SEARCH FOR THE SOUL part III

by Zilakid2@aol.com

"DON'T GO! SAVE ME!" a prisoner shouted desperately.
"Ignore it. Come on." Wolf repeated.
"Let's go." said Peppy. They followed the thing that used to be Wolf
through corridors and stairways until they came to a wide yellow platform.
Wolf started hitting the wall and suddenly they were moving up.
"It's going to take a few minutes, so let me fill you in. We are heading
through a secret entrance to an airbase. Your ships have already been taken
there. The guards will be surprised for a few seconds, but then they'll
either shoot and call for backup, or take the extra minute to pull out the
heavy artillery. Briar's there already, and she's clearing the area by your
ships. So you guys are going to get to your ships and we'll cover your
backside. Once you're out of range or we're dead you are on your own. Got
it?" They nodded.
"What do you plan to do after this?" Annabelle asked on an impulse,
feeling very bad for Wolf suddenly.
"Well." Wolf hesitated. "I…" then he hardened. "Why do you care?"
"I was just asking." Annabelle muttered.
"Well, don't! Look at me! Where do you think I'm going to go? I'll be
in the Outer Boundaries before you guys get out of here."
"That's so sad." Peppy said sympathetically.
"Just leave me alone." he replied.
"What's..um...Briar gonna do?" Falco stuttered.
"I really don't know. I have an idea of what, but really, only she
knows. If that."
"What's your idea?"
"You don't really want to know, trust me. It involves some very nasty
business. Probably death." Fox shuddered.
"Whose?" This comment made Rick look up sharply.
"Think about the odds. You figure it out." Then he looked around.
"We're close. Get ready to run." STARFOX braced themselves. The ceiling
opened up above them. Once on steady land, they were at an airbase.
"To the right. Ready, go!" They took off running.
"Hey, over here!" Briar's voice told them. They searched for a moment
and spotted her by their ships and sprinted. She continued firing on the
soldiers who bothered to shoot at them. Suddenly she lowered her gun.
"CRAP! HURRY UP!" she hollered urgently, and headed to a ship as the
others started taking off. Her ship was nowhere to be seen, so this would
have to do. All in all, she felt uncomfortable and unready as she climbed
into the cockpit of an alien ship. A large tank was approaching slowly, and
if not distracted, could obliterate STARFOX as well as herself. Her gun
would not do it. She started up her engines as the tank powered up.
"Oh, my god." she thought, panicked. Suddenly the tank rocked and its
aim headed above her.
"You should thank me, Briar." Wolf said.
"Thank you, Wolf." she replied, and took off.

Chapter Eight
Who Are You Again?

"Briar, get off the ground, now." Wolf muttered.
"I am going, I am going. The engine has to fire up." she returned
agitatedly. Then she was able to lift off. The tank began to fire upon them
from the ground; however, the ships were soon out of range.
"Phew." sighed Jason.
"Oh, we are not out of the water yet, homeboy. Just you wait for the
backup." Briar informed him testily.
"Homeboy? What's up with that!?"
"Get over it Jason." said Annabelle.
"Why are you worried? You've got that amazing ship thing....right?"
Jason had almost a pleading tone.
"No." Briar hissed. "I could not find it." Jason cursed. "Here they
come!" shouted Briar. Another team revealed itself.
"Well, if it isn't Miss Briar." a voice said good-naturedly, implying
that the voice had arsenal to back them up. "I always knew you were a
troublemaker. Right from the start." They split up, each taking a ship.
Fox assisted Jason, sensing that Briar knew the voice and wanted a piece of
it.
"I thought you would have been a higher rank by now." Briar chided,
warily circling the ship.
"No." the other sighed. "I was supposed to be promoted to seventh
general at Proliscis, but you got it instead."
"I am soooo sorry." Not meaning it.
"Well, what are you doing here? Why would you blow your shot at admiral?"
"It is not right. You know that. I had an opportunity and I took it.
You know I have never been satisfied there."
"I know. You were always restless."
"Yes. But, why are you still with Andross? You said you hated him and
all he stood for."
"I did, and I still do. But he has my children."
"What about Mike?"
".....He's dead."
"I am sorry. I did not hear."
"I don't have anybody else in the universe but my children. Maybe
someday I can be with them. But until then, I obey Andross."
"Does that mean I have to fight you?"
"Who the hell do you think I am?! A true friend will never turn, no
matter what the circumstances."
"So you will...."
"I'll tell the boss that you got away, that you were too good for us to
fight back. He'll believe it. He's too drunk off his ass to care most of
the time."
"Thank you so much, Chelsea. Good luck."
"No problem, babe. Maybe I'll see you around some time."
"Yes. Someday."
"ALL UNITS! CEASE FIRE IMMEDIATELY AND RETURN TO BASE!" Chelsea's voice
boomed. The ships stilled and retreated quickly, not questioning orders.
"Egads." Falco said, stunned. "What did you say to her, Briar?"
"Nothing. It was her decision. Based on our friendship. Of long ago."
Silence. More bleeps were picked up on the radar.
"NO! NOT AGAIN!" Jason raged, for the first time since the mission
began, naturally high. A couple dozen ships were heading towards them.
Briar sighed in relief.
"Do not worry too much about these guys. They are automatically run, and
the controllers do not really care." Sure enough, the couple dozen ships
were reduced to smithereens shortly. STARFOX began to cheer.
"Admiral, is that you?" Bortoi's voice came weak over the intercom. The
cheering stopped abruptly.
"Henry." Briar said. "What are you doing here? Do you know what will
happen if they know you are here?"
"Admiral, we were sent to destroy you." said Kvanitch. They don't know
about the base eleven thing, but the vizier said something about 'proving our
loyalty' or whatever." There was silence. Peppy felt like crying.
"And what are you going to do?" Briar asked quietly.
"We're getting out of here." the last general said as he piloted a larger
ship towards them. "I've got our families in here. It's a tight squeeze,
but it's all right." Falco grinned.
"Well, you're welcome to come with us." he said. "Right guys?" STARFOX
agreed.
"Thanks a bundle. We owe you." Bortoi said, relieved.
"Well, I think we've delayed Andross's plans for a little while." Fox
said. "We can go back to Katina and repair and stock up or whatever we need
to do. Pepper will have to be notified, and we can go from there." Briar
was silent. Peppy privately contacted her.
"Uh, Briar?" he timidly called.
"Yes?"
"Are you okay?"
"Yes."
"'Cuz you seem a little out of sorts."
"No."
"You know, if there's anything you need to talk about, you can talk to me
as a friend."
"Thank you." Peppy switched off with an eerie feeling. They all went to
sleep; however, Briar stayed awake thinking. She spent most of the night
gazing at the receding form of Venom. Wolf, who had sworn to leave the Inner
Boundaries, did so that night. When the others awoke, they discovered his
absence. Surprisingly, he was not sorely missed.
"So, tell us a little about yourselves." said Slippy. He was talking
specifically to Briar, but intended for all.
"Well, I'm Henry Bortoi, I'm a panda, I have a lovely wife named Helen, a
charming little panda named Wendy...uh...I was raised on Corneria, and that's
it. Oh, and I am a smashing 32 years old. I'm an engineer in physics and I
love my job."
"My name's Samuel Morang, and I'm a bear. I don't really have an
occupation, so whatever. I'm 45, and I have three wonderful kids: Carol,
Shannon, and Robert. I was also raised on Corneria."
"I'm Allan Kvanitch, a fox, I am 34, I have a sister named Maria, and she
has twin foxes named Kyle and James. I am single, and I hope my
bachelor-hood stays that way." STARFOX introduced themselves. Briar did not
comment.
"Why are you guys leaving Venom like this?"
"Hoo boy." Henry breathed. "Andross is whacked. Whatever sanity he had
he lost. He sends his troops on suicide missions and never tells the
families what happened. I've also heard rumors of concentration camps;
however, I've never heard proof of them."
"They exist." Briar said shortly.
"Jesus." shuddered Samuel. "I really don't want to ask how you know
about that, Briar."
"I want to know." said Annabelle, a morbid streak appearing suddenly.
Briar laughed to herself.
"Fine. Just do not puke in your ship. The concentration camps are
located underneath Andross's headquarters." Falco thought she sounded
remarkably like a tour guide or a college professor. "That was the building
we were just in. It is quite large. There are plain metal rooms that are
domed like football fields, with tiny shower heads hanging from the ceiling.
Have you ever heard of truphlom gas? The Earthlings created it, by the way.
Big surprise, huh? It works slowly. It seeps through your lungs when you
breathe, and the lungs rupture and start to bleed. You do not feel it
because the rupture is smaller than a dust speck. But the seeping blood is
infected with truphlom liquid, which hardens your blood. Slowly. I have
heard that it is quite painful. The blood flow stops and the inside becomes
stone. The outside, however, stays the same, but it turns a funny yellow
color. That is the stone from inside showing through. The bodies are then
covered in cement and are used as statues in Andross's art museums."
"Oh, Jesus, that's -bleep- sick!" Slippy gagged.
"How do you know." Samuel said hoarsely.
"I have been there." Briar responded.
"I never knew." Allan whispered.
"You know," said an angry Falco, "if there's going to be trust here, you
have to tell us all of what's going on, Briar. I don't appreciate the
gravity of what you just said, and I bet you know a whole lot more but you
aren't telling us. God. If you don't tell us, why, you're just as bad as
your father." It was obvious he was peeved at Briar not telling the whole
truth. Inside the cockpit, she sighed and pulled her ship high above the
others.
"I'll talk to her, guys." offered Peppy. He followed Briar.
"This will be interesting." said Allan. "I don't think any of us know
what's up with her, either."
"You mean she's never told you either?!" a dumbfounded Falco exclaimed.
"No." said Allan. "She's secretive. I've heard from some friends who
have served under her that she's different. I think someone said that she's
missing something. What did you mean, 'like her father?'"
"Did you know that she's the scientist's daughter?" The generals
spluttered in surprise.
"JESUS! NO! Holy cow!" Samuel flipped.
"How could someone keep that inside? That's nuts." said Henry.
"I wonder what's the deal with this. I can't wait until Peppy comes back
with the story."

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

"So, Briar, what's the deal with this?" Briar didn't respond. Peppy was
shocked to realize that he was losing his infinite patience.
"...Briar, tell me now because my patience is for the first time running
out. I don't know what'll happen when it's gone and you don't want to risk
that."
"Fine. What do you want to know." she stated.
"Start with when your parents met and just go through your life. Don't
omit anything."
"Okay...My mother's full name was Shina Ranoa Briar. She was a
descendant of the ancient Wanin, a fox. She had been dating my father,
Andross Van Ventrax, before he went crazy. I am not too sure about this, but
I think they had a huge fight because she got pregnant and my mother left
him. I think that is what made him run off the deep end. He went nuts and
when he was exiled, he took his followers and my mother. I was born months
later, under the name Sarah Shina Briar, and was raised a military child."
"Your name is Sarah? Why do go by Briar?" Peppy interrupted.
"Because I want to live by the name of my mother. Can you just respect
that?"
"Yeah, but can't we just call you Sarah with the understanding that
you're not like the scientist?"
Briar (Sarah?) rolled her eyes, ignored him, and continued her story.
"When I was five, they got into another huge fight. I overheard. My mother
wanted me to be sent back to Corneria so I could have a better future and
Andross said absolutely not. He got furious and, while in a rage, killed
her. He just shot her. I saw it and I have never forgiven him. I ran back
to my bunk, crying hysterically of course, and just cried for an hour. I
settled myself down and a few hours later he came in. He sat down next to me
like a caring parent would and I remember getting the shivers. He said my
mother had disappeared, which I knew was a lie and angered me, and he said
that she left a letter saying she wanted me in the actual military. He said
it was best for me to honor her wishes even though she left, and he sent me
into the military. Can you imagine a little kid in the military? The other
cadets hated me because I was so perfect. I did not disrespect my commanders
and instead was their favorite because I did everything perfectly without
rebelliousness. I think I lost the part of myself that said this was wrong.
When I was about nine, I regained that part, and started to plan revenge. I
loved my mother, and he killed the only family I cared about. I decided that
I would rise through the ranks and become stronger, and when I was strong
enough I would rebel and kill him. I did not think that it would be so soon.
I expected it to take the rest of my life. Of course it did not. I am
twenty-four. I was promoted to lieutenant at sixteen in the battle of
Varsha; I was promoted to sergeant at Varsha also; at Lakolm I was raised to
the rank of captain; at Boncon I became a major; I was promoted to colonel at
twenty years of age in the battle of Vorgaria; at twenty-one I was raised to
seventh general in the battle of Proliscis... There are ten generals. And
ten sub-generals. When I was twenty-three I became the fourth general. That
was in the rebellion at Venom, maybe you heard about it. And a week ago, at
age twenty-four, I was promoted to admiral. Now, I think I am nothing again.
I have often wondered if I was only promoted because of my relation to
Andross. Does that satisfy you?"
"That answers a lot of what I wanted to know. But I still have some
questions I've been wondering about. For starters, what's in that other ship
you had when we first met you that allowed you to move so quickly? And how
did you heal Falco's ship like that?"
"I was wondering when you would ask that. I studied engineering between
missions and I accidentally discovered a new metal that has incredible
scientific properties. It has zero air resistance because of the..er..aura
it has. It can shift atoms to change directions and is incredibly
lightweight. As to the healing...well, have you ever heard of the Black
Crystal?"
"You possess the Black Crystal? I thought it was destroyed years ago."
"It was destroyed. But I made another one made of materials I found
beneath the ground. Andross is mistaken if he believes that the substance,
triminian, does not exist. I made it, but I guess triminian has changed
since its last use, and for some reason this White Crystal is different.
Before it can work, it has to charge for some time. Which becomes
frustrating after awhile. Also, it does not explode once it is ceased.
Therefore it is quite powerful and there is only one way to destroy it. The
only way to destroy it is to put it under extreme pressure from extreme heat.
It will melt when placed in temperatures over 18,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
The only place with temperatures that hot is on a planet called Uva. That is
the real name, anyway. It is better known as the moving planet, seeing as it
never seemed to have grasped the concept of staying put in one atmosphere. I
know this from studying history and geology books. It is interesting what
you pick up from books. Anything else?"
"Well, just out of curiosity, how DID you get that scar on your face?"
Briar laughed coldly.
"You really want to know? I can see you do. Well, I did miss one target
in practice one day when I was fourteen."
"That's horrible."
"If you missed more than one you were shot. Funny, it was noticed that
more boys failed than girls did. Anything else?" Peppy shook his head,
although Briar couldn't see him.
"Anything you can think of would be nice. I really don't know what to
ask you."
"Let me see....well. It might interest you to know that anyone below the
rank of general never sees the light of day. There are tubes that they enter
that lead underground before they are allowed to exit their ships. It
sickens me. And religion. We are not allowed to have any. It does not stop
us from believing in God. Whatever little He has done for us, heh. What
might interest you the most is the fact that, with exceptions to loonies and
Lenard and Pigma, there are no soldiers that I have met-and I have met
thousands-that believe in Andross and what he is doing. Does that contradict
your evil Androssian image?"
"It does." said Peppy softly. "Can I go tell the others now? They
really do want to trust you, and this is the only way."
"Go ahead." said Briar. Peppy started to lower when Briar called him
back.
"What is it?" Peppy asked.
"You said...that I could...talk to you...as a friend."
"You still can."
"If I tell you something, can you promise not to tell the others? It
would embarrass me."
"You have my word."
"We all have dreams, contrary to what you believe. Do you know what mine
are? I want to overthrow Andross. I want to rescue the people from this
hell. I want to establish a peace-loving empire. That is half of it. The
other half is myself. I want to be known as somebody other than the
illegitimate daughter of a tyrannical maniac. I want respect as someone. I
want respect as an individual, as a citizen, for the fox inside. I just want
to be normal. And one other thing. I had a sister. Her name was Emily
Ranoa Briar. She was my twin. She and I were different. She hated our
mother for being weak, and I hated her for hating my mother. When I was
thirteen, she made an attempt on Andross's life. She failed. There was a
public execution. She was shot to death. Ironic. Just like our mother
died. When the soldiers were lining up, she cried out to me. She said, 'I
am sorry for hating her! I love you.' And I did not do anything to save
her. I did not tell her I loved her, which I did, underneath my hatred. She
died thinking she was alone in the world." At this point Briar broke off
into sobs. It shocked Peppy to realize that this proud, strong admiral was
crying. He thought it would be wise to return to the others and relate the
story.

* * * * * * * * *

"What's taking him so long?" demanded Slippy.
"If it's the whole story, it probably will take awhile, mister
impatience." calmed Falco. Slippy blew up, the stress revealing itself.
"I CAN'T WAIT! THIS IS CRAZY! HOW CAN WE TRUST HER?!"
"We can trust her." said Henry quietly.
"How do you know?!" he said, turning on him.
"Even if she is messed up, she keeps her word. Always. She has never
turned on anybody. Never." Slippy snorted, but kept quiet. Peppy
approached them.
"What happened? Tell us. Tell us." begged Jason.
"Don't leave anything out." requested Samuel. "I haven't heard this,
either." She told them. She told them of Shina's death, of the promotions,
of the White Crystal, of everything Briar had given her permission to reveal.
Not of her dream or of her twin, though.
"Oh my god." winced Fox. "I can see why she's secretive now."
"I never knew." splurted Henry. "If only she had told us. Maybe things
would have been different."
"What would have been different." demanded Annabelle, slightly annoyed
that even more secrets were withheld.
"I think once she wanted to ask to me about how my family was. I didn't
think she would know anything about family and loyalty so I told her to bug
off. I regretted that the moment it came out. She got this wounded look,
but she covered it well. She said fine, she would see me another day then.
Wow, she can be cold sometimes. I deserved it, I guess."

* * * * * * *

They arrived at Katina with a better understanding of each other. Briar
still appeared withdrawn, and even though there were signs of tears in her
eyes, only Peppy knew that Briar had been crying. Only he knew the pain that
had been rediscovered by a troubled soul that had long since been forgotten.
It was sad. They were all exhausted and decided to sleep before making any
decisions. The families of the generals were in a separate building
altogether, undergoing medical examinations, for they were in awful
condition. When the others were getting ready for bed, Peppy sat down next
to Briar, who was sitting melancholy on the cot.
"Briar, sometimes it's okay to cry."
"Really?" she asked, almost pleadingly. Peppy nodded. He extended his
arms and embraced Briar. Briar accepted the hug and burst into tears. This
attracted the attention of the other two, who immediately sat down near them.
When Briar had finished, she withdrew from Peppy and stood.
"I am sorry. This is inconveniencing you. I am sorry." Peppy shook his
head.
"No, Briar. It's not an inconvenience. You're normal, and it's okay to
cry. Everybody needs to. Even Slippy." Slippy giggled and smiled.
"Yeah, even a tough dude like me." Briar smiled and dried her eyes.
"So." she said. "What do you talk about at night?" Annabelle grinned.
"Allow me, since I'm the youngest. Girls are interested in clothes,
makeup, boys, and that's about it. But seeing as we're not girls, we're
women, it's different."
"I hope so, because I am not really interested in those topics." Briar
said, sounding slightly relieved.
"As adults, we talk about any issues that come up. Mostly they're
personal, you know, that kind of stuff."
"And this time it's you, Briar. This whole friendship thing is based on
trust, and trust is based on background. We've told you about ourselves.
You need to open up a little and let go." Briar looked like she would cry
again.
"But not tonight." saved Annabelle. They turned out the lights and only
Slippy slept well, and even he had nightmares. Briar lay awake for many
hours, thinking of Emily. She had not thought of Emily for years, had forced
it out of her mind. Finally she fell asleep and dreamed of a field of
venomous flowers. She would not sleep long.
"So." said Falco sleepily. "What are we gonna do with Briar?" Allan
began to snore.
"I dunno." yawned Fox. "We'll think of something tomorrow." Jason
started making weird sleeping noises.
"Whatever you decide, go easy." requested Henry. "She's just roop
s'ssordna rethguad."
"WHAT?" asked Fox, surprised. He refused to believe that Henry had just
spoken the words, "roop s'ssordna rethguad." But Henry had fallen asleep
while talking. Samuel was suspiciously silent. Fox could not sleep now that
he was shocked awake by roop s'ssordna rethguad. He lay awake for hours, not
knowing that their new friend was doing the same.
* * * * * * *
The next morning, Peppy awoke at his usual ungodly hour. The rest were
asleep. He yawned and kicked off his covers. He looked over and saw that
Briar had buried herself under the quilt. He smiled, glad that Briar had
finally gotten some sleep.

* * * * * * *

While Peppy fixed himself up, Briar was not in the building. She felt
uncomfortable with complete strangers. If they were to become friends, it
would take more time.
She had gone out to the building where their ships were so she could take a
look at her ship. It was her ship now, and she'd have to make proper
adjustments on it. The security guard had let her through without a problem,
but the engineers already repairing the ships had at first refused to let her
through.
"I just desire to work on my ship." she explained.
"You might change the others' ships, too." the head engineer said
unconvincingly.
"You can watch me. I do not care about the others' ships." He sighed
and waved her through.
"Creep." she thought. She looked at the ship she had escaped in and
shook her head. This ship was nothing compared to the one she herself had
built. There would be many changes on this ship. Well, what would she call
it? She would think about it. But first, the adjustments.

* * * * * * * * * * *

"Geez, mumble, Peppy. Mumble mumble. How do you get up so stinking
early? It must be like 4:30." Peppy smiled at Slippy and shook hid head.
"Actually, it's nine o'clock now. You slept in today." Slippy looked
around.
"Actually, so did Annabelle and Briar. Bums."
"I would think you're the bum, Slippy. I've been lying here awake for a
long time, listening to you snore..."
"If you weren't my friend, Annabelle, you'd be crying." But the tone was
friendly and playful.
"Someone wake up Briar." Slippy yawned.
"I'll do it." said Peppy. "Seeing as I'm the only one who is truly
awake. You guys have morning head."
He walked over to Briar's bed and shook the lump. Strange. It didn't feel
like a body. It felt like...
"Blankets. You guys, she's not here." The other two were immediately
awake. Or as awake as they could be.
"Don't freak. Maybe she went out for some fresh air."
"You guys, she was out before me! And I was up at 4:15! A.M.!"
Annabelle hurled a pillow at Peppy.
"Listen, Peppy. If you want to be her friend like you said, lighten up.
You can't be her friend unless you trust her. And this is not trusting her.
I bet she's outside somewhere. So shut up and let me sleep." Annabelle was
remarkably close to the truth. Peppy huffed, but he decided to let it be.
When he left the building an hour later, the others were then dressing.
Where would he go if he were Briar? Well...frankly, he had no idea.
"Excuse me?" he asked a guard. "Have you seen..."
"That fox?" he interrupted. Peppy nodded.
"Yeah. She went to the docking area."
"Thanks." Oh no! What if Briar was leaving? When he arrived at the
docking area, he spotted sparks from underneath Briar's ship and breathed a
sigh of relief. Peppy approached the ship. Briar did not notice him, as her
head was beneath the ship. Once the sparks stopped flying, Peppy tentatively
called,
"Briar? Is that you?" Briar rolled herself from underneath the ship.
"Hey Peppy. I could not sleep. So I came out here to work on this ship.
Piece of crap." and kicked it. "It needs many alterations to match my
previous ship. It will take awhile. What did you need?"
"Oh. Nothing. I was just kinda wondering where you were. It looked as
if you were underneath your covers. Kinda suspicious, if you ask me." Briar
glanced at him with some discreet annoyance that Peppy only faintly picked up.
"I believe that the covers were upside down, certainly seeing that I
kicked them back before leaving. Is that fine with you?" Peppy felt the
anger and felt his own rising.
"Hey, little bitch. I'm trying to be nice here, but you're making it
difficult. I'll tell you something. As a friend. I don't trust you. I
don't think I can ever trust somebody who is sneaky and vicious. And I think
all of that stuff you started crying over was bullshit. I hate to be the one
to break the news to you, but once we get back to the home planet, you're
going straight to prison. It's 'bye bye bye' for you. And I'll be happy to
see you go." Seeing Briar stupefied, Peppy continued.
"Don't think for a minute that your 'dreams' will ever come true, either.
The scientist is too powerful that a tiny little nobody like you can stop
him. I don't care how long your lineage goes back. And in regard to..what
was her name? Emily. Ha. I can see why she hated you. You didn't deserve
her, it sounds like." He breathed out. "That felt good. I hate being
sympathetic. It's so wimpy. Like when I listened to you, I only did it
because everybody expected me to. I revert to my old argument. I do not
trust you. And that, as they say, is that."
"You." Briar sputtered slowly. "I can not believe this. I did not do
anything to make you feel like this. All I did was confide in you as a
friend and trust you. This is how you repay me? Thanks a bunch."
"You know what your trust means?" Peppy began to scream at the top of
his lungs. "I THINK IT MEANS JACK CRAP!"
"I NO LONGER CARE WHAT YOU THINK, SO SHOVE IT!" Briar screamed right
back at him. All the shouting reached the ears of the others, who began to
head towards the ruckus.
"YOU KNOW WHAT, BRIAR? I DON'T KNOW YOUR MOTHER, BUT I HATE HER! SHE
ACTED LIKE A LITTLE SLUT AND SHE MADE THE SCIENTIST GO NUTS AND IF IT WEREN'T
FOR HER WE WOULDN'T BE IN THIS SITUATION AND IT'S ALL HER FAULT!" The other
team members and the generals were standing by now, but they could not
understand a word the two were saying..er..screaming.
"YOU WILL NEVER SPEAK ILL OF MY MOTHER, YOU HEAR? SHE WAS A NORMAL LADY
AND YOU WILL BE SORRY IF YOU CONTINUE!" At this point, Slippy broke in.
"Ah, excuse me. What is going on here?"
"Nothing." Peppy said quietly, but with fury.
"Yeah, right. Nothing." Briar hissed. Peppy began to walk away, but
before he left, he turned and added one more comment to his repertoire of
insults.
"This isn't over, Briar." All of the people could hear that, and it
scared them.
"Jesus, what happened? Peppy has infinite patience! What set him off?"
Slippy asked.
"Yeah." said Falco quietly, as he and the others joined Slippy and Briar.
"I am sorry. You do not have to know. I must go." Fox grasped her arm.
"Let go." she said and flashed an icy look that made him release his
grip. "You do not want to be involved, trust me. Ha. This is my business
and I will take care of it as I see fit. Now leave me be." And she walked
away, leaving the rest gawking.

Chapter Nine
Omori Madness

"Oh my." said a breathless Henry.
"Agreed." agreed Fox. "Peppy is the calmest, most composed bunny I've
ever met, and Briar seems to be able to keep her cool, too. This must have
been big; I wonder what it was about."
"I don't know, but I wonder if this Briar fox is really sane." warned
Annabelle. "Nobody has ever caused Peppy to go off like that, and probably
nobody ever will again. The sooner we get back, the better. I'd feel safer
if we could drop her off at Kantuke, or even a mental institution."

* * * * * * * * * * *

Briar was seething with rage and wrath as she sought a quiet area. She
found it on the far side of the base. The base was situated on an island,
and the beach was a fair ways away. Perfect for the kind of relaxation she
required now. Wouldn't it be interesting, she thought, if she ran into Peppy
doing the same thing down there? Ha. She had no problem hopping the fence
from the inside. Getting back up the incline would be tougher, but this was
not the time to worry about that. Briar found a quiet spot where she could
nestle in the sand and just be alone. Thank god for privacy, she thought and
settled down to contemplate.....