Archaic Ruins
Episode #8 of SunHawk
 
 

Chapter I

"They say if you look into the heart of your own past you'll eventually find the key to your own future."
-Unknown Quote-
 

 It was cold down here, almost seven hundred feet below the ocean surface in a tiny submersible.  There were only four people allowed in this little thing, used for science exploration and research for underwater studies.  Usually, it took its exploration to the oceans of Aquas.  Now, it was on Corneria, which seemed foolish.  All of Corneria's oceans were already charted and mapped, have been for over seventy years.  That's why she thought it was pointless and stupid to be here.  But the money was good.

 Katt Monroe pulled her jacket in tighter, trying to remain warm.  Katt had no clue what she was doing here.  She couldn't pilot a submarine, and she was no explorer.  She was a mercenary warrior and fighter pilot and had better things to do then sit in an underwater tin can to baby-sit these bookworms.  Katt sighed in frustration and boredom, and sat back in her chair.  Finally, she couldn't contain herself.

 "Could someone please explain to me what I am doing here?" she asked angrily.

 A mouse scientist, underwater explorer, and archeologist turned around in his seat and looked at the impatient pink cat.  "What do you think you are doing down here?" he asked back to her.

 "Wasting my time," retorted Katt, folding her arms.  "What are we looking for down here anyway?"

 The gray furred mouse, Dr. Effen, looked out of his small window at the dark blue of the deep sea.  He smiled as a visual of the ocean floor started to appear below them.  "Exploring new things.  The unknown.  We can't go into space until the war is over so the sea is the next best thing."

 "The last I checked," said Katt, "all of Corneria's oceans were mapped.  Aquas is still about seventy percent plus or minus unexplored though.  Try poking around it."

 "We already have.  But we don't have the equipment to get to the Aquas depths.  A lot of their bottoms are well beyond our crush depth.  So, I've been searching around down here to try and find a breakthrough which could get us some better technology."

 "Why don't you just hire Star Fox?" asked Katt.  "I'm sure Slippy Toad's  Blue Marine submersible could get to where you want it to go."

 "Oh, I'm sure it could to.  But what exactly am I going to do with a combat sub instead of an exploration science machine?"

 Katt nodded in agreement, understanding this plight they had.  Still, she was regretting signing on for this waste of time journey when she could be up there taking care of some Venomian scum.  But the scent of one hundred thousand credits was too good to pass up, so here she was, wondering when she was going to earn her cut.

 Slowly, Katt started to take a gander at the other three besides her in the sub.  There was Dr. Effen sitting just behind the pilot.  The pilot was a golden retriever who seemed to have been a submariner for a heafty chunk of his life.  The ride was as smooth as silk going down.  The fourth on board, seated fight next to Katt, was a yellow furred tom cat who was failing miserably at keeping his eyes off her.  She was growing annoyed by his periodic glances towards her, mostly her midsection.  For the most part, the cat, whose name was Daniel, kept a close watch on the counter reader to navigate through the bottom areas of sediment.  Katt also knew that Daniel was an accomplished diver.  Good for him, she thought.  Out there, he wouldn't be able to keep looking at her.

 Katt shivered again, the air growing more cold with ever step they took downward.  If they were underneath the Cornerian northern pole, it would not be so cold.  Katt was not used to the thought about a hundred foot thick sheet of ice right over their heads, and over eight hundred, almost nine hundred feet of water to get to it.  She was not claustrophic, but this was still a little chilling.

 "I got something," said Daniel.

 "What?" asked Dr. Effen, looking back towards him.

 Daniel turned a knob on his device, and the counter imaging system zoomed in to a dark strip on the screen.  "It looks like a fissure.  Maybe even a trench, I'm not sure.  Hello÷what's this?"

 "Something else?" asked the doctor.

 "I'd say so.  I'm picking up an energy spike from down there.  It's small, but it's there."  He turned another knob trying to get a better reading on it.  "It's gone now, but I did get a point of origin."

 "Is it below crush depth?"

 "About fifty feet above it.  It'll be a tight squeeze, but I can bag it."

 "How big was the power spike?" asked Katt, leaning to look at Daniel's screen.

 "Ten millawatts, nothing really big.  It wasn't electrical though, it was something else.  I can't get an exact ID on it, but it definitely wasn't electrical.  Too far off normal wave patterns to be so.  Shall we go down and take a peak?" he asked excitedly.

 "By all means," returned Effen.  Daniel gave the pilot coordinates to his power source, and then went back to his machine.  The spike appeared again, a little weaker then before, and then stopped.  As they drew closer, the spike duration was lasting longer though.  Daniel kept trying to get data from its type of energy matrix.

 It got dark on them, making Katt rear her head up.  The were going into the crevice, and light was being cut away from them.  Katt promised herself to punch Daniel sometime later for suggesting to go down here.  She swallowed when the pilot said that sonar waves couldn't reach for a depth under the keel.  She did, however, loosen up when the sub's lights kicked on and lit up the rock wall they were right next to.

 She watched as the sub descended down into the dark of the crack, the water already past the point of freezing about eight hundred feet above their heads.  Now, Katt didn't even want to think about it.  Outside, the rock wall looked almost like an ice face to her from the way it glistened.

 "One hundred meters," said Daniel.  "Come to new course, two-one-seven.  Down thirty degrees."

 The sub tipped forward and hastened in its descent.  Katt took hold of an overhead metal bar to keep from going forward.  The sub was moving downward swiftly.  Deep sea plants zooming by their vision back into the darkness above them.  It was a like a beacon of light, a strobe in a vast sea of blackness.  One star alone in space.  Katt frowned and began to fondle with her white hair, twirling it around her finger.

 "Nervous?"

 Katt turned her head and looked at Daniel who looked at her with a concerned expression.  She was flattered that he cared, and shook her head.  "No," she replied.  "I don't get nervous."  Daniel raised an eye brow then nodded, going back to his machine.  Katt did think he was a little cute, but she was too much interested in Falco Lambardi to care about it.  He was her own love prey.

 "Fifty meters," announced Daniel.  "Raise bow plane to fifteen degree bubble."

 "Raise bow plane to fifteen degree bubble, aye," repeated the sub-driver, pulling back on the control wheel.  The sub pulled back and decreased its incline, and its level of drop decreased by half.  Katt sighed in relief, but kept it hidden.

 "Thirty meters," said Daniel again after a minute.  "I'm picking up a large reading of land mass directly below us.  Looks like a rock outcropping in the wall."  After a few readings of the data, he nodded to them.  "It's right where the power spike's source is located.  What a coin'ki'dink.  Good of place as any to put down and go outside."

 "Head for it," said Effen, patting the pilot on the shoulder.  "Start getting ready Daniel.  Ms. Monroe, I think it is time for you to earn your pay in this."  He said that with a particular smile that Katt did not like.

 "What are you talking about?" she asked him.

 "He means," started Daniel while heading for the back, "that you get to come outside and freeze your butt off while I try to figure out what is so big down here."  He paid no regard to Katt's look of protest to this and just went on to the back for himself to get ready.  "Any time you're ready," he said back to her.

 "I don't think I can do this," said Katt to Effen.

 "Well sure you can," he said back to her.  "No different then walking around in space.  Only your level of movement is a little more restricted."

 "I mean the cold!" yelled Katt.

 "Same difference.  Besides, the suit you'll be wearing is thermally balanced for work like this.  Imagine going skinny dipping in the middle of the night."

 "Oh, thanks doc," said Katt sarcastically.  She started to head to the back nervously.  "That really makes me feel a whole lot better."  She disappeared into the back room to try and get into the underwater enviornment suit.  She was now debating if this was worth the money involved in this or not.

****

 Conner Seacore was very much surprised when he found a fellow Shyer on board when he returned to SunHawk.  He was even more surprised to find out his affiliation to his own people.  A relatively young Shyer, equivelant to a mid teenager to the Shyer, named Orion Drakhan.  He was still a member of the Dragon Soul Brotherhood, at least a trainee for them anyway, and was entitled to some respect.

 There was some pity which Conner felt about him.  Since Pandora destroyed the Shyer home world ten years ago, the Dragon Soul training stopped, probably never to be risen again.  Orion was probably never to complete his training, which was a truly sad thing to behold.

 Orion's fealings about Conner were that of someone meeting his boyhood hero.  Conner was known as the one who turned his back on the dark and stepped into the light and reason of soverienty.  The only one ever to dare abandon the Shyer Executor Caste, the red, and embrace the religious beliefs of the Catholaie, the blue.  Conner never explained to him that he just pursued what made him the most happy.  At least he got the best from both worlds.  The warriors power and spirit of an Executor Adrolyte, or assassin warrior, and the moral brightness and loving soul of the religions of lore.

 The two of them never told about the threats which they had faced because both knew they would go mad with anger that it was true.  Orion would have gone out and hunted for Pandora himself, and Conner would have had a fit if he found a Defiler had tried to infest the Lylat System.

 They put aside their needs for protecting and guardianship to enjoy an evening with their new friends.  A ball had been arranged for all who attended the battle of Dark Star to celebrate the victory, rejoice for those who survived, and mourn for those who died or who were dying.  Conner had already been chosen by Captain Dallas as her date, which he has thoroughly embraced.  Not many other then those two that they knew were going as couples.  Kesh and Maurine were obviously going together, young new lovers ready to take their compassion and devotion for each other and let the people know.  Fox and Fara were going.  Dr. Q'Ronnie and his date, a lovely fellow dalmation female.  Other then that, everyone was going as singles.  All that were doing so were suited just fine to it.  A few of them anyway.

 Conner stood in the middle of the room, waiting for all the other men to come out in time to excort their dates.  Allison had insisted that Conner wear a tuxedo instead of his ceremonial garb, which he agreed to.  Now, he was starting to regret that decision.  Conner was constantly picking at the shirt he wore, the fabric creating an itch into his fur and skin.  The pants were far worse.  Still, he refused to part with his Shyer badge, which he hid under his jacket.

 Another minute later, and Orion stepped out, he too was in a light blue tuxedo.  Only the way he was presented in it, he looked like a man who was in a brawl while wearing the tux.  Conner shook his head and stepped forward to the white fox and started to fix the suit for him.  He then noticed the glowing from his face.

 "You must really learn to hide your eyes," he said to Orion while fixing the tie.

 "What do you meen?" asked Orion.  "Like you do?  I thought that was just a covering."

 "No, it is an illusion to disguise us and who we are.  I don't know about you, but I don't want to risk walking down the streets of Corneria City with eyes glowing like fire stones.  I'll probably get arrested for something."  He finished off the tie and fixed a buttoning problem.  "I'm most surprised that you can harness the powers of the Ancients and cast it at your whim, a last year trainee as a Dragon Soul Magistrate and you never learned to blend in with the Lylatians.  One simple move is all it takes.  Now, close your eyes."

 Orion sighed, and did so, the light from the dying out as he did.  "Now," continued Conner.  "All you have to do is think of the eyes like a Lylatian that are your own color.  Concentrate hard and tell me when you have the picture."  After a few minutes of near meditation, Orion nodded to him.  "Open your eyes," said Conner.

 The fox slowly rose his eye lids to show them, and Conner smiled at the results.  Now he had the basic disguised eyes to make him look like the common day Lylatian, only with a little more harmony around him.  His eyes were now a sky blue color.  "Walla," said Conner.  "Well done."

 "That is it?" said Orion, not believing himself.

 "Yes," returned Conner, fixing his own tie.  "As the Lylatians would say, 'easy as pie'."

 "I thought the expression was 'easy as cake'," said Orion.

 "Not hardly."  He and Conner looked to see Chief Maurine walk in, dressed in a rich black tuxedo.  "What are you guys talking about?" he asked.

 "I was teaching my friend here how to hide his eyes to blend in with your people.  The glowing part is the natural look of the eyes of the Shyer, created by a secret that we are not willing to share with others."  Conner patted Orion on the shoulder and stepped away from him.  "All it takes is one simple little trick of concentration and we're able to make ourselves blend in with you."

 Maurine nodded his head, rather impressed with this bit of Shyer anatomy.  Too bad they wouldn't open up on what causes their eyes to glow, because Maurine would have liked to known.  "Is there a reverse to the trick?" he asked them.  "Can I make my eyes light up so I can fit in with your people?"

 "I wish you could.  I think our people would like you Mr. Maurine.  You may not be able to fit in, because we ultimately lack your levels of carefree attitude when it comes to casual times.  You would fit in perfectly when business was involved though."

 Before Maurine could respond, to women stepped out of their dressing room and met the men standing in here.  Captain Dallas and Kesh, her arm still in a cast and sling, both trotted out to greet their dates.  They were both wearing the same type of evening dresses, only different color.  Blue as the sky for Kesh, and emerald green for Allison.  The dress had a low neck line but not too exposing, down past their ankles and barely dragging on the floor.  They shimmered like jewels as the moved through the room's lights.

 Maurine's jaw practically ended up on the floor as he looked at Kesh, how gorgeous and imposing she looked this way.  A blue gemstone she had as a family hierlom hung from her neck, sparking beautifully just as her dress did.  He stepped forward and took the vixen's paws into his own, and the two kissed briefly.  No words were sent between them, for none were needed.  Maurine kept a telepathic link to her at all time, her digital brain picking up every thought sent by him and vice versa.  He drapped a black overcoat onto her slender shoulders and the two walked out and head towards the SunHawk launch bay for a shuttle.

 Conner smiled shyly as he looked at Allison, every bit as stunning.  She strolled up to him and adjusted his tie to something she admired.  "There," she said, finished with her touches.  "When you walk into that ball room, every girl in the whole place will want to dance with you."  Conner only chuckled, a little amused at the thought since he never considered himself a lady person.

 Seeing her do and say this, Orion also adjusted his tie to mirror on Conner's.  Allison finished off with a few more adjustments, trying to find the perfect image for the black as midnight wolf, the moon being symbolized with his lock of white hair on his brow.  She stopped and looked at him.  "Good enough," she said, taking hold of his arm.

 "Come on now, Wolfy," teased Allison.  The two started down the hall towards the launch bay where Kesh and Maurine were already waiting.  "There is a really big dance floor down there.  And it's got our name all over it."

 About half way through their walk towards the bay, Conner started to notice a problem of mood inside the young husky captain.  She seemed depressed, gloomy.  "Problems?" he asked, the mood getting to him now.

 Allison sighed, not wishing to talk about it.  But she knew Conner was probably the only person she knew that understood her.  "I was just wishing that my father was here.  So he could see this.  Me, being formal perhaps for the first time in my life.  It would have made him proud."  She shook her head.  "I miss him."

 "Of course you miss him.  You wouldn't be normal if you didn't.  It has been a long while since my brother and I lost our parents, right after we went off and joined the Castes that held our desires.  He went on to become a scientist for the Legitora Caste, while I became an Executor warrior, only to defect to religion seven years later."

 Dallas looked around her to make sure Orion was not around.  He must have gone off ahead of them.  "Your brother was married to Pandora, wasn't he."

 Conner reared his head at the question and sighed, himself a little depressed now.

 "I'm sorry," said Dallas, bowing her head.  "I've gone too far."

 "No, no, that's quite all right.  There is no reason for you not to know.  Yes, my brother and Pandora were husband and wife before she brought pain upon our people.  At that time, believe it or not, she was an honorable being.  Kind, compassionate, always caring towards life around her.  Even when people were cruel to her about her infliction with her two colored eyes, she remained patient and calm.  She was always willing to serve, bring her brilliant ideas to the heads of the Executors.

 "Her and my brother were happy together.  Some say she was too beautiful for him, but she turned their backs on them.  They had a daughter, a lovely young creature, and for ten years, they went on as perhaps the happiest ones on Shyer.  I was happy for them too.

 "But then, their daughter, my niece vanished mysteriously in Pandora's science lab.  At once, she was administered with the blame of the incident and charged with murder by the Judicorp, our Caste of law.  Pandora herself accused officials from Executor that they killed her daughter, but there was not proof of it.  She was sentenced to prison for all life.  The worst thing was, that my brother doubted her as well.

 "Then, while in the confines of her cryo prison tube, she snapped.

 "Pandora was like a wild beast when she awakened and broke out of her sleeping prison.  She murdered seventeen guards while she escaped and disappeared into the forest.  A year later, she resurfaced, and sabotaged our planetary defense system.  Our fleet was off patrolling our borders, keeping the peace, that sort of thing.  She set up a huge magnetic wave form emitter right in the center of the Executor capitol city.  The magnetic field pulled an asteroid from the nearbye field to the city.  An asteroid over seventy miles in total diameter."

 "Oh my God," said Allison.  "That÷that would have incinerated half the life on the planet and frozen the rest to death in an apocolyptic winter."

 Conner nodded at this gesture, a shiny tear beginning to form in his eye.  "The asteroid impacted on the Executor city, three million Shyer were killed in a single second.  The blast went on and took the country by a fire storm, destroying everything it found.  The Judicorp city was also destroyed by the fire.

 "Those that were caught in the winter storms, some of which we were able to pull out and load onto our ships.  Others were left behind after our transports were loaded to the brim.  They all froze to death.  Our fleet, with all of the surviving Shyer, abandoned our dying world and scattered out to find a new home.  That is what led me to you, eventually."

 "That is why no one most know that Pandora walks this star system freely.  There are Shyer in here many times over the year, most of them with the red.  If they were to ever find out that the person responsible for the destruction of our home resides here, then you'll have an entire Shyer war fleet storming your front door, just to come in and shoot first and not even bother to ask questions later.  Unfortunate as it is."

 "What is it that you're saying Conner?" asked Dallas angrily, even though she knew..  They stopped and she looked into his eyes.  "Tell me."

 "The Executor Caste has decreed that Pandora must be found and destroyed, captured if possible to face justice at their hands, all at all costs.  If they find she was here, then it is quite possible that they will come to this system and obliterate every planet here in hopes they will be taking her along with them.  They do it also to spare that system from the suffering that she will bring.  But that is not the way.  True, Pandora cannot be captured so easily, and it is impossible to reason with someone who is as insane as she is, but the destruction of an entire system is not worth getting just one, no matter how evil they are."

 Dallas could not believe it.  Now she understood why Conner was so secretive about Pandora to the people, and she agreed with it.  "So, why don't you or someone else go out and search for her and bring her down.  I for one would feel a lot safer knowing that sick little tramp is bound and gagged by a wire and iron mask respectively."

 "So would I," remarked Conner.  "But I can do nothing while Orion is here.  And I do not know where to look for her at all.  Once she comes out of hiding, maybe I will take care of her, but not until then."

 "You do realize then when she does come out, she'll be bringing a lot of trouble, don't you?"

 Conner nodded to her.  He knew that all too well.  Silently, they walked into the launch bay where everyone was impatiently waiting for them.  Conner and Allison both put the thoughts of Pandora away, and started to look forward to this evening.  Conner was a little nervous about this though.

 They all were in the shuttle, and soon, they received launch authorization from the control room.  Kite, with his date, a young squirrel lady, sat at the pilot seat.  He took the ship out swiftly and headed down towards the planet below.

****

 It was cold.  Katt was shivering quite very much when the outside water struck her.  The pressure suit was heavy, lead weights on her ankles designed to keep her sunk.  She still could jump up in the water almost five feet though, which was pretty cool.  She held the probe in her hand, a light shining from it very clearly.  Those along with the lights from her helmet and arm lamp kept the place bright enough for her.

 Beside her, Daniel was unsealing the escape trunk hatch.  The door popped open and he stood up from it.  "You first," he said over the comm-link to Katt, pointing down out of the sub.

 "Why me?" asked Katt.

 "Because you're a soldier and I'm not.  You're not afraid are you?" he asked, smiling at her.  "Maybe you're just not used to this.  Hey, I was afraid to go into a thousand feet of cold wet blackness when I went deep pressure diving on Aquas.  Over three thousand feet beneath the surface, and I always considered myself a coward compared to you merc and freelance types.  Don't tell me I'm wrong now."

 Katt glared at him, this reverse psychology nonsense of his really getting on her nerves.  Mostly because it was working.  "Step aside short stuff," she said, pushing Daniel out of the way.

 In one bound, Katt dropped through the hatch and to the outside, landing softly in a blanket of sediment.  She looked around, only seeing a stone wall before her.  Everywhere else was just black, even up.  Katt started to walk, truthfully finding it a little more difficult to move.  Bubbles were pushed out by the hundreds every time she exhaled.  The resperator unit sounding every time she took a breath.  It was cold, but nothing she couldn't get used to.  People always said that Katt was one of the toughest women in the Lylat system, and she was always looking to prove it.  The moving in here was a little strange.  Like something was dragging on your body as you moved, the water.

 Katt turned around to see Daniel jump from the hatch and land softly just as she did.  At once, he started to moved towards Katt, his little toy out in front of him.  He moved in front of Katt, she starting to follow him.

 "You guys reading it?" asked Daniel, looking at his screen.  "Power levels are spiking again.  Very small now, almost not readable."  He started to walk in that direction, homing in on the power source.

 "We're not seeing it," said Effen.  "We're picking up a flat line here."

 "Maybe its the sub's hull keeping it out," explained Daniel.  He turned around in his tracks a couple of times, trying to get a stronger reading.  No, this was it, the only one here.  "This may very well be the power level in its resting stage.  If it spikes higher again, we'll know."  The two of them walked closer to the wall, it growing more huge and majestic with each step.  Katt turned around and looked towards the edge nearby.  She stopped and started to walk towards the edge.

 "Where 're you going?" he asked, seeing her movements.  Katt said nothing until she got to the edge and looked down.  She saw nothing but total blackness.  Knowing that sound traveled better underwater, she picked up a rock and tossed it down the trench, trying to hear a sign of a bottom.  She heard nothing for a short time.

 "How deep is this drop off here?" she asked Daniel.

 "As far as we now, it's an abyss.  Probably about÷ten kilometers strait to the bottom.  Don't fall down."

 "No, no, I won't."  Daniel laughed and turned back to the wall, keeping an eye on his guage at all times.  Katt looked down the hole once more and immediately stepped away.  She went back to Daniel.  "If the sub fell down that," said Daniel.  "It would start to crush in on itself about fifty meters.  However we could go down maybe fifteen hundred meters before our lungs caved in."

 A slight rumble started to shake through the ground.  Katt started to feel herself lose footing.  Daniel was shaken, but he remained balanced.

 "It just spike real high, Daniel," said Effen.  "Fifteen kilowatts of energy.  Highest I've seen it go."

 "I'm picking up signs of a cave.  Just up ahead."  Katt looked that direction and sure enough spotted a large opening in the wall.  It was a small climb to get to the mouth, but nothing undoable.  Katt got to the wall and at once started to climb up the side.  She helped pull Daniel up to the mouth too, and soon they were both standing in the mouth.

 Katt took one step and slipped.  She started to slide back down the wall, probably would have cracked her face shield if she did fall.  Daniel reached over and grabbed her before she fell all the way, and pulled her back in.  Katt turned around and looked to see how it was from up here.

 "If we get out of this alive," she said to him.  "I'll give you a date.  How does that sound."

 "Sounds fair," said Daniel, faking a lack of interest.  Katt knew better.  He was trying to remain proud, but she knew he was jumping for joy inside.  She still had an edge.

 The two of them advanced slowly into the cave, Katt keeping the light out in front of her at all times.  Daniel never removed his eyes from his screen, not until he tripped on a rock and almost fell.  After that, he checked up periodically or just stayed close to Katt.  They were getting close to that source, and the rest period of the spike was growing more intense.  Katt spotted another chamber up ahead, and Daniel knew that it was their destination, or the way to it.

 The two of them walked inside÷

****

 The ball room was illuminated into a rich and attractive air.  People in uniform were no where around, even thought this was a military event.  The tables with people sitting at them, all the members of the people who took part at the battle of Dark Star.  A whole wall was reserved for memorial of the people and ships lost there.  Each ship had a spot for itself.  Fortunately, as far as Allison Dallas was concerned, the section for the SunHawk was rather small compared to others, but definitely not the smallest.  The ships that were lost had their entire crew pictured that died, as well as the picture of the ship itself.

 A small book asking for donations to families who lost stood nearby.  At once, Captain Dallas input her name into it, as did many others both before and after her.  The book was already half full, and the night was still young.  She and Conner found the table where Fox McCloud, dressed in a black tuxedo, sat with Fara Phoenix, in a beautiful pink dress.  Around them were the rest of Star Fox.  Falco, Peppy, and Slippy.  She also saw General Pepper nearby, talking to some others.

 "Good evening Captain," said someone.  Allison turned and saw Major Amerce standing alone.

 "Good evening to you too Major," she greeted.  She stopped and went to talk to him.  "Have you already reported my actions to the ministry yet?" she asked in a low voice.

 "Yes, I have."  Allison nodded, a little disappointed at his lack of understanding to her motives, but admiring his sense of duty.  "A full investigation was already put in, Captain," said Amerce.  "I have to apologize the way I treated you after you did what you did.  It was in fact justified.  General Pepper is going to talk to you later on tonight.  I don't know what about, but you'll find out."  He stopped when he spotted a raccoon lady looking at him.  "Excuse me, Captain.  Duty calls."  He left her, wondering about what they had found.  Was it what she thought, a trap on board?  It didn't matter now.  She and Conner merely went towards Fox's table.

 "Good evening, Ally," welcoming Fox.  "Come and join us."  Allison nodded to Fox and to Fara, both of them nodding back to her and Conner.  He pulled the chair out for Allison who thanked him as she sat.

 "Good evening to you all," said Allison.  Her eyes went to Falco, who just sat there looking at a glass of wine, untouched.  "Mr. Lombardi, you look rather blue, no pun intended to your feathers.  I mean depressed."

 "I know what you mean, Captain," replied Falco.

 "Get over it old buddy," said Peppy.  "Katt has got her own priorities.  I'm sure she would have wanted to come here with you."

 "If she'd just check her message data banks a little more often, maybe she would be here."  Falco shook his head angrily and took a sip of his drink.  "Well, that's life.  No one always gets what they wants."

 "This Katt," said Allison, rejecting a waiters offer for a glass of wine, "would that be Katt Monroe?  A lone mercenary fighter pilot."  There was a small hint of distaste in her voice.  Understandable, considering how arrogant and snotty Katt was known to get sometimes.  That was just awareness of reputation though.

 "Yes," answered Fox.  "You know Katt?"

 "No, I don't.  I've seen her on the news from time to time, but I never really met her myself.  Just hints of reputation from around.  She seems to be a little arrogant, put still is a great asset to the Cornerian Defense forces."

 Peppy nodded to her.  "Yes, Katt is vane in large amounts.  But she is a good friend of ours, and we couldn't have taken back Zoness without her help."  Falco nodded, a little more depressed.  Allison smiled to them all.

 "If you don't mind," she said, getting to her feet.  "My friend and I hear that dance floor calling our names."  Allison and Conner both walked out to the dance floor.

 "That doesn't sound like such a bad idea," said Fox, helping Fara out of her chair.  They two went out and left the three alone at the table.  Then Slippy left to go enjoy himself elsewhere.  Peppy and Falco both said nothing between them.  They just watched people dance on the hall to slow music, and remembered past loves they both had.

****

 The evening went without incident for a few hours, when it happened.  By that time, a lot of people had already left after paying their respects to the ones lost.  There were tears through the night, but not as much as there was joy.  This was a great blow to Venom, since no enemy activity has been reported for the past week, which broke the quiet record by four days.  Now, it was time to relax maybe for both sides.  A time out for a lack of better terms.

 Conner was virtually amazed at Allison and what she could do on the dance floor.  They had been on it for three hours running and she was just now getting tired.  He, being a Shyer, was no such thing.  But after three waltzes, and a single tango along with others, he was still looking for a rest.  The last slow dance of the evening was here, maybe the last.

 "Mind for a switch?" asked Fox, coming close to them.

 "I don't mind," said Fara, stepping away from Fox.

 "Nor do I."  Fara and Conner started a dance together while Fox and Allison were hand in hand, dancing a familiar rhythm.  Fox could not help but smile at this.

 "Remember the last time we did this?" he asked.

 Allison smiled.  "How could I forget.  By the way, how come you never told me you had a sister?" she asked, really inquisitive.

 Fox sighed before he replied to her.  "It's something I don't want to talk about," he said.  "If you don't mind.  Family business, nothing more.  I do have to give credit where credit is due though."  He leaned forward and whispered into her ear.  "You're a great kisser."

 "Oh, thank you," said Allison.  "You're not too bad yourself."  The two of them shared a laugh at the memory of them being together in the dream like state in the aftermath of Dark Star.  The two danced for a small period of time before Fox started to talk again.

 "I've been meaning to talk to you about something."

 "Save it," said Allison.  "Just dance."

 "It's about some rumors I've been hearing.  That you're going to be removed from command of the SunHawk when the war is over.  That it'll be walking the stars with a new captain when the new engines on it are tested.  I just wanted to know if it was true."

 "Word gets around," said Dallas.  "Gossip is something never to be trusted entirely, because half of it are lies.  That's why they call it gossip."

 "So it is just a rumor," said Fox.

 "No, I said it's just gossip.  The other half can be true.  You never know by just listening around until you see the truth for yourself.  One thing I learned when I was a kid.  Listen to all, but trust nothing, let your instincts make its own decisions."  Fox shook his head at her, a little amused at the wisdom at someone as young as she.  Young?  Fox was eighteen.  Not yet a full adult, but fast approaching it.  He shouldn't even be at a place like this, for he'd probably get arrested for being under age at a place of drinking.

 The two of them danced on, keeping silent until the end of the song where they would revert back to their original partners.  However, the first sign of trouble in the evening was now walking through the front doors.

 A medium hieghted person walked into the front doors and down the halls to the ball room.  At once, people were backing away from this individual, not to get wet.  The person's attire was not part of the occasion.  He or she was dressed in a deep sea pressure suit, dripping and running water coming off of it, soaking the authentic carpet under the heavy booted feat.  The helmet was heavy steel or fiberglass, a darkened face shield also beaded with water.  A huge air tank hanging on the back, unaffecting the person's level of movement, perfectly coordinated.

 At once, a large rhino bouncer walked forth and barred the person's way.  "Sorry, but this is a formal event only.  Can't let you go in there looking like that."  His only reply was the person reaching up and touching his chest.  At once, the rhino froze in movement, his eyes remained still as stone, every muscle in him tensing, going to a statue like posture.  The suited being walked around him without interruption.

 Falco stood beside the wall looking out at the shrinking number of dance participants.  He was still as depressed as ever about not being with Katt, but he would get over it.  Besides, she wasn't at Dark Star, so she didn't really belong here.  Falco himself felt like him and the rest of Star Fox didn't belong here either since they were all mercs anyway.  Everyone else was military.  He looked up and saw the unusual for the night.  A person walking in dressed in a deep diving suit, dripping wet.  At once, Falco headed for that person.

 Fox and many others also saw this strange mishap and walked forward to the person in question.  A lot of people were standing there, looking or gawking at the diver, and stepped back when it reached up to its helmet.

 The helmet lock snapped open and a gallon of blackened water came pouring out into the dance floor.  Many people were made upset by this move, but they would lose.  Falco more then others gasped when the saw the person's face.  A cat with pink fur and white hair.

 "Katt!" said Falco, starting towards her.  It was Katt Monroe, but she was÷different.  Her eyes were no longer that of the common day cat.  They were strange, alien looking, gold metallic like, glossy in the light.  A little reptilian looking in the process.  On her cheeks and brow were golden letters of alien type, hyrogliphics, ruins.  The seemed to sparkle with unnaturalness.  The most terrible thing which they saw was a black liquid, a watery crude oil in her mouth.

 At once when Falco stepped towards her, Katt raised her hand and pointed a finger at him.  Falco stopped, dead in his tracks, and started to shake with cold.  At once, he was pushed back by an unseen force, shivering greatly.  He looked up at his one time girlfriend in disbelief. Conner stepped forward, his thunder blade in hand and eyes glowing brightly, a terrible growl coming from him.

 "Desist!" yelled Katt, hissing at them all.  Her voice was anything but natural.  It was many voices speaking together as one.  Katt's own womanly voice was heard, and coupled with maybe three others.  A deep and powerful god like voice, a low guteral monsterous sound, and a breath like voice which came after the rest a little bit.  She went on to speak.

 "You are all damned, as÷of÷now."

 Allison, Fox, Falco, Conner, and many others started to look at one another in great worried expressions.
 
 
 

Chapter II

"Don't try to be a great man, just be a man.  Let history make its own decisions."
-Zefram Cochrane - Star Trek: First Contact-
 

 Katt, in her current state, seemed to stare off into space, not making eye contact with anyone in there.  A few people started to make a hasty retreat away from her, fearing the worst.  Others just stayed and stared at her, not knowing what to do.

 "We, ourselves, seek to bring you no harm," rang Katt's new voice.  She turned her head and looked directly at Conner.  "You, you above all should understand what death is.  Put away your toy and heed my call."

 Conner narrowed his glowing eyes, and refused to stow his blade.  He kept it in hand, not ready to trust her.

 "Very well," she retorted.  "Remain loyal to your impudent paranoia.  We still want to talk, and you must listen.  Your souls, all of them, must heed my call otherwise÷"

 Allison looked at Katt, her eyes narrowed to her, untrusting like Conner, but still willing to listen.  Something this big you don't just toss away like old news.  She nodded and stepped forward slowly, cautiously.

 "Otherwise÷otherwise."  Her voice returned to normal.  Katt shut her eyes and started to loose her balance.  When she began to fall again, Falco and Conner both rushed forward and caught her.  All that weight in the diving suit would have hurt her of she had fallen.  Conner used his strength to carry her down the hall.

 "Let us get her back to the SunHawk," suggested Kesh, examining the ruins on her face, now turned black like burn scars instead of gold.  "This writing÷I have never seen it before."

 "Let's worry about that later," said Dallas.  "Right now, let's just get her back to the shuttle and to SunHawk medical lab."  Katt's comatose form started to convulse violently, and she started to make a terrible guteral sound from her mouth.  Some of the black liquid was vomited from her mouth and stained on her pink fur.  "Let's hurry it up a little bit," hissed Dallas, seeing this happen.

 Katt was hurried into the shuttle where Kite was already getting it warmed up and ready for launch.  Within a few minutes, the shuttle was airborn.

 General Pepper stood on the platform looking up towards the shuttle booming away.  He knew not what to make of this, only that it was big.  Whatever happened to Katt, it was nothing he had ever seen before.  In fact, he doubted if it was anything anyone had seen before.  He turned around and ordered his aid to get him a flight to SunHawk on the double.

****

 It did take some time to get the suit off of Katt's body.  All of its own systems were dead and shut down, including the mechanisms to crack it open or seal it.  They had to apply their own power to the utility systems on the suit to get them off.  After a while, Katt lay on the operating table, unconscious, Dr. Q'Ronnie running a medical scanner over her body.

 Falco stood next to her, Katt's paw in his own hand.  A white sheet was covering her body since she wasn't wearing much when they pulled her out of the diving suit.  Just a sense of decensy.  However, with things like this, decency was as important as yesterday's news.

 The ruins still remained on her face, black as coal on her pink fur.  Kesh never stopped looking at the ruins from a distance away from them, trying to decipher them.  She was comprehensive in ancient languages and archeology, but this was like nothing she had ever seen.  They looked like crossing burn marks on her face, set on each other to make patterns.  One of them, the ruin on her left cheek, was a little circular with two dots in the center and a few slashes going through it, shaped like a set of poles leaning on each other.

 Implanting this pattern into her brain along with the others, Kesh left the room to a nearby science lab to study them more objectively.

 "What have you got so far doctor?" asked Captain Dallas.

 Q'Ronnie shook his head and retracted the scanner.  "Physically, I can't find a thing wrong with her.  I meen, her internal workings are in top notch order, all of her bones look strong, and her muscular tone is most impressive.  As far as I'm concerned, she's in the best shape I've seen in a long while."

 "But÷?" said Dallas.

 "But, her neurological patterns are a total blank.  It's as if her mind shut down on its own and will not respond to any stimuli."  He reached out and manually opened one of Katt's eyes, seeing it now in a milky white color.  At once he let it shut.  "There is nothing else to do but wait and see what happens.  I'm sorry."

 Falco nodded to him and looked down at Katt again, feeling more helpless then ever.  Calmly, he stroked Katt's cheek over the ruin, feeling nothing there but her own soft fur.

 The others of Star Fox watched him and Katt together in there, her without fealing of his touch.

 The door slid open and Chief Maurine walked in quickly.  At once he stopped when he saw Katt and Falco inside together, most of his attention going to Katt.  He walked to Captain Dallas.

 "Captain, we have to talk.  It's about her," he said, nodding towards Katt.  Dallas, learning to trust telepaths, especially Maurine, followed him out into the hallway where they could talk in private.  The went down where no one else could hear them speak.  She noticed that Maurine seemed very troubled about this in how tense he walked.

 He turned to her in a hurry, very much disturbed.  "Captian, you know from the accademy classes that there are all kinds of extra sensory perceptions out there.  Clairvoyant, telepathic, telekinetic, psychic fealings, psionics.  The list can get quiet large when you put it all on paper."

 "And this concerns me how?" asked Dallas coldly.

 "I÷I'm really not comfortable with this situation," he explained.  "I'd like to develop a contingency plan if we have to get her off this ship in a hurry, or, unfortunately but true, the possibility that we may have to elliminate her."

 Dallas nodded to him, her arms crossed like she was a sceptic, but she was listening.  "What made you consider this, Chief?" she asked.  "Is she psychically active?"

 "Yes," came an immediate response.  "In a major way.  It was like÷"  He was at a loss for words to use that would make it understandable, so he improvised.  "It was like she was wrapped in a blanket of all different kinds of ESP and a strong level field growing weaker with every level away from her.  Say about, ten to fifteen meters per level."

 "Yeah, so?"

 "The last level away from her was over seventeen kilometers away from the area.  I could see it quiet clearly."

 Dallas shook her head.  "I just asked Peppy Hare, and he sensed only telepathic surges from that feline in there.  Nothing else."

 "Captain, Peppy is only tuned to pick up telepathic and probably empathic waves.  I have all kinds.  What do you think she used to nullify Falco when he tried to come for her?  That was telekenisis and psychokinetic energies in combination, and at very high potential levels.  She did it as easily as thinking out her own name.  That's a lot of power.

 "I'm a psi factor eight, two levels below the max known ever in all of Lylat.  Peppy's a factor six.  Psychokinetic energy is very, very tough to harness and utilize.  Imagine trying to run a ten thousand ton titanium alloy clock gear using only peddles from a unicycle.  A factor ten would blow at least half of his neurons just trying its first levels."

 Dallas narrowed one of her eyes, not liking what she was hearing.  "What is it your saying?  That Katt Monroe has been turned into a supreme avatar for telepathic energies?"

 "Not just telepathic," stated Maurine.  "All kinds.  You name it, she might have it.   I wouldn't doubt if she had some means of looking forward into the future.  What I'm saying is, that those were only the first levels she used in there.  If it goes any higher, if she decides to move against us, then there is probably no way in hell we can stop her.  She'll rip the atoms of this ship apart with a thought."

 Dallas gritted her teeth with great anger.  "Damn it, damn it strait to hell."  She looked back up to Maurine.  "When do you think she'll regain consciousness?"

 "Soon.  When she does, she may start to role, so I want to put her in a position where we can move before she does.  If we take a bad chance, we might lose a lot more then just the ship."  The look in his eyes was enough to tell Dallas that he was profoundly serious.  Slowly, she nodded to him.

****

 Katt's eyes had returned to a somewhat normal state.  They were back to her normal teal colored eyes, but they were still unmoving and dead looking.  Her breath was almost invisible, no movement in her chest.  A small amount of brain wave activity had returned to her, which was unnoticeable.  The black ruins were still very much on her face.

 Her hand was ever in Falco's, he not in the slightest willing to abandon her.  Dr. Q'Ronnie saw this  and frowned, knowing how he felt.  Quietly, he walked into the med lab and stood next to the avian.

 "You should get some rest," Q'Ronnie suggested.  "You being here by her side at all times is only doing you more harm, and her no better."  He lied about that.  Love can very much heal.  He put a hand on Falco's shoulder which, in return, got a glance from him.  Falco saw a lot of care in the Dalmations eyes.  Slowly and hesitant, Falco nodded and got to his feet.

 "I'll inform you of any change," Q'Ronnie said.

 "Thanks Doc."  Falco walked out of the medical lab, obvious that he had gotten almost no sleep.  Q'Ronnie nodded after him and went in to the lab.  He wanted to examine more of this himself, but not while Falco was around to watch him.

 "OK, my dear," he said to Katt.  "What in the name of Corneria's mother is wrong with you?"  He walked over to the somewhat sleeping pink feline.  He wanted answers, but he was going to get them his way.  He put a pair of sensor probe goggles over his eyes, and then reached forward and opened her fanged mouth.

****

 Kesh looked over the ruins she got from Katt's face with utter fascination.  Trully, they were nothing more then random scratches, some of them in wide curves, almost circles.  Then they were arranged to look like some sort of pattern.  The one that got most of her attention was the circular mark crossed with three lines all intersecting on one point on the circle.  The angles on those lines, the inside ones, were all congruent.

 For over an hour now, Kesh had tried to cross reference the ruins here with everyone ever found that were currently in the SunHawk's computer, and also searched through her own data banks for a match.

 For that entire time, she hasn't found anything even close to a resemblence.  Kesh was beginning to grow a little restless.  It was times like these she really wished she was a robot instead of mortal.

 "OK, let us try this one more time," she said to herself, rubbing the back of her neck.  "Computer, cross reference current samples with all subjects in the databases of the Guild of Archeology based at Lornly City.  Direct matches are first priority but search for any possible reseblences as well."

 After a small while, a beeping sound was heard.  Search complete.  No matches found.

 Kesh sighed, a little more aggrivated.  "OK, OK," she mumbled.  She tried to think of anywhere that this might lead to.  "Computer, are there any findings of ancient hieroglyphics or ruins recorded in the Archeologist's Guild on Lylat planet's other then Corneria?"

 Affirmative.  Match found for following planets.  Venom, Titania, and Papetoon.

 "Search for matches or similarities of all samples taken from these findings to current samples."  Again, a wait ensued, only this one just a little longer.  After a time.  Search complete.  No matches found.

 "Damn," whispered Kesh to herself.  She looked up at the three screens, each one housing one of the three ruins she got from Katt.  She remembered seeing them somewhere before, or ones like them.  During her early childhood before she was manipulated by Andross.  Because of this, she could never digitally record them.  "What are you?" she asked them.

 "Problems?"  Kesh looked to the door to see Captain Dallas there, two mugs of coffee in her hands.  She walked forward and handed Kesh a full one.

 "That depends on what you mean by a problem, sir," replied Kesh, gladly accepting the cup.  "I have no clue where those symbols came from before.  And neither does the ship's computer.  I've looked at everything in the Guild of Archeology to find a match on our friend Katt's face and what have I found?  Not a thing."

 "You know, lately I have noticed that you have been relying on your ability to process information better then every being on this station a little much lately," said Dallas.  "You take too much of the logical and plossible and search for only the scientific explanations to problems.  I have recently found that not all solutions are scientifically sound."

 Kesh batted that statement out of her mind like a fly.  "Flukes," she hissed.  "Unconformed phenomena that happens ever two thousand years."

 "No," retorted Dallas.  "What do you call the ability for Conner and Orion and...   What do you call their ability to make their eyes glow?  How would you explain the technology used in Conner's blade?  When I was injured after the fight at Dark Star, I had a dream.  Fox had the exact same dream because he told me about it afterwards.  During that, we remembered meeting together and remembering seeing one another afterwords.  We recollected every word we said to one another, as if remembering an old conversation.  How could that be possible?  And what happened to Katt, how do you explain that.

 "Science is a key to understanding things in the universe, but it is not the last key.  We must achieve a higher level of understanding.  You are refusing to break through your own barriers because you believe there is no where else to go.  Like I said to Maurine when he first stepped aboard this ship, don't rely solely on your special abilities.  Learn to use your instincts once in a while, Kesh.  Go with your gut."

 Kesh looked at her strangely.  "My gut?" she asked.  Then she nodded, understanding.  "A while ago I considered checking all of the archives to the Cornerian church groups, thinking they might have something on this subject.  But I neglected to for a number of reasons, one of them being what you so intimately as being too dependent on the scientific explenation.  One of the others was that the church would not have anything like this that the Archeoligist's Guild did not have."

 "Actually, the church does not submit all of its findings if they believe it to be too profound to fall into the hands of those who are not ready, which includes a lot," mentioned Dallas.  "They are a somewhat paranoid people.  However, they do keep the archives open to those who are 'willing to gain illumination' or so they say."

 "They also seem to be a very illogical group of people," said Kesh.  She started in on the computer to search the archives for a subject.  When the initial search status came up, Kesh sighed.  "These archives are quite large.  It may take some time before the computer can find an accurate match."

 "Thanks, Lieutenant."

 "No, Captain, thank you.  From now on I will try and keep an open mind about subjects such as this."

 Dallas nodded to her and then went to leave.  She then turned back.  "You know, Kesh, I've just noticed that you never use contractions in your wording."

 Kesh smiled at her, nodding her head.  "I can, I assure you captain.  I just choose not to.  All android or synthetic life forms or any computer with artificial intelligence and the ability to speek are not introduced to the concepts of certain tricks of grammar and speech, so they are incapable as such things as contractions and other high level language skills.  It helps save memory for more critical data files.  Even with newer models coming out, they still are not given these skills.  Their extra space is just used for more important information.

 "Since I'm like these creations with my digital mind, I put it on myself to fit in with them, so I choose that I don't use contractions," she said with a smile.  "Plus it makes me sound more scientific."

 Dallas half chuckled at this, amused at her use of humor.  She was again about to leave when a light alarm sounded at Kesh's data console.  At once, the science vixen looked over the incoming data, compiled and understood.  "There is an energy signiture coming from medical," she reported.  Kesh looked at Dallas, both now worried.

 "It is starting again," said Kesh in a very low whisper.

****

 Dr. Q'Ronnie was having diffuculty examining inside Katt's mouth.  There was still much of that black gunk inside it.  That was a chemical he tried to analyze, but had no identification at all.  Now, he was trying to dig deeper, down into the tonsils to get a depth on how far the substance went.

 The ruins flared up with life.  Q'Ronnie looked at them as they glowed to a bright yellow or gold light, shinning brightly into his eyes.  For some reason, the Dalmation was unable to sit up away from Katt's face, keeping it close to hers.  The light from the ruins was bright enough to make anyone turn away.  But his eyes were locked right onto the ruins.

 Katt exploded upward into him, grabbing his head with clawed hands.  Q'Ronnie tried to pull away, but her hands were like icy vice grips, holding his head in place.  Katt's eyes were golden, but rather evil looking, and the way she smiled at him sent a chill strait up the dog's back, making his hairs stand on end.

 The ruins stopped glowing.  Three rays of light, coming out of the ruins on her face, slammed into the relative places on Q'Ronnie's face.  He screamed out in a strange pain when the light began to burn into his face.  Katt reached up and kissed the doctor on the lips strongly.  At once, he felt the black ooze gush into his mouth, into his body from hers.  Q'Ronnie started to spasm, violently, and so did she.

 In a bright flash, Q'Ronnie was thrown away from her, ten feet from the table.  Katt's head clunked back on the table, falling back into unconscious sleep.  The ruins on her face were gone.  However, Q'Ronnie had them on his face.  Slowly, he got to his feet.  The ruins on his face were gold and shimmering, as were his eyes.  Totally alien.

 He walked out of the medical lab quickly, not even slowing down for the door to open.  Katt lay on the table, the presence at last out of her energy drained body and back out where it was capable again.  The good doctor had company outside.

****

 He had been waiting for word on Katt for almost four hours now.  General Pepper sat at his desk, the video phone nearby, hoping it would ring for him.  Katt Monroe was a powerful ally in this war, and it would be a shame to lose her.

 The old dog pulled the cork on his second bottle of the day.  He was hoping to get more drunk to take away his worries, but it was not working.  He barely even noticed the door to his office slam open violently and one of his aids run in frantically.

 "General!" yelled the poodle assistant.

 Pepper raised his tired head and looked at him.  "Yes," he said.

 "Sir, you have to see this.  Come on."  The smaller dog ran around the desk and helped Pepper to his feet.  The general demanded that he be left alone, but the small black poodle was sure that he wouldn't give a damn about the booze once he saw this.  He hauled Pepper across them room to a window.  "Look, General," he said, pointing to the skies.

 What Pepper saw cleared his mind and sobered him up in a snap, as well as scare the living hell out of him.  The clouds over Corneria City, as well as every where else the eye could see, were rolling fast and furious.  They could have overrun jets they were going so fast.  As Pepper looked on, the clouds started to grow more dense and more dark.  A streak of lightning shot across the sky.

 He reached over and grabbed the poddle by his uniform collar.  "Get to the weather control central and find out what the hell is going on!" he demanded.  "No clouds move that fast!"

 "Yes general."

 Another streak of lightning, but this one ran into the grounds.  A few tick sounds were heard on the window.  Pepper stepped back when a few white rocks fell into his window, bounce off cleanly.  He looked out and saw a white ice stone fall to the ground below, as large as his thumb claw.  A few more hit the glass, bounced off.  The hail storm began.

 The white ice stones were coming down in powerful sheets, and soon no one could see far out the windows.  Pepper watched in awe as cracks started to appear in the window from larger halestones hitting it.  He stepped back, shaking nervously.

 The lights went out.
 
 
 

Chapter III

"I do not hold any fealings of vengeance towards Andross for what he did to me.  I cannot hold such things any longer.  In all truths, it is a blessing towards those I serve, even if it was a curse to me.  I would shed it, if I could, but we are what we are."
-Lieutenant Commander Kesh Serene - CSS SunHawk
 

 All hell broke loose on the SunHawk in one, quick, and terrible moment.  Something was going on for sure around med-lab, and it had to be affiliated with Katt and whatever had her.  As Dallas ran down the hall, she was caught off guard when the lights flickered, and then died.  She tripped and fell forward, bumbing her head on the wall.

 Emergency lighting activated, said the computer voice.  Blood red lights lit up the hall.  Dallas was breathing heavily, afraid of what she might find down that hall way.  She clicked her communicator bracellete.  "Dallas to Maurine.  What's going on?"

 "It's Q'Ronnie, sir," he replied.  "Whatever got Monroe must have moved on to him.  He's going nuts and we can't stop him."

 Dallas swore under her breath and got back to her feet slowly.  Her head hurt from hitting it, but it didn't stop her.  While on her feet, a tremor in the floor brought her to her knees again, followed by a second more violent then the first.  "Bridge, what was that?" she asked into her comm-unit.

 "I don't know, Captain," returned Grant.  "We're getting some nasty turbulent waves from inside the ship.  Plus, something really strange is happening on Corneria, weather wise.  But our sensors are going haywire so we can't get the specifics."

 "Keep at it.  And detach the ship from the repair docks and get us as far away from the as we can!" yelled Dallas.  She was back on her feet and moving down the hallway.

 "Captain, we only have one moving thruster and our hull integrity is running way low.  We won't stand the turbulence of a thruster burn this low of orbit."

 "I'm not going to risk that station being torn apart right along with us!  Do it!"  She clicked her comm-badge again.  "Dallas to Maurine."  She got no answer.  "Dallas to Maurine, respond please!"  Again no answer, and she was starting to worry more.  Whatever happened to Q'Ronnie, it was going out of control just as he said.  It was probably causing these shakes in the ship.

 Dallas ran down the red hallway, and noticed the air start to go from a sultry hot to a cold.  She got a phaser out of a nearby compartment and continued on, holding it in her paw tightly.  Ahead of her, the air really cold now, a cold airlike gas was running along the floor, coming from another corner.  Dallas slowly krept along the wall, her breath the only sound.

 When she looked around the corner, she gasped in shock.  The entire hall in front of Med-lab was frozen, arctic cave style.  The walls, cieling, and floor were iced over.  The red emergency lights filtered with the cold.  Dallas stepped onto the iced floor and almost slipped, but maintained a footing.  Dallas tried hanging onto the wall for support as she went, but she couldn't do so for more then a few seconds before her own paws started to get frost bitten.

 Dallas walked on, not really able to see through the fog.  She ended up bumping into something stiff and large and very cold.  It was a frozen cheetah.  Dallas looked and saw the security guard cheetah incased in a thick sheet of ice.  He was obviously dead, all of the warmth ripped from his body, as well as the inability to breath through the ice shoved down his throat.  The way he was posed, as if a great wave of pain shot through his body, was more chilling to Dallas then the surrounding cold.

 "What the hell did this?" she asked herself, backing away.  She pumped into another frozen statue person, this time a pig with a gun in his hands.  Dallas found seven more frigid security guards.  A lion, an elephant, a leemar, and others to go with them.  When she saw a jackal incased in ice, she almost screamed.  It wasn't Maurine though, which she thanked.

 She found the door to the medlab and looked inside.  It was untouched by the ice, except for the inside, which kept the door frozen in place.  It was just as cold in here though.  Dallas saw Katt Monroe on the table in the isolation lab.  From here, Dallas could see the ruins on Katt's face were gone.

 She went back into the hall and at once saw someone on the floor, not with ice around him.  Dallas ran forth and knelt down to the shivvering form.  It was Q'Ronnie, on the floor and already in the initial stages of hypothermia.  Dallas lifted the dog up and dragged him into medical and into the isolation chamber with Katt where it was still warm.  Dallas heard from Maurine that whatever was in Katt had infected Q'Ronnie and took him over, now it was gone from him, or so she assumed since he no longer had those gold or black ruins on his face.

 "Doc," she called, shaking the Dalmation.  "Doctor!"  Slowly, Q'Ronnie opened one eye.  "What happened?"

 "It took me," said the doctor in a low breath whisper.  "It took me and it made me kill.  It...it's mad."

 "Why?" asked Dallas.

 "I don't know.  I'm so...cold," he said with a shiver.  "Numb."

 "You're in hypothermia shock.  Stay here and you'll be fine.  Where's Maurine?"

 "I took him.  It left me and took him.  That's all I know."

 "Do you have any idea on what it is?" asked Dallas.

 "Alien entity, no coporeal body of its own.  Just pure energy.  It...it needs living bodies to maintain it's form, or it breaks apart."

 Dallas gritted her teeth nervously, worrying more even now.  She pulled a blanket out of an outside drawer and put it over him.  "You hang on," she said to him.  "You get warm and get well."  Slowly he nodded to her.

 Dallas ran out of the med-lab and down the hall as fast as she could go.  "Dallas to Kesh," she called.

 "Kesh here."

 "I think I might have some new data.  The alien we are dealing with is some sort of symbiotic entity that needs to thrive inside living beings or something else.  It just took Maurine."

 "What!" yelled Kesh.

 "Meet me at Deck seven section E on the double.  Have you found out anything about the letters?"

 "Ye...yessir," she replied, troubled about Maurine.  "You were right.  There was something in the church's archives about them.  The computer is already starting to decipher the letters we found."

 "Excellent.  Meet me in..."

 "Bridge to Captain!" yelled Grant over the link.

 "Dallas here."

 "Sir, I think you'd better report to the bridge on the double.  Something...something is going on that's really strange on Corneria."  He sounded haunted and disturbed, like he had seen the ghost of himself.

 "I'm on my way," said Dallas.  "Kesh, meet me on the bridge."  Dallas ran out of the frozen hallway towards the bridge, fearing what she would find, but knowing it was still going to be bad.  Real bad.

****

 The SunHawk was released from the repair docks and used its only working thruster to move away.  Now it was looking down at Corneria from a low orbit at the strange and horrible events taking place down there.  Anyone who saw it from an open window could only freeze in their places and look.

 Conner and Orion, Conner showing the younger religious being that which was his home for the past few months.  His favorite place on the ship, the arboretum, where they were caught by the tremendous sights on the planet below.

 Both of them went to the large window and looked to the planet, and saw what was happening.  From this altitude, over three hundred kilometers up from the surface, the clouds rolling through their skies like humungous and deadly.  One spanned an entire continent, all of its gray and black ugliness taking the Lylat sun away from the people down there.  The occasional aurora like flashes in the clouds, some a little dim and small while others were massive and bright, a giant light show spectacular from this altitude.

 "Something is terribly wrong," said Conner as he looked down Corneria.  "I can feel it."

 "So can I," returned Orion.  The clouds were growing bigger and more dense with every second.  Within the hour, they would cover the entire planetary surface.  "What can we do?" he asked.

 Conner didn't answer him.  He turned around and ran out the door, too swift for Orion to keep up.  However, the smaller fox knew where the wolf was going, so he easily followed.

 Conner entered the bridge before Dallas got there.  Everyone inside was still as they watched the events taking place on the planet below.  The periodic flashes of lightning from the clouds brightly lit up the whole bridge, making the lights dance on the faces of all who watched.

 When Dallas entered and saw these happenings, she almost broke down in tears, because, while others didn't, she understood what was happening.  She just didn't understand how, nor why.  Conner was there to catch her before she fell to the floor in tears, and then carefully helped her up.

 "We have to catch that alien," she whispered to him as he held her up.  "This has to be connected to it somehow, and we have to find out what that connection is.  Otherwise...take a good look at Corneria, Mr. Seacore, because you're witnessing the first stages of its destruction."  Conner swallowed, now understanding what was going on as well.

 The door hissed open and Kesh walked in, holding a data pad.  Orion soon followed with her.  Dallas turned to Kesh, an inquisitive and hopeful look on her mind.  "Did you deciher those ruins?" she asked.

 Slowly, Kesh nodded her head.  "You are not going to like this.  The ruins are the symbols for death, war, and vengeance.  When you combine all three symbols to one meaning, it stands for doom."  Dallas remained without emotion in her eyes, even though she was hurting inside.

 "We have to stop that thing and get back to whereever it came from.  Then...I hope, this will all stop.  We have a clean lock on Maurine's comm-link, so we can track him fairly easily."

 "I'll help you," said Conner.  "We're obviously dealing with an extreme power here, so you may need my help..."

 "Our help," corrected Orion.

 "No, you stay here.  I must insist that you stay here where it is safe."  In his own Shyer language, Conner spoke to him before the white fox could protest.  "I have higher standing then you do in our caste, so you must stay here.  Please."  Slowly, Orion nodded.

 Dallas nodded to Conner and stepped away from him.

 "Someone get a line to General Pepper, right now!"

 "We've already tried," said Grant.  "We're not even getting static in return.  Just nothing.  It means that the signal isn't reaching them.  Corneria City is totally without power."

 "I don't care!" barked Dallas.  "Get that signal to them, and I don't care how.  Even if you have to fire interceptors at the city while using morse code, just get his attention."  Grant nodded to her, saying that he'd do what they could.  But he was giving no promises.

 Dallas turned to Conner.  "Let's go," she said t him.  "Kesh, you go to med-lab and interogate Ms. Monroe on where that alien came from with her in the first place, and don't stop until you have an answer.  The rest of us along with what's left of security are going to find Maurine, take that thing out of him if we can, and then go from there."  They all left the bridge, everyone else just glaring at the planet anomoly.

 Orion stood in the back and watched the dangerous weather patterns grow worse, and then snapped out of it.  He walked forward to the tall lion and stood in front of him.  Orion reached up and snapped his fingers in front of Grant's face, and he shook out of the hypnotic trance.  "I think your captain wanted you to do something, kind sir," he said to the lion bravely, who was a foot and a half taller then he was.

 Grant smiled down to the young fox and nodded, knowing that he was right.  Grant went to communication and started to work on the problem of getting word to Corneria.

****

 At once when he heard about what was going on, Falco was up from his loaned bunk on SunHawk and heading towards med-lab to check on Katt.  Those strange vibrations in the ship, plus he saw what was going on down on Corneria.  He knew that this had to be connected with what was going on with Katt, so he was going.

 Falco and Kesh met just before the frozen corridor.  Together, the braved through the cold and around the frozen dead security guards and into medical.  The saw Q'Ronnie, sleeping soundly on the floor, but Katt was not where she was supposed to be.

 "Katt?" yelled Falco, looking around.  A tremor in the floor took the balance away from them.  Then it stopped.  "Katt, where are you?" he asked again.  The two approached the isolation lab and peered in.  Sure enough, they saw Katt.

 The pink furred feline was curled up in a corner, half naked and shivering like nothing else.  At once, Falco rushed over and held her tightly   "F-f-f-Falco?" she asked.

 "Katt.  Are you all right?"

 "So....c-cold."  Kesh got another blanket from outside and wrapped it around Katt tightly.  "Falco," she said silently.  "It took me.  It took me against my..."

 "It's all right," said Falco.  "It's not in you anymore.  But it is still here."  Katt shrank away in fear, still shivering madly.  Kesh knelt down next to her.

 "Ms. Monroe, you have to tell me where you got that alien from," she said.

 Katt looked into Kesh's pleasent blue eyes, still shivering.  "I got it...underwater."

 "Underwater?  Under the ocean you mean?"

 "Yeah," she nodded.

 "Where?  Where under the ocean?"

 "A trench.  I can't remember where."

 "You have to remember where.  Please, try and remember seeing the coordinates of where you were.  Please, Ms. Monroe, Katt, you have to remember or else all of Corneria is going to be made flatter then then seven weak old soda."

 Slowly, Katt remembered back to the underwater part, in the sub, sitting next to the cat, Daniel.  She remembered glancing over to Daniel's computer machine, just before they landed, and they walked...  No, don't remember that, she told herself, shutting out the thoughts and remeberances.

 "Please," said Kesh.  "If you do not remember those coordinates, then the billions of people who live on Corneria are going to die, and Andross will win the war by default.  I, for one, really do not want that to happen.  I do not think that you do either."

 Katt sat there, shaking a little, but thinking hardly.  "The coordinates are...seventy six degrees north latitude and five degrees west longitude, a little south of the northern pole.  There is ocean there, and you'll find a rock outcropping with a cave on it."

 Kesh reached out and shook the cat's cold paws.  "Thank you, Ms. Monroe."  Katt nodded to her, and Kesh left.  Falco reached down and lifted Katt off the floor, and held her gently as he sat back down while holding her.  There, they stayed together, safe from harm for the moment.

****

 Dallas and Conner along with three other security guards, all of them heavily armed.  Dallas had gotten a heavy phaser rifle from the armory, and Conner was armed with his thunder blade, as usual.

 They had a clean lock on Maurine's position, and were going to it now.  Dallas loaded an energy cell into her rifle and cocked it.  "All right people," she said.  "This is Cheif Maurine the alien might have control of now, so our objective is to find a way to drive it out of him without killing him, if possible.  But if he is threatening anything vital to the ship, don't hesitate to kill him.  Understood?"

 The all answered yes, and also readied their weapons.  "I can't help but wonder what this monster is like while controlling a telepath," said Conner.

 Dallas just realized that.  She remembered Maurine's warnings about the alien putting out tremendous ESP energies from Katt.  What was this thing like while it resided in the mind of a telepath, and a strong one like Maurine.  Hopefully, the same, but Dallas very much doubted that.  She wetted her lips nervously.

 "Don't worry about that," she said, which was foolish to do since there was no way there were not going to worry about it.  "Just stick to our current game plan.  I don't want the Chief to be hurt if he doesn't have to be."

 "Yessir."

 The all went around the corner, almost to where they were picking up Maurine's signal, and saw it.  A door into a computer room, a huge walk in hole melted in it, steam pouring off the hardening molten sides after water was administered to it.  The heat must have triggered the sprikler system.  Dallas could not see into the room because it was filled with steam as well.

 Slowly, she krept up to the door and peered in.  Many of the terminals were damaged or without power, but some were still functioning.  She stepped in, the rifle in front of her, set for stun and ready to shoot.  With her backup and armements, Dallas's heart was pounding at a mile a minute.  She was sweating like Pigma Dengar from both fear and the heat in the room.

 Behind her, his sword in his hand, Conner stepped inside and looked around, trying to locate the target with his sense of scent.  At once, he caught the smell and growled loudly, his eyes glowing bright.

 A bright light shined at the other end of them room through the steam.  Conner jumped in front of Dallas and activated his sword, the blue shining blade ringing out.  A sphere of light shot through the steam at him and Dallas.  Conner slashed through the air and caught the sphere, batting it away from them and into already damaged computer terminals.

 On the other end of the room, now visible through the steam, stood Maurine.  The gold ruins clearly in his face, and golden eyes to go with them.  He was smiling at them evilly.  Behind Dallas and Conner, the three guards aimed their phaser rifles at their chief, hoping that he made no moves that would force them to kill.

 "We warned you," boomed Maurine with the godlike voice, his own with three others, just as with Katt.  "We warned you and you did not heed our call.  And now you will pay for your arrogance."

 Dallas stepped towards the possessed Maurine.  "What are you?" she asked.

 "A last faint echo of those who walked the stars so many eons ago.  Before all of your races combined, we walked the universe, all of it like the giants that we were.  We were gods, our powers reaching out to the far edges of the known universe, scratching it's boundries.  We are the last great ones left behind from the forging of the cosmos."

 "When you first came to us," said Dallas, "you told us you meant no harm.  But now you are here, bringing death to our people.  You already killed nine of our people.  Why?"

 "We told you before that you had little time to use.  You could have taken us back to our captivity before we caused more damage,  but now we have freedom, and we are keaping it.  We need to live in something else that is not our own to control ourselves, otherwise we go mad."

 "What is happening to the planet below?  Why are their weather patterns going out of control?"

 "Those who imprisoned us made sure that whoever lived in this world would be forced to strive to return us to our captivity.  If we are not returned, then your world will continue to destroy itself until nothing, nothing is left of it.  We do not care any longer.  Freedom is ours, and you will not take it from us.

 "You tried before, and fought bravely and admirably.  This host took us by surprise and drove us from the body of the Dalmation, but we froze those who resisted us, sparing only the one this body and our previous, and we entered him, drawn to his mind powers.  Normally, we only have certain times in bodies, but with his telepathy, we can survive forever in him."

 Dallas thought.  They drove him from the body of Q'Ronnie using what?  Stun lasers.  It had to be because they could use nothing else.  "Leave our friend, and we will promise to return you to your captivity without harm."  She rose the rifle and pointed it at his head.

 At once, the alien turned around, and Maurine's body started to vomit a black tar like sludge onto the computer console.  After this, three yellow arcs of energy came from his head, getting a scream from him as they entered the computer console as well.  When done, the sludge was gone, and Maurine was standing there, on the verge of falling to the floor.

 Conner rushed forward and caught the jackal before he fell.  He felt for a pulse, and nodded to Dallas when he felt one.  "We can't take him to med-lab now, it's not safe there.  Take him to his quarters and have a med team there for him."  Two security guards lifted Maurine up and started to pack him out carefully, the third up behind for protection.

 "Ally?" said Conner, tapping her on the shoulder.

 "Yes."

 "Is that normal, or should start being afraid?"  Dallas looked at him, and then followed his attention to the computer terminal which was touched by the energy arcs.  The monitors, all of them in the room that still worked, were on.  On them was a sentence.

 Want to play with us?

 Dallas started to shake inside.  "Oh my God," she whispered.  "It's inside the computer."  The floor started to shake underneath them, very violently now.  Both her and Conner lost their footing and fell to the floor.  All through the room and down the halls, alarms for red alert were blaring loudly.

 Then, they whole ship started to tip.  They were losing control.

 "Bearing's going!" yelled a control officer on the bridge.  "Number three thruster is losing power."

 "Get us back on position!" commanded Grant.

 "They're not responding!  The controls aren't responding!"  All screans went black on the bridge, and the lights went out too, flooding them into dark.  "Emergency lights!"

 "Those were the emergency lights," said Grant.  He navigated through the dark and to a lever on the wall.  He grabbed hold and yanked down, a small white lights near the floor came on.  Again, the floor shook underneath them which sent everyone to the floor.  The ship was still tipped to one side, creating it difficult for people to move.

 "Are we moving?" asked Grant.

 The helm control fiddled with the controls for a little bit and then just gave up.  "No way to tell," he reported.  "Everything's dead."

 "How?  We should be on emergency reserves now which should give us something."  He looked around and saw that all stations were dead and unresponsive.  "Is there anyway to moniter what is happening outside on Corneria?"

 "Look out a window," said a raccoon officer.

 "Thanks for volenteering," said Grant, offering a path to a nearbye window.  Slowly, the raccoon made his way to the window and looked out.

 "The storms are still going strong."

 Grant shook his head.  The door inside clumped loudly, getting their attention.  They all saw as the doors were forced open by black furred paws and Conner came in.  Dallas was close behind.

 "Captain!  What happened?"

 "The alien entered the computer system.  Anyone hurt?"

 "Several.  But we can't get them out without hurting them further, and without the medical facilities, a few won't have mush time left."  Dallas nodded to him and sighed with grief.  She felt so helpless now, as did everyone else.  Conner was tending to an injured wolf, who had a broken leg and a nasty cut on her brow.

 "Can we communicate with the alien?" he asked.  "The computers are there to hear us wherever we are, are they not?"

 Dallas looked at him, contimplative.  He was right.  If this entity was really in control of the computers, which would allow it to control the entire ship as already seen, then it should hear them.

 "Hello," said Dallas, trying to walk to her chair for support.  "Are you there?  Can you hear me?"

 The main view screen, along with all the others, started to flicker.

 Yes, Allison Dallas, we can heare you, appeared on the screens.

 "Why have you done this to us?  What have we done to you to deserve this?" she asked sternly.  The ship shook some more, making every start to lose their footing.

 You resisted us.  We will punish for resistence.

 "You must understand.  If you do not return to your captivity, then everyone on the planet will die.  There are millions of innocent lives down there, many who haven't had the chance to live their lives.  Please, don't do this?"

 Repair this ship.  We like it, so we'll take it with our freedom.

 "What about those people?" asked Dallas frantically.

 Not out problem.  We are not concerned about inferior life forms.

 Dallas shook her head angrily.  "Don't you know that all life is sacred even if some is more advanced then others.  Those people are no less important to exist then you are."

 The ship shook violently, and Dallas was tossed to the floor hard.

 Inferior life is pointless.  It ends.  We are endless, so we will go on.  We are the strong, and the weak shall die, so that we survive.  We are the remnents of a more perfect universe, and we want it back.  Mortal life is a pestilence.

 Dallas gritted her teath angrily.  If it starts to see life as something that can be thrown away without care like a piece of trash then there is no hope.  "Your wrong," she boldly stated to the alien.  "You are wrong!"  The ship shook more violently now, and all were sent back to the floor if they had gotten up.  This time, it lasted much longer.  "What do you want us to do?" she asked.

 Repair this ship.  Our ship now.  Then die.  They all looked at the screen as the alien stated its wants, ending with the goal of their destruction.  Again, the word die appeared by itself on the screen.  And it appeared again after, and then again.  The word to die was repeated on the screen, every going on its own, being repeated hundreds of times over.  The screen was filled with that one word within a second.

 Now thinking it was hopeless, Dallas stepped away from the screen, refusing to look at it any more.  Conner went next to her, looking down at the lady wolf he was trying to tend.  "She's dead," he told her.

 "We're all going to die.  But we are not repairing this ship!" she yelled out.  The ship shook, bringing them to their knees.  "I would rather die then give you the pleasure!" she yelled boldly.

 Everything stopped, and the screen went blank again.  Everyone was left alone in there, not knowing what to make of what was happening.  On the floor, Conner held Dallas tightly in his arms, the female husky slowly began to cry.  There was nothing she could do.  She had failed as Captain.

****

 It was mid-day only an hour ago, and General Pepper looked out the window into a mid-day's created night.  All the power in the city was gone, the water systems were dead, and so were communications.  The clouds overhead were rolling violently, the wind was destroying building after building outside which could not stand up to it.  The lightning and hail was super hellish.

 General Pepper sat against a wall, all of the people huddled around a fire that he had created.  Everyone was ordered to stay as far away from the windows as possible incase the shattered or something.  Some people left all ready.

 Still, he could have had everyone sheltered down in the buidling's basement, but there were entirely too many people here, and it wouldn't be fair for some to go down while others didn't.  Besides that and more important, the basement was probably being flooded by rain water.

 Glumly, and knowing that there was nothing he could do, Pepper rested his large head against the wall and listened to a man and a woman sing together around the fire.  No one was in the mood to sing along.

 However, the music was very soothing, and Pepper started to nod off.  He kept fighting it, determined to stay awake and watch over these people.  But he fell asleep anyway, and not even the thunder outside which shook the building so bad already it cracked a window was enough to wake him up.

 Outside the city, at the canyon which lead out to the sea, waves were crashing through the ravine, destroying trees along one the ridge sides and soaking the soils deep under the ground.  The storms were making the seas a death plane, and now the waves were intruding.  Sea water was now touching the foundations of a few buildings, and the storms were growing worse.

****

 The Great Fox.  Fox, Peppy, and Fara, her in Fox's arms, all helplessly watched from the windows as the weather crashed through the planet.  They were all almost in tears in thinking what kind of damage was going on down there.

 A power surge from somewhere on the planet had disabled their ship.  Now life support was barely functioning.  The Great Fox, for the first time in the whole war, was dead and helpless in space.

 Fox let go of Fara and left the room.  Never has he fealt so helpless.  He made his way to his room where he entered and shut the door, locking it behind him.  If everything he ever wanted to protect in life was going to die while he could do nothing, he was not going to watch it happen.

 Fara followed her fiancee to his door.  She knew his lock code, and she opened his door quiet easily.  She found Fox lying on his bed, not making a motion to aknowledge her presence.  Fara, just as sad about this as Fox, lay down on the bed next to him.  He turned around and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her tightly into him.

 "I love you," she whispered to him, knowing that she might not get a second chance.

 Fox smiled when he heard this.  "I know," he said.  "I know and I love you too."  The two lovers pulled a blanket over one another, and went to a silent and peaceful sleep together.  Neither of them expected to wake up again.

 On the otherside of the planet was the SunHawk was still dead in space, at the mercy of the alien intelligence.
 
 
 

Chapter IV

"I do no wish to be considered a violent person at heart, nor do I consider myself one.  I dislike causing pain no matter if the person is evil or good, and I do not like to kill.  But if it came down to protecting those who I love, I will.  Very violently if neccessary."
-Conner Seacore - CSS SunHawk-
 

 All the halls were as dark and gloomy as space itself.  If Dallas had her way, she would have gotten into a space suit and took a walk outside.  But that would mean having to look at the terrible events down below.

 It has been thirteen hours since the alien entity took control of their computer.  It did everything he could to make them suffer without killing them.  It still wanted them to repair this ship for him.  It shut down the food preservation system, it turned off the heaters.  Everyone was freezing wherever they went.  Dallas was walking around with a small blanket over their shoulders.  The water system was left on to allow them survival, but the cooling system was shut down as well.  The water had a terrible taste to it, but it was something.

 Slowly, Dallas went throughout the ship checking on people.  Everyone was miserable, cold and glum, morral the lowest she ever saw.  People looked into her green eyes as she passed, pleading, begging her to end this insanity.  She knew if she gave into the alien, they were dead when it was over.

 She came to her own quarters which she gave to Katt and Falco.  She had gotten a little better over her affiliation with the alien, but she was still suffering greatly.  Now, for them moment, her and Falco sat on Dallas's sofa, Katt's head resting on his lap as she slept uncomfortably.

 "How is she?" asked Dallas.

 "Not well," answered Falco, lightly brushing Katt's hair.  "If she doesn't get real warmth soon, then she may not survive the night."  Dallas noticed that Falco did not look so good either.  He was a little thin, his face was weary and pale from sickness.  It was from his time in the isolation lab.  A germ or few had the tendancy to float around and not be eradicated after each use.  Now, Falco was affected by one.

 "You should get some rest," said Dallas.  She knew sleep would be enough to eliminate whatever he had, or she hoped.

 Falco shook his head stubbornly.  "No, I can't leave her.  I love her."  Dallas smiled, happy for them.  She knew Falco was an arrogant person, and Katt was as well.  But that arrogance was cast away when it came to the fealings they had for each other.  Leave it to love, true love, to make a better person out of someone.

 "I know the fealing," said Dallas, remembering her crush that she had on Fox.  She sat in a chair away from them.

 An uneasy silence came in which lasted for a while.  Then, it was cut.  "What does he want?" asked Falco harshly.  "What is it that is so bad that we can't give it to him?"

 "It wants to destroy us, Mr. Lombardi," said Dallas.

 "If it wanted to kill us I think it would have done it already."

 "It wants this ship to be repaired, and that is why its keeping us all alive, so we can repare it for him.  Then he'll take this ship wherever he wants, right after he kills and spaces all of us.  I am not going to give him the pleasure of victory so easy.  I'll destroy this ship and him on before I let him gain control.  But, I can't do that yet.  I have to figure out a way to get him where he belongs otherwise Corneria is doomed where it stands."

 "Did you ever think that ther may not be a solution to this problem?" asked Falco.  Dallas got to her feet and started to pace around the room angrily.

 "I don't believe that a situation is a no win situation.  There has to be a way out of this."

 "You don't know that," said Falco.  "The no win scenario is something very much studied in the academy, which you should know.  You graduated from the academy five years ago at the very top of your class with all of the skill of everyone else who went through, only you did it all in one year only."  Dallas rose her head, remembering her times in the academy.  True, they were short by a year.  Falco continued.

 "Fox and I came out of the accadamy last year and reformed a new Star Fox team at once.  Hell, half of all the mercenary units fighting on our side out there are out of the academy, they just left the military because they didn't do enough until now.  You and I been down the same roads, fell in the same mud, and had the same pains.  I fight for money and you fight for a cause.  I guess that's the only difference between us.  But even I know when there's a place and a time and a fight that you can't win.  As bad and crud stuffed as it is, this time it looks pretty bleak.

 "Go on and blow the ship up.  Maybe when this thing dies, everything going on down below will stop.  It's a shot worth taking."

 "How do we know it will?" hissed Dallas, turning towards him quickly.  "How do we know that this....this whatever the hell it is, will die if I blow up this ship?  It has a lot of risk to it, and I want to try and fight it before I do something like that.  Before I just give up.  I thought you never gave up either."

 Falco looked down at Katt.  She stirred slightly, and then fell silent again.  "If it meant saving her life," he said silently, "I'd put my name on the terms to our surrender to Andross.  Even if they included that I was to be executed, which they probably would.  If you want to fight this thing, I'll help you."  He got up after gently laying Katt's head on the sofa.  "But before I do, I want abselute assuradness that he will let us go if we give into him.  Are you sure that this thing'll kill us if we repair the ship for him?"

 Dallas nodded slightly.  "It said so himself.  I asked what it wanted us to do, and it answered by telling us to repair the ship, and then to die."

 Falco laughed slightly.  "It must no be very smart.  A smart person would have said they would let their hostages go if they did what they wanted and then kill them."  He shrugged.

 The floor underneath them vibrated slightly and then shook.  Dallas and he were almost knocked of the floor, but remained footing.  The shake brough Katt out of her sleep.

 "This thing has got a real attitude," quipped Falco, rubbing his wrists.

 "Yeah," said Dallas.

 "Falco?" said Katt, looking around the dark room.  "Where are we?"

 "It's OK, Katt," assured Falco, sitting next to her again.  "We're on the SunHawk."

 "SunHawk?  Oh, yes.  I remember someone asking me...something, but I can't remember what.  I remember the presence.  Where is it now?"

 "It's around," said Falco.  He looked up at Dallas.  "You go ahead," he said to her.  "I'll stay here for a minute."  Dallas nodded to him and left, leaving he and Katt to talk together.

 She went down a few decks and found the messhall.  Their, a triage system was set up for the wounded.  Dallas barely saw Q'Ronnie in the dark, the whole room using only two propane lamps for light use.  She went over and nudged the canine doctor.

 "Hello, Captain," he said, a little destressed.  "Forgive me if I seem a little rude, but I am in a little bit of a slump here.  I just lost my seventeenth patient of the night, day, whatever time it is."

 Dallas walked forward and put a hand on his shoulder.  The young physician was like a whirlwind, and he was still partially exhausted from his contact with the alien.  When it came to saving lives, there was no stopping Wynfield Q'Ronnie.  "Wyn," she said quietly.  "Wyn, slow down.  That's an order.  If you don't take it easy, then you're going to break down and you won't be any use to me or the people who need you in here."

 Q'Ronnie stopped and looked at her, sarrow in his eyes that things weren't going very well.  "I just...I just feel like there is nothing I can do, and that this is all my fault."

 "How, how is it your fault?"

 "I felt I got too close to Ms. Monroe when I was examining her.  It was an unofficial examination, but I wanted to try and find answers on my own.  I got too close and it entered me.  From there, I was ambushed outside the med-lab, the alien was forced out of me.  It then proceeded to freeze and kill all exept myself and Mr. Maurine.  It then entered him.  So, you can understand my plight, Captain.  If I had not gotten too close to Katt Monroe, it never would have gotten out of her and we still have control.  Maybe then we could have taken it back to wherever she got it from."  He stopped, not able to go on any further.  Dallas gently squeezed his shoulder.

 "There was no way you could have known it would have done what it did.  You were just curious, as I would have been."  She looked and saw how tired he was, and then made a decision.  "Doctor, I want you to get some sleep.  Five hours minimum and then start up again.  Your aids here will be able to operate without you for that time.  Go get some rest."

 Reluctantly, Q'Ronnie nodded to her and went to a bunk at the darkest corner of the room and layed down on it.  At once, he was asleep.

 Dallas went on to look at everyone else.  A lot of her crew was in here to help with the triage services.  She saw Kite and the rest of Shadow Squadron help out where they could.  Sparky and another crew member were arguing over something.  And then she came to Maurine and Kesh.

 The jackal chief was in a bed in a coma.  The alien must have had a more profound affect on him then expected, probably because of his telepathic abilities.  He lay on the bed, sleeping soundly and not able to be brought out of it just yet.

 Kesh sat in a chair next to him, a book in her lab.  She too was asleep, probably nodding off while watching her lover.  Her arm was still bandaged and in a sling from breaking it.  However, she was not the issue now.  Dallas walked on and observed the rest until she left the room and headed back to the bridge.

 No action at all was going on inside.  The generator to the lamps on the bridge were dying, and the lights were rather dim now.  Grant and many others on the bridge had fallen asleep since they had nothing better to do anyway.

 She spotted Conner sitting in a chair, himself almost asleep.  He woke up when he spotted Dallas at the bridge door, and got up to go see her.  The two left the bridge together and entered her office, where Dallas lit up one of her antigue whick lamps.

 "Falco may have been right," she said quietly,  "This may really be a no win situation."

 "The thought did cross my mind," mumbled Conner, himself sitting in a sofa.  Dallas sat at her desk and just moped, now more depressed then ever.  "I have been in situations like that before."

 "What did you do in them?"

 "I walked away," replied Conner.  "I felt it was the best thing I could do if there was nothing I could do.  I felt if my presence was no longer required, I would leave, so I did.  Like I said on the first day we met, I never hold regrets, even though I wish I did."

 Dallas shook her head, ammused by such a notion.  "I guess that is another comminality between us," she whispered.  "We both long for the opposite things.  I would love to have no regrets, then I wouldn't have to worry about bad decisions or certain bad actions I ever made in the past."

 Dallas got to her feet and stood in the center of the room, where she just stared into the brightly lit lamp.  Conner got up and stood beside her.  "If I could make this vile thing go away..."  He was cut off from a tremor in the floor, not too violent but noticeable,  "...I would.  My power only goes so far."

 "Your people are just as mortal as we, aren't you?" asked Dallas.  Conner nodded to her.  "Somewhat.  We may not be able to killed as easily as you are, but we can die just as easily.  Although death for us comes in more forms then one, some of them include evolution to new levels, we are always weary for life."

 "Your society sounds...complicated."  She stepped closer to the light and put her open palm towards it, fealing its warmth.  "Each new life houses its own little fire, a spark of strength in the light.  We hope that light turns into a larger flame, to fulfill our potentials, and complete what we dream."  The light relected off her green eyes so beautifully, and Conner saw in them something of himself.

 "You speak like a Shyer.  I think you would be most welcome on our homeworld, that is if they ever found a new one."  Dallas smiled and shook her head.

 "That sounds flattering, but my place is here.  I have to see this conflict to its end, to make sure that my people, our children, are all safe."  She looked up into his eyes.  "And now, this all may end without reason, without purpose.  We fought for all of this for the past year to keep it all safe, and now its being taken from us."

 Conner reached out and placed his hand on her arm.  "Well, if this does end this way, with our end, then I'll see you in the plane where all the flames burn the same, and we all share one single light of goal."  The two good friends took each other in their arms, and Allison Dallas slowly cried, knowing there was nothing to do.  Conner held her tightly, himself starting to tear.  One sparkling tear of a Shyer fell from his face, and fell until it landed on Dallas's shoulder, shinning bright as it broke up when it landing.

 "Wait a minute," said Dallas, stepping back from Conner.  "I have a thought."  Conner watched her eyes gain intelligence before him as she thought, wondering what she was thinking.  "Have you noticed how egotistical this creature has been all of a sudden.  This is a symbiotic entity, and symiosis involves sharing information and fealings.  Katt Monroe is said to be the one of the most arrogant persons in Lylat.  When the alien came in contact with her, then it gained that vanity."

 She looked up at Conner, and he smiled at her, understanding where she was going now.  "One can always use a person's cockiness against him, that is if you play your cards right," continued Dallas.  "You bruise his ego enough and he'll get angry, but his thoughts and actions will become clouded, and then you have the advantage."

 Dallas grabbed hold of Conner's arm and started to drag him out and back to the bridge.  "Come on," she said.  "I have a plan."

 The two of them walked into the bridge where something already happened.  The alien put the words, "What is your plan?" onto the screen.  Dallas grinned as she tossed the blanket she had into the chair.  Falco and Katt, now inside the bridge, watched her, wondering what she was up to.

 "You want to know what I am thinking!" raged Dallas.  "What's wrong, aren't you a big enough telepath to figure it out for yourself, or is your mind to deluded?"  The bridge shook underneath them slightly and then stopped.

 Yes, Dallas thought to herself.  It's working.  Insults was something that this alien didn't like, which was why it shook the ship every time something bad was said about it.  Dallas was wondering why she had not thought about this before.  She glanced over at Katt, thanking the feline without saying a word.

 "Oh, that's right, you large hippocritic oaf!"  Again, the ship was shaking, and more violently.  "You can push us around, bully us, and threaten our lives all you want, but you are really too afraid to face yourself.  You are a true coward, because you are obviously more powerful then all of us, but you're too afraid to go down where you belong.  What's so bad down there anyway?  What, are you afraid of the dark of thousand feet underwater cave?"

 With every insult, the ship shook more violently, sending some people to their feet.  The words, Shut up, silence, quiet or we'll kill you, appeared on the screen.  "Ally, this thing has us by our throat.  Make it too mad and it may actually kill us and forget about the ship entirely," warned Conner.

 "He's not going to bully us anymore, Conner.  I wouldn't doubt that in terms of his own kind, he's the weakest and most pathetic of all of them!"  The floor and ship started to tip more to the side, the alien obviously getting outraged.  "Well, I've got a challange for you, you loser!  Take me!  I can resist you, I can fight!  You want a piece of me?  Fine, here I am!"

 Bright orange arcs of energy came out of the light fixtures overhead and ran right into Dallas's head.  She fell to her knees.  She screamed as all that power was rushing into her own soul.  Out from the floor came a black sludge that was a few feet before her.  Like a living puddle, the liquid slid more towards Dallas.  At its sight, Katt pulled a phaser out and started to shoot it.  The lasers had no effect, and the alien kept moving.

 Conner knew this thing by sight.  The half of the symbiotic entity that kept the host submissive.  He ran towards it with his sword glowing brightly and swung, slashing the muccus clean through.  A loud scream like sound sounded out and the tar stopped, killed by the enrgies inside Conner's blade.

 Orion stepped forward and held Dallas by the sides of the head.  She was shaking violently, the presence in her going mad.

 "The entities themselves are inside of her, but they needed the dark half to remain in control over the host.  She's fighting them, keeping them back, but I don't know for how long."  Orion turned to Katt.  "You know where this thing came from, so you are coming with us."

 "You're not going," insisted Conner.  "I am."  The emergency lights to the bridge came on, and so did all the screens.  Everyone looked in shock to see that the clouds on the Cornerian surface had turned to an orangish hue.

 "We don't have much time," argued Orion.  "I know how to contain the entity, and you don't.  If we don't move soon, then it's going to start to rain fire on all of those people down there, so we must hurry."

 Conner shook his head stubbornly.  "Tell me how to do it!" he demanded.

 "There is no time!"  Orion shot a blue bolt at Conner's feet, encasing them in ice.  He was stuck fast.  At once, the white fox used his powers and pulled the thunder blade out of Conner's coat before he could, and then through it in the corner.  "Come on," he said to Katt as he dragged Dallas to the door.

 Katt started to help him with the shaking husky.  "We'll need a sub to get there," she said.  Grant sent word to have a submersible on standby when they got to the bay, and for a security guard to escort them there.

 "You can pilot this sub can't you?" asked Orion.

 "I think I can," assured Katt.  "I was on Slippy's Blue Marine once, and I saw a little bit of the workings on Effan's sub."  Orion meant that she had no clue, but she was too proud to admit it.  But she was still his best bet in getting to where they needed to go.

 They both entered the forward launch bay.  There, a large pod was waiting, its nose end pointed strait downward.  Near the sub was Kite McCane.  Katt recognized the tall avian duck and smiled.  She was always rather fond of the avian race.  Maybe that was why she fell in love with Falco.

 "Now you can't tell me that's a sub!" she wailed.

 "Actually it is a sub," said Kite.  "The question is, can you pilot it?"  It was obvious that Kite McCane did not think too highly of Katt, noticable by the ice and doubt in his voice.

 "I can manage," she said.  "How do I get down there?  You guys drop me in the water from an Arwing or two Arwings or what?"

 "Actually, we're going to shoot you down to the planet from all the way up here," said Kite with a grin.

 "What?"

 "No it's easy.  You just fly the pod down as you would a normal plane, the only difference is that you can't go back up, not at all.  Once you get to four hundred feet above the ocean surface, the break engines will kick in automatically, and the outer heat shields will break off and you'll be dropped into the water.  Nothing to it.

 "However, circumstances have changed.  The waves on the ocean surface are reaching over a quarter of a mile high on the average.  Here, you won't stop.  You'll just barrel into the ocean and stop about a hundered feet under the surface through friction.  It's been equiped with a special shield to push water out of the way once you get in there so you won't be crushed on impact."

 Katt made a face to look like it was fun sounding for her, but the truth was, she was shaking in her boats.  She and Orion carefully put Dallas, still shaking terribly, into the sub and strapped her in.  Within moments, all three were inside and prepped.

 The pilot controls and navigation computer didn't look too complicated.  Katt smiled slyly as she looked over the controls.  "Any time your ready," she smirked arogantly, grabbing the control stick.

 Yeah, right, though Kite to himself.  He pushed a single button on a nearby console, and a large metal hatch slid open.  Katt's grin disappeared when she saw the burning red clouds on the planet below.  "Uh, guys, can we take a reincheck on this?" she asked.

 Orion and Kite both answered no at the same time.

****

 The last five minutes of true breathable air have been used up on the Great Fox.  Fox and Fara, holding each other tightly, were now asleep from their own free will a while ago.  However, they would still be out from lack of air anyway.

 Slippy had nodded of while fixing the Arwings.  His face has landed in a small puddle of oily grease on the engine.  Good thing it was still a cold engine.

 Peppy had went out like a light in the cafeteria, writing a letter to his fiancee back home.  He wanted it to be a final letter after his demise, which looked certain now with every shallow breath.  There was no wonder why he was rushing to finish the message while he still had a clear mind.  The old hare had placed his signiture on the bottom of the paper just the split second before he lost consciousness.

****

 A fifteen second countdown activated the moment after Kite pushed that button.  It was to allow him to get out in time before the force field was dropped and the sub was ejected.  Now, Kite was outside, and the time was five seconds.  Katt swalloed nervously.

 "Get ready ladies and gentlecubs," she teased gleefully, trying to keep the situation a little bright.  "We're on a non stop train ride going to hell, so prepare your feet to be burned because we're about to pass through the red zone."  Below them, the Cornerian surface was looking more and more like Solar with ever passing minute.

 The countdown was not out loud, so they were not really prepared for it.  The clamps opened, and the pod dropped through the hole.

 "Tell me how nine full G's feals when you get back!" called Kite to them, just being smart at Katt.  He did hope they get back, for it was Captain Dallas in there.

 Katt was pushed back into her seat hard when the fell out of their secured position, where she felt the seat restraints pusing into her as she was peing pulled by gravity into them.  She looked at the rear view as the massive warship grew smaller behind them, and the planet surface grew larger and brighter.

 The thrust engines burst out, and the pod was thrust down faster, much faster.  Katt and everyone else was shoved into their seats.  Katt's modified Invader fighter had a self contained gravity system, so it always remained at one G.  Katt was seriously not used to this multiple gravity factor thing.  At three G's, she felt like she was going to puke.  At four G's, she swore that she was going to lose her eyeballs to the back of her brain.  At six G's, she started to scream.  When the Corneria atmosphere started to heat the outside, she almost fainted.  Katt forced herself to calm down and she gripped the control stick fiercly, determined to maintain control.  The fire clouds were just directly before them.

 The pod tore into the clouds like a bullet through vapor.  The burning embers in the clouds only added to the heat from atmspheric entry.  Katt could feel sweat pour off her brow from the warmth.  She flew the pod as best she could around the larger chunks of ash and flame, keeping them as safe as possible

 Within a few minutes, they were out of the clouds, and Katt looked into the bluish gray surface of the ocean.   It looked like a solid surface for a few seconds, but then she saw small lines which signified waves.

 "Hold on!" she yelled over the engine nose.  Orion gripped a metal support bar, which was scalding hot from the trip through the cloud.  He looked at it, and the bar froze and cooled down at once.

 Katt shut her eyes when she saw the distortions of hail in the water, and they pierced the water instead of slamming into it.  The strike slowed them down greatly, and they all felt the brains thrust forward in their heads from the inertia.  Katt sighed, happy that that was over.

 "Nice flying," complimented Orion.  Katt smiled, herself proud of what she did, obviously.  She felt and saw the bubbling heat shields give way, and the sub was on its own.  She input the coordinates into the computer, and she got the data on where they were from that point.

 The sub, lights on, started to move down and northward, homing in on that point.  Katt hoped greatly that her memory was accurate, otherwise they would never find that place.  The last thing she wanted was to sea Corneria die and to see her mother die with it.  No, Katt was going to make sure that this did not happen to Corneria, otherwise, she would die trying.

 Behind her, Dallas was still shaking greatly while Orion held her tight.  On her face, the ruins were fading in and out of sight on her face.  The alien was growing closer to control.  "Did it occur to you that this monster will fight harder to gain control over the good captain here.  In which case neither you nor I will be able to stop him, her."

 Katt gritted her feline fanges, now realizing this.  She saw the distance to target as two nautical miles, and they were moving at twenty knots.  "Don't worry, we're getting closer."

 How close? wonder Orion.  The ruins on Dallas's face grew a little brighter when the appeared.  "Hold on," he whispered to her.  "Fight it."

 Inside her own soul, Dallas was protecting her own conscious mind from three seperate entities who had joined as one.  Doom it was called, and it dwarfed her by a lot.  She had no choice but to fall back line by line, hoping to at least slow it down some.  Dallas knew she could not fight the alien for long, but she was doing her best.  The thing already had a half way strong foothold into her consciousness, and it was using it for an anchor.  All she could do now was batter it as much as possible to keep it out.  She was slowing it down a bunch, but she was still losing this fight.

 "There it is!" cried Katt.  Down below them, a large crack was seen through the navigation computer.  Katt recognized it at once, seeing the same pattern in the fissure as she saw before with Effan and his team.  She wondered if they were still alive down there.

 Quickly, the small sub dove into the fissure and continued its descent along the wall.  The same icy surface on the rock wall, glistening as she remembered it.  Katt typed a command into the computer, and a graph appeared on the small screen.  A lin stretch across the bottom, and at the middle was a tall spire like spike.

 "Oh my lord," breathed Katt.  The energy spike before, where it was just small and bearly noticable, was like a mountain peak now.  The energy levels in there were enormous, and they were stretching all around and through the entire planet.  "This is it.  It has to be."

 She piloted the sub through the fissure towards the location of her coordinates, where the cave should be.  She descended more, the signal to the target was growing more eratic, and soon is was a high pitched tone.  Katt looked out and saw it.  A hole in the rock wall, and the signs of a ledge there as well.  The entire surface was gone, eroded away and probably at the bottom of the sea by now.  Dr. Effen's sub?  Who knows.

 "This can should fit into that hole," whispered Katt.  She brought the sub around and pointed its nose right into the cave.  The energy levels were off the scale.  Katt moved the sub slowly through the cave tube, keeping away from the walls as best she could.  Soon, signs of light through the water were beginning to show.

 "Look," said Orion.

 "I see it," returned Katt.  She input the command to surface in the sub, and it found it.  A air filled cave, and Katt started to remember.  The cave was so beautiful.  An ice cavern, with frozen ice stalactites hanging from the cieling, all of them dripping ice cold water.

 Before them was a giant ancient temple, stone granite.  It was built by an alien civilization millions if not billions of years ago.  Long before the first Cornerian walked the planet.  Katt opened the sub's canopy and climbed out.  She landed in the water which went up to her knees.  Even in here, the water was freezing, chilling her legs even through her leather boots.

 Katt reached up and started to help Dallas out.  The husky was larger then the Katt, so she would have to be catious not to drop her in the freezing water.  The ruins on Dallas's faces were staying a lot longer then before, and they were brighter.  Katt caught her and almost dropped her into the frigid waters, but held her indefinately.

 Orion jumped out expertly and landed on solid ground, which was a whole twenty-five feet away still.  Katt looked at him, surprised that a scrawny fox could move so well.  Orion turned around and pointed a finger at Dallas and spoke words that Katt had no idea on.

 Magically, Dallas floated off Katt's shoulder and was suspended a few feet off the ground, still unconsious.

 "Wow," said Katt.  "How do you do that?"

 "Trade secrets m'lady," said Orion.  They both looked to the temple, and saw the bright lights coming from inside it.  "We have not much time."

 The two ran hard to the temple entrance and ran up the stairs to the top.  They reached the top of the temple and was caught off guard by some terrible tremors.  Katt herself almost fell back toward the bottom of the temple, but was caught by Orion before she did.  Just like Daniel, she thought to herself.  The tremors continued, and a loud cracking sound echoed through the cave.  They both looked to see a gigantic stalactite fall from the cave cieling, and land right on top of the sub, destroying it.

 More of the ice lances fell from above, and Orion and Katt entered the temple, leaving the outside to get pummeled.

 The large arch made of some strange metal had a glowing sphere of light in its center.  "This is it," said Katt.  She looked around and saw a body in a pressure suit lying on the floor at the steps of the arch's rise.  It was Daniel, and from here she could see he was dead.  His lifeless eyes, folded back and showing nothng but white, was enough to say so.  She remembered seeng the bright orange flash into her face, then a terrible taste of black death in her mouth, and then nothing.

 Dallas, the ruins on her face bright and shining, woke up.  "No!" screamed the alien voice in hers.  "I won't go back!  I won't be denied my freedom!"  She broke the field holding her and started to run out.  Orion shot a blue bolt and struck Dallas in the back, doubling her over.

 "You are going back to where you belong monster!" he yelled.  He motion his arm back to the stone archway, and Dallas's body flew towards it.

 "NO!!!!"  A blue field surrounded her body, and the alien enties, now resembling the shapes of child eimagination ghosts, mists with eyes and a mouth, were slowly pulled into the stone archway.  Dallas fell to the floor.

 "It's done," said Orion, his eyes glowing brightly.  "The creature...is...contained, for now."  Katt looked at the archway as the glowing sphere changed, and became a watery like surface.  She saw in it, the bridge of the SunHawk.  She saw Falco, and the SunHawk crew, looking down on the orange surface of the burning clouds over Corneria.

 It started to Change.

****

 The lights on Great Fox lit up, and a quick rush of air flooded the entire ship.  Peppy's eyes fluttered and opened and he looked up, ecctatic that the lights were on.  "They did it," he said quietly, knowing what was going on through dreams.  Quickly, he tore up the goodbye letter to his girl friend and through it in the trash, happy that he would not have to send it.

 Peppy ran out the door to find Fox and all the rest.  He met Slippy and laughed when he saw the black smear on his face.

 "You look like you fell into a tar pit!" he laughed, pointing and teasing the poor toad.

 "Shut up!" yelled Slippy, trying to wipe off the oil and grease from his face.  He only made a bigger mess, and Peppy laughed louder.  "What did I miss?" asked the frog.  "Did something happen?"

 He had no clue what happened.  Peppy wondered why.  Perhaps he nodded off before the power died, and he slept through he whole thing.  Peppy could only laugh harder, so very happy that they were alive.  Slippy only looked at him in confusion.

 In his quarters, Fox slowly opened his eyes and looked at the lights in the hall outside.  Fara too started to stir and she woke up, getting up with a sore back.  "What happened?" she asked, trying to rub her spine.  Then she saw and realizzed.  "We're alive," she said with a warm smile.

 Fox nodded, him too smiling as he laid their smartly.  "We're alive!" she yelled as she threw her arms around Fox's neck, hugging him tightly.

 Not able too breath, he pushed her away.  "Hey!  I was already denied the ability to breath one time tonight, I don't want two."  Fara shook her head and glared at him because of his sarcastic wit.  Slowly, she leaned forward and the two kissed pasionatly, both happy to be alive.

****

 Below them, General Pepper woke up just in time to see the bright lava bright clouds above their heads, knowing that the cataclysm was at hand.  But the clouds started to roll out again, and this time, they were turning back to gray.

 Everyone got to their feet and looked out when the skies started to clear.  The clouds were a dark gray, but the slowly grew lighter, and were soon puffy white.  It did not stop there, for day light broke through, and the Lylat sun shined brightly through the clearing skies, and soon, only the blue of the sky was seen.

 "It's over," said Pepper.  "It's over.

 They all looked up into the sky, knowing that disaster was averted.  All of the people came out of their homes and into the wet streats.  The flood waters had come through the city, but only lightly.  The wind, hail, lightning did most of the damage, but nothing repairable.  In the end, only a few people were injured, and no fatalities were reported.

 Inside the military building, Pepper administered as the people went back to work at once.  No one was happier to see this disaster end more then he was.  But right now, it was still time to work.  He smiled a great beaming smile.

****

 Katt and Orion looked into the surface at the arch, showing the view of the Cornerian surface.  They watched as the clouds turned back to normal and cleared up before their eyes, and then it was over, just as quickly as it began.

 "I understand now," said Orion, stepping up to the great arch.  "It's a portal.  Leading to billions if not trillions of different points of time and space.  It got its power from the planet itself, and the aliens were appointed here to regulate its flow of power as penance for crimes they committed long ago.  Now, the portal itself has given us a way to get home.  For you to get home, that is."  Katt looked at him, not understanding.

 Behind them, Dallas slowly got to her feet, a little dazed.  She looked up at the portal and saw the bridge of her ship, and the beautiful shine of planet Corneria.  "It is done," she said.

 "Yes," said Orion.  "The gateway will not be able to keep this path open forever before it must revert to a new one.  It is everchanging.  That, somehow, is the way it keeps the aliens imprisoned."  He turned around and looked at Katt and Dallas.  "Go through while you still can," he said.

 Katt stepped forward and placed herself before the watery surface of the portal.  She looked back at them and smiled slyly, and then stepped through.  The ripples of the surface came out and lasted only for a second.  They all watched as the people on SunHawk turn around and watch in surprise as Katt came out of nowhere.

 "Now you must go through," said Orion to Dallas.  She stepped forward and looked into the portal, showing Katt and Falco hugging tightly.

 "What about you?" she asked.

 Orion shook his head.  "Do not worry about me, Allison Dallas.  The portal will not be able to keep this path open for me to go in, but it does have a place set up for me to go.  It's all in destiny."

 "Where?  Where will you go?" asked Dallas.

 "I am not sure, but I do have a fealing.  Somewhere in the past, where I am next set to go.  Do no worry.  Just go.  And tell Conner that I will be well, and tell him to be the same and not to worry about me."  Dallas nodded to him and stepped towards the portal.

 Before she entered, she turned and looked back to Orion.  "Goodbye, and thank you."

 Orion nodded to her.  "Paths of unique souls such as yourself and me have ways of being entertwined Captain Dallas.  By all standards in the abilities of your own people, you should not have lasted as long as you did against the creature.  You are special Allison Dallas.  You have something which no others of your people have, and I do not mean what is right in front of you.  We will meet again."  He smiled at her, and she smiled back nodding.

 The image began to distort in front of her.  "It is breaking up.  Go!  Now!"  Dallas stepped through quickly to her own world, and then imaged changed at once.  Orion looked onto a beautiful green meadow.  In the distance, he saw a golden city.

 "Thank you," he said to the portal with a smile.

****

 Everyone looked to see Captain Dallas come out of abselutely nowhere.  They all came forth and welcomed her back, glad to see her alive.

 "Orion?" asked Conner.

 Dallas looked at him.  "He's alive, but he won't be coming here.  I guess...he's gone to where he had to go all the time."

 Conner nodded, understanding.  He did not press the issue any further.  He took Dallas into his arms, hugging a friend that he was happy to see was alive.  Dallas felt so much safer in his arms now more then ever.

 "So," said Falco, holding Katt in his.  "Want to go out tonight?"

 "Sure.  Where?"

 "Let's just go out and dance for a while.  Like, the whole damn night."

 Katt smiled at him.  "I wouldn't have it any other way," she whispered.
 
 
 

Chapter V

"My God, it's full of stars."
-Dave Bowman's final transmission - 2001:  A Space Oddysey-
 

 Katt Monroe sat accross from Captain Dallas in her office.  The green eyed husky looked strait at the cat, her eyes narrowed in inquisative and angered complexion.  This woman had the air of ten thousand dragons in her blood and anger, which was enough to shiver even Katt.  However, she was stil depressed about something else, and Dallas was not interested in it.

 "So," said Dallas, "you touched the portal archway and contracted the alien from it.  It then forced you to kill this other cat, Daniel was his name, and then you used the portal to get to that ball room."

 "Yeah," said Katt.  "They always said that curiosity killed the cat.  In this case, it almost killed Katt Monroe, not to mention almost a billion other people."  Dallas heard the voice of less importance as she mention the latter.  She was very arrogant, as her reputation suggested.

 "I guess it is," said Dallas, getting to her feet.  "I am not going to hold you accountable for any of the deaths that happened here today Ms. Monroe.  That would not be fair to you nore would it be justified.  The alien is back where it belongs."

 "What is going to happen to that cave.  If we found it, then others will surely find it as well."

 "I'm not sure what's going to happen to that cave," she lied.  "I've heard rumors, but their all different, so I'm not going to trust any.  The Great Fox pulled out a few hours ago."

 "Yes, they're going to MacBeth.  I heard their on a new mission of some sort."

 The weapon's supply depot, thought Dallas.  Had to be.  Strike that, and it shouldn't bee too hard for Fox to storm into Area 6 and then to Venom itself.  "It is true.  The war is almost over."

 Katt nodded, wondering.  "I heard this ship is going out of Lylat when the war is over.  I heard that every merc team and individual are envious of you Cornerian Defense people.  You all get to explore the stars, and we just get money."  Dallas smiled, and then frowned.  No, she thought, I  get to do no such thing.

 "Captain, if you don't mind, I'd like to stay on board here for a few weeks.  That is, if you do not mind."  Dallas could feel the sweetness in her voice, trying to cute her way into here.  Dallas shook her head, amussed.

 "I'll have your plain brought up to our docking bay, and I'll have some quarters made up for you."

 "Thank you," said Katt, smiling.

 "On one condition," announced Dallas.  "I am Captain of this ship.  You want to stay on it, you do what I say without question."

 Katt nodded to her in understanding.  Let this woman have her ship and her command over it, thought Katt.  I still have a better looking body then she does.  True, Katt did have a slightly more impressive figure then Captain Dallas.  The real competition on board was with that golden haired Vixen.  What was her name?  Kesh?

 Katt got up and went to the door and left.  Dallas wondered why she wanted to stay on board this ship all of a sudden.  Maybe it didn't matter.  Katt was a good fighter pilot and she would be a good asset in that field.  All she had to do was behave herself.

  Now, there were things to do.  Dallas got to her feet and left the office.  There, she met Grant, Maurine, who seemed OK from his encounter with the alien now, and Conner.  All standing there, waiting for her.  She didn't stop for them, but only kept going down the hall, they got into formation with her.  As they went, others joined them as well.  Kesh came up to them, as did Sparky, and Q'Ronnie, and finally Kite.

 The entire crew, one family even after only three months of being together, moved down the hall as one.

 They had a ship to repair and a fight to reenter.  The war was coming closer to its end.

****

 The SunHawk flew silently over the blue and green and lush planet Corneria, now safe from all harm.  It was incased in a night darkness, the Lylat sun and Solar both on the other side.  However, using its one thruster, the mammoth warship pushed its way into the light of the sun, a new day dawning for them.

****

Combat Log
Captain Allison Dallas
246T4V90

 I'm not sure if I can put into words exactly what happened here.  I'm not even sure if anyone could even try.  We have came a hair line close to oblivian today, along with many other times.  We will get closer before our time is over, and I have a fealing that I am going to see all of this first hand.  Nonetheless, the disaster was averted, and everyone is safe.

 I did lie to Ms. Monroe about what General Pepper intends to do with the temple and the portal.  I do not think she will know I was lying to her, not unless she reads this log entry.  Pepper does intend to completely shut off the cave, perhaps the entire ravine that houses it, from all access perminatly.  It is a wise move.  The alien prisoner's escape we survived this time.  We won't survive it the next time.  We won this time because the alien had an ego that could be bruised.  It got that from its bonding with Katt Monroe.  When he took me, I could sense he was a learner.  If he comes back, he'll be more careful in choosing an initial contact, and he'll have no such weakness.  Until there is a time when we can fully understand the nature of them, then there are certain things in the universe that are better left burried by ocean and rock for all time.

 The fact that the portal and the alien imprisoned in it came from a civilization billions of years ago I left out of my report.  I do not think that General Pepper or anyone else in Priority One, the Cornerian War Ministry, or the general public would appreciate it if they knew.  A great burden has been placed in our lap long before we walked our own home planet by an intelligence we don't even know it exists an more.  The fact that an ancient artifact houses a prisoner who is almost immortal, and that if he escapes then Corneria will turn to dust.

 It is a seamingly unfair weight on our shoulders, but I doubt that whoever put it there all those eons ago counted on a civilization being erected here.  Because of this,  I believe that we really have no right to complain.

 As far as the affect this thing as brought, I, personally, cannot tell.  Maurine, Katt, and Q'Ronnie all seem relatively unneffected by the encounter, save for a bruised ego on Katt.  I am more or less affected by what Orion told me.  I never considered myself special in terms of my own people, and I don't feel so even now.  Perhaps, in the future, I'll be able to determine what he meant.

 As for the war ending, which will mean my disembarcment from the SunHawk, I really don't know what to think.  This ship will be traveling the stars, and soon.  Whether I am there or not really doesn't matter.  Oh sure, a new door and new frontier being there and myself causing it to happen would have been nice, but just as long as it takes place, I am happy.

 If there is anything this incident has taught us, it is to be careful when stepping into the unkowns of the universe.  The door has been opened for us, and we just have to step out into a new world.  The contact we had with actual alien beings like Conner and Orion, along this incident with the entity say that, "There's life out there."  Perhaps we will meet other life forms out there that so much differ from our own, and we will probably have to spend time to gain understanding of them, and maybe they for us.

 I have no doubts that our time to be a part of what is out there is long past overdue.  Conner says that he has seen inteligent life out that is less advanced in technology and less civilized too.  I know that doesn't exctly meen that they should stay home and we shouldn't but we'll see.

 Basically, we are all children coming out to play in a new light, to a new and bigger playground.  Some of the children who play there are bigger then us and we'll have to look up to them, some of them might even be bullies.  Many of the people who have walked in these playgrounds have long since grown up and passed out, looking for new areas to stand.  Whatever and whoever we meet, we will go in standing and be there for the next and younger child to come in behind us, where we will be there to help guide them.

 The stars are bechoning to us, now all we have to do is heed their call.  What we find, will definatly end shape our futures.
 
 

The End
 
 
 

Star Fox is the property of Nintendo Inc. and has been used without permission.  The ship and crew of the CSS SunHawk, Pandora Freelancer, Orion Drakhan, Shadow Squadron, and the alien entity are all my characters and cannot be used without my consent.  Thanks.