SEARCH FOR THE SOUL

by Zilakid2@aol.com

Chapter One
All in the Past

All remained well in the universe, most of all in the head planet,
Corneria, often referred to as the home planet, which presented a thriving
capital. Peace and prosperity reigned over the lives of people there. But
one evil scientist had influenced many to assist him; he desired to destroy
neighboring planets. Word of his plan leaked out, and General Pepper felt a
necessity to exile him and his band. Convinced that they would not survive
on the barren planet, he banished them to Venom. For many years, peace was
once again restored. But one day, satellites reported mysterious biological
activity at Venom. Indeed, the scientist was harboring powerful missiles
that were to be used against Corneria in revenge. Venom was several light
years away, an illegal distance for Cornerian forces to be, so General Pepper
found himself begging for assistance to attack Venom. The succor that
arrived came from the respected star Yata. Pepper contacted Yata, and called
for as many teams as could be offered. The teams chosen for this mission
were the training academy's teams, STARFOX. Each consisted of six teammates:
an engineer, an analyst, a scientist, an diplomat, a navigator, and a bomber.
All of these team members were required to be outstanding pilots as well.
The team chosen to lead the others had bird engineer Falco Lombardi, a
wise-cracker with attitude, analyst Peppy Hare, a rather nice, sympathetic
rabbit, and scientist Pigma Dengar, a pig with skin just too pale to possibly
be either normal or healthy. It also was made up of diplomat Lenard Hinter,
an extremely introverted, polite cheetah, navigator Slippy Toad, very sharp,
and their fox bomber, James McCloud, descendant of Wanin, with the tell-tale
emerald eyes. The scientist somehow was informed of the incoming attack, and
nearly all of the teams were destroyed, save the lead team and one other.
Pepper ordered these teams to investigate Venom and hopefully eliminate some
potentially deadly factories. They crept stealthily in, and destroyed the
main biological facility; however, their actions were not quite stealthy
enough. They were immediately attacked, and soon were forced to land at a
distance from the evil scientist's base. Upon their landing, Lenard Hinter
and Pigma Dengar betrayed the teams and revealed their hiding area to the
enemy. The other ten were captured, while Pigma and Lenard were given full
pardon for being a part of the scientist's enemy. The ten team members
planned a risky escape, and attempted it. As they reached their ships,
alarms sounded, and laser beams tracked them. Peppy was hit by one of these
lasers, and fell. James went back for him, and helped him into his ship.
Unfortunately, he himself could not reach his own in time. He was tracked
and shot down by a laser. The last Peppy saw of him were his eyes, but he
could do nothing. They sadly returned to Corneria, where Pepper greeted them
warmly. He grieved over their loss, but focused instead on the primary
action; the facility was destroyed. The teammates returned to Yata as
heroes. Many years passed. Now there another threat has formed, coming from
Venom. Pepper must rely on a new team, knowing that they are the best,
trusting that they are the best, hoping that they are the best, praying that
they are the best.

Chapter Two
A University Moment

"Congratulations-s-s to all of you." Serpent Instructor Ron Tella
announced to his class. He was the head of the teachers at training camp.
He prepared his students to be pilots.
"You all should be very proud of yourselves-s-s. Now enjoy
yourselves-s-s. Remember that this-s-s party's for you! You may go as I
present your certificate. But first, I wish to make an announcement. I wish
to honor a particular student…pilot. He scored perfectly on his tests-s-s
and handled our ships beautifully. I'd like to give him one of the
Falcons-s-s. I trust he'll take good care of it." Murmurs arose at this.
The Falcons were the best ships the academy had.
"Would Fox McCloud please step up?" A slightly short young fox of about
twenty, with dark brown hair and emerald eyes stepped up to Ron.
"Congratulations-s-s, Fox! I'd like to award you with your brand spanking
new ship. Of course, you pick a name out yourself. Here's-s-s your diploma.
Now go have fun!"
"Yes, sir!" Fox responded.
"For our next graduate, I'd like to honor Annabelle Iroto for her
outstanding job as a scientist and pilot! And next to her stands-s-s Jason
Bollum, our star diplomat and good pilot! Here you two, take your
diplomas-s-s." Annabelle was a shy-looking cat, and her eyes darted away
from the spectators. Jason was an odd-looking lion, and not just his looks.
He appeared stoned to many students, which he was. It was obvious to most
because his eyes were two colors. They received their diplomas and went off
to the graduation party.
At that graduation party there were three certain senior pilots attending
it. Falco, Peppy, and Slippy had watched Fox receive his diploma with pride.
They were like parents to Fox, whose mother was dead also.
"It's a pity." said Falco.
"Oh, give me a break! You are so negative! That was years ago! Move on
and watch his son grow now." snapped Slippy.
"Right. The only other graduate to receive a Falcon was Lenard." agreed
Peppy. "Oops." Falco began to shake. Peppy had brought out that temper.
He and Lenard had been best friends until the incident.
"I wish I could find him. I'd do unspeakable horrors." he snarled.
"Shush, shush. Here comes Fox. Let's just be happy, okay?" asked Slippy.
Fox skipped over to them, his eager face smiling.
"Did you guys see that? Falcons are the academy's most precious
possession!" he said. Peppy smiled, and said,
"Well, if a student does exceptionally well, the academy awards them with
a ship. And we all know you deserved it more than anybody else."
"Well, Jason and Annabelle came close, too." Fox said modestly.
"What are you going to name it?" Slippy asked. Fox shrugged.
"I'm not sure, but I know I don't want any old name. It has to be
special." He sank into thoughtfulness. Falco rolled his eyes.
"With YOUR IQ, how about DITZ? Nah, I'm just kidding. Let us know when
you figure something out."
"Sure, whatever." said Fox. He parted with them to be with his friends.

Meanwhile-
"Sir, there are some disturbing reports from Venom again." said a young
officer. General Pepper sighed and shook his head.
"We can't put this off forever. Maybe we should contact Yata again. Do
you agree Colonel?" The husky nodded his head anxiously.
"Of COURSE sir!" he said. "That's all we can do."
"Brown-nose." the canine thought. "Very well." he said. "Contact the
president, then Yata and ask for help there. Tell them to be here by
tomorrow."
"Yes, sir!

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

"General Pepper speaking, from Corneria. I request to speak to Prime
Minister O'Connor. I request a high level of emergency."
"Please hold."
"Damn." thought Pepper. "These damn operators."
"Pepper?" a voice came in.
"Damn, O'Connor! I thought I'd never get through."
"Sorry. These damn operators, you know."
"I'll get right to the damn point. We have reason to believe that an
damn imminent attack will arrive soon from Venom. And.."
"And…your forces are still not permitted to break the damn light years
rule." sighed O'Connor. "You need to override that damn law."
"Exactly. But you know how stubborn the people are when it comes to damn
matters like that. But, anyway, we also believe that these damn weapons may
be of a higher nature of force than before. Let's say...weapons of extreme
mass destruction."
"Damn." said O'Connor. "Those damn missiles. Who do you want?"
"As many as you can damn spare."
"Well, seeing how the last mission ended, I don't think the people will
approve of more than one damn team. I'm sorry. If it's becoming a direct
threat to Yata, we'll send more damn backup. But for now, just one."
"One???"
"Yes, one. Our own damn ships are already busy fighting off that damn
psycho. You are aware that he's invaded Bolice, right?"
"Of course. That's damn U.G. space. As I can damn recall, Corneria sent out
forty damn squadrons. What's your damn point?"
"I have no damn troops left. That's why I can only spare one damn team."
"That's six damn ships. Six ships to destroy a damn madman."
"If you're that concerned about it, send your own damn troops." And
O'Connor signed off.
"Damn." sighed Pepper.

* * * * * *

"May I have your attention please?" a voice over a loudspeaker asked.
"Message from General Pepper of the home planet." Sound died away quickly.
"It has been confirmed that an attack from Venom is imminent. It has been
requested that a team come forth and pledge their services. Will the
following pilots come forward, please: Jason Bollum, Annabelle Iroto, Mariah
Jolen, Fox McCloud, Donald Smith, and Veronica Zowl. Would you please report
to the academy headquarters, those who have been called?" Six figures
stepped away from the crowd?and headed towards the headquarters.
"I don't believe it." thought Fox. "I'll finally get the guy that killed
my father." The three seniors watched Fox leave warily.
"He's too young for revenge." commented Peppy. Nobody bothered to answer
him. Fox and the other five graduates reached the headquarters. An hippo
officer was standing, waiting for them.
"Thank you for coming. As you heard, we know now that an attack is
expected soon. We wish to stop this. The home planet has requested our
assistance once more. You are the team expected to accomplish this mission.
Do you accept? If you do not, please leave."
"Yes" said Fox, Annabelle, and Jason. The other three remained silent.
"I can't." said Veronica. "I have plans already for a career and future.
I can't risk throwing it away." She left.
"I can't, either. My family would fall apart if something happened."
Donald stated reluctantly. He left.
Mariah shook her head sadly.
"I don't trust myself with something this big." She followed the other
two and left. Fox coughed.
"I know some people who would do it. They are veterans, and would be of
great help." he said.
"Really? Who are these veterans?"
"Peppy Hare, Slippy Toad, and Falco Lombardi. They're here now, if you
want to call them." The officer drew his breath in.
"They are the veterans from the last mission to Venom, am I correct?"
Fox nodded. He hesitated. Then, finally,
"I will call for them." He turned to the loudspeaker. "Will Slippy
Toad, Falco Lombardi, and Peppy Hare please come to the headquarters
immediately." They did not wait long.
"Okay, what's going on?" Slippy demanded.
"Isn't it obvious?" Falco asked.
"We need three more pilots for this team. You serve as a navigator,
engineer, and analyst?" They nodded.
"Well, will you accept this mission?" Once again they all agreed.
"Very well. Here are your orders."

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

They were traveling in an army aircraft to the airbase. "Why are we
insanely going to do this again?" remarked Falco dryly. He received a punch
from Slippy, who replied,
"Because we were chosen, you dolt. This is not just the home planet
we're talking about."
"It sounds that way to me." said Jason in his stoned way. "This guy
doesn't sound so threatening to us. He's just got a grudge against Corneria."
"That's not true. He's destroyed many planets already. He's utterly
mad. We," Peppy gestured to Falco, Slippy, and himself. "heard him say it
himself."
"What's this guy's name, anyway? I've always heard him called just the
scientist." It became deathly still. The only sound was the noise the
aircraft produced.
"To say his name is considered bad luck for an upcoming mission." Slippy
said coldly. Jason obviously did not buy this, either because his brain was
in the clouds or because he knew that it was just a myth.
"Sure, whatever. I'll just ask someone else."
"It's true." Annabelle spoke up suddenly. They looked at her. "I
remember my father saying that James McCloud said it once too often. Look
what happened."
"Maybe we should change the subject." Slippy said hurriedly.
"No." said Jason obnoxiously, later regretting this outburst. "I want to
know what happened. If this guy really was Fox's father, I want to know
every juicy detail."
"He wasn't afraid to say his name, and he was captured and killed on the
mission. That's what I've been told by my parents." said Annabelle slowly.
"That's a lie!" shouted Peppy. "If I hadn't been hit, he would be
here!" Jason snorted, and Falco first noticed the haze in his eyes.
"Jason, when was the last time you had a fix?" Falco said quietly.
"EXCUSE ME?" Jason demanded, indignant at the (very true) accusation.
How did they know what he had?
"You seem a little out of sorts. I just wonder what you do. Cocaine?
Heroin? Pot? Snort? Inject?"
"I'm not a druggie, so don't treat me like one!" Jason denied in a
childish way.
"Just shut up, kid." said Slippy. Thankfully he did.
"This is gonna be interesting." remarked Peppy. "A "team" is referred to
as a group of people able to work together to accomplish a task. I don't
think we'll be working together very well."
"I think we can do it." Annabelle stated. "If we just work hard together
we can beat him." Fox smiled wryly.
"Beat who? The scientist or Jason?"
Just then they were landing at the airbase. They saw their new ships
standing on the runway.
"Wow. Those are nice ships." said Falco.
"Not as nice as the Falcons. I don't see why you get to still use that,
when we have to use the Arwings." complained Jason. Fox's ship was more
advanced compared to the others.
"He got it before this mission. Man, you complain too much." said Falco.
Jason snorted but kept silent. They were ushered out. A soldier approached
them.
"General Pepper wishes to speak to you before you leave." he said
stiffly. They were awed. General Pepper was not a commander they expected
to see like this. He was very important in the role of the home planet.
Just then the admiral approached from a nearby building.
"Hello." he said. "You must be the damn pilots. You're awfully damn
young. Are you damn sure you want to do this?"
"Yes, we're sure." Fox answered for them. Pepper studied Fox carefully
for a moment.
"Patience is a damn virtue. Do not forget that at all damn costs." he
said finally. Fox was silent.
"Well," sighed Pepper. "I guess you are damn ready. Brian will escort
you to your damn ships. Good luck." They walked to their ships slowly.
Fox's was brought out from the transport ship. When the group was launched
into space, Fox stated suddenly over the intercom,
"I'll call it Virtue."

Chapter Three
Unexpected Visitors

"So, what was the admiral talking about when he said that stuff about
patience?" Jason, whose high was lowering itself, asked curiously.
"He was talking about my dad." Fox said shortly. Jason did not reply as
he gave himself another shot.
"Okay." Falco said, breaking the silence. "Let me remember this.
Whenever we run out of fuel, we put our reserves on. Then we fly to the
nearest space station."
"That's right." said Annabelle. "But what if we can't reach the space
station in time?"
"We will. That's what they instructed us to do: always turn to a station
when you've reached the limit mark on your gauge." quoted Jason, feeling
great all of a sudden.
"Oh, boy. Anyway, we don't even know anything about each other."
commented Peppy. "Shall we all introduce ourselves properly? If we're going
to make this work, it helps if we become acquainted."
"I'll go first." said Slippy. "I'm Slippy Toad, I come from Varsha, and
I'm a single thirty-year old. I think I'm a patient, honest frog. Just
don't make me mad, Jason, or else.. Falco?"
"I'm Falco Lombardi, I come from Corneria, I'm a married forty-four year
old with two lovely daughters. I am not patient, I can out-eat anybody in
STARFOX, I have a lot of pride, and I'm still good-looking, heh heh."
"With a big mouth, I might add. I'm Peppy Hare, I come from the home
planet, and I'm a single thirty-eight year old, for now." He giggled.
"Actually, I'm engaged."
"To that Bo chick, right?" asked Slippy.
"Yeah. I hope this mission doesn't take too long. Oh yeah! I think I'm
a kid at heart, I've been told I'm very sympathetic, and I'm a morning bunny."
"I'm Jason Bollum, I come from Qual, and I'm only twenty. I am smart,
wily, and what girls call a hunk."
"Fox McCloud, I come from Yata, and I'm twenty. I am really cool, I like
to have fun, and don't come between me and pizza. I like to think of myself
as devastatingly handsome."
"I'm Annabelle Iroto, I come from Gregvegeg, and I'm nineteen."
"Whoa! Wasn't Gregvegeg destroyed last year?"
"Yes. I had left for Yata a few years ago. My--whole family was on
Gregvegeg when the scientist attacked it."
"Well, gee. Did anyone live through it?"
"Shut up, Jason!" hissed Slippy. "You have no right to talk about it
this way."
"Oh, it's all right." said Annabelle. But the two continued.
"Well, did I hear you were from Varsha? That planet didn't come out so
lucky, either. Do you have some sad story to share with us?"
"No, Jason. But you do know that Qual is under the scientist's influence
now, right? That means we'll have to watch over you. We have to see if
you'll turn traitor on us."
"Like those -Bleep- two from the last mission? Lenard Hinter and Pigma
Dengar. Oh, I'll never be able to forget those two." snarled Falco.
"Stop it." Fox said suddenly. It was silent over the intercom.
"Actually," began Jason. "I really have never heard what happened at
Venom all those years ago. If it's not too much to ask, could someone tell
me? It might help."
"Fine." stated Falco. "Basically, the scientist went mad, was banished
to Venom, and was planning a secret attack on the home planet. We were sent
to Venom to see if there was any truth to these rumors. We were attacked,
landed, had our position revealed by Pigma and Lenard, and escaped minus one
crew member. Are you satisfied?"
"Yeah." Jason said quietly. A long time passed without anybody saying
much. Hours later they passed a data-retriever, which was an
instant-messenger for information.
"Okay, we've got....ooo....some very interesting information. A spy
apparently overheard some Venom officials conversing about a thing called a
Black Crystal. We'll have to contact Pepper over this. Maybe he'll know
what it is." Fox said.
"I know what it is." Annabelle spoke up suddenly.
"Oh, do tell." encouraged Falco.
"I know that when I was in high school my best friend's parents ran a
study of energy sources. They were once talking about the Black Crystal. It
was a very useful, but deadly creation. A long time ago it was made from
materials that are no longer available to us. If used in the correct manner,
it could generate a force of power strong enough to run every ship for all
eternity. The only drawback was that once you started using it, you couldn't
stop using it, or it would explode in a very messy way. The scientist once
used it, but someone ruined it and it exploded. I hear the casualties were
awfully high. That was about a year and a half ago. The only reason I would
imagine that they were talking about it would be that they found a way to
make another, or something closely similar."
"That's a scary thought." said Slippy. "I can't imagine what he would do
with something like that."
"I can't either. Well, we'll just have to make sure that he never makes
it." stated Peppy promptly. They agreed. When Fox informed Pepper, the
response was the same.
"I'm counting on you to make sure that Andross does not create such a
damn thing." he said.
"Whoa! Is that his name? Andross?" expressed Jason.
"Hush!" Falco said promptly. "You wouldn't want anything happening to
you. I wouldn't mind, but I'm sure it would hinder our mission." he ended
nastily.
"You shut up!" Jason yelled. Inside their crafts, the others covered
their ears.
"You just try and make me, you little wuss!" Falco returned.
"I hate you! You're always picking on me! Why?! All I'm trying to do
is actually make it out of here in one stinking piece and get back to my
family!"
"You're a spoiled brat....and a druggie, that's why! You are so--"
"Shut up!" Annabelle's voice came over the intercom.
"I am so sick of hearing you two argue. Do you realize the importance of
this mission? No, you probably don't, because you're too busy being stupid
and manly to notice! You're not getting anywhere by doing this! The rest of
us are most likely sick and tired of hearing it, too!"
"She's right." Peppy joined in. "Maybe not because they're manly, stupid
maybe, but not manly. Falco, you're picking on him because you're scared.
Don't argue, I've seen you frightened, and when you are, you're tense. You
look for a target. Try to relax a little. Jason, you're giving him an easy
mark. You act like a child, but everyone knows you aren't. Mature a little,
okay?" Peppy had hit the jackpot.
There was nothing over the intercom. Fox could practically hear space
itself. A small bleep came over the sensors.
"Aha! We've got some ships dead ahead." said Slippy.
"Finally! Let's take 'em down!" said Falco.
"Everyone get their own target." Fox reminded. Competition was the last
thing they needed right now. There were eight ships in this group, so two
people would get two.
"So long, sucker!" Falco's target disappeared.
"Got him!" Slippy was suddenly lacking a target. They raced towards the
two extras.
"Almost.... Whoa! Hey! You little -Bleep- He's shooting at me! Eat
this!" Peppy destroyed his target. Fox, Jason, and Annabelle finished off
their targets. A few moments later, space was empty except for STARFOX.
"That was cool!" exclaimed Annabelle.
"It was too easy, I think. Why would those ships be so far away from
their base? It just doesn't compute." worried Peppy.
"Uh, Peppy? I think you're right. We have company at three o'clock.
These look like better ships than those we just faced. They look like a
full-weapon team to me." Fox announced gravely. The difference between a
team and a group was that a team had better ships, the units were usually
manually piloted, and the members looked out for and personally knew each
other. Six ships approached from their right. All turned to face the
intruders.
"Well, well, well. We have some trespassers. Let's take care of them."
one voice sneered.
"Oh! It's a STARFOX team! We're so frightened." a voice mocked. Slippy
gasped over the intercom.
"Oh my god. That's-"
"Pigma Dengar. You were expecting the tooth fairy? You might recognize
someone else, too."
"The one and only! Do I ring a bell?" Lenard's voice came acidic over
the intercom.
"Unfortunate for us, but we remember you." raged Falco. "How could you
do this? Betraying us was bad enough, but joining their fighter squad?
That's low, even for you." Lenard laughed.
"This isn't just any squadron. This is the elite class. We're under
supreme supervision here."
"How supreme can they be if you're in it?" Peppy asked sarcastically.
Falco was shocked.
"That's something I'd say, Peppy! I'm proud of you!"
"I am the admiral, you insignificant little fool." the first voice
snarled. "We also have the first three generals on our team."
"First three? How many do they have?" Annabelle wondered.
"Too many." the admiral sighed.
"Forget this, let's take them out. We don't have time to chit-chat." Fox
said. The STARFOX team raced forward.
"You are mine, Lenard." whispered Falco as he charged Lenard's ship. He
knew the opponent's maneuvers by heart. Lenard also remembered Falco's
moves. Slippy took on Pigma. Peppy, Jason, and Annabelle went for the
generals. Fox was left with the admiral.
"You're just a child. You don't stand a chance against me." the other
said cockily.
"I do. I'm better than you, you sick freak."
"Sick freak? Well I'll be a monkey's uncle." He dodged a shot from Fox.
"You know what? You shouldn't call disabled people freaks, especially when
you're one to talk, you demented little twerp." Filled with hatred at being
called a twerp, Fox let loose with a barrage of shots. A few connected with
the other ship. By pure luck, all had hit the right wing joint. Fox
concentrated hard on destroying that wing. His opponent would be
handicapped. Virtue vibrated as he was fired upon. He drew in his breath
and released a missile. It was aimed well, and the admiral wasn't expecting
anything but standard guns. The right wing disappeared.
"Argh! These ships are junk... All units retreat! We'll meet again,
STARFOX. Just you wait! And next time we'll have proper equipment!" A
barely battered team escaped into subspace.
"I was just getting warm." groaned Falco.
"So I guess we have some enemies out here." Jason said quietly.
"Next time, Falco." Slippy consoled. "This isn't even a mission. It's
an............alternative course. We can go after them any time we want."
The ships were not damaged as they continued on their course.

Chapter Four
Have We Met?

"I guess we just let the auto-pilot take over." Peppy commented. Falco
laughed.
"How can you be thinking about sleep? It's only 9:30! I don't sleep
until eleven at least."
"We're not all used to pulling all-nighters." he replied. "Right guys?"
There was no response. The others had already fallen asleep.
"Well, good-night Falco. Talk to you in the morning." he said sleepily
and switched to auto-pilot. Falco alone saw the sights as they continued.
Somehow he just couldn't sleep. He felt like there was something keeping him
awake, if only for a little while.
"I hate being the last one up." he said to nobody in particular, after
about twenty minutes.
"We'll put you to sleep easy then." Lenard's voice crackled over the
intercom. Falco gasped and quickly sent a signal to the other ships.
"You guys, they're back! Wake up!"
"Huh? Hmmm..... Falco, stop messing around. What the....holy cow!"
"What's going on?"
"They've obviously come back with better ships, genius."
"Well, how?! There isn't a base around here for a few thousand miles!"
"We must have missed it."
"Stop the chatter, STARFOX. This time we leave as the victors." said the
admiral.
"Split up." Fox said. They all headed for their targets.
"Left with you again, eh, twerp?" the admiral said as the others
battled. "I must say your dog-fighting techniques were mediocre at the last
meeting. It won't happen again, let me assure you." He did a quick U-turn
and pursued Fox.
"Shut up and give me your best shot." Fox replied as he somersaulted. He
shot a few lasers at his enemy, who outmaneuvered them all.
"Giving up already? I can't believe that's all you're made of. Even
your father had more than that." A missile suddenly rocked his ship. Pigma
had told him all about James McCloud and his son. According to him, Fox was
very touchy about the death of his father.
"Ah..." he thought. "This kid's sensitive about his father. Gotta work
that angle." He slammed the brakes and shot at Fox as he flew past.
"I'm taking you down as easy as that dude was taken down. Oh, yes, he
acted tough, but he was just a cream puff." Fox's ship faltered a bit and
the admiral hit him with a few shots.
"Admiral Wolf, my ship is heavily damaged. I'm outta here!" Lenard
shouted over the intercom.
"You moron! How could you lose with these ships?!"
"Ya didn't count on me, didjya?" Falco laughed. "Well get over here
and help me out, then, Falco!"
"Coming, druggie."
"Your father was no better than that fool Lenard."
"My dad was better than anything you'll ever be!" Fox yelled. His
actions betrayed his strong words. Wolf connected more shots until Virtue
was 3/4 damaged. Warning lights flashed inside of Fox's ship.
"Help me out here." Fox prayed. His moment came when Wolf closed in
close behind him.
"Gotcha." Fox thought. He released missiles from the back of his ship.
"What the..........? !?@#$%*! Aw.... god!" Wolf cried. All missiles
reached their target. Fox felt a brief satisfaction as he imagined Wolf's
face as the missiles exploded in front of him. Fox's sensors now showed
Wolf's ship in as bad as shape as his.
"All units that haven't already, retreat now!" The remaining ships left
for subspace."God, not again." Falco groaned. "Can we really get some sleep
now?"
"Oh my god, Fox, your ship looks terrible." Jason noted, his high
recently returned.
"Yours isn't gorgeous either, Jason." Annabelle pointed out. "Fox, what
happened?"
"I dunno."
"You're lying. Don't keep secrets." Jason pressed. A flood of bleeps
resounded over the intercom. (The intercoms were programmed to not accept
profanity, and beeped it out.)
"Okay.... I guess we'll repair at Katina. That's only a few hours
away." Annabelle said.
"You guys get some sleep, okay?" Slippy interrupted. "We'll feel better
in the morning."
"Nyaa...... Better my foot."
"Shut up now, druggie." Slippy threatened. Miraculously, he listened to
him. About ten minutes later, Jason contacted Peppy privately. If a pilot
desired to only speak with certain members, there was a feature that could do
that.
"Hey, Peppy."
"???? What? What? Jason? What is so important that you had to wake me
up and use the private code?"
"Um... I had to ask a favor of you."
I guess it depends. Well, now that I am fully awake, hurry up."
"I..uh..well, I'm worried about Fox."
"Worried? You? I thought you didn't like anybody."
"Well, maybe I do. Anyhow, he was in a few of my classes at the
university, and he was never like this. Usually I'm the one who flips out,
but he's patient, and I've never heard him swear. It scares me a lot. He's
a cool guy, and he is the best pilot at the university."
"And where is this headed?"
"I know I got off on the wrong foot with him. So it wouldn't feel right
asking him what's up. And I can forget trying to console him."
"I see. You want me to talk to him."
"Uh, yeah..."
"Well......I guess I will then."
"Thanks, Peppy. 'Night."
"Goodnight Jason." He blew his breath out in a sigh. Did he really want
to do this? He decided he did. He was as curious as Jason, and he had
sounded really sincere. Peppy maneuvered his ship near Fox's. Gingerly he
called him.
"Fox. Wake up." He was surprised. Peppy had expected him to be asleep.
"What?" came the instant reply.
"Whoa.. This is Peppy." No response.
"Fox, what happened there?"
"It's nothing."
"Fox, it's something. You're one of the best pilots in the universe.
And you said yourself very little can bring out your temper."
"Who said I'm mad?! I am not mad! Just leave me alone! There is
nothing wrong!"
"You know that's not true." A short silence followed.
"It was Wolf." They were getting somewhere.
"What about Wolf?"
"Just some things he said. Nothing more."
"Fox, just some things cannot....transform a fox, and cannot bring out
your temper. What did he say?" A shaky sigh came out, and Peppy realized
that it wasn't his.
"He was there when my dad..was..he was..."
"Oh. My. God. Fox."
"I couldn't control myself. He just kept pushing and pushing, and it
hurt. It was blind luck I made it."
"Fox, I understand. But don't worry about it. He's only trying to push
your buttons." A long silence came.
"Thanks, Peppy. It feels better getting it out. I'm going to try to
sleep now."