SunHawk #1 - Pilot

by W. Jones

Prologue Passage:

In the time of civil war in the Lylat System, the largest battle fought yet was the defense of the Cornerian base on the planet Katina. The defense of this base was a success, leading to a Cornerian victory over their enemies from Venom. However, many brave souls from both sides were lost in this terrible battle, and many enlightened souls grew much darker because of dark actions. It is the eighth month of the war…

Chapter 1 The Battle

"Attention to all Cornerian warships now in orbit around Katina! We are here to stake the rightful claim of Emperor Andross on this world! This planet is officially under the control and protection of the Venom Empire. You will withdraw all ships at once and let us continue on our way to claim this planet in the name of Andross! Failure in compliance will lead to total destruction!"

Reply to this ultimatum was given at once from the Cornerian command ship. However, it was not what the Venomian war fleet before them wanted to hear. On the CSS Illuminauti, everyone listened in to the conversation between the two command vessels, anxiously waiting to see what would happen.

When the Admiral from the Cornerian command ship was finished giving his reply to the Venom ships to go to hell, he got on the line to the rest of the fleet. The orders were to engage the enemy warships at will once the enemy has fired first. Corneria did not start this war, but they would go through with it to the end. Everyone on the Illuminauti watched as the Venom fleet, which outnumbered their own fleet by five ships and God only knew how many fighters, began to swiftly close in.

On the Illuminauti, the prairie dog commander, Commodore Silverman, gave the order to open all gun ports and to launch fighters. This was one fight that was not going to be talked out of. At the side of the bridge, the executive officer of the Illuminauti sat at the tactical station. The original tac officer on the ship was killed when a small group of Venom Invader class fighters attacked the ship, probably sent to soften the Cornerians up before the mothers came in to fight. Typical Venomian thinking.

The Illuminauti's executive officer was a fairly tall brown hared female northern husky named Alison Dallas. Dallas had the reputation of one of the most respected officers in the force, even though she was only seven years out of the academy, now proudly wearing the rank of Commander. Everyone on the Illuminauti, sometimes even Commodore Silverman, looked up to her. She was a tough, energetic, intelligent young officer who showed much promise in the Cornerian force. Dallas was the type of officer which any commander would want to adopt. She went by the book, but was always open to suggestion outside the rules if it was deemed necessary. Necessary was right now.

"Sir!" said Dallas after looking at a tactical view map. "All gun ports are now open and fighters are now in defense pattern Sierra Moray. Enemy fighters and warships are vectoring in unknown attack pattern. Targeting data is now input to attack Venomian point ship directly ahead. We're ready for war, sir."

"Thank you Ms. Dallas," answered Silverman. "Open fire on target immediately after confirmation that they have fired first."

The Illuminauti was the Cornerian point ship, which would probably be the one to receive the brunt of the first attack. Everyone here was so nervous they could smell the anxiety between them. Sweat was pouring off Dallas's brow as she stared into the tactical view map. Within a minute of waiting which seemed like an hour, a large blip previously colored a dark maroon now lit up to a bright blood red.

"Venomian point ship is opening fire!" yelled a bridge Crewman.

Dallas adjusted her headset to speak into it. "Fighter squadrons Breen Falcon and Canine Veck, engage enemy targets at will. All guns, all forward batteries, fire at will! I say again, open fire!"

War was traded between the two sides in fold. Everywhere was the light of laser cannon fire, thrust flames from fighters, missiles, or boarding pods. Laser trace fire from the large cannons of the Venomian war cruisers sped through the vacuum of space, some hitting an unfortunate fighter, others missed their mark, while many exploded into the surface of the Illuminauti. The laser hits caused flaming debris to fly out from the small spots that were destroyed on the ship. However, the Illuminauti was far from over. She made her way towards the war ship that attacked her, all the time firing with her hyper laser turrets, letting her torpedoes fly. Slowly, the Venom attacker was picked apart from the fire given to them by the Illuminauti. One of the seven torpedoes launched made their way safely to the Venom ship, the rest were stopped by enemy interceptor batteries. The only torpedo with a heavy nova bomb warhead was enough to do some damage. It slammed hard into the hull of the enemy, near the bridge tower , causing a large bright flour shaped explosion. At once, the ship began to spin out of control, a few fighters sending off torpedoes of their own to finish the job. Two more cruisers came behind it, followed by a single destroyer.

A small group of three green fighters with Venomian Invader II fighters hot on their tails sped hard towards one of the Venom cruisers. The Cornerian pilots skillfully avoided laser fire from both the fighters behind them and the gun batteries as they sped at unimaginable speeds down the hull of the cruiser. One fighter was not so fortunate as he was clipped in the wing by a laser blast. Instead of trying to escape, the injured pilot inside this fighter hit his turbo engine. Screaming through his bleeding mouth a death calling war cry, the pilot rammed his fighter hard into the hull of the cruiser. The collision caused severe damage to the cruiser, but not enough. The cruiser was still coming hard, firing as it went on. The surviving two pilots made a sharp U-turn and took out the Invaders chasing them, then went back to finish the job their comrade had died for. With a terrible lust for revenge, they launched every one of the nova bombs they had at the cruiser. The weapons exploded hard into the ship, lighting it up to the whole fleet signaling that the second Venom war cruiser had just gone down.

A large group of Invader fighters made a speed run on one of the other Cornerian warships operating away from the Illuminauti. The ship fired everything they had at the approaching fighters, also trying to fend off a pair of attacking destroyers. The warship was overwhelmed by the relentless attack of the Venom forces. Much of her hull was torn open, many people who were inside the ship were cast out into the airless space. The attack did not stop, lasers and missiles were hitting the Cornerian with everything they had. Large explosions began to cluster out of the hull and the ship's engine core went critical. The aft section of this ship erupted into flame, tearing the metal apart as the explosions continued down the hull of the ship like a chain of firecrackers. The blasts took many fighters with it, more dead to the list of everyone killed on that ship.

"Commodore! We've just lost the Martina. A large group of Invaders is headed our way. Another group of fighters has broken off from the fight and is now on route to Katina Base!"

"Let them go," said Silverman. "Commander Grey's bulldog and husky squadrons are down there. Let them take care of the base for now."

"Breen Falcon 3, you're in too close to each other!" screamed Dallas into her microphone headset. "Break off damn it!" Too late. The loss of three small blips on her screen told her that those fighters had just went down. She shook her head, angry now and getting angrier every time a friendly was killed.

A huge rumbling sound and vibrations in the floor made everyone look around, confused. Dallas looked at her map screen to see that a friendly ship was coming right over the top of the Illuminauti, very close to it. A huge, dark shadow consumed the bridge as the metal hull of the other ship passed right over their heads. After a few moments of watching the Cornerian carrier go over the top of them, the two ships were clear of each other. The carrier was on fire on almost all of her aft section, many more parts towards the bow were also flaming. Dallas used her tactical view of the carrier to see air being vented out from the uncountable hull breaches in it. She recognized the ship even with all the damage.

"Sir, that's the Century," announced Dallas. "She's badly crippled sir. Only one thruster is operating and it is almost half dead. She can't stand another minute of this."

"Well commander," said Silverman as he watched the carrier go forward into the enemy fleet. "I don't think that being crippled is going to stop that ship from fighting. Nevertheless, get on the horn to the Century and tell them to break off. They've done their share."

Dallas looked at her screen again. "Sir, the Century is not slowing down to attack speeds. She's increasing her speed and heading towards the Venomian command ship…. She's going to ram them."

"What? Get on the line to the Century right now!" yelled Silverman.

"I can't sir!" yelled the communications officer. "Her comm system is shot to hell."

All on the Illuminauti bridge watched with helpless grief as the carrier sped with all the strength she had towards the enemy command ship.

It was like slow motion, in a sense. An assault carrier using her last breath to bring her death to the enemy as well. The carrier drilled its bow right into the side of the Venomian battleship that was over twice her size. It struck at an angle, downward towards the top of the ship. The carrier's bow broke strait through the enemy hull, cracking the ship in half as both began to explode. The collision made the battleship's core go critical and vaporize itself and everyone around it. The bright flash, like the creating of a new sun, blinded everyone in the battle. Fighter pilots were the ones who suffered the most from this flash because they could no longer see where they were going. The Illuminauti shook a few times from the collisions of fighters into her hull. All that did survive quickly regained their sensors and commenced the attack. When the explosions were over nothing remained of the suicide carrier. Very little was left of its victim, the Venomian battleship. The Venom fleet was now stuck without a command ship. This did not stop them, however, for another ship quickly took over the fleet command. Neither side was far from beaten.

Another reading on the sensors shown itself in front of Dallas, which she locked on immediately. The small vessel was breaking off from another ship much larger. It was saucer shaped, spinning as it made its way towards the Katina surface and its base. At once, Dallas got word out.

"Attention all craft," she said into her headset. "Enemy bomber disk breaking away from fight and making its way to main base. Someone break off and get to it before it gets to the surface." It took a few minutes for replies to come in. When they did…

"All friendlies report that they are currently involved with their own ordeal and have no units to spare to engage bomber disk," announced the communications officer. "It looks like Commander Grey is going to have more on his hands."

Dallas gritted her teeth as she silently swore to herself. She knew that neither Husky or Bulldog squadron could handle the bomber disk on their own. Dallas had her doubts that they would be hold the saucer until reinforcements could arrive to help them. But there was nothing which any of the fleet ships could do about it except keep the rest of the ships away. The saucer was capable of destroying the base on its own. Their only hope was for Grey and his pilots to succeed in the base defense.

"Captain, another ship is approaching!"

"Identify," ordered Silverman.

"Almost have them sir," said Dallas, locking on to the newcomer ship. She was surprised when she got an identification and a tactical view of the new ship. A new fighting chance to survive here. "Classification is Dreadnought carrier under escort of four Arwing fighters." Dallas turned to the rest of the crew, hope now noticeable in her jade green eyes. "It is Star Fox."

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief when they saw the Great Fox on the ship's main view screen. The four Arwing fighters in escort pattern around the ship looked like mechanical angels to all of them. Smiles were exchanged around the bridge as Silverman got his feet. "Inform Mr. Fox McCloud and his cohorts that we are all very glad to see him and welcome him to the fight. I think our chances of winning this brawl may have just increased in the long run."

"Sir," said Dallas all of a sudden, stopping the communication to Star Fox. "I think that Fox and his friends would better served helping Grey and his forces defend Katina Base." They all looked at her like she was almost nuts. But then again, they are winning this fight on their own. Star Fox could defend the base along with the Katina forces. Slowly and reluctantly, Silverman nodded to her.

Dallas turned back to the tactical screen and opened communications. She was going to use this opportunity. "This is Commander Alison Dallas of the CSS Illuminauti to Star Fox squadron, please respond."

A few seconds of snow, and then an answer. "This is Fox McCloud, Illuminauti. Go ahead Commander Dallas."

Dallas smiled as she listened to her name being mentioned by Fox. "Mr. McCloud, a Venom bomber disk has broken through our lines and is currently under way to Katina Base. They could use your help defending it." Dallas knew that Fox and Bill Grey were old academy buddies. She decided to keep the fact that Grey was down there from Fox just as a little surprise.

"Acknowledged Illuminauti. We're on our way." They all watched the four Arwings break off and speed down towards the planet. They all knew that Fox would be successful in helping to defend that base. Everyone's mood grew brighter at that moment.

The whole bridge was shaken violently, all of the people were knocked out of their seats or too the floor. The lights flickered and then went out, many of the bridge screens were gone. Some were snowing, others exploded outward, injuring the people sitting at them. There were many explosions on the bridge, sparks being thrown everywhere, into the faces of the bridge crew for much of the part. The floor started to tilt to one side, towards the front and to the left. The Illuminauti was spinning out of control. Then, some of the crew lost their footing and began to float off of the floor, panic starting to get to them as they left the floor.

Feeling pain in her head, Dallas regained her senses and grabbed hold of the tactical station chair. She pulled herself into it and strapped in. Dallas's vision was blurred. She had lost her glasses in the rocking, and was barely able to read the data before her. Wetness and pain were on the side of her head. She pressed her hand against her temple and withdrew it when the pain grew with the touch. There was blood on her fingers. Dallas swore under her breath as she read off ship status at the Captain's request.

"Propulsion: dead. Weapon systems: dead. Communications: destroyed. Engine core; ready to explode unless we shut it down now." Silverman agreed at once, and Dallas sent the word to have the engine shut down. She went on with her report on shit status. "Life support is appearing to be functioning normally under secondary power, as are internal sensors. External sensors are barely functioning. Gravity is off line…as you might have noticed."

Silverman was able to swim back to his chair after time, pull himself into it and strap in. The main view screen was blank, windows to the outside shown that the battle was still raging and that the Venom ships were ignoring the Illuminauti for now. Silverman knew that they would eventually come back to finish his ship off. But now, the Cornerian forces remaining were going to be overrun by Venom reinforcements when they arrived. Silverman turned his eyes away from the battle outside in defeat and then looked at his crew.

"Do you have any idea how this happened?" he asked.

"I think that one of the Venom warships must have hit us with an EMP warhead. Disabled the whole damn warship. We're a sitting duck sir." Dallas looked at what was left of her tactical data, seeing new information on it. "Sir, sensors are picking up a boarding pod on route to us. However I can't get an accurate ETA on it. It may be boarding us as we speak, it may be here in twenty minutes."

"I think if they were boarding us now we would have heard about it already. But we must try and get our forces armed to defend this ship. I think we may be out of this fight for today, maybe forever."

Everyone on the bridge looked down, knowing that there was nothing they could do now. All they could do was defend themselves from the incoming Venomian boarding party. Internal comm-links were down and unusable. If there was to be any further communication on the ship, it would have to be direct.

"All right everyone," said Silverman. "We are all going to chip in to defend this ship and the crew. We all know that there are things on these ships which Andross would love to get his gruddy paws on to use against us. We cannot allow any Venom forces to take this ship. If they do take control…we blow this pig up and take 'em all down with us. But we are not going down without a fight. So, someone has to get to the armory and start getting weapons to everyone not currently on security detail. Also, all people not already equipped with magnetic capable foot wear must do so at once. No one here is going to be caught on their butts while Venom scum try to take my ship. Is that understood"

The all answered yes, and Silverman sent Dallas to start handing out ordinance supplies to everyone on the ship no matter what they did. Phaser pistols, rifles, full auto machine guns, and a few particle cannons were in issue for the person who was in proper usage for certain weapons of these types. While they handed out the magnetic boots to stay walking while gravity was gone, Dallas and a few security officers went on to hand out weapons as well. The more they realized that the boarding pod could be only minutes away, the faster they worked.

It took over ten minutes to get half of the crew armed, which was about one hundred men and women crew members. The rest were struggling to ready themselves, each one committing one more mistake each time they were pushed by themselves or by some one else to hurry. When they started the hurry metallic clanging sounds reverberate through the hull, they all stopped an listened, swallowing hard with fear and tension.

"There here," said Dallas, joining a small team of soldiers lead by Silverman. He had sent Dallas ahead to a scope which could look outside the ship without the use of power. "Engineering section, level four."

"How many?" asked a soldier.

Dallas looked at him coldly. "Does the word horde mean anything to you?" she asked as she picked up a phaser rifle and cocked it.

"It really doesn't matter how many," retorted Silverman. "They are not going to take this ship. Come on. We'll meet them ourselves."

A group of security soldiers met the Venom troopers as soon as the pod broke through the hull in the ship's engineering corridors. At once, laser fire was exchanged with full fatality strength. The laser blasts made the whole place light up like a neutron storm, breaking through the air with fire and heat until they found their marks. A few of the laser blasts struck harmlessly on the walls. However, many were hitting the various body parts of certain beings. The heavily armed and armored Venom war troopers were rushing into the ship, firing every step they took. The Cornerian soldiers stood their ground for as long as they could, but the superior numbers and heavier fire power were beginning to overrun them. Most of the Cornerians did not even think about running, none of them did. They hid behind canisters, corners, pipes, and sometimes even each other as they fired everything they had at the enemy. A few Cornerians were screaming horrible war cries as they fought, then silenced by a single laser shot. The rest of the Cornerians stayed behind the corners and kept the Venomians at bay for a short time. Then the Venom fire stopped, and the Cornerian squad leader made his final mistake under pressure when he ordered to rush them. The Venom forces waited until five or six Cornerians were out in the open, and then they opened fire. The sea of firing caught the Cornerian advancers off guard, seeing only a bright light in their faces, then blood in their eyes, and then darkness, never knowing what really hit them. The squad leader never had time to realize his mistake, for he was torn apart as he also watched his own men be killed the same matter he did. Dead, dead, dead, dead, and another dead, one Cornerian falling to the floor after being shot right after another.

A scream from the bleeding mouth of a young female silver fox echoed through the hall way. She stopped screaming and spat the blood into the face of the hyena trooper who had just ran his dagger into her stomach. Angered, the hyena tore his dagger out a slashed at her again, knocking her to the floor with a terrible and mortal gash in her chest. A tear rolling down her bloody cheek as she looked over the dead, looking at the blood mess on the floor, and asked herself why this had to happen. Using the last of her strength, the silver fox crawled her way to the entrance to the storming pod. Another squad of Venomian troopers were making ready to storm the ship, but they would never step off the pod. The last thing any of the troopers saw was the screaming silver fox lady rising her hands into the air and on her knees, a ticking grenade in her each of her paws.

"The boarding pod has been destroyed," reported Dallas. They had all felt the explosion in the floor and the rushing air of decompression. It only lasted for a moment when an emergency force field was put in place. However, the experience did give them a general idea on where to look for the intruding soldiers. What was left of them anyway.

It was quiet around the corner, all of the battle smoke now gone. Silverman let out a sigh when he saw three dead bodies on the floor, two of his crew members and a single Venom soldier. No one else was in here, so Silverman continued, a few soldiers behind them. A laser shot came from behind a corner and caught Silverman in the shoulder, knocking him backward into the guards behind him.

"Captain!" yelled Dallas when she saw blood emerge from Silverman's shoulder. At once, she returned fire to the Venomian soldier who ambushed them, dropping him instantly with a perfect shot to his head that emerged for a second around the corner. Dallas rushed forward and helped the guards carry the commodore back to safety. They all fell under a barrage of enemy fire.

Silverman gritted his teeth under pain, feeling that life was now pointless to pursue anymore. He watched Dallas, the gorgeous but fiery soul she possessed let her wrath out on the attacking Venomians. A girl he loved as a daughter for the three years she served under him, he would not allow her to die just for him. "Go!" screamed Silverman from behind a pipe he was using for a shield. "I'll cover you! Go, damn you!" Dallas shook her head, refusing to follow his orders to leave him behind. "Go, or I will shoot you myself," spat Silverman, his gun aimed right at Dallas's chest, armed. Dallas was still reluctant to leave Silverman behind, but she really had no choice.

Dallas shouldered her rifle and took off down the hall, firing down the other way as she went. When she got behind the corner, Dallas looked the way she came, and gasped at what she saw.

Without the least concern to his own health, Silverman dashed out into the crossfire and unloaded his laser machine gun at the enemy. It was extraordinary. Every Venom laser shot seemed to go around Silverman, while he was dropping one like a fly. They were not touching him, and for a small moment Dallas thought he might live. What a futile thought. Silverman's luck ran out when a laser blast caught him in the stomach. The blast knocked all the air out of him and doubled him over, the gun clattering from his hands to the floor. Dallas watched in horror as the Venom forces advanced, and began to pummel Silverman with laser fire. Blood was sprayed everywhere, like the mist on an early cold morning. Droplets of blood were floating around his dying form because of the zero G. Laser blasts went right through his body, shredding and burning flesh inside him. Silverman died before his smoking body slowly dropped to the floor. When he was down, Dallas watched with abhorrence and hate as a Venomian turtle kicked her captain and shot his dead body. This was where Alison Dallas lost all care for the boundaries of life and death for the duration of this battle.

Not regarding the consequences of what she was thinking, Dallas formed something in her mind. Something that would be their last hope no matter how radical it seemed. "I have a plan," said Dallas after they had lost their pursuers for a short time. "If we can block off those soldiers' paths by using our hallway blast doors and force fields, we can lure them into one of the Illuminauti's secondary cargo bays and trap them there." Everyone could see the hate in her eyes from what just happened. Many knew what she had in mind, but they were too desperate to survive to care. Plus, they all wanted revenge too. "Someone get to security control and be prepared to act on my word. The power to security systems is still active. Just get there and close off enough path ways so that the only place for the Venomians to go is the cargo bay directly ahead. We'll hold them off here."

Two soldiers left Dallas's group and ran off, using a ladder passage to get to their destination quickly. Here, Dallas positioned the rest of the men to keep their pursuing enemies pinned down long enough for the men to complete their task.

While shooting, Dallas kept a constant eye on the exiting corridors. They did nothing for a while, and the Venomians were growing more impatient by the moment. She knew that if they all rushed her at once, not even half of them would be stopped. Dallas herself was growing impatient. When a laser blast clipped her in the shoulder, she grew irate. But her hate was too great to slow her down. Dallas kept fighting, killing everything that moved at the other end of the hall. If the hard kick of her rifle into her injured soldier did not stop her, no twelve Venomian soldiers could either. Finally, Dallas's waiting paid off, and the blast doors she wanted slammed shut.

"They've done it!" she yelled. "Let's go."

Dallas lead her remaining forces to the entrance of the small cargo hold. Before they entered, Dallas opened a door to a ladder tube to the cargo hold control room. She began to ferry the men up the ladder, herself following when the last one entered, and she shut the tube door behind her. The only place for the Venomians to go was the cargo hold, where Dallas would be waiting for them.

They stormed into the cargo bay, their weapons firing at things that were not there. When they saw that they were alone in the room, the soldiers grew confused that their supposed prey had vanished. They started to panic when the cargo bay entrance was shut off and locked. Sealed from the outside. Within a few moments of being locked, the soldiers started to smell a gas begin to enter the room.

One soldier, a young seal, was looking around him, having no idea what was going on. Many of his fellow soldiers were pushing and shoving one another, trying to find a way out. Three soldiers were beating their fists hardly on the door. Everyone wanted out of here. The seal could also smell and taste the gas in the air. He didn't realize to his horror what it was until the female computer voice sounded out to all of them.

Attention. Attention. Cargo bay sanitation flare emitters have been activated. All personnel in Cargo Bay 17-A must evacuate immediately. You know have one minute to evacuate Cargo Bay before blast doors are Sealed. This is also the fail safe to terminate flare ignition count down. Flares will ignite in T minus one minute and thirty seconds…mark.

When he heard this sound, the seal closed his eyes, knowing that he was now dead. Solemnly, he looked around at his comrades. He was the only person in this room who was not in chaos. The hyena guard whom the seal watched murder a silver fox was raging at the door, using fists, claws, and feet. He even used his whole body in a futile attempt to bash it open by ramming it down.

The seal turned away from the rest of the Venom soldiers and walked away from them. Unlike his friends, the seal would except his fate, for he felt he deserved it here and now. He had joined the wrong side of the war, now he was going to pay for that error with his life. The seal looked up into the wall above him, where he saw a command colsole to the bay with one sided viewing glass. His eyes, so pleading, asking whoever was in there to give him a second chance. None came. The blast doors closed, and the computer began the thirty second countdown to their deaths. The seal stood tall and proud. He removed his Venomian badge and cast it to the floor, waiting for death.

Five, four, three, two, one, and the flames exploded around him. For a brief second, the seal saw what hell might look like. He thought that he might get lucky and be sent elsewhere. This was his last thought, one that was pure.

****

The room was blackened, only the stars outside to give any kind of Illumination. The battle was won. The planet Katina was safe, for now. However, a total of four Cornerian battle craft have been destroyed in this fight before reinforcements came into help. All but one of these ships had gone on without receiving any kind of serious damage. Of all the ships that did survive, the Illuminauti was the most crippled. Everyone knew that she would probably never see action again. The Illuminauti was being towed back to Corneria by another ship. The ship was broken and dying, but it was not suffering as much as some people were suffering in spirit.

Alison Dallas locked herself in the black room, refusing to open it for any kind of knock. She didn't even acknowledge that she was in there when it did happen. Dallas lay on her bed, her face buried in her hair and her pillow. She had been crying and still was.

"Oh, God. What have I done? What have I done?"

Chapter 2 Dallas Reborn

She leaped out of her seat, yelping out in fear as her shoulder rammed itself into her seat restraint. Commander Alison Dallas had gone through the same nightmare for over seven months, ever since Illuminauti was almost lost at the battle to defend Katina Base. The Illuminauti, along with seven other Cornerian warships, was successful in defending the base. It has been seven months since that horrible attack. One month while Dallas worked on a construction station as an inspector while she waited for word of the Illuminauti's repair and refit. No word ever came during that month, which left Dallas in a cloud of smoke. Dallas was told that the Illuminauti's days were over, and it was time for her to move on. Now, a message from Admiral Starky for Dallas to report to his office came to her attention. She was now on her way to see the admiral now residing his office in Corneria City.

Alison Dallas was an attractive creature, a tall and slim northern husky with reddish brown fur and dark brown hair which hung just past her shoulders. Intelligence and grief were the most common things seen in her jade green eyes. The reasons for grief, Dallas always kept to herself. The reason was on military record, where Dallas preferred it stay forever. The rest of the time, duty and thought were seen as someone looked into Dallas's face, no emotion was showing. Especially when she was on duty.

Refusing to allow herself to sleep anymore, Dallas sat up in her chair and fitted a pair of glasses back onto her nose. Dallas even tried to refrain from closing her eyes, because doing so only brought the grotesque nightmare memories back into her thoughts. Besides, the transport was almost to Corneria City, where Dallas would meet with Admiral Starky.

A great city which would be rebuilt after it was destroyed. This partially described Corneria City, for this city was bombed by Venom before Star Fox pushed them back out. However, their were only a few buildings destroyed, while most were damaged seriously or moderately. Dallas looked out of the transport window to see cranes, bulldozers, robots, fliers and other objects of construction repairing and rebuilding the city. Regaining a small amount of peace, Dallas rested her head against the window and continued to look at the silver city.

****

The central office building of the Cornerian military was an old stone complex which was around before the people of Corneria were beginning to develop space science and technology. An old day military building still in use. On the inside, marble carved masonry was seen everywhere, the walls and few columns for the most part. The floor was a shiny reflective tile.

Dallas did what she could to ignore the physical structure of the building's insides, and made her way quietly to Admiral Starky's office. Dallas did her best to ignore men who turned their heads toward her as she passed them. It was something she got much of, and was always aware of it happening. However, after fifteen years of such behavior from the opposite sex, Dallas felt that she had grown used to it. Nonetheless, wearing her common civilian clothes as she did much of the time would help instead of this slim cut dress uniform. Dallas wore a uniform very seldom while she performed on duty. She had the reputation and military performance rating where a professional look was not totally required. This was a trait which she used much of the time.

The air was cold in the office of Admiral Starky. Dallas shivered as she entered it, not surprised that the middle aged crane was unaffected by the windy drafts. Seeing that the admiral did not notice her yet, Dallas stood at attention before him. Starky was writing something down while Dallas waited before him. After writing a few lines, Starky looked up into Dallas's eyes and smiled.

"One minute, Commander," said Starky. "We're just waiting for someone else to get here."

"Might I ask who sir?" asked Dallas.

"Me," answered a gruff voice.

Dallas turned to the newcomer, recognizing him as General Pepper. The old veteran mastiff walked calmly into the office, Starky got up and they shook hands.

"Thank you for coming General," said Starky. "This is Commander Alison Dallas."

Dallas gave the general a salute, which was returned. "Please sit down Commander," said Starky. All three sat down and Pepper began the business he came for.

"I've checked up on your report Commander," said Pepper. "I must say that I am impressed with your performance in the service. You have shown great resolve during the war so far. It is quiet an impressive record for the seven and a half years you were with us."

"Thank you General," responded Dallas, a low tone voice. "May I ask why am here?"

"In a moment," said Pepper. "First I want to talk about a few things. For instance what happened on the Illuminauti and your solution to the boarding party problem. I know you must think that way you did this was wrong, but you were able to save the ship and keep all the people on board alive. In my eyes, you're a hero Commander. You helped to save a lot of innocent lives."

At once of hearing the word "hero," Dallas shook her head. "I'm no hero," she said. "Hero's don't do what I did and then feel good about it for a short time after. It took me two hours to realize what I had done was wrong. Ever since then, those faces have been in my sleep every night since that happened. Heroism should not come by doing what it was I did. Being a hero means to save lives and not take them."

"Maybe you are right," said Pepper as he leaned forward. "However, war does not come without loss of life. You have to realize that. Everyone in this business knows that they cannot let killing people get to them this badly."

"And I have, sir," retorted Dallas. "It is the how that is getting to me."

Pepper did not go any further with this subject. He just went on with business. "Well, the fact that you saved a lot of lives with your actions, we are prepared to give something back to you. First of all, I really think a promotion is in order for you, Captain Dallas."

Dallas's eyes perked up, both confused and surprised as she was whenever she received a military award or promotion. But she was more surprised this time because of why she was receiving this promotion. Part of her refused to accept this promotion, however, her sense of career was saying to keep her mouth shut. The latter won out, making her feel like a rat.

"Well Captain," continued Pepper, "you'll receive your new stripe some time tomorrow or the next day, or when you get to your ship."

"Ship?" questioned Dallas rather loudly. "What ship?"

"Your new command, Captain," answered Starky. "The CSS Sun Hawk. Corneria's first Sky Omega class advanced war cruiser. This is a great honor we are bestowing to you Captain Dallas. These new Sky Omega class warships are equipped with the largest amounts of fire power in the entire military. Greater then the Great Fox by far."

Not knowing what to make of this, Dallas just swallowed, unable to find any air to respond to this new set of events unfolding before her. The fact that this new ship that they were giving to her was more powerful then the Great Fox was making her proud. A new door for Dallas to fight in this war and help put Cornerian and the rest of Lylat in a safe zone. It was the best chance which Dallas has been given in a long while. Even though her feelings were telling her to leave, Dallas was too smart for that. Humbly, she nodded her head, her eyes still on the desk before her.

Her eyes were very much giving her thoughts away, which Pepper caught at once. "Don't worry my dear," said Pepper. He got to his feet and walked over to her. Gently, Pepper patted her on the shoulder. "You'll do fine. You have before." Quietly, Pepper left Dallas and the admiral alone. They were both silent for a moment. Dallas was contemplating on what just happened, trying to piece its logic together. Was she so good of an officer that they would look over a barricade like the one she had and give her a command? A command of new and strong power at that. Dallas was still unsure on what she was going to do.

"Where is this ship now sir?" asked Dallas.

Starky took a long puff from his cigar before he answered. "Papetoon," he answered. "It was recently liberated from Andross' forces by Star Fox, and we had the ship moved to there. Don't ask me why, I never really understood how these people think. They said something that the SunHawk would be safer while under the increased security around Papetoon."

"It seems like an interesting choice sir," replied Dallas. She stood up and shook the admiral's hand. "Permission to disembark for Papetoon sir."

"Permission granted, Captain Dallas." Dallas gave Starky a salute which was returned, and then she headed towards the door. "Oh, Captain," said Starky before she left. "You'll be receiving the technical data on the SunHawk. I suggest you read it, because its high firepower is not the only thing that makes this ship special." Dallas nodded to him and turned around. "And Captain," he said one more time. Dallas looked at the friendly eyes and smile of the old crane. "Good luck."

"Thank you, Admiral."

****

The CSS SunHawk. Sky Omega class advanced heavy battle cruiser. Everyone who could see this ship while it was docked at Papetoon's only surviving space port sometimes mistook it for a chariot of pure divinity. It looked like a great elongated arrow head. The length of the ship was parallel down for a while, it then started down to a point on the bow. On the aft section was the ship's engineering, command, and environmental living sections. The ship's thrust powered engines were on large wing like projections outward from the aft part of the ship. The huge and powerful dual engine cores were capable of producing enough power to propel the ship with great efficiency. Since the ship was so huge, it required such types of engines.

The SunHawk was over one and a half kilometers long, a tonnage of six hundred thousand tons. She was this size with the ordnance to come with it. The SunHawk's crew compliment was three hundred crew members. Two thousand three hundred of these were troops and pilots. The rest were ship control and command personnel. The SunHawk was outfitted with seven squadrons of Arwing fighters, total of seventeen fighters per squadron. All of them were capable pilots, ready for a fight when it was needed. The ship also had a small contingent of soldiers on board in case they were needed.

As far as weaponry went, there was no match for the Sky Omega class warship on either side of the war. The ship had over thirty hyper laser cannon batteries littered around her hull. Some were new laser cannons with upgraded power, others were simple standard issue. They had sixteen interceptor gun ports for anti-aircraft purposes and anti-mine, if necessary. The interceptors were also used for stopping any kind of missile or torpedo attack against the ship. There were seven plasma-flux cannons on the ship, each capable of providing a very damaging punch to an enemy hull. The SunHawk's most powerful energy style weapons were the three beam weapons which used high energy photons which served as a type of super heated cutting laser which could slice through most armors on ships clean through. This new type of weapon was named Talon after it was installed into the SunHawk. The three beams could all be focused into one large power weapon, firing a single beam of highly kinetic and time energy at a target, causing tremendous devastation. There were also twelve smaller versions of these beam weapons for anti-aircraft purposes. As far as warhead weapons went as well as the means to deliver them, the ship also excelled. It had seventy five thousand nova bombs and thermal nuclear fusion bombs and about three thousand missiles and torpedoes to use them. In total, the SunHawk had enough firepower to pulverize the entire surface of any planet in only a matter of minutes. Everyone who saw this ship knew that the Cornerian forces were both, growing desperate and outdoing themselves.

With all of these editions in weapon and navigation technology, the Sky Omega class battle cruiser was a new step in scientific exploration for the Cornerian people. When this war was over, the ship would go on to be used as a doorway to exploring space outside of the Lylat System with its unique systems and technology. Andross would have killed to get this technology, but he was beat to it by his own rivals.

Now, the crew for this giant spaceship was beginning to mass for their maiden voyage into space. The ship had already been flown from the Cornerian fleet yards around Corneria to the Papetoon space port after the planet was liberated from Andross. It has not seen its own flight time yet, but that would soon change. For the time being, the crew was gathering.

****

"So this is SunHawk," said a large and burly lion. He and his companion were looking at the great space craft from an elevator descending the Papetoon docking tower.

The young lion was assigned to this ship seven days ago. Because of medical problems back home, he didn't get here until now. The lion was Commander Leo Grant, the SunHawk's first officer and all around adventurous type of a guy. Grant was always looking for a new place to increase his experience and to have fun in his job as well. The way he saw things, being first officer on this new kind of ship would be a grand experience for everyone on board.

"Yep," said another voice behind him. "That is it. She's a dang fine beauty if you ask me." The new voice belonged to a middle aged wolverine who looked at the ship with a very proud set of eyes.

"Your point of view is too biased my friend. You helped to design and build it, and now you're her chief engineer. Some people get all the luck. You have to look at it for the first time to truly get an appreciation for it. Snap shots, holograms, and schematics don't count. Only a real on sight look." True, the bright silver hull of the Sky Omega class warship, along with the orange coloring was a truly awesome sight to look at. The lions companion had different ideas though.

"The best place to really appreciate something like this is to look at it on the inside. No, actually it is to see it in battle or some other task and you will start looking at this ship like…like your own personal set of armor. As long as your in that thing, you'll start believing that nothing in Andross' forces should even be able to scratch us." The wolverine's name was Webster "Sparky" Herrick and was considered a marvel in the business of engineering science and technology. He was involved in the development of the Sky Omega project, and he did help getting its new engine designs on line. There was no wonder why Sparky was so proud of this ship. Now all that was left was to test the new engine systems. Unfortunately, that would have to wait until after this infernal war was over.

"By the way, our new captain should be here in a few hours," said Grant as he exited the elevator.

"Hmph," grunted Sparky as he scratched his whiskers. "Knowing how Cornerian central command thinks, I wouldn't be surprised if some two bit jack ass was put in the chair to use this ship as a disguise to intimidate Andross. With this thing, you would not exactly need a great commander in a battle situation. Point and shoot, big deal. It's all that'll be needed to fight in this thing. We probably won't get a decent commander until we start to test the new engines when we will need one more then now."

"Well, I wouldn't say that just yet Web," said Grant. "You might be surprised, in fact I think you will be surprised. I was wrong, our captain is here right now." Sparky looked at him funny and then turned around. Before he stood the tall green eyed husky whom he had watched grow up, and his mouth curved into an astonished smile.

"Allie? Is that you?"

Alison Dallas stepped forward to her old mentor and smiled at him. "Nice to see you too old friend. I knew you were here when I read up on the ship's new gravity drive system. Something that only you could help design."

"When did they give you this command, Allie?"

"About two days ago. General Pepper and Admiral Starky both put me on this assignment in person. It was…a proud moment, to say the least." Sparky nodded his head to Dallas, understanding her plight. The two had known each other since Dallas was a young pup growing up on Corneria. Sparky and Allison's father had been friends in the service. Now that Dallas was here, the only family friendship could go on. Dallas looked at the lion and smiled at him. "And you are…?"

"Commander Leo Grant, cap'n," introduced Grant, giving a her a salute. Dallas could see that the lion was having a difficult time to not look her over. She told herself not to anger if he gave in. "I am the executive officer on board this ship."

"Yes, I know," said Dallas, She reached out her hand, which Grant shook. "I do read up on new people who I'm going to work with. It is an old habit that I am not about to break." Grant simply nodded at her, gesturing that he understood. That was good in Dallas's eyes. He said nothing which would be considered a kiss up attempt which Dallas got a lot of in her military time. "Anyway, where are the rest of our senior staff?" she asked.

"Some of them are not here yet, Cap'n," reported Grant as the began to walk towards the SunHawk. "Our science officer and security chief were…detained, sir. My readings say that they will be here in the next hour or so."

Dallas checked her watch and frowned. "The word was for all senior members of the crew to meet here half past the hour. It is now ten minutes past that time. I really do hope that they have a valid reason for being late. One thing to say here gentlemen," she said to them. "Lame brained excuses for not doing your work is something that I will never tolerate. I really hate to harp on anyone about this because it makes me sound like I'm questioning your integrity in the service. But you would be surprised on how many screw ups I have seen while in the service and the only excuse they had was a very idiotic one. Because of them, I am forced to say this to you."

"That is what happens when all of the good soldiers join up with Venom," returned Grant. "Too many good, solid boys and girls over there and way too many soft hearted fools over here. No wonder Pepper insisted we need Star Fox to help win this war."

The distaste which Dallas could sense in Grant's voice was great when he mentioned Star Fox. She wondered why. A group of mercenaries who only had a single defeat against Andross out of a hundred different engagements. Now, they were said to be on the verge of taking back Zoness. Everyone in this army loved Star Fox, except, it seemed, Leo Grant. Dallas put the thought out of her head. Grant's personal feelings for Fox and his friends were his business and had no relevance to his position on this ship. What mattered was his ability to do his job. And Dallas would test that ability her own special way.

"Now gentlemen," she said, stopping just before the elevator which would take them up to the SunHawk. "I would like to take a look at the gravity drive sometime tonight. We are not scheduled to depart for another seven days, and I would like to take the time to learn as much as I can about the crew and the ship."

"That would be just fine, Allie," said Sparky, with a smile.

Dallas did not smile back. She simply turned back at him. "It's either captain, ma'am, or even sir will work while on duty, Sparky," she returned. "Commander Grant, I would like to see you in about three hours if at all possible."

"Aye, aye, skipper," said Grant.

"One more thing. Please tell me when our late bloomers arrive. When they do, bring them to me as soon as they land. We have some matters to discuss." With that, Dallas pushed the button and the elevator began to rise up to the SunHawk's entrance hatch high above her. While she left, the two men below her squinted their eyes. Especially Sparky.

"You know her Web," said Grant. "Tell me, is she usually like that, or is it just periodical?"

Sparky did not answer. He merely went on to the elevator to the engineering section to prepare for the captain's inspection of the gravity drive. The SunHawk's special new engine system. Grant was left alone, not sure what to make of the new captain he was going to serve under. In truth, he was not looking forward to his upcoming meeting with Captain Dallas. He was not looking forward to it at all.

Chapter 3 SunHawk Rising.

From her on ship office, Captain Dallas watched the transport shuttle drop from the Papetoon orbit and land close to the SunHawk. She had been on this ship for a total time of thirty minutes. She took this time to look over more of the crew roster, then ones she would be working with directly. All of them looked as if they would serve this ship faithfully and with efficiency. Some of their files looked very interesting. Dallas was going to have an interesting time with this crew and this ship.

Now, two members of that crew were arriving, one half hour after they were supposed to be here. Dallas was not a person to put a liking into crew members who were late unless there was a valid reason for doing so. She would hear from these people soon, and find out what kept them. Until then, Dallas would simply sit in her chair and wait for them to arrive.

****

The two beings were taken through the ship quickly as soon as they got on board. They were told that the captain wished to see them as soon as they arrived. Not exactly thrilled to be rushed upon arrival, the two new crew members went along and were escorted to their destination. The office of Captain Dallas.

One of the beings was a golden hared vixen with blue eyes. No emotion was seen in those eyes, just simple logic and the means to do whatever job given to her and the best ways to finish such tasks. A text book science officer for many reasons. The largest one, her brain was an actual computer. She was a victim of Andross' biological manipulation during her childhood. With her brain, this vixen was able to calculate data thousands of times faster then any being in the entire star system. The vixen's name was Kesh Serene.

The second new crew member to come was a tall jackal who went by the name of Rod Maurine, rank of Ensign. He was the ship's security chief and peace keeper while on board. Maurine was a believer in the old day style of being a soldier, even though he was young and brash at times. Younger then this way which he embraced. Maurine was fascinated by the old stories of Cornerian soldiers and how brave they looked in his eyes. Maurine's one wish was to become a soldier like this, sometime in the future. As he walked with Kesh, Maurine tried not to look her way, but he found it difficult. Maurine had known the golden fox for only a small time, and already he was feeling attracted to her. Since Maurine was also a telepath, he knew that there were emotions running in that computerized brain of hers, only she choose to keep them all bottled inside of her. Someday, Maurine promised that he would bring those emotions out of her. Someday…

The door to Captain Dallas's office was closed. Carefully, Maurine walked up to the door and prepared to knock. The brisk he took was barely over a tiptoe.

"Please, Rod, she is not going to kill us because we fell under a Venomian assault on route to here. That I am pretty sure she will understand."

"Have you ever heard of Alison Dallas before, Kesh?" asked Maurine. "She has the reputation of a real hard worker. When I say that I mean she works others hard. I've heard stories back home before I came here that this woman makes the attitudes of the boot camp instructors look like a northern Aquas sea breeze. Always demanding perfection, even from those who are not capable of giving it. When that happens, she works it out of 'em."

"I think you are just being a wuss. It will be interesting seeing you as security chief on this tin horse."

Kesh walked up to the door and touched the announcement key to gain admission from the rooms occupant. At once, someone from within accepted them in. They opened the door into the office of Captain Dallas and walked in. As soon as they were inside the room, both were standing at attention.

No light except the sun's rays were in the office, which alone was more then enough. The office was brightly lit with gold from the sun, the silhouette of a woman husky standing at the window, her back to the two new crew members standing in her office. Solemnly, Dallas turned around to face them, also setting a small cup of water on her desk. She then gave the two before her a cold hard look, intimidating.

Maurine could not help himself but shift from being looked at in such a manner.

"Ahh," breathed Dallas, stepping forward and placing herself in front of the obviously nervous jackal. "We have someone on edge here," she said to his face. "If you are planning to be my security chief, you are going to learn how to stand still when at attention and not let my mere presence give you the shakes. Am I clear on that, Chief?"

"Yes ma'am," replied Maurine.

As she spoke, Dallas walked to her own side of the desk and sat down. "Now you may stand at ease," she said, letting some of their tension out. Dallas went over the files on her desk monitor one more time. After finding a specific profile and data sheet, she went on.

"Lieutenant Kesh Serene?"

"Yes sir," replied the blond furred vixen.

"Assigned to the SunHawk as science officer. Four years in the academy in the sci department, graduate with honors and many awards in your field. You have no family, no relatives and you maintain a rather small number of friends. Your data shows that your cerebral cortex has been assimilated into an actual working organic CPU, am I correct on this? One of Andross' tricks before the Cornerian military found and stopped him?"

"Yes sir." Kesh swallowed hardly when this was told to her. It was something that she hated to be told about to her. The memory was bad enough.

Dallas smiled. "Excellent. I am looking forward to seeing how you perform in your roles as our science officer." Dallas went on to bring up a new file. "And now, Mr. Tense, it is your turn. Chief Robert Maurine. Assigned here about a half a year out of military training camp. Graduated in the top half of your class. You're here as our new security officer. If you are looking to fill that job with the level of expertise which I need on this ship, you're going to have to get around this little anxiety about meeting with your first captain. That is what it is, isn't it?"

Maurine nodded to her. "Yes ma'am, it is. I never know who I am really going to be dealing with until I meet them in person. When I hear certain words of reputation which are…not pleasant, putting it mildly, about my commanding officer I do tend to get nervous."

"Well," continued Dallas as she leaned forward towards the jackal. "That is a thing which you will have to break and quickly. If you cannot feel comfortable around me, how will I know I can rely on you when you are trying to bring down an intruder, detaining someone who mutinies, or weed out a saboteur. You do know that treason is not an uncommon thing in this army. It has happened before, four cases that we know of in this war alone, starting with Pigma Dengar. When word gets to Andross about this ship, he's going to pull out all the punches to try and keep us on the ground. I have no doubt that he'll find out through someone here on base taking notes on this ship as we speak. If they are taking them from the inside, they're your responsibility. I have to know that you can keep this ship safe from these bastards who want to cripple this ship from an internal point of view."

"You can count on me, Captain. You must know that I'm also a telepath. No one can get past me without thinking about doing something that I won't like. I'll make sure that this ship is as safe as a baby in a crib from any terrorists. That's what they sent me here for, that is what I'll do."

Dallas nodded to him. "I'll hold you to your words. But don't rely totally on your telepathic abilities. There are ways for people to block out your ability to read thoughts. Since you're here, you must be able to pick out a person who does not belong. Use that as your greatest weapon, and you'll do fine." She got to her feet, and faced both of them. "Now, I now that your transport was attacked by a small squad of Venom fighters while on route, which is why you were detained. I understand this, which probably saved both of your butts. I am also relieved that no one was seriously hurt in the attack. Now, I have some work to do. Dismissed."

****

Three hours can bring much change. In this case, a number of large steps towards being prepared for a launch into space. More weapons were loaded into the SunHawk during this time. Mostly more scientific surveillance equipment and science probes. Also loaded were power cells for the ship's new talon beam weapons. All of it went smoothly, for the time being.

For that three hours, Dallas took the time to get to know the bridge which she would be working on for however long her command here lasted. It was a very impressive bridge, a large view screen towards the front, the whole wall of the bridge front was made up of the screen. Along the side of the bridge were the system consoles, two on each side next to the view screen. The helm control was directly in front of the screen, a wide sit down station where someone sat around the clock. About ten meters and at a higher elevation then helm was the captain's chair. On the same level or a level or two lower, the tactical station, main operations, science stations, a computer database up-link console, and the communications console. All except the tactical station, were along the wall of the bridge. Only two doors and a single ventilation shaft were the only ways into the bridge. Here, Dallas waited and observed as the ship crept ever closer to being ready for lift-off in three to five days from now. There was still much fuel to load onto the ship before they could keep themselves in space for very long. That alone would take another two days when the fuel transport ship arrived.

Preparations for getting this ship ready was coming primarily from scratch. The SunHawk was docked at Papetoon's only surviving spaceport. All of the rest were destroyed by Venom forces when Andross still had control of the planet. When they left after the liberation, they destroyed almost everything of use, somehow missing this spaceport. A coincidence, maybe, that they missed the planet's largest port. Perfect for the size to contain the massive SunHawk. This was something which troubled Dallas. Andross must have known that this spaceport was here, it's impossible to miss with such close proximity to a high populated city. The reason for leaving it was beyond them. It didn't make sense why he would leave something this valuable behind to be claimed by the enemy. Dallas knew that the ape had something in mind. Andross was not the type to make such mistakes without a purpose. For this reason, Dallas would have to keep her mind open to the world around her, and Maurine would have to keep his eyes open.

"Captain?" Dallas turned her head and looked at Grant. She smiled at him, sitting in her chair, refitting her glasses back on her nose.

"What can I do for you, Commander?" asked Dallas.

"Ma'am, you asked me to see you at this time three hours ago. Here I am."

Dallas nodded, now remembering. She was planning to test Grant as her first officer, and now was the time to perform that test. Grant followed Dallas into her office just outside the bridge. There, Dallas directly faced Grant.

"Tell me something, Commander," she hissed. "What was your motive in disobeying Admiral Dunmore's direct orders to disable the Vulture with that high yield EMP warhead last year? Certainly, there must have been something in it for you."

Grant squinted his eyes, caught off guard by her words. "No, actually ma'am, I felt it was unnecessary to do so. The Vulture was a simple hospital ship carrying injured people back to Venom. Some people who tried to break away from Corneria and join up with Venom."

"They were traitors," retorted Dallas. "Most people believe that they deserve anything that they receive. You do realize, of course, that all that was involved was disabling the drive system on one medical transport ship. The admiral's orders were to use any means possible to prevent the Vulture from entering Venomian space. Even if it meant destroying it. The EM pulse bomb was the best weapon to use in the job to do, however you failed to submit detonating it when the Vulture passed by. The ship escaped because there was no time to conceive anything else that would be usable. You let about seventy-seven defectors successfully switch to Andross' side and that is where they are now. There was no telling how many of those people knew something about our forces."

"Sir with all due respect, all of those traitors were civilians. There was not a single one there which had any kind of information on our military. If I had disabled that ship, no one would have gotten there in time to save the lives of those people. Most of them were injured, which was why they were on a medical ship in the first place. I'm sorry, Captain, but I really don't want that kind of feelings haunting my conscience."

Dallas looked at him hardly for a long moment, hearing the words which reminded her of something that she did that haunted her nights ever since that terrible set of hours where it happened. "I see," she whispered in a swallow. "Now, I noticed earlier that you had a bad feeling when you mentioned the name of Fox McCloud. I was wondering if I could get any incite on that."

Grant cleared his throat. "Actually, ma'am, that is something which I would prefer to keep that to myself for the time being. It is a personal matter which I don't want to talk about."

She nodded back to him and smiled. "I think, no matter how you feel about invaluable allies, you are going to be an interesting person to work around Mr. Grant. You have a noticeable data file. That incident with the Vulture probably killed your chances of being promoted beyond captain, but that will come with a short amount of time. But that time is not yet here. Right now, I need all of your skills at my disposal if and when I need them. We are commanding the most powerful warship in the Cornerian military, which will make us a prime target in the eyes of Andross and his forces. I need all of your focus being put into your jobs, especially during emergency and crisis situations. I have a feeling, before this war is out, we will be seeing a lot of them."

"Granted," said Grant. "I will do what I can aboard this ship, and I will perform to the best of my ability. Because that is what I do. It is what all of us must do in order to be good officers, but we must also be smart ones to survive."

"Yes, I've known that for quite a long time. But it is not only those which is a basis for a soldier to survive. The feelings in one's heart can also pull him out of a dicey situation. There is where the real power comes from. Because those are the feelings which hold that what we care for the most. As long as you have something in that part of your body which means everything to you, you will be able to pull yourself out of any situation just to get home to that one, little thing which is nothing to everyone except yourself, everything to you. It pretty much depends on who you are what you care about the most. It is what you must find out what this thing is for yourself. You find it, there is not a damn thing in Andross' entire biological weapons division that can keep you from that goal. Keep that in mind, and you will not fail in your duties or your actions either." Dallas reached up and patted the lion's large shoulder. She then turned around and went back to the bridge. Before she left, Grant turned.

"What is your thing, Captain? What you look forward to coming home to?"

Dallas sighed before answering. "Let's just say that I have to be more careful in what I do in my career." Dallas left before things got to emotional for her tastes. It was true what she said though. A certain emptiness would keep her on an extra level of caution.

Chapter 4 New Grounds

A radio echo sounded through space, and found its way to all of the antenna arrays probing from the five Venomian warships waiting for nothing. Three heavy cruisers and two battle attack carriers just sitting in sector X waiting for something, anything to happen. They had been waiting for seven days now, and they still received no word from their command other then relies to their check ins. All five commanders of these ships were growing restless, wanting to see action. Nevertheless, their orders were clear. Hold here until reinforcements for building a new base here arrived. Orders were orders.

Someone on one of the ships, a communications operator, reported directly to his captain. A radio transmission had come through to them. The nature of the message seemed to be tactical data or some sort, the destination was Papetoon.

The captain of this ship perked up when he saw the message. A new Cornerian warship of unprecedented power was currently docked at Papetoon spaceport waiting for its maiden voyage. That trip was still four days away. The Venom fleet could be their in over two days. The captain here was ecstatic, seeing a chance to heighten his own reputation and get some action to his crew. First, permission was required for him to get out of here and strike at a sitting duck.

****

"This is the gravity drive core," announced Sparky. He held his hand up to a huge crystal which hovered inside a transparent casing shield.

Dallas looked up with a squinted eye at the new engine core before her. The large blue and slightly illuminated crystal spun in the middle of the core, the light of it reflecting off her eyes.

The large crystal was a perfect cut diamond shape that spun on its tips while suspended in air. Two needle points one from above, and another from below, from the power system both pointed at the crystal which provided the magnetic field that kept the crystal in the air. The field, along with the nearly invisible surface shield, provided the magnetic fields which protected the outside from the core radiation and distortion effects.

"Tell me again, Sparky," said Dallas. "What exactly does this thing do?"

"Well the physics behind it would take time to explain so I'll just skip to the chase. What the gravity drive does is creates a singularity in the space time continuum by use of an artificial gravity well, or a quantum singularity."

"Would the term 'black hole' suffice?"

"Exactly," returned Sparky. "But an artificial one. A natural black hole is far too powerful to house correctly or travel through. We can't even scratch the surface of the technology required to survive the gravity of an actual black hole. With an artificial black hole, we can use that smaller level of power to regulate a gateway from one point in the galaxy to another. By use of folding space, travel without movement, we can travel to the closest star system the same amount of time required for us to get to Corneria. Only a matter of hours."

"And you thought about it," said Dallas. "You must be proud."

"Actually, I only assisted in its design. The real mind behind this thing is some Cornerian physics lab trying to graft an improvement for his inventions. More power to him. They left me to keep this beauty going strong when it comes time to use it. Cornerian high command has us scheduled for a jump to Detrain Prime as soon as the war is over. Now, all we have to do is fight the war, win it, and soon we'll be going to the stars. Sounds fun, doesn't it?"

No answer came from Dallas at once. She merely walked around the core looking into the blue crystal as it spun in the air slowly, hypnotically. The pale blue light of the crystal reflected cleanly off of her jade green eyes. For a moment, Dallas could not take her eyes away from the core. She just looked at it, admiring its beauty and wondering about its potential if what Sparky said was true. Dallas wondered if she would be commanding this ship by then. She wondered.

"Bridge to Captain Dallas." Dallas reared her attention at the sound of her name from the intercom. She went to a communication up-link on the wall and tapped into it.

"This is Dallas, go ahead." Sparky joined her as Grant spoke to her from the bridge.

"Captain, we've just received word from a surveillance ship operating near here. They've just detected a contingent of Venom warships departing from Sector X. They are on route to our position at their highest speed and will be here in two days. I think that Venom may know about our new weapon, Captain."

Dallas and Sparky looked at each other, now nervous. They both knew that word had gotten out premature about the SunHawk. Now, Dallas's theory about this ship in the point of view of Andross was coming true. They, like Star Fox, had been made a prime target to Venom's military. The only difference was that no chances were being taken here. Venom was going to stop that ship from launching before it became a threat, or at least try. This was going to be a bad starting week.

****

"How long before they arrive?" asked Kesh.

"Around fifty hours from now, which puts us somewhere between a moving wall and a hole that leads strait to hell. Fuel ships for our jet engines are not supposed to be here until tomorrow, and they're not supposed to finish fueling us until sometime next week. We need at least seventeen thousand tons of fuel before we can even lift off, that alone will take maybe two tankers."

A lot of sighs were heard around the room, everyone at the counsel table knew that the situation was grim, and not getting better. It would take just over an hour for one tanker to finish supplying the SunHawk with its fuel. If they had any hope of breaking orbit and being able to maneuver in a fight for at least an hour, they would need at least three tankers to complete their jobs.

"And we only have enough time to get maybe two tanks filled before about five Venom warships, along with who knows how many else which joins them on the way, get here and turn this whole region into a sea of fire just to eradicate a single warship before it goes operational." Sparky sighed after he finished his rant as he lifted his cap off his brow and wiped it with a towel. "Are there any ships scheduled to try and keep 'em out when they get here?"

"So far, just one," answered Dallas. "The Great Fox should be here some time tonight. They'll do what they can to buy us some time until we can get on our feet and into a fighting mode. Until then, they are our only line of defense unless Corneria sends someone else. I really don't think they will be able to spend anyone to protect this ship."

Grant was the next one to speak, his voice bore an amount of heat into it. "Captain, Star Fox might be great pilots, but they can't hold five maybe plus Venom warships out of this planet's orbit for six hours. That is the amount of time that we'll require to get this ship fueled and ready for an actual takeoff. If you ask me, I think we better start developing another plan."

"And we have," answered Kesh, holding a computer remote in her hand. "We will not be able to get enough fuel on board this ship before that flotilla gets here. They will have an extra seven hours to spare once they do before we are operational. That is three times the amount of time they would need to eradicate this whole area, it is thirty point zero five one times what they would need to just strike this base alone and destroy this ship. Our plan is to attach as many of Papetoon's anti-gravity units to the ship as possible, which will make the ship lighter. Then, we can use transports to carry us out of port and high enough were we can activate our thrusters and get underway ourselves. Even with this plan, we will only have about fifteen minutes of maneuvering ability before our fuel is depleted again."

"That sounds like a plan that'll work," commented Grant.

"It has to work. The Venomians may not know exactly what it is they are dealing with here yet," announced Dallas. "Since that is true, they probably will not take any chances in taking care of us. They'll hit this ship with everything they have and then lay waist to anything else they can before they leave. Which means we have to cut that seven hours down to something which Star Fox can use to hold them. And this plan is our only hope of doing that. Lieutenant, are there any more anti-gravity which Papetoon can spare us?"

"Negative," replied Kesh. "What we have is what we get. We were lucky for us to get this many without the residents complaining about it. All we have is seven of them. From my calculations, the best positions for the units would be here." Kesh pushed a button on her remote, and a large schematic hologram of the SunHawk was hovering above the table. Kesh pushed another button, and seven red dots were dispersed in pattern locations down the length of the ship. "This will provide the best distribution of weight to the anti-gravitational units while they lift the ship. The action will make this ship approximately eleven thousand, six hundred and ninety one tons lighter, give or take a half."

Sighing, Dallas leaned back in her chair. "It'll have to do. Get working on it ASAP. I want those units in place and in operation before Star Fox gets here by tonight. Take anyone you need to help you do this. Mr. Grant, I want you and Mr. Maurine to make sure that the things that are coming on board now is only what we need for this fight coming up. Weapons, medical supplies, armaments and especially fuel. Food supplies, personal belongings, and other things can wait until after this ship is safe. Sparky, you start working on the maneuvering engines and see if you can find a way to cut down on its fuel consumption rate. If there is someone ready to pick a fight with us, we'd best be ready to go through with it to the end. Does everyone understand?" They all answered yes, and she dismissed them. Dallas placed her head into her hands and wiped her brow and her glasses. She did not notice that Grant was still sitting in his chair, a deep look of mental involvement was in his face. "What are you thinking?" she asked, replacing the glasses back onto her nose.

"When I was a cub," started Grant, "my father would warn about certain things which I might face in life. One thing he told was this. When you move in on a new rough neighborhood which is being run by someone else, a gang of kids or bullies for instance, and you have some powerful looking muscle, the best thing to do to avoid being ganged up on is to keep yourself out of the picture for as long as possible, or until you have enough smarts about your new environment to stand up in it. When that happens, do what you want but always keep your eyes open and stay alert. Because you never know when someone might jump out on you when they're just looking for the first excuse to do so. This happened to a cougar cub when he first moved into the area where I grew up in."

"Did this cub follow this wisdom?" asked Dallas.

"He tried. The thing that went wrong was this other kid who pretended to be his friend went and told the local gang leaders about his presence. The next day, the cub was found dead in an alley. Someone had beaten him to death."

Dallas opened her mouth and eyes up wide, understanding what he was getting at. "Are you suggesting that there may be a traitor on board who told those Venom ships that we were here?"

Grant, a bit surprised she said nothing about the cub, only shrugged his shoulders. "It would not be the first time," he said. "Andross has a funny way of getting into our people's inner most desires and exploiting them against us. The only result of that is one you at one time trusted turning against you. You know that is true with the original Star Fox team."

"Yes," said Dallas, standing up and walking to a window. It was raining outside, the perfect weather to heighten the already present depression and dreariness. The female husky merely shook her head. "Have Maurine patrol the ship. Tell him to keep using his abilities to find our phony comrade."

"Do you still want me to keep watch on the inflow of supplies?"

"Yes," answered Dallas. "Please make sure that only the things I asked about get on board. They lighter we can make this shark the more time we can shave off from the Venomian usage to knock us out." She paused for a moment to wipe out her eye, a slight chuckle coming from her deep throat. "It's funny, isn't it?"

"What?"

"We have not even gotten to our maiden voyage yet, and already we are being threatened. You were right. We will have to be careful in the coming days. Once we start flying this ship, a piece of its hull is going to be one of the first three items which Andross writes in his wish list. I am very much convinced that the SunHawk will be logging many hours of action before this war is over. Couple that with whatever we might do with the gravity drive, this could become the most worked ship in Lylat history."

Nothing more was said after this save for Dallas excusing the lion to do his work. Before he left: "One more thing commander," said Dallas. "This time, the cougar cub will not die." Grant nodded to her and left the meeting room, leaving Dallas alone to contemplate on these events herself.

****

"We are ready to test the anti gravity devices," announced Kesh from her science station.

"Very well."

Dallas sat back in the captains chair and looked at the computer terminal posted at it. The seven red dots appearing on her ship signaled the locations of the anti-grav devices. One towards the bow, a bit high on the ships nose. The other six were arranged in rows of two, all parallel to one another down the length of the ship. The back pair of devices was placed near the intersection of the wings to the engine. According to Kesh, the devices would not be enough to lift the SunHawk on their own. They would make her about seventy two percent lighter, thus making it easier for Papetoon transport vessels to lift her out of the dock and into the upper atmosphere where the SunHawk could use its own thrusters to get into space. All this provided the units function they way they are supposed to and Star Fox can hold the Venom ships long enough. It did have the logic to work, now all that was needed was the luck.

"Engage the units whenever you're ready, Ms. Serene," said Dallas.

"Yes sir," replied Kesh. Using her headset, Kesh sent the orders to activate the anti-gravity units.

At once, the fairly large silver machines which were attached to the hull began to vibrate from its machinery. One unit after the other activated and started to push away from the surface with a magnetic field. Kesh witnessed the weight on the ship started to decrease. "Ship is now five thousand kilotons lighter," she said. People on the bridge began to feel vibrations in the floor. They all too began to feel the effects of the anti-gravity as everyone started to get lighter. Many people, including Dallas, strapped themselves into their chairs. It would not be long until they would be floating out of their chairs. "Status to the anti-gravity units…is normal. Weight minus fifteen thousand kilotons and lowering."

Dallas watched her computer screen as blue circles grew out around the seven red dots. Those were the magnetic fields creating the lack of gravity. The weight of the ship grew ever lighter, soon creaking noises were heard through the hull.

"What the hell is that?" demanded Dallas. "I thought you said that the anti-grav units weren't strong enough to lift this ship!"

"It must be the docking rings underneath us. The lighter load is relieving some of their stress, which would cause them to groan a bit. Do not worry, all systems are functioning normally. I assure you, this will and is working."

The vibrations were growing stronger, the turbulence caused by the instability of the fields around them were taking their toll. This was why anti-gravity in a planetary atmosphere was considered risky. The rotation of a planet could have a toll on objects caught within these fields. In some cases, such as a very light fighter, it could be torn apart. They SunHawk was much too large for this to happen though.

"Anti-gravity units are approaching maximum threshold. The ship is now ten thousand metric tons minus."

This was not enough. They still needed another two thousand metric tons removed before the transports could lift it. Dallas ordered more power into the units. Her response was a warning that they were coming close to their maximum output level. If they went any further, the units would overload.

Angered, Dallas shook her head and gave the order to terminate the units. She swore under her breath as the turbulence died down, and the gravity returned to normal. She rubbed a temple, then looked at Kesh, looking for an answer.

"It has to be the planetary atmosphere. Anti-gravity was not designed to be used in such surroundings. They are designed for use in outer space and not on planet surfaces. The output power may have been drained by the increased turbulence. If we went any further, the machines would have been overworked and the possibility for an explosion would have been great."

Dallas nodded to her. "Work with Sparky. Try and find some way to divert more power into those units." Dallas yawned and rubbed at her eyes.

"Captain, I must ask how long it has been since you slept."

No answer came at first. Dallas was thinking about why exactly she was given this command in the first place. She doubted it very much that General Pepper looked at her record with a strait face. No one, not ever her, could do that. "I stopped counting hours ten hours ago," she returned. She yawned again.

"Captain, please get some sleep. I am very convinced that those Venom ships will not get here while you take a nap."

"Very well." Dallas got to her feet and stretched her muscles. One of the bridge operators saw her do this, and found his eyes locked onto her form. This small communicator, a raccoon, wondered why he did not notice this fabulous looking creature before. When Dallas noticed that he was looking at her, the raccoon returned his attention back to his duty at once. Dallas shook her head, forgetting that this was to be expected. "Please inform at once Star Fox arrives, lieutenant."

"I will do that sir. Pleasant dreams."

Dallas smiled back at her praise, and left the bridge.

If only… If only…

Chapter 5 Into the Fire

Despite the truth, Dallas felt that it had only been minutes since she crawled into her bed. However, her clock read four hours until midnight when she awoke. Dallas had slept for five hours, which did help to rejuvenate her. Yet, Dallas was still missing one and a half days worth of slumber, that which she felt she could use. With a yawn and a stretch, Dallas climbed out of her bed. Standing in her door was Grant who had just awoken her. Just as she had ordered, Star Fox had arrived.

The report came to Dallas's ears as the husky rubbed sleep out of her eyes with little success. The Great Fox was now patrolling in orbit, three arwing fighters around her at all times. She was also informed that Fox himself had come on board and was waiting to see her. Dallas nodded to this and stood up. It did not take long for Dallas to grow annoyed at her first officer.

"So, Commander, are you going to stand in that door letting all the world look in here? Come in, or go out." Grant entered the room and the door closed behind him. At once, he stood at attention. "Thank you, now stand at ease."

When a beautiful female husky stands in front of a single male wearing only a pair of shorts and a sleeveless night shirt, it could be difficult not to admire her. For Grant, it was impossible. Dallas had the near perfect figure for any woman. Slim and strong looking, formidable. Yet she did have a delicate appearance. A person who did have the strength and physical body of any known soldier, yet remained feminine. Yet, Grant could not fall in love with her. The memory which was in control by his wife who passed away a year ago forbade it. It was this which kept him…alone.

"So, where is Mr. McCloud?" asked Dallas as she threw on her duty uniform.

"I think he's waiting in your office by now. I came strait from docking bay two after he told me he wanted to see you. After that I had Maurine escort him to your office."

"Thank you," said Dallas. She was in no real rush to meet Fox at this time. She was too tired to hurry. If it were not for common courtesy, Dallas would have crawled back into bed right now and had Fox wait until morning for them to meet. However, she had too much respect for Star Fox and what they had done for Lylat to do such a thing. Sluggishly, Dallas tied her hair back and threw her uniform on like a jacket. "Let's get this done quickly," she whispered to herself as she exited her cabin.

****

A new office, clean as a whistle, yet still no style. Whoever used this room must have just moved in since there were no objects around which reflected any kind of personality. No pictures on the wall, no plants or potted ferns, no ornaments or anything else to give the office life. The only object which was on the room was a single computer terminal with a blank screen. There was a coffee machine siting on a small table, half full of a light liquid which did not come close to resembling coffee. Other then these things, there was no real style or taste to this office at all. The only place to sit were three chairs around the room's main desk. One was a bit larger then the other two across from it. The captain's office chair here on this ship. Also, there was a medium sized sofa next to the coffee table.

Fox McCloud stood in the middle of this room, waiting patiently for his host to arrive. He barely remembered the name of Alison Dallas. Some name he had heard while defending Katina base seven months ago. If Fox remembered correctly, the name of Dallas was the name of the person who had them defend the base itself. That was where Fox was reunited with his old friend Bill. Since Fox was not sure whether or not this person was the same one who helped reunite him with Bill, he would remain silent about it.

It was not a very long wait for his host. Fox just stood in the office, admiring the view from the small window to the outside. He saw the reflection of new light when the office door slid open. Fox turned around and made eye contact with Captain Dallas. He kept his unexpected surprise inside him, not expecting someone this lovely to enter. He gave her a polite nod and smile. "Captain," he greeted.

"Well Mr. McCloud, I trust your flight here was a smooth one," said Dallas as she entered her office, the door sliding shut behind here.

"I can't complain," said Fox. "We did run into a squad of Venom fighters while on route. No real trouble as far as our standards go, Captain. So, you have a problem here and you're not even on your feet yet."

"It looks that way. I would like to find out how those ships discovered us so early. Four days before we are scheduled for our first launch, and we now have just over a day before five Venom warships start to hit us with everything they have as soon as they get here. Knowing how Andross conducts his military, they will probably nuke this area three times strait to make sure nothing survives the first assault. The largest fragment of this ship which may remain would be lucky to be…this big." She held her fingers less then an inch apart from each other. "Corneria will not be convinced to spend money to build a new one since it didn't prove itself in combat. This ship will probably be the sole member of its class."

Dallas went no further. She simply sat down in her chair and looked at Fox. He, for the time being, was thinking about something. Something which Dallas knew nothing about, which forced their conversation to a halt. She revived it again.

"I heard that you a Fara are planning to get married after the war is over. Congratulations."

"Thank you," said Fox. "But, you are right. Not until this war is over. From the look of things, there doesn't seem to be an end in sight yet. I can't imagine there will be as long as madmen run Venom's forces. Still, knowing that we are going to spend our lives together is…reassuring."

A vision passed into Dallas's eyes at that moment. A waking dream of sort. She saw a vision of Fox, dressed in a gray cloak and old clothing. His bright orange fur had faded and turned a grayish from time. His eyes looked old and tired, and sorrowful. One of his ears was tattered and torn from battle wounds. In his old and clawed hands, Fox held a bright blue crystal.

"Captain?" said Fox. Dallas was broken out of her trance at that moment. She looked at Fox, the real Fox before her, and was confused at what just happened. Her head started to grow restless, growing dizzy. "Are you all right?"

The sensation passed, and Dallas regained her senses. She had no idea what just happened other then the vision she just had. She regarded it just as it was, a simple waking dream, probably a sign that she was not getting enough sleep. "I'm fine," she answered. "I just haven't gotten enough sleep lately."

Fox smiled at her. "I know how that can feel. I'll leave just as soon you tell me where you need us."

Quickly, Dallas shook her head. "Just hold above the planet for now. Keep an eye on the perimeter around the area just in case our unwanted soon to be guests make a premature entrance. If and when they do get here, do what you can to slow them down."

"Sure. But we'll do more the slow 'em down. We'll stop them cold."

A half smile emerged on Dallas's face as she watched Fox begin to leave her office. "One more thing, Mr. McCloud. I know that you and your team are not part of the main Cornerian military, which means you're here because you choose to be. I know that what is coming is potentially fatal to all of us, even you. I can't begin to tell you how gratified I am that you are here."

Fox smiled and nodded at her. "Don't worry Captain. We won't let them get to you."

****

Fourteen hours can pass very quickly when you remain busy. In the case of Dallas, much of that time was spent in slumber. She slept while the rest of the crew did what they could to make sure the plan to get the SunHawk in space early was one that would work when needed. They worked in shifts, one half of the crew working their hands to raw meet, while the rest take hard earned rest. No where in Lylat was there a place where the people worked harder. It was non stop, people always working to get the job done. It was the need for survival that made them work this hard. Very few people knew about the threat from the Venom warships heading towards them. However, everyone knew that the Great Fox was in orbit of the planet and staying there. To them, this only meant that trouble was suspected to happen. They were all afraid.

The fear did act as an adrenaline rusher, which meant the work payload was extreme. Kesh and Sparky worked hard on getting more power into the anti-grav units. However, they had very little systems to take power from without putting the ship in jeopardy in the upcoming confrontation. The only place to draw power from was the gravity drive. There was a problem with this, however. The power for the gravity drive operated differently then other systems in the ship. Sparky warned that if they were to take power from it, they would have to flow it through a regulator. Otherwise, the units would tear themselves apart from the alien type of power. There was no time to do this. The only place to drain the power from was the weapons. This was risky since they needed power in weapons to defend themselves accordingly. But the SunHawk had the firepower to spare against the Venom fleet, and not much power was needed to get the units above the required level of power output. The idea to take out of the Talon cannons, the new beam weapons for the SunHawk, was a approved. The emitters would take time to recharge, but it was a risk worth while.

After the appropriate recalebrations, Kesh and Sparky were ready to act on their plan. It took a few hours to connect the power stream to the anti-gravity from the weapons. When ready, Dallas was informed that they were about to act on their plan.

"We will have to be careful though and watch the power relays like a hawk to make sure nothing goes wrong," said Sparky, running a few more simulated tests of their plan. "If the relay circuits overload then this ship could be torn apart like rotten cloth."

"I will be sure and remember that," retorted Kesh, herself using her own digital mind and the ship's computer to run tests as well. "We still do not know if the anti-gravity mechanisms will last through the Talon energy matrix. They may just explode when they are first touched."

"Don't worry! I've done this once myself at the engineering academy. In a simulation though."

"What happened in the simulation?" asked Dallas.

"Umm, you don't want to know."

A few bridge members swallowed hardly when they heard this, all of a sudden worried. Kesh simply ignored the words and did not stop working. The alternative was far worse the this potentially destructive plan. Letting the Venom fleet bomb them into non-existence, not an idea. This way to go had no chance of survival. It was either to take a risk, or just sit around and let them kill you. Dallas and everyone else choose to take a risk.

"All systems ready?" asked Dallas, turning around in her chair to inspect the bridge crew.

"Affirmative," replied Kesh. "All systems on line and ready for system test. We are ready as we will ever be, Captain."

"Well, by all means, Ms. Serene, initiate your plan."

****

"YES!" yelled Maurine as he entered the hallway. "Kesh, you are the queen of everything."

"Thank you," returned Kesh. "Please do remember that it was Mr. Herrick's idea to divert the energy from the talon weapons banks into the anti-gravity units. I made the how, he made it work."

"Here, here!" yelled Grant, drinking a small glass of water. "You two just got an extra two hours of shore leave when your time comes. And we aren't even in space yet. Good lord I am looking forward to working this ship."

"I think you are all making celebration a bit premature," berated Dallas as she joined them. "True, the plan to use the talon's energy systems to power the anti-grav devices did prove itself in a test run. We still, however, have yet to run it in the real deal once we have enough fuel. Which should be in-" Dallas checked her watch. "-about forty hours from now. We'll let them take care of that situation. Until then, I want you all to get some sleep. Not a single one of you is to be worn once this engagement comes knocking for us. Everyone will remain fresh. However, I do want at least two senior officer on duty on the bridge at all times. I'll take first watch with Maurine. Grant, take ten hours and then fill in with Kesh. After that, Sparky and I will take over and we'll continue like that until it's time for combat prep. I must say this people. We're not even in space yet, and already I am pleased with your performance. Still, keep the celebration down to when it really matters."

Everyone nodded to her as they split up and went their ways. Dallas, followed by Maurine, headed for the bridge to begin first watch on board the ship. Everyone else went to their quarters for very hard earned sleep. Their efforts had paid off for now. The thing which bothered Dallas the most was whether it would pay off where it really mattered. Happily, she really thought it would be so.

****

Combat Log Entry #1 Captain Alison Dallas CSS SunHawk

This has the pleasure of being my first log entry on board the SunHawk, my first official command. Though we are still a sitting duck at Papetoon spaceport, tensions running high in all those who know about the oncoming danger, there is still a sense of moral and joy running on board this ship.

Things do look grim thus far in the oncoming fight. We have less then a handful of our total arwing fighter wings, and not ten percent of the total warheads which this ship is scheduled to hold. We have only forty percent of our whole crew on board. All of the senior staff on board which were scheduled to be here are, but that is still not all of it. Our chief medical officer and our political officer are not on board as of yet, not scheduled to do so for another weak and a half. The KitHawk, this ship's add-on miniature attack ship, is not here yet. It and our chief medic would come in nicely for when we face the enemy, but we must make due with what we have. With the talon beam weapons off line to power the anti-gravity units, this ship will have less then a quarter of the total firepower on her.

Even with all of these setbacks, the crew are not disheartened. If there is anything to scare any of them, it is the possibility that there is a traitor and a saboteur on board the SunHawk. Even with his telepathic abilities, Mr. Maurine has not been able to weed out the possible traitor. This means that the possibility is false, our the enemy is covering his tracks on a mental level as well. With these factors in truth, we can do nothing about this situation except wait and see if he strikes again if at all. Hopefully, he or she will wait until after this battle to try anything.

We have just received word on the approaching Venom attack squad. A total of six warships of various type are on their way here. All of them are formidable and carry a strong reputation in the war. I must admit, even with Star Fox in orbit around the planet guarding us around the clock, there are still crew members growing nervous. I am included in the group. I just hope that we do not receive a informative telling us the enemy has increased speed.

Captain Allison Dallas Log Entry 245728 - D67

****

The next thirty hours went on smoothly, no real incidents happening. Fuel tankers came and went, putting the solid jet fuel components into the propulsion systems of the great warship. The SunHawk grew more ready for war with every passing minute. Star Fox took the liberty of sparing them a few extra nova bombs with missiles in case they were needed. Many people on the ship knew they would not be, but it did help to ease tension.

As planned by Captain Dallas, the shifts between the five members of the current senior staff went on as she planned. She and Sparky had just finished their bridge shift. Since Dallas was running double shifts, she was putting herself at the precise disadvantage which she hoped to avoid. A person being raw for battle. However, she was not willing to put down just yet. This was Dallas's first command, and she would be damned if it would go down while not even on its feet yet. If it came to that, she would fight while still on the ground if need be, and she would go down with it. Dallas really felt that what she had to lose in going down the ship was very little. Her life did not matter as much to her is it did seven months ago. The Illuminauti.

One incident did occur during this time. After a long thirty seven hours stretch, a fire erupted in the ground troopers galley of the ship. The flames were extinguished quickly, a single man was injured in the fire. Why a fire broke out when very little cooking happened was beyond Maurine when he checked into it. Besides that, the order was to have no powered operations other then totally necessary ones to occur on ship, which included cooking food in a galley for foot soldiers when there were none here. The truth was, to Dallas's knowledge, was that fire was caused by the saboteur in an effort to create a little last minute chaos on board the ship. It did work, a little. The anxiety in a few people did rise because of the incident, but that quickly lowered. However, the event did give Dallas something to act on. Such as getting this ship in the air where she belonged.

After a good solid forty two hours with no very large incident, everyone was beginning to act more cheerful when the last fuel tanker they would need showed up. At once, the tanker began to pour its fuel into the SunHawk. When it was finished, they could go on to get the ship into orbit ahead of schedule.

From the bridge window, Kesh watched as the fuel tanker latched on to the SunHawk's hull and begin to pump her with the fuel. Kesh did get a light kick out of watching this operation, observing the mechanical expertise being put into it. Even though she was a being of pure natural and physical science, Kesh also had a fascination about even the most common and simple types of machines.

A beeping signal awoke Kesh out of her fascinated trance. She walked over to the panel the sound came from and saw that a message had came in from the Great Fox. Kesh speed read over the text version of the message and at once contacted Captain Dallas. A single Venom warship had come onto the scene. Star Fox had just engaged it.

Chapter 6 The SunHawk

An Arwing streaked through space, its engines at full capacity power. It did many barrel rolls, using its G-defuser system to deflect the barrages of laser fire being thrown at it. All the time, the arwing was firing with its own hyper laser guns, the blue tracer fire slamming into the black hull of a large Venom warship. The arwing fighter itself pulled away quickly before colliding with the ship itself. As it sped away from the advanced Venom attack carrier, it took out three enemy fighters as it went.

"Did you see that?" yelled Slippy Toad into his com-link. "When did they ever think about sending another battle attack carrier up against us. After we trashed the one on Corneria."

"Don't get too cocky, Slip," retorted Falco Lambardi, shooting down his own set of fighters after making a run on the carrier. "Who knows when the rest of the Venom forces are going to get here? They may not get her at all."

"Oh, they'll be here," said Fox. He paused talking to shake a fighter off his tail with a U-turn, and then destroy it within a second. "As long as the SunHawk is down their, a sitting duck, they will be coming. As long as that ship is down there, I think we'll be seeing a lot more of these guys."

I hope you're right, Fox," said Peppy. "We were supposed to be attacking Dark Star station already. Probably already destroying it." Peppy was referring to the plans to attack a prominent Venom space station around planet Oberon. Plans that started last week, yet never came yet. "Well," continued Slippy, "I suppose protecting Corneria's new battle cruiser is something worth while."

"Exactly," said Fox.

A large group of fighters broke away from each other in a futile attempt to throw off the four ace fighter pilots. All they were doing was prolonging the inevitable. Star Fox merely broke off and individually chased down any fighters they could get. Fox pulled in behind a group of three fighters. At once, Fox began to charge up his laser system for a single lock-on pulse. A green orb of energy formed at the nose of the arwing, and stayed there, pulsating as Fox flew closer in behind the fighters. In his cockpit, Fox maneuvered to get his green targeting reticule on the fighter closest to the center of the group he was pursuing. The center fighter was targeted, replacing the green reticule with a red one around the target. At once, Fox let loose the trigger. The energy orb flew from the Arwing, homed in on the target, and struck hard in the fuselage. The resulting blast destroyed the four fighters around the main target. Fox, now content that one part of the job was down, did a quick U-turn and began to search out a new target.

All of the enemy fighters were eliminated within a matter of a few minutes. The Venomians got little more then a few shots off. Everywhere were the fireballs of enemy fighters being destroyed by Star Fox. A few cases where a Venom fighter would slip in behind either Slippy of Peppy, always relying on an ally to help them out of such jams. Star Fox was considered the team which took teamwork to a whole new level of experience. This was no joking phrase about them either. After a few minutes of fighting, the carrier was on its own.

The Great Fox, with ROB 64 at the control center, swung the Dreadnought class carrier around and began to open fire on the Venom attack carrier. The large laser cannons at the front of the ship tore through the Venom carrier like tin foil. Scorched and burning pieces were tossed off as the carrier began to explode. In a great fire ball, the Venom carrier was now turned to a fiery debris field.

"A' right!!" cheered Falco, rejoining formation with his friends. "That's what I call garbage recycling with an explosive twist."

"Careful Falco," said Fox. "We may have kept the SunHawk safe for now. But who knows when more might be… Uh Oh. I'm reading a new sets of power surges approaching here. The readings…look…like. Oh no."

All four pilots grew really nervous when they saw current events right from their cockpits. Before them were five really big Venom warships. Fox gave the order to engage them just as enemy Invader III class fighters, a huge swarm of them, made an ugly presence. This fight was going to go on, and it was going to be a lot more difficult.

****

"Five Venom destroyers have just shone up," announced Maurine from tactical. "Holy crap! Fox and the rest are now outnumbered fifty to one. I have no idea how long they can last."

The tactical display on the view screen showed it all. Four golden signals, represented as shapes of Arwing fighters, along with the Great Fox, had five large warships and a whole bunch of enemy fighters right before them. Dallas knew that it was only a matter of seconds before they were in full engagement. Star Fox was now placed at a disadvantage.

"How much longer until the fuel ship is complete?"

"Fifteen minutes," replied Kesh.

"Cutting it a little close" said Grant.

"Too close."

They all watched the battle unfold before their eyes. Star Fox was winning the first round of the second part of this double header. They all knew that this could not last. Dallas silently cursed under her breath, losing a small bit of patience with every loss of a second. They needed the SunHawk up there. She did not know if this would be enough against Venom, but Dallas had been devising a plan. Whether the plan worked or not depended greatly on the reaction from the Venomian forces. She looked at the fuel duration countdown on her computer terminal, seeing that they were just under ten minutes away from launch. Would that be enough time for the Venomians to break through?

****

The battle was going smoothly for the Cornerians for the time being. Star Fox went on to shatter the waves of enemy fighters which came onto them like a terrible pestilence. One, two, three, four, and so on counted the number of Invader III jets which were turned into burning fireballs. A few scratches were placed on the hulls of the Star Fox arwings, but nothing even remotely serious. Star Fox was still going strong, but Venom was growing stronger faster then they were growing weaker. For every Invader destroyed, two or three would replace it. Fox looked around his ship as he fought, and grew more worried as the swarm of enemy jets grew more dense. It would not be long until they were overrun. This was not even half of the total number of fighters at the Venomian disposal. There soon would be though, and that is when Star Fox would begin to lose.

"Oh drat," cursed Slippy, four Invaders on his tail. "Someone get these jerks off me!"

"I got your tail Slip." Falco fired a laser pulse into the group of fighters, destroying all but one. The last one was tossed clear, away from Slippy.

"Thanks Falco," said Slippy.

That move cost Falco a lot. He did not see the group of fighters to his nine, firing laser blasts at him like a neutron dicer machine. He gritted his beak as the blasts tore through a wing and part of his engine. Falco felt the Arwing fall out of control, barely able to stay in a controlled level of flight. The fighter was losing system power quickly though, and fuel was being drained through a hole in the damaged sections. He was through for this fight. Falco cussed loudly into his com-link, letting everyone know that he was very pissed.

"Get back to Great Fox," ordered Fox. "You can't do any good out here like that. Peppy, cover him."

"Sorry," said Falco, never happy about being forced to abandon a fight.

With the remaining power he had, Falco broke away from the engagement and moved as quickly as he could in his current status. A small group of fighters easily moved in behind him and began to fire. They were quickly dispatched by Peppy, and Falco was guided safely back into the Great Fox's hangar.

****

Everyone watched with helplessness as one golden Arwing icon was removed from the scene. Star Fox was now down to three, and there was no telling how long before they were brought down to two or even one. However, the battle above did take their minds off them time. Kesh's console began to beep and she looked down.

"Fueling operation is completed. Tanker is now ready to disembark."

"Excellent," said Dallas. "Activate the anti-gravity units. They should be fully charged when we need them. Tell the transports to latch on to us as soon as the tanker is clear."

"Aye, aye, Cap'n," replied a communicator.

The tanker retracted its fueling supply pipe, and slowly maneuvered away from the SunHawk. They felt a slight gravity disturbance from the units as they began to activate. Still, the tanker moved away quickly enough, and the seven transports moved in with two man hover units to latch lines on to the giant warship. After a few minutes, seven super durable cables were latching the SunHawk to the transports. The hover crafts were damaged from the anti-gravity fields, one of them would never again see action. No one was hurt though, and the Sky Omega class battle cruiser was ready for lift off.

The readings for the units showed them at their full capacity. The transports were standing by. "Get on the line to the spaceport control center," said Dallas.

"Channel open."

"CSS SunHawk to Papetoon spaceport control center, requesting permission to disembark."

A female voice replied over the intercom. "SunHawk, this is Papetoon control center. Permission to disembark is granted. Releasing docking clamps now, and enjoy the ride." Dallas conveyed her gratitude to them, and gave the word for the transports to proceed.

The seven smaller planetary and orbital flight craft kicked their engines as high as they could go. Within minutes, the great form of the SunHawk was lifted out of its docking well. Everyone there watched in awe as the gigantic warship was pulled above their heads, blotting out the sun with its form. The ship grew smaller quickly in their views as the transports pulled her into the air. From the view of those in the bridge, the landscape was growing ever larger and more flat in perspective. The spaceport was now little more then a glossy gray blob on the surface, surrounded by green of cultivation and blocked by the white of the clouds. The plan was working perfectly.

"How long after we disengage the anti-grav units before the talon emitters are back on line again?" asked Dallas, yelling to get over the roar of the turbulence.

"The anti-aircraft emitters will be operational two minutes and twelve seconds after the units terminate. They will be ready by the time we achieve orbit. The main batteries will be operational exactly seven minutes after the units are done. We will need time to let them recharge."

Dallas had not time to feel angry about the need for more time. That was something which she disliked in combat. However, situations dictated that more time was needed for some things. When this happened, you took what you had and made the most of it. With the anti-air beam weapons, not many fighters would be going back to Venom. In fact, very few would.

As they gained more elevation, Dallas ordered all pilots on board to get to their Arwings and stand by to launch. There were only seven fighters on board, consisting of half of one of the three wings posted on the ship. This was better then none.

Kesh kept a close watch on their altitude, waiting until they were in the upper atmosphere. A loud high pitched tone from her console startled her, and she checked it. "Anti-gravity unit number four is losing power. Now at fifty percent and falling."

"Will that stop us?" asked Dallas.

"Negative, but it will slow us down by much. I am attempting to compensate." Kesh input many solutions into her digital brain, running test traces through them with incredible speed and efficiency, knocking off those which would not solve their problem. After a minute, Kesh sent a nano-probe into the anti-gravity unit from her console, which went on to fix its damaged circuitry. Within minutes, the unit was operating with half its total power, which was as good as it was going to get.

"This will put us behind schedule by two minutes and five seconds," reported Kesh.

"Just get us up there, Lieutenant," said Dallas.

After five minutes, they were at their maximum needed altitude for being carried. A few minutes after this altitude, the transports severed their ends of the lines, as did the magnetic clamps connected to the SunHawk. The ship was free and on its own. It floated for a few seconds, and then slowly began to sink back into the atmosphere.

"Fire thrusters!" yelled Dallas.

The bottom six lifting thrusters kicked in and exploded into action. Bright orange and blue flame was flowing out of them, and the SunHawk was again being lifted back towards space. The objective of getting the ship on its feet was now a success.

****

They could go no more. Fox was now on his own, his three friends were all back in the Great Fox, who had broken away from the fight because of extensive damage to her systems. Now, Fox was alone to face the seventy plus enemy fighters regrouping before him. There was no way Fox could stop all of them, but he would try. Quickly, he targeted as many Invader jets as he could for a full bore nova bomb attack. He had three of them, which would only destroy about half. The rest would not waste their time with Fox. They would just go around him and do their jobs. The warships behind the fighters would take the liberty of terminating Fox if they could and probably chasing down Great Fox along with it. However, there was still too much fight in Fox to let them just take the SunHawk as a prize. Whatever happened, this was just another time to prove to Venom and Andross that Star Fox were superior fighters to them. The had successfully destroyed over a hundred Invader III jets and two Venom warships. The four of them alone. It was too bad that the mission would still be a failure.

The front group of fighters engaged their engines and began to lumber forward. Upon their first movement, Fox launched his three nova bombs. This action was soon followed up by three great bright flashes which vaporized a large number of the Invader fighters. As predicted, just under half of the enemy had survived the blasts, and they merely flew right by Fox, ignoring him to go claim a much larger prize. Fox turned his Arwing around, preparing to give chase and destroy all who he could before they got to SunHawk.

The front number of fighters began their descent towards the planet. But they were cut short. A large ball of energy streaked strait up from the planet and intercepted one of the fighters. The large blast destroyed seven fighters, all of those which were in front. This shot was followed by many more, along with hyper laser fire. Also were solid orange laser beams firing from below. These bright rays of energy tore through fighter after fighter, vaporizing a few while just ripping others apart at the seams, melting their structures. The pilots inside the fighters never had the chance to scream. All they could do before they died was to panic when their wing men around them were killed. The beams were fired quickly, destroying many of the fighters along with the hyper laser turrets. Thirty fighters were obliterated in a matter of seconds. Fox was astonished.

Below him and the rest of the Invaders who were fleeing was the SunHawk. The huge warship was rising out of the Papetoon atmosphere and into an orbit. The ship emerged from below, and hovered before Fox. He thought is looked impressive while in dock. Now, while in space, the SunHawk looked like it could act as the chariot of some all powerful deity. The long body of the ship with the tapered bow down to a pointed nose, the wing like projections from her aft section, and the conning tower in the same area. The ship was already deploying her own wing of Arwing fighters, all colored a bright orange instead of the blue on the Star Fox Arwings. Quickly, the seven fighters went to join up formation around Fox.

The communication screen in Fox's Arwing buzzed with life. On it was the face of Captain Dallas. "Hello Mr. McCloud," she greeted. "It looks like you are in a jam."

"You could say that," returned Fox. "Nice entrance by the way. Can you be that impressive with the Venom warships?"

"Let's find out." Dallas ordered a channel to opened to all ships in the area listening. The Venom warships, the Great Fox, and all fighters currently in deployment. Dallas got to her feet and stared forward, looking very head strong and commanding. As Fox was being pulled away from the Venom fleet by the SunHawk Arwings, he listened with interest as Dallas spoke. "This is Captain Allison Dallas of the Cornerian warship SunHawk. This planet is under the jurisdiction of the Cornerian military. All Venom warships threatening it will withdraw from this area at once. Unless you wish to risk engagement against impossible odds, do not force us to act accordingly against your threats."

"You are one ship," replied the commander of the lead Venomian warship. "We have four ships against your one. The advantage is ours in battle. Our ultimatum is for you to surrender and allow us to board your vessel. You have ten seconds to comply."

Here it comes. Dallas had planned this from the get go, now it was time to act on it. "You'd better check the temperature in hell first. I really think that your options are far more limited then you realize. Here is why. One tactical nuke, aimed at your ship. This warhead carries a fifty megaton capitol yield, which is enough to destroy or cripple all of your ships. If you hold any value to your health, you will turn around now, go strait back to Venom, and do not look back. I will only launch the warhead if you advance any more. Consider this, and then compare the consequences of your actions to the results of your lives."

"Your ship is well within the range of your warhead's electromagnetic pulse. You will be helpless. How do you know that there are any more of our ships on route to here?"

"I never thought that far ahead. Besides, that really doesn't matter does it. Knowing Andross, he probably won't want to throw his ships away for an attack that can be done later in life. Think on that, and then act on your decision. Think hard, and make sure it is the right one for your benefit." Dallas ran a finger across her throat, gesturing to cut the link to all ships except Fox's Arwing. Now all there was to wait.

"Captain," said Maurine, getting her attention. "Remind me never show you how to play Chiruha. I really think you can…excel at that game." Dallas smiled at his words, always appreciating a small amount of humor in the calm of a crisis situation. All that was to do now was to wait. It was not a long wait either.

"Lead ship is beginning to advance. All others are turning around and heading out."

Dallas shook her head. "Damn." She did not wish to hurt any more people, but if the Venomian commander wanted to be a fool on his own, Dallas was not one to stop him from doing so. "Are the main talon batteries on line?"

"Ready and waiting."

"Forward battery, prepare to fire. Target their power system only."

Maurine input the data to the targeting computer. The blast would eliminate the Venom warships power supply and leave them dead in space, which was exactly what Dallas wished. "Target data is in. Sixty percent output charge on forward battery, wide spread effect. Weapon is ready for firing."

"Stand by," said Dallas. The lead Venom war cruiser hit its engines with full power, and began to move on the SunHawk. Dallas held her hand in the air, preparing to give the word to fire. She would let them make the first gesture of hostility. Right now, all they were doing was moving towards the, quickly. The ship was going faster by the minute, picking up to great speeds strait for the SunHawk. They were going to ram them.

"Fire!"

A bright orange orb of light flashed quickly at the nose of the SunHawk. It was immediately followed by a beam of super heated high energy photons warped into a powerful energy beam which made the distance to the enemy ship in less then a second. The beam struck the side of the enemy at an angle. The impact was enough to stop the ship in its tracks, overpowering the engines with its hard shock collision. The beam tore strait through the Venomian, breaking through steel, carbonite, crystalline composites, flesh, blood, and bone. The shot broke through on the other side, singing all the material and mineral that touched the beam on the inside. The beam ceased, and the Venom warship started to spin out of control.

"Success," said Maurine, with a smile. "The power supply on the Venom warship has been destroyed. She's not going anywhere."

Dallas nodded to him and got to her feet. She watched as the other three warships made their way away from the battle in one piece, growing smaller to their vision with every moment. Seeing their leader crippled changed nothing. They still went on, and did not look back, just as Dallas said to do. The leader ship was dead in space, and at the mercy of the SunHawk.

"Captain, we have all weapons trained on the enemy ship. Ready to fire when you give the word."

The past returned to Dallas at that moment, remembering the incident at Katina. She remembered the form of a fiery angel, once thought to be a demon, among a band of real demons alone in a place with no life. It was so vivid to her, and it was something which brought a deep lesson to it as well.

"Sir, do I have permission to open fire on the enemy warship?"

Dallas sighed. "No," she answered quietly. "Keep minimal weapons on line and targeted around the warship. Do not fire unless they are provocative at all. If they launch anything aside from an escape pod, blow them strait to hell. But I don't think they will." Silently, she left the bridge, knowing that her work, for a short time, was done.

****

Seven hours later, a Cornerian destroyer showed up. The destroyer took the crew of the Venomian warship into custody and left. With no one on board it, Dallas approved the action to destroy the Venom warship. There was nothing left on board which was useful to any of them, so it was dispatched, out of their misery. After the seven hours, only the Great Fox and the SunHawk were left orbiting around Papetoon.

"I have heard talk around this ship that now Corneria has an actual battle cruiser which can stand up to Andross' forces, quite easily in fact, we can retire." Fox chuckled at his own words, leaning back in the chair.

"I don't believe you will do that," returned Dallas. "I know the type of connection you have with Andross, Pigma, and many other people in Venom forces. Because of that, you won't leave. I wouldn't."

"And that is probably what makes us similar," said Fox. "We both do what we can to survive, to succeed, and to make life safer for Corneria, and the whole Lylat System. Because of this, we could be considered as two stars from the same system. Not really brothers and sisters, but alike, in a sense."

"Perhaps. But I'm not ready to act on any kind of connection. Any kind. Right now, I have a ship that still has to get off its knees and on its feet. That will take about…two weeks, give or take a day or two. Until then, not many people will be getting much sleep around here." She paused for a moment, looking out the window to the Great Fox. "I must thank you, Mr. McCloud. You and your team have saved this ship from being killed before our time. I am very grateful for you being here."

"I must also thank you," returned Fox. "You saved my tail by getting up in time. If you hadn't, I think that the Venom forces would have killed me and destroyed the Great Fox. Thank you. I was wondering if you were going to launch that nuke once the warship ignored your warning."

Dallas giggled slightly which made Fox more curious. "There was no nuke, Mr. McCloud. I was wondering how a basic Venom commander would react to a simple bluff out of a card game." She smiled at him, and Fox shook his head, wondering.

"So, what are you going to do now?" asked Dallas, calming down from laughter.

"Well, we were planning to run an attack on Dark Star station. But Peppy broke his arm during the fight. Without him, we won't be able to take on the station. Star Wolf is said to start guarding that station within the next two months. While they are there, no way in hell can we take on that station even with Peppy with us. So, we are just going to have to find something else to do. Thanks again, Captain. I hope we can work together sometime again in the future."

Dallas stood up with him and shook his hand, and a smile on her face. The handshake lasted for a few moments, one between new friends. "Tell you what Mr. McCloud…"

"Fox. My name's Fox."

"Fox," repeated Dallas, correcting herself. "A' right. You can call me Alison, if you wish. I was saying that if you want, I can appeal to Corneria high command. I can see if the SunHawk can lend a hand in your attack on Dark Star. That way, you can attack it when you scheduled to do so."

"Can't do that," said Fox. "We always go in together, unless there is no choice but to do otherwise. In a fight like this, we're going to need all four of us to succeed. Plus, I have to much respect for an old friend to leave him behind in something this big. No, if Peppy does not go, none of us go at all."

"Then we can wait until Peppy is healed, and then fight. We all know that both this ship and you guys are all enough to take on both Star Wolf and Dark Star station. What do you say?"

"Well, I'll think about it. Thank you for the offer, Allison. Until then, we have a certain home planet to relax on while Peppy's arm gets better and for the Great Fox to be repaired. Plus, we've earned a vacation. A year and a half of non-stop fighting can wear even us down. It's time for a rest." Fox began to walk out of the office. Allison said nothing until he was gone, her eyes pouring out of the window, towards the distant Sector Y nebula. It was Fox to say anything else. "Until next time, Alison. Captain Dallas."

She hesitated for a moment, and the replied by simply saying, "yes." Fox left, confused at her gesture of sudden coldness. He simply left her alone, still gratified by her gesture to help them.

****

Falco, Peppy, and Slippy were all standing in the Great Fox bridge, ROB to their back, when Fox returned to the ship from SunHawk. All three of them were watching the great warship, as they would look at a new symbol for a new chance at life. Maybe that was what it was, to all of them. Fox joined his three friends, looking at the SunHawk.

"Good lord, that's a big ship," said Slippy, staring at it in more awe then any of them.

"Not as big as her captain though," commented Falco. "I know Alison Dallas, and her reputation. She's a tuff cookie, and a superior commander. She'll get the job done on that ship. It is who she is, and who she was born to be, just as we were all born to fly, and rove and swim along with it," he said, looking at Slippy with a grin.

"Keep it up Jack," hissed Slippy, "and you'll find your Arwing falling apart during free flight missions." The two of them left the bridge, arguing all the time they went. Fox and Peppy, Peppy with his arm in a sling, were left alone on the bridge. The old hare sighed, discomforted from the pain and also depressed from a break in their plans.

"I'm sorry Fox. I know we can't go on with attacking Dark Star now. We can, but knowing you, you won't."

"We still may," replied Fox. "You will still be there, old friend. Alli… Captain Dallas has offered to lend us a hand with her new and impressive ship in the attack when you get better. Even if Wolf and his band of slime are there to defend it, with that ship at our side, we will prevail."

"You think that Falco was correct what he said about their commander?" asked Peppy.

Fox did not answer at first. Instead, he looked at the hand he used to shake the hand of Captain Dallas. He made a fist with it, pushing all the blood of his knuckles from the slight guilt in him. "Yes," he said after a few minutes. "I do." He let his hand relax, the color returning to his paws. The two of them watched for a few more minutes as the SunHawk kicked in her engines and take themselves to rendezvous with their next doorway to destiny. They watched her go for a minute, then Fox turned around. "ROB. Take us back to Corneria. As fast as you can get us there." The robot pilot carried out his orders, and the two friends left the bridge of the Great Fox.

****

Dallas too was watching the Great Fox disembark as her ship did the same. It was true, she did have a crush on Fox McCloud. Even though he was devoted to Fara Phoenix, Dallas could not let it go. It would in time leave her, for the feelings she had were not totally strong. She hoped it left her sooner then it actually would. This type of feeling was too unprofessional for Dallas's taste. She turned her back on the window and left her office. Now, more important business was at hand.

The brown furred, jade eyed husky walked into her bridge, and smiled. Everyone was working, doing what they could to make themselves ready for the many, many missions and adventures ahead of them. She looked at her senior crew, those who were here anyhow, and listened to each and every one of them.

Grant was talking with a few bridge officers about the regulation flow of power to the talon laser emitters, trying to find a way to increase their recharge rate. The two officers he was arguing with were stubborn, saying that if too much energy was put into the batteries, they were overload and explode. Grant was persistent in getting things to work their best, which was one of his better qualities as a good first officer. Sparky was doing what he could to get the anti-gravity units back to Papetoon spaceport quickly so they were not a problem any longer. After that, Dallas knew he would go back to keeping the yet to be used Gravity Drive clean and ready for when the war ended. Kesh and Maurine were talking together, which was what Dallas listened to the most.

"So, you interested in a walk through the arboretum?" asked Maurine, leaning back and trying to act cool.

"Sorry, Chief, but I am allergic to most of the foliage in the arboretum." Kesh walked away from Maurine and began to work on another console, getting work done the best she could. Maurine followed her all the way.

"Why not the observation deck when we pass through Sector Y?"

"Why? We are not scheduled to leave Papetoon orbit for another four days. Can you wait that long?"

"I can try, but not much longer. Someone like me…" he shrugged, smiling. Kesh herself cracked a slight smile, showing a bit of her limited emotion in amusement.

"You are too charming?" she returned. "I made that up about me being allergic to the arboretum. I will be in there in three hours. Be there, or be square." She left the bridge to take care of business elsewhere. Maurine stood there alone, and looked upward saying thank you before he left too.

Dallas too was amused at this turn of events between Kesh and Maurine. They were destined to be together, according to Dallas. However, she knew that some things were not meant to be. But for the sake of those too, it probably would. Dallas leaned back in her chair, and smiled around the work that was going on. She nodded to a report that three fuel tankers were heading towards them, ready to continue fueling them. A crew member, a tall puma, came to her with a report about their upcoming agenda. She looked down the list, and rose an eyebrow. It was a long list, one that could wait, so she handed it back to the crewman, saying she would look at it later. Dallas wanted this moment to enjoy for herself. The work would come later, and there would be much work to do.

Their adventure was barely even on the brink of a new beginning…

The End

-Note from Author- In case you think that this story is both the beginning and the end, it is not. In fact, it is barely even the beginning. I am hoping to write more stories around the SunHawk and its crew and perhaps a few others along with it. I am also trying to become a real-working author, so I would greatly appreciate any kind of word, remark, or pointer on how to improve my writing.

Thank you for reading, I hope to bring more.

Star Fox is a trademark of Nintendo Inc. and have been used without permission for non-profit purposes. The SunHawk and its crew are not to be used without my consent. I would greatly appreciate any feed back on my work as well. Thank you.