that.  Whoops!  You already did," Star said.
        "What the-?  Who are you?  How did you know that?" Wolf asked
confused.
        "Oh, things get around.  I know a lot.  I also happen to know
that Leon Powalski and Andrew Oikonny are behind that boulder, and Pigma
Denger is right behind us," Star said, breezily.
        Immediately, Falco and Slippy chased Leon and Andrew out of
hiding and Peppy U-turned and found Pigma.  The fight was on.
        "How did you know that?" Wolf asked, still wondering how this
female knew so much about his past and knew where his team was hiding.
        "Ever here of a thing called a radar, sweety?"  Star asked, and
gave chase to Wolf's Wolfen II.  She kept Wolf in knots, practically
flying circles around him.  Slippy was being chased by Andrew and
couldn't shake him.  Peppy had Pigma under control, and Leon and Falco
were still struggling for superiority.
        "Andrew look!  It's Uncle Andross!"  Star said.
        "Where?"  Andrew turned his jet around to try and look, allowing
Slippy to get free.
        "Sucker!" Star yelled and quickly got behind and began shooting
him.  Slippy soon joined her.
        "Andrew you idiot!  Don't listen to the enemy!"  Leon yelled, as
he flipped behind Falco.  "How did you know that would work, anyway?"
        "A wild guess," Star answered, sarcastically.  Wolf chased her
off Andrew's tail, but Slippy stayed there.
        Star made a sharp barrel roll right in front of Pigma.  He
swerved quickly to try to get away, but flew right into some kind of
cactus tree.
        "I'm going down!  Wolf help meeeee!" the betrayer yelled as his
ship went down.
        "Get a transporter over here!"  Wolf yelled into his com opening
a channel to Venom's base.  "And remind me to break his face when I see
him."
        "That may be a bit hard to do when your licking your own wounds,
Wolfy," Star taunted.  She started toward Wolf, who tried to avoid her,
but actually let her go right past him and take out Andrew's ship, which
was behind Slippy again.
        "Uncle Andross!"  He yelped.
        Star didn't stop there.  She flew in front of Wolf, allowing him
to chase her.  Then, she followed Leon.  At exactly the right moment, she
pressed a button that released a cloud of gas.  "Falco, pull up!"  She
commanded.  The arwings got free, but Wolf flew into Leon, sending them
both crashing down.
        "Alright!"  Falco yelled.  "Now let's finish 'em!"
        Star started to follow him, but suddenly felt such an intense
pain in her leg that she almost screamed.  "No, Falco let's go.  Fox is
hurt, maybe dying.  We've gotta get to him quickly."
        "Oh, man!"  Falco said, but he followed Star who followed her
radar to where Fox was.

        Wolf jumped out of his fighter and surveyed the damage.  The
front would have to be redone and he would need a new engine.  "Damn!"
he swore, kicking the jet.
        "Who was that?"  Leon asked, getting out of his fighter and
looked up at the retreating awings.
        "I dunno.  I just hope they get rid of the new pilot," Andrew
whined, trying to get out of his jet, but the dash board trapped him.
Leon stormed over to him and yanked him out.
        "I can't believe you!  She tricked you with the oldest trick in
the book!"  Leon punched him across the face.
        "Ooww!  I'll tell my uncle!"  He whined, but Leon knew he
wouldn't.
        "And you!"  Leon yelled, heading straight for Pigma who was going
through his ration pack, looking for something to eat.  "You flew right
into that thing!  That was such a simple trick Andrew could do it!"
        "Talk about simple tricks, I wasn't the one lost in the smoke
screen!"
        "Why you-" Leon swung at Pigma and broke his nose.  Pigma dodged
the next shot and began to fight back.
        "Enough!"  Wolf yelled, yanking them apart.  "We've gotta find
out who that was."
        "I think I might know...." Pigma's voice was muffled as he held
his snout.

        "We sure showed them!"  Slippy said excitedly, as the team flew
over Venom.
        "Don't get too cocky," Peppy warned.  "We still haven't found Fox
yet."  By know, Peppy could sense Fox was close.  He knew that Fox was in
pain and trying to survive in this poison atmosphere.
        "There he is!"  Star yelled, spotting a crumpled body in the
sand.  She landed and was at Fox's side so quickly that the rest of the
team hadn't even put out there landing gear yet.  Star kneeled down next
to Fox.
        "Fox?  Fox, it's me, Star," then she grumbled: "What an overused
line."
        Fox smiled faintly.  "Hey Star," he tried to get up, but Star
pushed him back down.  She pulled some water from her ration pack.
        "Here, Fox.  Don't spill any."  She helped him hold it, and
gently rolled him over so she could see his leg.  "Did you take any
painkillers?"
        "No, I just tried to tie it up," he answered, weakly.
        "Fox, I don't have time to give you a tranquilizer, so this is
gonna hurt a lot."
        "I know."  Fox braced himself and Star got ready to set his leg
and retie it.  Star started to untie the bandage around Fox's leg.  He
gritted his teeth and tried not to scream.  Star had to do the same,
because she felt Fox's pain.  Fox's leg was covered with dry blood, and
when Star wiped it away with a damp cloth she could see white bone
underneath.  Slippy, who had come up behind Star with Falco and Peppy,
turned to gag.  Peppy helped Star by handing her what she needed, but
couldn't bring himself to look at Fox's leg.  Even Falco looked a little
green.
        After wiping away the blood, Star sat back for a moment.
"Alright Fox, we might have an infection here and I've gotta disinfect
it.  This is really gonna hurt, but it'll save your life."
        "Hurry up, Star.  If I don't think about it, it doesn't hurt so
much," Fox said, weakly.  Star poured the disinfectant over the wound.
Fox yelled and Star bit her lip to keep from doing the same.  Then, she
pulled out a needle and surgeon's thread to sew the wound.  She quickly
sewed it up to prevent more sand or anything else from getting in.
Lastly, she re-wrapped her brother's leg.  For a moment, the team just
sat there.  Slowly, Fox sat up.
        "What are we waiting for?  Titania to freeze over?  Let's get the
heck off this planet!"  Fox said.
        Star smiled and helped him get to his feet.  Peppy and Falco
helped him walk to Star's jet.  She pressed a button and the jet expanded
just enough for two people.  Slippy helped lower Fox inside and then,
hurried to his own jet.  Star started the engine, as did everyone else,
and they were off to Corneria.

        "Why didn't you tell us James had a daughter!?"  Andross screamed
at Pigma Dengar, who kneeled in front of his throne.  The nervous pig
wiped some dried blood off his face.
        "I-I thought wasn't necessary.  S-she ran away after dad died and
everyone thought she was dead," Pigma sniffed.  "How was I t-to know
she'd be back?"
        Andross slammed his fist on the armrest of his chair.  "You
should have told us anyway!  Now Fox is alive and we have a second
McCloud to take care of!  And a spy, no less!  Twelve days in prison with
meager rations for this insolence!"
        "No!  Please!  I-I can get on Great Fox!  I know it's security!
Let me go find her and I'll kill her myself.  Please, pleeease, don't put
me in prison!"  Pigma begged.
        "He's probably more worried about the rations," Andrew whispered
to Leon.  Leon smiled slightly and whispered what Andrew said to Wolf.
Wolf merely nodded and watched Pigma grovel at Andross's chair.  The team
stood off to the side of the chamber, waiting to find out what their
orders were and to find out what would happen to Pigma.
        Wolf couldn't believe he'd been out-flown by Fox's younger
sister.  The thought amazed and almost scared him.  What was even more
scary, was he fact the she knew things about him that no one else knew.
Things he hadn't even told Leon, his best friend.  And for some strange
reason, he almost felt attracted to her...

        Star paced the lobby of the Cornerian hospital, worriedly.  She
tried sitting down, then got back up.  She paced again, then leaned
against the wall.  She stayed there for a moment, then walked over to the
window and looked outside to see that the sky was overcast and promised
rain.  Then, she resumed pacing.  The Starfox team watched her curiously.
        "Star, why don't you sit down?"  Slippy asked.  "I found a
magazine that's got an article about Fox in it."
        "I hate hospitals," Star grumbled.  "Reminds me of the time I
broke my wrist.  I just hate hospitals."
        "A little edgy, are we?" Falco asked looking up from his
magazine.
        "No!  I mean... yeah, but...I just can't stand these places.
They're so neat and orderly, and smelly, and-" suddenly the door opened.
"Bill!" Star ran to him and threw her arms around his neck.  He hugged
her back, and after a minute, he pushed her back a bit.
        "Man, Star are you a sight for sore eyes.  Where've ya been?  I
haven't seen you in years!"  Bill said.
        "Oh, you know.  I've been here and there.  But look at you!  Have
You been working out or somethin'?  You look great!"  Star gave him
another quick hug backed away.  "They say Fox may die from exposure.  I'm
worried about him."
        "Yeah, me, too."  Bill looked around.  "Is this the same place
you went when you broke your wrist?"
        "I'm not sure.  One hospital looks the just like the next."
        "Excuse, me for breaking up the re-union, but how do you two know
each other?"  Falco asked.
        "Oh we've been friends since we were kits," Star replied.
        "I was a pup, not a kit," Bill corrected.
        "Oh, well sor-ry!"  Suddenly the other door opened and a nurse
came carrying a clipboard and shaking her head.  "What is it?  Is he
gonna be O.K.?"

Chapter 3

        Wolf paced the length of rec room of his team's living quarters.
He couldn't stop thinking of Star McCloud.  Even though she shot down
Andrew, tricked Pigma into flying into a tree, and made Wolf fly into
Leon, he didn't hate her.  If Fox had done that, Wolf probably considered
suicide again, but this female pilot was something different.  Something
more...
        Suddenly the door opened.  Pigma walked in smiling, fresh from
the shower he had just taken.  He pulled a bag of chips from his pocket
and opened a cabinet on the wall for a drink.  There was no kitchen
because when the team wanted a meal they called room service.
        "Pigma, what do you know about Star McCloud?"  Wolf asked.
        "Why do you want to know?" the pig asked, through a mouthful of
chips.
        "Because I wanna know and you're gonna tell me!" Wolf said,
grabbing Pigma and slamming him against the wall.  He dropped his soda
and bits off chewed chips flew out of his mouth.
        "Alright!  Alright!  I'll tell ya what I know," Wolf let him go
and Pigma picked up his soda can.  "She's James' kit, he didn't want
anyone to know about her in case something happened to him and Fox, she
could take their place.  He had her trained secretly in flying, spying,
and other stuff."  He paused to eat some more chips.
        "Such as..." Wolf prompted.
        "Such as computers, survival, minor doctor skills, a lot of
stuff.  She could survive on Titania with a weeks ration pack for almost
a month.  That was her test in fifth grade.  She could break into any
Cornerian file and was working on Venom codes, but Andross changes the
files so much that she couldn't break 'em.  Once, she an' her brother
were playing in the woods with Bill Grey.  Fox tripped an' cut his leg
open on a rock.  It was so bad he could bled to death, but Star stitched
it up too quick.  She's good."
        "How many people knew about her before now?" Wolf asked, awed by
this new opponent.
        "Not a lot.  General Pepper knew, Fox knew, Bill knew, and I
knew.  I think that's it."
        "Not even Peppy knew?"
        "Nope, not even the old hare.  I only found out through an
accident.  James was training her in some aerial tricks and I stopped by
to see him and met Star."
        "Does she have any weaknesses?"
        "Yeah," Pigma grinned suddenly.  "Just one.  Before the original
Starfox left on their last expedition to Venom, I was playing hockey with
her-"
        "Hockey!?  You?"  Wolf acted surprised.
        "Shut up.  It was a fun sport and I didn't play often."
        "That shows."  Pigma glared at his team captain.
        "Anyway, while playing I picked up my stick and hit her right
wrist wit it.  The bone was shattered.  Her and her family just thought
it was an accident."  Pigma's smile got bigger.  "So now, if you twist
her wrist just right, it'll snap."
        "Anything else I should know?"  Wolf asked.
        "Star is real good at breaking into personal files and finding
out deep, dark secrets and background history on people.  Rumor has it
that she could even blackmail Pepper."
        "Why didn't she fly for the Cornerian army?  Or at least work for
them?"
        "After her dad died, I heard she couldn't handle it.  She
couldn't even look at Fox because he looked too much like James.  So she
left.  Just flew away and left.  Remains of her arwing were found on
Titania, so they thought she was dead."
        "Thanks, Pigma.  Is Andross gonna send you to temporary prison,
or what?"
        "I was gonna tell you about that," Pigma smiled.  "He's gotta job
for us..."

        The white rabbit looked up from her clipboard.  "Are you Star
McCloud?"  She asked.
        "Do I look like her?"  Star asked.  "Yeah, now let me see 'im!"
        "Star, calm down," Bill ut his hand on Star's shoulder.
        "Fox will be fine, but as of now, he's in critical condition.  He
would have died if the wound wasn't disinfected.  Who did that?"  The
nurse asked.
        "I did.  Can I see him now?"  Star asked.
        "Only direct family members allowed," she said, looking at the
Starfox team sitting in the lobby.
        "I am direct family!  Now let me see him!"  Star yelled.
        "O.K.!  O.K., follow me."  The nurse led the way to ICU.  "Your
brother would be dead if it wasn't for you."
        Star nodded, vaguely.  She seriously hated hospitals.  Just being
in one made her wrist hurt.  Soon, she was standing over Fox's bed.  His
lag was wrapped in gauze and his head was bandaged.  He looked like he
was asleep.
        "Hey, big bro," she said.
        Fox smiled faintly.  "Hey, sis."
        "Nurse says you'll be alright," Star said, pulling up a chair.
"Bill's here.  He looks like he's been lifting weights.  He probably
doesn't surf anymore, because of what happened to Zoness.  That was his
favorite planet."
        "Yeah.  How've you been?"  Fox asked.
        "Oh, ya know, O.K.  Hey, does Doc still work here?"  Doc was a
hamster who had been the twins doctor since they were born.  He was the
only doctor Star liked.
        "Yeah.  He stopped in earlier.  How's your wrist?"
        "It hurts a bit.  When can you get out of here, Fox?  You know I
hate hospitals."
        "Maybe today.  If Doc thinks I'm well enough," Fox sat up.  "I
don't like being here any more than you do.  Hey, I heard about what you
did to Starwolf.  Great job."
        "Lie down, Fox.  You lost too much blood to be sitting up."
        "Nah, I took some painkillers awhile ago and I think they just
kicked in.  Get Doc in here and maybe we can leave."
        Star walked out of the room and looked around.  The corridor was
quiet while nurses and doctors tiptoed around silently.  This is why I
hate hospitals, Star thought.  She saw a computer sitting on a
secretary's desk with no one at it.  Figures.  When you want a secretary,
they're never around.
        Star walked to the computer and sat down.  In less than a minute,
she knew exactly where Doc was.  If this place was ever raided, the enemy
would have no trouble trying to find out where everyone is, Star thought.
        "Excuse me, what do you think you're doing?" a voice behind Star
asked.
        "I was just leaving," Star turned around to see a mouse glaring
at her.
        "You're not supposed to be playing with that.  You could have
messed something up."
        Star stood up.  Compared to most people she was short, but she
was a head taller than the mouse.  "Listen, honey, I'm in a hurry and
I've got no time to wait for secretaries who are in the lounge talking
and drinking coffee.  All I did was find out where my friend is.  Your
computer's fine."  Star walked away and started down he hallway.  She
practically walked into a doctor hurrying down the hallway.  "Doc!"  Star
said, surprised.
        "Star?  How are you?  I haven't seen you since you broke your
wrist," the hamster said.
        "Don't remind me," Star said, holding her wrist.  "Fox wants out
and he told me to find you.  Can he go now?"
        "Sure.  I was on my way to see him just now."  The two walked to
Fox's room.
        "Hey Doc!  Can I leave now?"  Fox asked.
        "Well, you'll have to stay on crutches for about a week.  Come
back in two days and could take that gauze off and replace it with a
brace.  And stay on the crutches.  I know you two don't like to listen to
authority, but please listen to me.  The reason Star's wrist didn't heal
right was because she took the bandage off to soon.  Your leg might not
heal right if you walk without the crutches."
        "Right, Doc."  Star said, grabbing the crutches that were leaning
by the bed.  "C'mon Fox.  Let's go."
        Star helped Fox get the crutches on and the twins left.  The
mouse secretary walked up to Doc.  "I thought he only needed crutches for
the first two or three days," she said.
        "That's right, but if I told them that then Fox wouldn't even use
the crutches tomorrow.  Now I know that he'll at least use them for a day
or two."
        "Do they ever do what they're told?"
        "Fox is less rebellious than his sister, but he doesn't always
listen.  Star does what she thinks is right and that hasn't gotten her in
trouble yet."

        Once on Great Fox, Star cooked spaghetti for dinner with her own
secret special sauce that Fox loved.  Bill stayed with the team for
dinner.
        "So how did you get out of the arwing?"  Peppy asked.
        "Eventually, I got hungry so I reached for my ration pack, and
when I did, I found that there was enough room to slide out on to the
sand."  Fox answered.
        "Why didn't you stay with the arwing?"  Slippy asked.
        "Because I knew Andross would soon send a search team for me.  So
I decided to get as far away as possible."
        "Why does your sister fly better than you, Fox?"  Falco asked.
Everyone laughed at that.  Fox blushed.
        "Dinner's ready," Star said, carrying a large bowl toward the
table.  "Here's the Bug Bits for you, Slippy, and the Parmesan Cheese is
for who ever wants it."
        Several people luged forward to get the cheese first, but it was
Falco who grabbed it first.
        "This is great!"  Bill said, through a mouth full.
        "Reminds me of how your mother used to cook," Peppy commented.
        "I hope you cooked enough for everyone," a voice said, from the
doorway.
        The team looked up to see Starwolf standing in the doorway.  All
four team members had their lasers drawn and ready to fire.

Chapter 4

        "Oh, hi Wolf," Star said, calmly.  "I think I cooked enough.  I
hope you enjoy it."  She went back to the cabinet to get four more bowls.
 Startled, Starwolf lowered their guns.  Everyone stared at her in shock.
        "Aren't you gonna ask how we got on the ship?"  Andrew asked,
recovering first.
        "No, I knew you were coming on.  The code is really to easy to
break, Slippy should update it."  Star set the bowls on the table and
went back to the kitchen for some cups.  She poured a different drink
into each cup.  "Please, sit down.  We don't want dinner to get cold."
        Pigma walked to a seat quickly, but Wolf grabbed him and pushed
him back.  "What is this?  A trick of some sort?"  He asked.
        "Nope.  I figured you'd show up and I know how you did it, too.
Pigma knows a lot about this ship and Andrew's pretty good at breaking
codes.  That's basically how you got into the ship.  Here, have something
to drink."  She handed Wolf a cup of black coffee, Leon, some raspberry
tea, Pigma, a cup of sugar-water, and Andrew, some champagne.  "Listen,
Wolfy-"
        "Wolf," he interrupted, wondering how she knew what his and his
teammates favorite drinks were.
        "Whatever.  I don't like Corneria or Priority One any more than
you do.  I'd like to help you out on Venom.  You've seen how I fly and
I'm great at breaking code gates.  Let me join the team.  Please?"
        Wolf was stunned for a moment.  He didn't even know what to say.
He felt a gentle nudge in his side, and he turned to look back.  Leon had
elbowed him and was looking at him in a way that said, "Yeah, let's let
her come with us."
        "How do we know this isn't some kind of tick?"  Wolf asked.
        "You'll just hafta trust me.  But think of this: General Pepper
sent my dad on a suicide mission and wouldn't send anyone to try to save
him, or Peppy.  Pepper would have let my brother die if it weren't for
me.  Pepper doesn't even like me and the only reason he doesn't try to
wipe clean out of the Lylat System is because I'm James McCloud's kit.  I
hate Pepper and I wanna get back at him.  Trust me."  Star looked and
Wolf reassuringly.
        "Star what the hell are you doing?!"  Falco yelled, recovering
suddenly.  "You can't do this!"
        "Yes, I can.  I'm not registered as a Cornerian fighter so I
don't have to abide by your laws.  Sorry, hon.  I was just using you guys
to get Starwolf's attention."  Star smiled, sweetly.
        "Prove that you don't care about them anymore," Wolf challenged.
        "Alright," Star replied.  She opened a drawer.  To everyone's
amazement, it had a fake bottom.  Star pulled out a bomb.  "This bomb is
set to go off in two minutes.  Let's get out of here."
        "Let's go!"  Wolf yelled.
        The Starwolf team plus Star ran out quickly.  Star paused for a
second to grab a laptop computer and ran to the docking bay.  The five
jets took off before the two minutes were up.

        Back on Great Fox, Slippy was examining the bomb.  "It's a fake,
" he said, sounding confused.
        Bill suddenly laughed.  "Fox, remember what she said when we were
little?  About waning to be a spy on Venom?"
        Fox nodded.  "I didn't think she'd actually do it, though.  She
had me worried for a moment.  Suddenly, the main computer screen blinked.
 Slippy walked over to it and pressed some buttons.
        "We've gotta message coming in.  It's text, not audio/visual."
        "Put it on the screen," Fox said.  Some words popped up on the
screen.
 
           &nb sp;    Hey, guys.  I'm sorry I didn't warn you about the raid.
I've always wanted to spy on Venom and I just got my chance.  Right now
we're passing over Macbeth.  I thought you guys took care of the supply
depot there.  I think you just took out a decoy.  I'll keep you posted.
Bye!

        "Told ya," Bill said.
        "Man, I actually believed her, too!"  Falco said.
        "No, she may not always agree with Pepper, but she'd never fly
against him," Fox said.  "Let's finish dinner.  Later I've gotta send in
a request for a new jet."
        Dinner was finished in silence.
 
        Star sat in her arwing very proud of herself.  I've got to be the
best actress in Lylat to pull that off, she thought.  Venom files were
easy to break, but they took a long time.  Once she was at Venom, she
could break into personal files more easily.  Star enjoyed finding out
secrets abut people.  She knew that Wolf had killed a cheetah cub in
grade school.  Andrew's mother had been a spy for Corneria.  (Andrew
didn't even no that.)  Pigma has a fear of James coming back to haunt
him.  Leon's past was a hazy.  She knew more than anyone else, but that
still wasn't much.
        "You still awake over there?"  Wolf asked, over the com link.
        "Yeah," Star answered.
        "Remember what you said to me the first day we met?"  Wolf asked.
 "About my past?"
        "Uh huh.  I remember."
        "What else do you know?"  Wolf asked.
        "Oh, a lot more.  I know you killed someone in grade school, you
were a pirate, you met Leon, you asked Andross for a job, you got a team,
you captain it well.  I could go into detail on any of those topics if
you want."
        "No thanks, but could you do that for other people?"  Wolf
inquired.
        "Of course!  I know a lot about all of you, plus everyone on
Starfox and at Priority One."  Star replied.
        "Alright, if your so good, tell me about my past," Leon
challenged.
        "I know that your mom left you and your sister with your dad
because of his drinking habit.  He used to beat you and your sister and
eventually, you began fighting back.  You killed him with a laser he
didn't know you had. Your sister got scared and ran away to Titania.  She
starved there.  Your mother tried to find her, but she was caught in an
air raid.  Starwolf was there.  You could have been the one who killed
her, Leon.  Anyway, after your sister ran away, you tried to get a job
with the Cornerian army but they refused you.  So, you became a pirate on
Katina and Zoness.  Wolf was a pirate on Katina and Fortuna and
eventually the two of you met and asked Andross for a job, which he gave
you.  Anything else you wanna know, Leon?"  Star finished.
        "I didn't know my sister was dead," Leon said, quietly.
        "Her name was Lia, wasn't it?"  Star asked.
        "Yeah," Leon sounded far away for a moment as if remembering
something long forgotten.  Suddenly, he sounded like he usually did
again.  "Oh, well.  It doesn't really matter.  I just thought I'd find
out if you knew."
        Gotcha, Star thought.  Sounds like I just figured out your
weakness, Leon.  Star could see Venom pretty close.
        "We'll land in about fifteen minutes," Wolf said.  I'll see what
I can do to get you your own room, Star, but for tonight you can use
mine.  I'll sleep in the living room."
        "Are you sure?  I could sleep in the living room."
        "No, I will," Wolf insisted.
        Star sighed and leaned back.  This is gonna be fun, she thought.
 
        "Fox, you're supposed to be on your crutches!"  Slippy said.
"You're gonna mess up your leg if you don't use 'em."
        "I've used them for about two days now.  I can move without them.
 Any word from Star?"
        "No.  I'm actually worried about her, Fox.  What if they figured
out it was just a trick?"  Slippy asked.
        "You worry too much.  Star won't get caught.  She's too good."
        Suddenly, the screen blinked.  "Emergency message coming from
Venom!"  Slippy said.
        "Put it on the screen," Fox said.  Was Star in trouble?
 

Chapter 5

        Wolf grinned and wrapped his arm around Star.  She smiled at him
and watched the monitor in front of them.  The Starwolf team had just
sent a message to Starfox and they were waiting for them to reply.
Suddenly, the screen blinked on.  Fox and Slippy looked worriedly at the
team.
        "Hey, big bro," Star said.  "I've got my own team now.  And we're
gonna kick your butts right outa Lylat.  Ain't that right, boys?"
        "Yeah," Pigma squealed.  "We'll make you sorry you ever worked
for Pepper."
        "Fat chance of that," Fox said.  "I know my sister's moves and I
could shoot her down any day."
        "How much are you willing to bet on that?"  Wolf asked.  So far,
his plan was going smoothly.  He knew that Star's flying was superior to
her brother's and since they were working against each other, why not
make a game out of it?
        "I'd bet anything on that," Fox said.
        Oh no, Fox you idiot!  Star thought.  Don't you see what he's
trying to do?
        "If your so sure how about a friendly game?  You against your
sister, on Fortuna, O8:00 hours.  If you lose, you and your team
surrender to us," Wolf's smile couldn't get any bigger.
        "And if I win?"  Fox asked.
        "We surrender to you.  But that won't happen.  See you in an
hour!"  Wolf clicked the screen off.  Pigma looked nervous.
        "How do we know that you'll beat your brother?"  He whined.
        "Don't worry about it.  Fox is still using the tricks he learned
at the academy and he's using a jet inferior to mine.  I've got this in
the bag," Star replied.  "Would you like some sugar water, Pigma?"
        Instantly, Pigma forgot to be worried and nodded.  Star walked to
the bar in the rec room and started to mix up the drink.
        "How can he drink this stuff?"  She asked herself.  The drink is
made from a cup f sugar, some vanilla, half a cup of water, and a drop of
whiskey.  It made Star's stomach curdle just mixing the ingredients.
Star shivered as she remembered Wolf's arm around her.  It seemed that he
liked her and she could use that against him, but in the meantime, it
annoyed her.
        Then there was Leon.  He was sick and cruel toward enemies, but
he was charming around the ladies.  If Wolf wasn't the leader of
Starwolf, it would have been Leon with his arm around her.  Leon liked
her, too.  Star could sense it, but in a way, she was almost scared of
him.
        "Here you are, Pigma."  Star said, handing him his drink.  "We'd
better be going, guys.  We've got to be at Fortuna in less than an hour."

        Fox paced back and forth across the ships floor.  "I can't
believe I did that!  Star can out fly me any day.  And if she lets me
shoot her down, Wolf will know it was all a trick!  What can I do?"
        "Call in sick?"  Falco suggested, tipping back in his chair.  He
didn't even seem to care about the situation.
        "Falco, don't you realize how much is at stake here?!  If I lose
to Star, we'll all be in Leon's torture chamber at his mercy!"
        "Seems to me like Star can handle anything.  Let her figure a way
out of this," Falco yawned.  "Let's go, Fox.  We don't want to be late."
 
        At Fortuna, Fox landed and carefully looked over his jet.  He
decided it would have to do because his order for a second jet hadn't
come through yet.  He looked up and saw four Wolfen class jets and
Midnight Fox hovering in the distance.
        "Hey, Fox!  Checkin' up on that piece of scrap metal?"  Star
taunted.  Fox quickly got into his jet and re-started it.
        "Just because your in some fancy custom-made jet doesn't mean
your better than me!"  Fox said.
        "Your right, it's the pilot that counts right?  Well, I'm better
than you in that category, too."  Star darted forward and shot at Fox's
left wing.  He barrel-rolled to safety.
        'Star what are doing,' Fox thought to her.  The twins had a
telepathic bond between them so he knew Star could hear him.
        'Just play along,' Star thought.  'I've got a plan.'
        For a few minutes, the two took shots at each other, deflected
shots, did flips, U- turns, the works.
        'All right, Fox, let's end this.  Head straight at me and I'll
release on of my cloud bombs.  No one will see us there.  We'll just land
and everyone will think we crashed," Star thought.
        'That's your plan?  Won't they see that our jets aren't messed
up?'  Fox scoffed, mentally.
        'You gotta better idea?  That's a risk we're gonna hafta take.'
        They followed through with Star's plan, but one thing they hadn't
anticipated happened.  Fox's jet began a nosedive toward the ground.
        "Help!  My engines are failing!"  He yelled.
        'Stay still, Fox.  And stop yelling,' Star thought.  Fox bailed,
his jet smashed into the ground and lit up in flames.  Damn it!  Star
pounded her fist on the dash board.  'Fox, when I find you, I'll kill
you!'
        "Yeah!"  Wolf yelled.  "Time o surrender, Starfox.  You were
beaten."
        "No fair!  The smoke clogged Fox's engine!"  Slippy yelled.
        "So what?  He went down, and Star is still up.  Therefore, Star
wins!  Game over," Wolf said, cheerfully.
        "I can't wait to get you in my prison cell, Lombardi," Leon
taunted.
        "Wolf, Fox is getting away.  I'm going after him," Star said.
She landed her jet quickly and ran after him.  Fox was just untangling
himself from the escape pods parachute.  Star knocked him.
        "I can't believe you!  You messed everything up!  Now what are we
gonna do?"  She yelled and kicked him in the side.
        "I have an idea," Fox said, smiling slyly.
        "What?"  Star asked.  Suddenly, Fox reached out and grabbed her
ankle.  He pulled her down.  They wrestled for a moment until Fox stood
up holding Star tightly with a gun pressed to her head.
        "Leave now, Starwolf.  Or Star's gonna be one dead fox," Fox
threatened.
        "Vixen," Star growled, and kicked him in the shin.
        "Knock it off, Star," He growled back at her.  "I mean it,
Starwolf!"  He yelled through his com.
        "Star, can't you get away?"  Wolf asked.
        "No, he's stronger than me," Star lied.  "Get lost before you get
me killed!  I can handle this!"
        Starwolf flew off without a second thought.  Once they were out
of sight, Star flipped her brother over her back.  "Don't ever do that to
me again, or I swear I'll kill you."
        "Nice to see you, too, Star," Fox said, rubbing his elbow.  "You
wanna go back with them or come with us?"
        "I'll hang with you guys for awhile.  For some reason, I don't
think Wolf trusts me anymore," She walked to her jet and expanded it for
Fox to sit in back.  "Why didn't you tell me smoke bombs clog your
engine?"
        "I didn't know," He answered, climbing in.  "Did you make this
yourself?"
        "Yup, at my secret base that even you don't know about.  What say
we stop by Roverans'?  Bill's got the day off and he's there, too," Star
suggested.
        "What's Bill doing there?  I thought he was supposed to be doing
drills with the Husky unit today," Fox asked.
        "You know that Leon had him temporarily, and tortured him?"  Star
asked.  Fox cringed and nodded.  "He's still a bit messed up by that, and
since Roverans had a rare day off, he invited Bill over, who asked for
two days leave and got it."
        "How'd you know all that?"  Fox asked.
        "Do you still hafta ask?  I know everything, big bro."
        The team flew to Bill's cousin's house.  Roverans used to live on
Corneria until he became a scientist on Fortuna.  When the four of them
were kits and pups, they would play together.  Star sometimes stopped in
to see Roverans, but she made him promise not to tell Bill she was there.
        "Slippy, see that transporter ship that just flew away?"  Star
asked.  "Can you identify it?"
        "Yeah, it's a Venom aircraft!  What's that doing here?" Slippy
asked, confused.
        Star landed her jet in the waist deep snow.  She and Fox stood up
and looked around.  They saw three dead Venomian lizards killed by a
laser, their wounds still smoking.  Fox gagged a second, but Star jumped
down and ran to the house.  The door had been left open.
        "Bill?  Roverans?"  She yelled through the empty dwelling.  The
Starfox team walked in behind her.
        "No one's here," Peppy said.  "What would Andross want with a few
scientists?"
        "Info, hostages, new data, it doesn't really matter.  Whatever he
wanted them for, he's got 'em.  Slippy said.  He sat down at Roverans
state-of-the-art computer.  "I'll send word to General Pepper."
        "You do that, Slip.  I'm going to my base and I'm going to find
out where they went."  Star pulled her helmet on and started to leave.
        "Hey Star!  What about me?"  Fox asked.  "Bill's jet isn't here."
        Star sighed.  "Fox, take my jet.  Slippy I'm borrowing yours so
you can use the computer in the back of my jet, O.K.?"
        "Sure thing, Star," Slippy replied, briefly looking up from the
screen.
        "And Fox, mess up my jet and it's three thousand Cornerian
credits."  Star tossed him the keys.  With that, Star left, taking
Slippy's ignition key as she passed him.
        "I hate arwings," Star growled, to herself.  At least she was
getting away from that icebox.
        Over an hour later, Star landed Slippy's jet on Titania.  A
deserted wooden shack stood close by.  She dropped a camouflage tarp over
the jet and walked inside the shack.  She opened a trap door in the floor
and climbed down a ladder.
        Star's secret base was almost a mile below Titania's desert
surface and was quite cool.  She had three computers lined up against one
wall in her living room along with an audio/visual screen, a stereo, a
T.V. and VCR, a rack of C.D.'s, and a lounge chair.  Star picked up the
remote by the door and clicked it.  Automatically, the radio turned on,
as did the computers.  One computer watched Venom through a spy cam Star
payed a Cornerian spy to place inside the main computer.  So far it had
not been detected.
        The next computer showed what Fox was seeing and doing.  Star had
placed a chip in Fox's com a long time ago, just to keep tabs on him.
The last computer was just an ordinary computer.  Star sat down at that
one.
        For a moment, she watched the screen that showed her what was
going on, on Venom.  She saw a small team led by a lion bow at Andross's
throne.
        The lion said, "You called for us, Emperor?"
        "Yes,"  Andross said.  "The scientists at Fortuna have been
captured along with Commander Grey.  I want full security there.  Don't
let anyone through."
        "Yes, your majesty," the lion responded.  "Where are the
scientists being held?"
        "On Macbeth.  The station that we use for a prison."
        Star smiled.  Thank you Andross.  She looked at he next screen
and saw that Fox was carefully landing her jet inside Great Fox.  Slippy
and fox climbed out and walked into their living quarters.
        "So what do we do now?"  Falco asked.
        "General Pepper will let us know as soon as he finds out where
the hostages are," Peppy replied, fixing himself a tall glass of carrot
juice.
        "Like he did when Fox was missing on Venom?"  Falco quipped.  "He
won't find them.  Bill's as good as dead now."
        "No!"  Fox said loudly, surprising them all.  "Bill will be
alright.  Star's working on it now.  If Pepper can't find them, Star
will."
        Star smiled and tapped some buttons on the remote.  Her
audio/visual screen turned on and ut her through to Great Fox.  When the
connection was complete, she said: "Guys!  I found them!  They're on
Macbeth.  I'm getting a lock on now."
        "I told you!"  Fox said, jumping up.  "Have you told general
Pepper yet?"
        "Nope, but I'm about to.  Get ready to go," Star said, just
before she blinked the screen off.  Next she opened a link to General
Pepper.  "Hey, Pepper, I know where the scientists are being held!"  She
yelled into Pepper's office.
        Pepper jumped up, spilling coffee onto his pants.  "What
the-Star!  I'll-"
        "Sorry, no time for small talk.  I'm sending you the coordinates
via e-mail.  I suggest you get Starfox right on.  Thanks!  B-bye."  Star
canceled the link quickly.  Boy, is Pepper gonna be mad at me!  She
thought.  She sent the coordinates to Pepper and watched the screen next
to her.  Starfox was ready and waiting for Pepper to tell them what to
do.  As soon as Star saw Pepper on their a/v screen, she turned off the
computers and the music and stretched.
        "I think I'll go see Brad.  Haven't seen him in a while," Star
walked through a door that led to her small docking bay.  Arctic Fox sat
patiently, waiting to be used.  Star ran her hand along the sleek build
of the jet.  "Soon," she told it.  "Not today."  She passed by the empty
spot where Midnight should have been.  Then she passed by her custom-made
snow mobile, which wasn't done yet, and then to her trusty Dune-Skipper.
Star was proud of the sand buggy.  It had taken her about a year to build
and she never stopped modifying it.  "C'mon, Dune, let's go," she slid
the key into the ignition and opened the doors that led outside.  It had
taken forever to create a hangar were she could ride in and out of
without having a truckload of sand fall into the hangar, but eventually
she managed.
        Soon, she was on her way to Brad's secret home.  She pulled up
beside a shack and slid down a trapdoor.  "Knock, knock!"  She called.
"Brad, are you in?"
        "Yeah I'm in.  Hey Star.  What brings you around?"  Brad asked.
He was a badger with a big build.  Star sometimes stopped by for some
tornab crab and to talk.  Brad hated visitors, but Star was an exception.
 She didn't bother him to much and was fun to talk to once in awhile.
        "Oh, I thought I'd come and see you, ya know how things are.
Bill's been captured again.  I'm sure you've heard the news that I
recently revealed myself to save Fox's tail and that I've been a spy on
Venom, blah, blah, blah.  So what's new with you?"
        Brad handed Star a magazine article.  "See that badger there?"
Star nodded.  "That's my cousin, Tera.  Have you heard about the Justice
Cadets?"
        "Yeah, I knew two of them.  Jo'hara was a friend of mine in grade
school and I met Natlarn on Katina.  Why?"
        "Just thought I'd ask.  You seemed to caught up with everything
that I thought, maybe you hadn't noticed."
        "Yeah, I've even checked their backgrounds a bit.  Tigress was a
mercenary and Natlarn friend was murdered.  Jo'hara helped them because
he was Natlarn's friend.  Tera was the one who let Natlarn out of prison
on Katina."
        "Did you know about what was happening there?"  Brad asked.
        "Only partially.  I knew there were spies, but I wasn't sure who.
 I figured the problem would take care of itself and it did.  You got any
spare tornab crab?"  Star asked.
        "Yeah, help yourself."
        "Thanks."
        After about an hour of talking, Star left and headed home.  She
checked in with Fox.  He said he was about to break into the prison and
he'd notify Star if he needed her.
        Star yawned.  Solar was shining brightly on Macbeth, but Titania
had started rotating away from the Lylat system's sun.  Star yawned.
What a busy day, she thought.  I've gotta get some sleep.  With that, she
laid down on the lounge chair, and fell asleep.
        Suddenly an alarm awoke her up....

Chapter 6

        "I can't believe we screwed up that mission!  It was so easy!"
Ramsy yelled, knocking over a lamp.  Guy cowered in a corner of the room
and Ben hurried to pick up the lamp.
        "If you don't calm down, we'll be in even more trouble," he said,
quietly.  He hated it when Ramsy got into these moods.
        "Calm down?  All we had to do was provide defense for a prison
and we couldn't even do that!"  Ramsy yelled.
        "We were up against Starfox.  Andross probably knew we wouldn't
be the ones to stop them.  Besides, we wounded the bird."
        "Wounds aren't going to help us when Andross decides to punish
us!  It'll be two days in prison with no food and little water if we're
lucky.  Remember the last time he got mad at us?"
        Guy shivered.  He remembered all to well.  First, Andross had
sent them to Titania without food and one bottle of water for a day.  It
was worse than his seventh grade survival test.  Then, they were in
prison for another whole day.  Guy really didn't want to upset Andross
again, but when your up against pilots with experience and your out
numbered, there's not much you can do.  Meanwhile, Ramsy and Ben
continued to yell at each other.
        "Enough!"  A voice yelled from the doorway.  The Conquest
Squadron looked up to see Wolf O'Donnell standing in the doorway and
quickly saluted him.  "We can't beat Starfox because they know too much.
Somewhere they've gotta spy or information is leaking to Corneria.  I'll
get you guys off the hook with Andross if you find out who or what the
leak is.  Understood?"
        "Yes, sir!"  The squadron answered simultaneously.  Wolf left.
        "I'll get right on it."  Ben said, and turned to a computer.

        I hate being in hospitals!  Star thought.  Where is Fox?
        "Star!  There you are.  Bill's getting treated for serious burns
and-" Star cut her brother off quickly.
        "And Falco's gotta broken wing.  Yeah, I know.  So what am I
doing here?"  Star asked.
        "Well, for one thing, Slippy needs his jet back and we need an
extra team member until Falco's better.  Do you want to fill in for him?"
 Fox asked, smiling.
        "I'll think about it, Fox.  Can I go see Bill?"
        "Sure.  He lost Roverans on Macbeth.  We're not sure if he's
alive or not."  Fox said, sadly.
        "I'll find out after I see Bill," Star said, walking to an
elevator.  Fox led her to Bill's room.
        "Hey, Star," Bill smiled, weakly.
        "Bill, I'm so sorry.  If I'd known Venom was planning some sort
of attack, I'd have let you know.  I was to wrapped up in other things."
        "Don't worry, I'll be alright.  He only burned me a little.
That's all," Bill said.
        "I'll let you rest now O.K.?  I've gotta see Falco, too," Star
patted Bill's hand and walked out.  Falco was in the next room.
        "Hey, why don't you get some real food here?  And what's with
this paper thing I gotta wear?  That's it I'm outa here!"  Falco started
to get out of bed when he saw Star and Fox come in.
        "Isn't there a law that you have to wear pants or something?"
Star teased.
        Falco blushed.  "This hospital stinks, man.  They don't let ya do
anything.  They fixed my wing, so let's go!"  Fox walked to a cabinet
across the room, took out Falco's clothes, and tossed them to him.
        "You know you can't fly until your wing heals," Fox said.
        "Yeah, I know.  Could you turn around, please?"  Falco asked
Star.
        Star sighed and turned around.  "You were just gonna walk out
with no clothes on and now your asking me to turn around while you get
dressed?"
        "Cool it, Star.  As soon as your ready to leave we'll go, Falco,"
Fox said.
        "Good, I'm ready," Star turned around as Falco pulled his jacket
on.  "Hey, could I ride in your jet this time?  Please?  Fox can take my
arwing."
        "Well...Alright," Star grinned.  "And since I'll be temporarily
taking your place, maybe you can give me some tips on working with a
team."
        Fox smiled.  He knew Star would say 'yes' to working with him on
Great Fox.  Now all he had to do was get used to working with her.

The End

*Author's Note*
        Star McCloud was made up by the Author of this story and if
anyone would like to use her in their own story you must ask me first.
Guy, Ramsy, and Ben are also copyright of me.
        The Justice Cadets, Roverans, and Brad were made up by Jwolfman
and I got his permission to use them.  Any Questions, you can e-mail me
at cmtr@juno.com.  Comments are always welcome.