*Author's Note* I hope that I have truly created a masterpiece here. After five weeks in front of a flashing computer monitor I have finally finished my longest story to date (as of 10/08/98). To fill these thirty-four pages I have borrowed ideas from several sources such as STAR WARS and Return of the Jedi, Independence Day, and the novel The Truce at Bakura; for those STAR WARS fans. I had thought, after injuring Wulfe in my first story, of how I could somehow bring him back to fight again. What has developed since then has been amazing. Thanks to my sister's character, Red Fox, with her ability to heal, I was able to bring Wulfe back to you guys. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy my greatest achievement in the Star Fox genre (as of 10/08/98!!)
Wulfe Litefoot in his most dangerous adventure yet!
Fox McCloud & the Star Fox mercenary unit
"To love you - take my world apart
To need you - I am on my knees
To love you - take my world apart
To need you - broken on my knees"
- from "Worlds Apart", by Jars of Clay
Wulfe Litefoot, retired mercenary, wrapped his arms around the warm shape next to him. He had been married to her for eight years now and they had shared this bed every night of those eight years. Their three children were asleep just a few meters away; safely tucked into their beds. Wulfe, his sight gone due to an accident that occurred eight years ago, stared out with a blank look in his eyes. His wife placed her hands on his and they snuggled. She had been so supportive of his work, that is his work after he retired from being a mercenary.
With his sight gone Wulfe could no longer fly. He felt that without flight he had nothing left... nothing but Sheena. He had met her on his last mission after he had joined forces with the Cornerian military, Katina's two best fighter squadrons, and the Star Fox team, to battle the remnants of the Venom space fleet. After the accident they continued their relationship and married a few months later. Since then Wulfe has written several large novels and manuals, all dedicated to flight. His most famous best-seller, "The Lylat Technical Journal", sold over seven billion copies throughout Lylat and the surrounding systems. Of course, his wife did all of the illustrations!
While Sheena still flew for Katina, Wulfe stayed home with their kids and their work droid, BX-38. BX had become one of the family and was of great help around the house. Wulfe had a quiet room where he would spend hours on end sitting in front of a keyboard and a monitor, just typing. With an automatic spell-checker, any mistakes would be edited and replaced. Sheena also helped.
Their kids, Jay, 7, Crystal, 5, and their latest Rose, 2, liked to sit in their dad's lap while he told stories from his mercenary days. He would often go too deeply into his memories and a tear would run down his cheek. He never told him about his parents.
The two were doing very well. With the combined cash flows they lived in a suite on the upper levels of Herot Base on Katina. Wulfe liked to live near the sound of jets taking off and landing. The sounds of the hanger often drew him, and his official rank of Commander allowed him access to almost every part of the base.
"I love you," said Wulfe. He squeezed Sheena a bit tighter.
"I love you too," she replied. She kissed his hand.
Wulfe smiled. They were very happy together and nothing could separate them.
"The entire system?!" gasped the highly decorated officer.
"Yes, sir. The way the missile works is that when it hits the sun it causes a chain reaction that causes the sun to explode," continued a nervous weapons engineer," Everything within three-thousand kilometers will be immediately disintegrated. The following shock wave will run through the system and destroy everything; planets, ships, you name it."
"Wonderful! Then we'll swoop in and take every valuable resource and use that planet builder of yours to rebuild it," said the officer.
"Yes sir. May I note that I'm still against your plan to annihilate the entire Lylat system because of Andross' influence upon it, but I suppose that the ends justify the means."
"Of course they do! The plan is perfect! Eliminate everything that Andross left behind and then rebuild it. Of course it'll take several decades to rebuild it, but the memory of what he did will last much longer."
"Yes Admiral Jerec," the engineer gathered up his notes and charts and left after a quick bow.
Admiral Jerec of the Galactic Freedom Unit sighed and looked out the large window in his personal office. The massive fleet of ships could be seen for miles. A total of eleven-hundred ships composed his fleet. They were of several different classes, from heavy assault cruisers to smaller attack corvettes. Regardless, the sheer size of his fleet would strike fear in the hearts of anyone who would dare to oppose him.
Each of his "cruiser" and "frigate" class starships carried their maximum capacity of fighters. The total number was around three-thousand. He was sure that his fleet was indestructible, and he used that power to bring peace and freedom to "infected" parts of the galaxy. Some called him a tyrant, and there had been many attempts on his life, but he knew that his cause was just... or so he thought.
His latest plan was to use a powerful missile to destroy Solar, Lylat's sun, and wipe out everything. Then, with his monstrous planet builder, he would rebuild Lylat the way it was and should have remained. Jerec stared out the window at the missile, a massive warhead that spanned two-hundred meters. It was heavily shielded with several remotely controlled guns and would be escorted by several fighters during its attack run. The pilots and crew had volunteered to die for the cause, and they would be awarded posthumously.
Jerec chuckled. I can't wait, he thought.
General Pepper's mouth dropped open as the image of the huge missile filled his screen. It was surrounded by hundreds of larger craft and was swarmed by fighters. The voice was giving him urgent instructions," I want you to evacuate everyone you can from the good planets of Lylat. Do not bother to notify everyone, only who you can. I don't want to be responsible for a panic."
"This is no haux. If you delay then you will be killed. You have two weeks before I launch. I suggest you heed my warning and get out while you still can," the image phased and then disappeared.
Pepper sat for a moment then punched a green button on his desk console," Give me evacuation control!"
Wulfe awoke from a loud noise outside his quarters. He got up out of bed and stumbled towards the wall, one he knew, from years of reaching for it, to be a mere four feet away. There was his walking cane. He moved it back and forth, seeking anything in his path, as he quickly walked down the hall. He opened his front door and stuck his arm out as a group of people ran by. He grabbed a soldier and pulled him towards himself," I'm Commander Litefoot. What's going on?"
"Commander, sir," saluted the soldier," We're preparing to evacuate Corneria and most of the surrounding planets."
"What for?" asked Wulfe.
"General Pepper's orders. You can ask him," the soldier ran after his group," Channel V-56!" he shouted back.
Wulfe moved as fast as he could to his comm-unit. He switched it on and dialed Cornerian channel V-56. The monitor beeped several times. Come on! Answer! he thought impatiently. Finally Pepper came across the screen," What!" he shouted.
"Woah! Take it easy, General," said Wulfe.
"Oh, it's you, Commander. What do you want?"
"I want to know what's going on."
Wulfe and Sheena stepped off the transport with their family in tow. Wulfe urged Sheena to go faster, but she had to lead the children as well. Two guards moved apart and saluted as the five Canines walked through the doors that led into the office building of the Cornerian Army Air Force. General Pepper's office was located in the center of the building, and it wouldn't have be too hard to locate if you'd never been inside the place before.
Dozens of officers and soldiers were running around like chickens with their heads cut off. Papers were strewn about and monitors displayed charts that showed the number of carriers and transports available. Calculation droids were brought in to do the mind numbing work of figuring out how many people there were in Lylat and how many transports they would need.
Calls were being sent out to anyone who would hear them, requesting that any and all pilots or other armed vessels mass above Corneria. General Pepper was planning a possibly bloodless mission to meet the Admiral of the Galactic Freedom Unit. Pepper would send a diplomat to discuss an alternate course of action, but he wasn't too sure that success would be achieved.
Pepper walked up and shook Wulfe's paw," Good to have you here, Commander. Lieutenant," he nodded to Sheena.
"Sir," she shook his paw.
"Well, as you can tell we're pretty busy here, but your knowledge of war tactics would be useful if things get nasty," continued the General.
"Of course General. If I can't lead the attack then commanding it would be the next best thing," said Wulfe.
"Good. I have a headset for you over here."
Pepper led the five towards a small desk and a computer terminal. There sat a headset. The computer was on and linked with the growing force of ships in Corneria's orbit.
"Here, let me help you," said Sheena.
Wulfe sat in the padded chair and put the headset over his ears. He could hear the messages that were being sent to his tactical station.
"This is Commander Litefoot, report," he said.
"Sir, this is Major Furze. We have a total of two-hundred Cornerian warships available, but the rest of our fleet is needed for the evacuation. Our full fighter compliment is available. We'll be using minimal escorts for the evacuation ships since there is no real threat other than the missile, sir," the report was disappointing.
"What's the status, Wulfe?" asked Sheena.
Wulfe waved his hand to quiet her.
"Get me a line to the Royal Canis Navy in the Lupus system," ordered Wulfe," I've got connections there and I think I can get us some more ships."
Sheena leaned over and pulled one of the earphones away from her husband's ear to get his attention," You don't have connections with the RCN," she said.
"Nope, but I know someone who does."
On the planet Canis in one of the many the dense forests, a small log cabin sits. There lives the being called Cyberwulfe. His array of detection equipment was incredible, and his communications equipment allowed him to send a crystal clear signal to Venom. Now his comm-unit beeped as an urgent message was sent his way. He pressed the "Receive" button and leaned back in his chair," Yes Admiral. What is it?"
"Do you know a Commander Wulfe Litefoot?"
Cyberwulfe jumped forward.
"We've got another thirty ships sir. And Canis says that they can spare forty cruisers and one-hundred twenty fighters," came the latest report.
"Good. Keep the messages running. I don't care if you get some guy with an open-air biplane. Get every available pilot here immediately!" ordered Wulfe.
"Sir," called an officer from across the room," We've got a mercenary who says she's the best pilot in the galaxy, and she wants to know what's in it for her."
"Hook me up," called Wulfe.
The officer nodded and switched the transmission to Wulfe's line," This is Commander Litefoot, how may I help you?"
"Litefoot?" questioned the voice on the other end of the line," You don't mean Wulfe Litefoot do you?"
"The same. What's it to you?"
"It's me, Sakey," replied the voice excitedly.
"Sakey?! Hey, how are you?" Wulfe waved to the eagerly awaiting officer, who returned to his business.
"Great. Hey I heard that Corneria needs pilots. What's the scoop... and how much does it pay?"
"Not much I'm afraid," replied Wulfe, imagining her reaction.
"Less that twenty-thousand?" she asked sternly.
"How much less?" her voice seeming desperate.
"As in zero. Nada. Nothing," Wulfe braced for the explosion.
"WHAT?!!! Are they crazy? Good piloting skills don't come cheap these days. How did they lure you in?"
"Aw... you know. You do the government a few favours and then they expect you to do more. I'm a Commander, by the way."
"So I've heard. Hey, since you're working there I'll do this one for free... but just this once!"
"No prob. And grab as many merc pilots as you can. If they ask for money, tell 'em Wulfe Litefoot's on the job!"
"Sure thing. Sakey out."
The line went dead. Sheena leaned over Wulfe and said," Who was that you were chatting with?"
"Oh, just an old friend," he said.
"Sakey, eh? Sounds like an old lover!"
"Later honey. I'm really busy right now."
Sheena just stuck out her tongue and returned to her room to look after her children.
Wulfe switched back to the fleet signal," ... and there are some more transports coming from the direction of Fortuna..."
Inside the ruined Sniper 4 base on Venom, a faint message came through the barely functioning radio,"... any and all available ships... pilots needed... missile will strike... defense positions... two weeks until...," then the message ended.
The radio officer sat up. This was the first message that he had received since Andross had been killed. The small group of officers that still maintained the base were soon grouped around the small speaker that barely made 2 WATTS audible. The message ran through twice more and then the radio officer turned a knob to adjust the transmission.
He then flicked a switch and picked up a dust-covered microphone," This is Sniper 4 base on Venom. Do you read?"
After a few seconds the voice of a Cornerian officer came over the speaker," We read you Sniper 4, go ahead."
"Um..." the officer looked up at his superior. He just nodded," Umm... we have knowledge of the location of a large Venom fleet. We could transmit the data to them and then have them fly over there. I want to make sure that this isn't a trick to destroy us again."
"We've never been more serious before. This is a Code Red. We need immediate assistance."
"Roger that. Expect a reply in a few hours. Sniper 4 out."
The reply came as dozens of Venom cruisers, from Dorisby-Class to Saruzin-Class, approached Corneria. Swarms of Invaders and Fleas escorted the fleet towards the green planet. A transmission was sent immediately and the Venom ships soon joined the growing fleet; and what a fleet indeed!
There were ships of all shapes and sizes, and it wasn't hard to tell who was part of a military and who was just there to do some butt-kicking. The Cornerians maintained their standard formation as their fighters remained safely within their hangers. The Canines, with their massive Y-Class Heavy Cruisers, stayed at the ready in a diamond formation. Their fighters flew about, carefully inspecting suspicious craft and strutting their mighty military power in front of the rest of the galaxy's finest.
Venom took position on the outside of the fleet and soon a shuttle was sent to meet with Pepper and the rest of the Admirals and diplomats. The Venomian diplomat was an ape Admiral by the name of Chun; plain and simple. He preferred no real title, he just wanted to be known as Admiral Chun, the great Admiral Chun, or whatever else they could think of. He entered the meeting room flanked by four of his best troops. They were armed with assault rifles and looked left and right at everything that moved.
"It's alright, Chun. We're all friends here," said Pepper.
Chun grunted and sat next to Commander Wulfe Litefoot. Wulfe was monitoring the ships and took the names of each one. He was asked to join the meeting to give any military advice that he may have. Chun scowled at Wulfe, who didn't notice - mostly because of his blindness.
Pepper began the meeting once he was sure that everyone was there and seated," I want to thank you all for coming. It's no secret now what we're up against. I have satellite images of the fleet as well as the supposed missile and I do believe that we do have quite a fight on our hands. I hope that we can resolve this peacefully but if it comes to it I want to know that I have your support in battle."
Each of the other Admirals and dignitaries talked amongst themselves, nodding and moving their hands to imitate ships in battle.
"We are joined by Commander Litefoot. His military expertise may assist in planning the attack," continued Pepper.
Wulfe waved a hand at no one in particular and went back to his headset as a new transmission came in.
"The consular fleet will consist of one cruiser from each side's forces. Small vessels are preferred so as not to suggest that we want to attack. I will send a diplomat, as I'm too valuable here to risk an ambush during the meeting. I will ask you to do the same, however, you may go yourselves if you choose to do so."
Wulfe stood up and shouted," I've got the Star Fox team!"
Sheena sat in her room with the kids. Jay was colouring, Crystal was watching TV, and Rose was sleeping in Sheena's arms. Jay turned and looked at Sheena," Hey, mom. Where's dad?"
"He's working right now," she replied.
"Like at home? Can I sit in his lap?"
"No, dear. This is very important work." She thought of him receiving messages non stop all day. How he now had no time to even sleep with her. He spent his nights in a crew bunk, just outside the comm room.
"When will daddy be back?" asked Crystal, joining the conversation.
Sheena looked at the ceiling," I don't know."
The meeting ended as the Great Fox joined the fleet. Star Fox soon flew to the main base on Corneria to meet with General Pepper. With them was Fox's sister Star, his girlfriend Fara, and as many other pilots as they could gather up. Pepper met them, joined by Wulfe. He wanted to meet Fox and Star again.
"Good to see you again, Fox," said Pepper.
"Hey Pepper," said Fox," Nice to see you're still at it Wulfe. They can't drag you down can they?"
"Nope. I'm here 'till the bitter end!"
"It may come sooner than you think," said Star," My new computer system tells me that the days are growing shorter. That fleet looks pretty huge, too bad I didn't bring any nukes with me, eh Wulfe?" joked Star.
"Yeah, but you remember what happened the last time?" replied Wulfe.
They both remembered. They remembered being trapped on board an exploding ship that had been fired upon by two nuclear missiles. Wulfe promised himself never to be in the same position ever again.
Wulfe managed to get off for half an hour so he spent it chatting with Star Fox. They were gathered in a small room drinking sodas. Wulfe stood in a small circle with Fox, Star, and Peppy.
"I read your book," said Fox.
"Which one?" laughed Wulfe.
"`Basic Flight and Advanced Dogfighting Tactics'. It was very well written, and the illustrations were well done," complimented Fox.
"Thank my wife for that," said Wulfe," She did all the pictures. She's quite the artist!"
"I liked your Technical Journal," said Peppy," But you made a small mistake when you stated the pitch/roll/yaw ratio of the Bulldog-Class fighter. It was a bit too high, there's no way it could maneuver like that."
"Ah, but you're wrong. I talked with a Bulldog pilot who said that he once pulled six G's. That would explain the high maneuverability rating," replied Wulfe.
"I see. Thanks for straightening that out," smiled Peppy.
The group continued talking amongst the other hundred or so pilots that were also in the room. Many were from the three main military powers, but there were several individual units and solo pilots. Wulfe found old acquaintances and some old foes, but now they were allied together; all of them. Corneria and Venom. Canis and Katina. Mercenaries and bounty hunters.
General Pepper called an assembly of all pilots, starship captains, and soldiers. The Grand Assembly Hall was filled to capacity. Wulfe and his family sat with Star Fox in the executive seats as other pilots sat in seats that spanned four-hundred rows and over three balconies. Once everyone was seated and all was quiet Pepper began his speech.
"I want to thank you all for coming here today. As you know we have a serious situation here. The missile has been scanned by a supersonic starfighter and it is armed and ready to fire at any moment. The man who calls himself Admiral Jerec has been generous enough to give us two weeks to evacuate, but I think that we should at least try to convince him to change his mind," Pepper straightened his uniform and cleared his throat," I have a list of diplomats who have volunteered to go to meet with Admiral Jerec. They include Major Furze from Corneria, Captain Fenris from Canis, and Captain Caimen from Venom. Others may go if they wish. The consular fleet shall leave in two days."
Pepper sat down as another high-ranking officer took the podium," Attention pilots and other military personnel: if the diplomatic mission does not succeed then we will have no choice but to attack the Galactic Freedom Unit with everything we have. Their sheer numbers are an advantage, but I assume that they are arrogant. With our combined numbers, tactics, and battle plans, we are assured victory over these tyrants."
The officer sat down next to Pepper. A third officer stood up. This one was wearing a pure white uniform," On behalf of the Royal House of Corneria I would like to say that the King has the utmost confidence in all of you. As more ships arrive we become stronger. Keep in mind that the chances of being killed are high, but through teamwork and perseverance we will come out victorious. That is all. Dismissed."
The room slowly emptied. Wulfe stayed behind to chat with the officers before returning to his station.
As more ships arrived, the length of the list lengthened. The total amount of warships was now at six-hundred, and the fighter compliment exceeded twelve-hundred. Wulfe grinned. We're getting there, he thought.
Then a transmission came through," This is Mark Breton calling on behalf of Red Fox. I want more information about the situation."
"Well... there's a huge missile aimed at Solar and if it explodes the entire Lylat system will be destroyed. We're recruiting pilots to fly against the massive war fleet if the time comes," replied Wulfe.
"Well we're quite good at flying. Count us in!"
"Okay, I'll need the number of pilots and fighters in your group," said Wulfe, preparing to add the number to the list.
"Two Canine V-40 Foxx's and an undesignated custom-built fighter."
"Okay. You're clear to land in whatever space you can find," Wulfe grinned. As if they could find any space.
The three fighters landed nearby and the trio approached the base. The person up front, a silver fox, seemed to be escorted by the two others, who were a timber wolf and a kangaroo. The guards parted and allowed them entrance to the base.
They were greeted by General Pepper," I'm glad to see you Red Fox," he said.
"Likewise, General," replied Red. She had known Pepper for a long time.
"How is the Black Fox?" asked Pepper. After one of Red's jobs for Pepper he had built a special stealth fighter for her: the Black Fox.
"Just fine, and I'm sure that this fight will really give me a chance to combat test her."
Fox saw Red talking to Pepper and came over to chat," Hey Red. Good to see you here."
"You too Fox. How are your eyes?" replied Red. The very job that earned her the Black Fox was healing Fox's eyes. Red had the amazing ability to heal almost any disease and injury, and she made her living doing that all over the galaxy.
"I've never seen better," replied Fox. Then Fox leaned over and whispered in her ear," There's someone here who I think you should meet."
Fox approached Wulfe Litefoot at his desk. He was handling another group of ships that were coming in from MacBeth. Fox tapped on Wulfe's shoulder and Wulfe put down the headset.
"What is it?" he asked.
"It's me, Wulfe," replied Fox," I have someone here who I think you'll be glad to see."
"Did Cyberwulfe come to fight with us?"
"No, even better than him."
Red Fox stepped up and took Wulfe's hand," I think it can be done," as she scanned his body with her powers," His eyes are still strong."
"What are you talking about?" asked Wulfe. He jerked his hand back.
"Wulfe, have you ever heard of Red Fox?" asked Fox.
Wulfe thought for a moment," No."
"She says that she can heal your eyes. You'll be able to see again; perhaps to fly again."
Wulfe's eyes opened wide. To fly again was his biggest dream since the accident. Now an opportunity has arisen that would allow him to fulfill that dream.
"How can I be sure that this is true?" asked Wulfe.
"She healed me; my eyes too," replied Fox.
"Give me a chance, Wulfe," said Red," I think I can do it."
Red Fox straightened up," I know I can!"
Red Fox opened the door to Pepper's quarters. The general was sitting behind his desk looking at the recent starship statistics and sucking on a lollipop. He looked up as the door slid open and Red Fox walked in.
"Hello again, Red," He stood up and walked over to shake her hand," What can I do for you?"
"Well... actually, it's what I can do to help you," replied Red Fox.
"I've told Wulfe Litefoot about my healing powers and he seems interested. He wants me to try to heal his eyes so that he can fly again. Perhaps to fight if the time comes. I know what kind of asset Wulfe would be if he were to fight on our side, General; and I'm sure you do too."
Pepper nodded," Yes, indeed. Red, I'll pay you one-hundred thousand credits if you heal Wulfe's eyes so he can fight with us!"
Admiral Jerec watched his fleet. He loved having one of the most powerful battle squadrons in the galaxy, and was glad that it was used for the side of good; his definition of good! The missile sat just a few hundred yards away, guarded by its dozen-cruiser escort. He turned back to his assistant," That sonic fighter," he began," Was it able to transmit before it was destroyed?"
"We believe so, sir. But it couldn't have sent more information than the size of our fleet," replied the assistant," I doubt they know where we are."
"What of the report of the fleet massing over Corneria?"
"Just a precaution," suggested the assistant," That may also be their evacuation fleet. They've called in the Katina military, as well as the Royal Canis Navy from the Lupus System."
"Ah, the Lupus System. I hear that there was a nuclear space battle there about a decade ago."
"Yes sir. Another... unfortunate incident."
Jerec waved his hand," You may go now."
The assistant bowed and left the room.
Wulfe hugged Sheena. This would be the last time he didn't see her. Soon he would be able to look upon the most beautiful German Shepherd in the galaxy. He held his children close and kissed each one. He wanted to see them most of all.
"I guess I'll see you guys soon," he smiled. See! It sounded so good to be able to say it again.
Sheena kissed him and smiled. Then she led the kids away. Red Fox's wingmen, Mark and Jake, took Wulfe into a room with a reclining chair and a flat-backed chair. Red sat in the flat chair. She instructed Mark and Jake to put Wulfe in the reclining chair, and then to leave them alone.
"I think that it might take as long as four to five hours to finish up, then you shouldn't open your eyes for another three," she said.
"Seven hours?!" gasped Wulfe," But it'll be worth it," he sighed and calmed down.
"I'll prepare a dimly lit room for you, so that the sudden introduction of light won't be too great for you."
"Okay. I'm ready now."
Six fighters emerged from hyperspace and flew on a direct course for Corneria. They were from the Galactic Freedom Unit, and their orders were to scout and destroy. Any and all ships were to be inspected. Any opposition destroyed. They received a message when they were five kilometers from their main target: the fleet.
"Incoming fighters. This is Cornerian Security. Identify yourselves!"
They gave no reply. They had their orders.
"I repeat, identify or be destroyed!"
Still no reply. They increased speed. Three Cornerian fighters flew to intercept, but they were blown away. The fighters whisked into the fleet, dodging laser blasts from cruisers and fighters. Two ships exploded but the other four kept going. Several of the cruisers had been identified and scanned.
The data was sent via long-range satellite. Each fighter's computer was linked with their mothership. Another fighter exploded, shot down by the missiles of a Canine V-40 Foxx. Three left. Several more cruisers had been scanned and the data sent. Three Arwings swooped in from around a cruiser and fired at the intruders. The remaining fighters exploded, but the damage had already been done.
"Report," said Pepper.
"Three losses sir. They blew our patrol craft right out of the sky," replied a Lieutenant.
"Any damage to the fleet?"
"No sir. I believe they were merely on a reconnaissance flight."
"Then they must now know that we have warships."
The Lieutenant nodded.
"On no! The consular ships! Call them back!"
"Too late sir. They were launched right before the attack."
Pepper slumped down in his desk," Then all is lost. Prepare for battle."
The consular ship Columbia emerged from hyperspace, followed by the Cygnus, Graff Spee, and the Monitor. The massive fleet loomed a few kilometers ahead.
"This is the consular ship Columbia calling the Galactic Freedom Unit flagship. Please respond."
"This is the Laurentien. Leave this sector or you will be destroyed!"
"We are on a mission of peace. We wish to meet with your commanding officer and discuss the present situation."
The reply came as several fighters launched from the lead cruiser, a three-hundred meter long frigate. The fighters attacked the consular fleet and were soon joined by their mothership and three strike cruisers. The small group of Cornerian ships were soon destroyed.
Wulfe removed the bandages and blinked. He could see a blurred silhouette in the dimly lit room. After a few seconds the image sharpened and he could see the smiling face of Red Fox.
"You must be Red?" guessed Wulfe.
"Yes, and you must be able to see," replied Red.
Wulfe smiled," I can see. I can see!" He jumped into the air," Yes! Oh thank you! I love you, you're the best!"
Wulfe grabbed Red and kissed her.
"Well now. Getting a little carried away are we?" smiled Red," Don't worry, I won't tell your wife."
"Sheena! Where is she? I want to see her."
Sheena was crying happily," Oh Wulfe!"
She grabbed him around the neck and held him close. It was the first time in over eight years that he had said how beautiful she was. Wulfe also saw his kids for the first time. He was in tears as well. It was a happy reunion.
After meeting with General Pepper and a few of the other pilots Wulfe returned to his desk job. That's when he found out about the attack.
"It happened just forty minutes ago," said Fox. He and Falco were hanging out in Command Central.
"I don't believe it. They must know that we have warships, not cargo vessels used for evacuating! Crap, now we're in for it!" said Wulfe. He pounded the desk.
"How's the fleet situation?" asked Falco.
"Well in the past ten minutes a small group of six assault frigates have arrived. That brings the total number of cruisers to around eight-hundred, still three hundred short of the reported size of the enemy fleet."
"Fighters?" asked Fox.
"Seventeen-hundred. Again, we're seriously outnumbered. We'll need to work up some advantages."
"Most of our ships have better shield ratings than the enemy's fighters, guessing by how easily they were destroyed," said Falco.
"Yeah," said Fox," But look at how they wasted our patrols. They have some powerful cannons on them."
"The Canine fighters will be our greatest asset," said Wulfe, supporting his home planet's military," Especially the V-45. It's got a supershield. The Foxx's can hold their own, and they're one of the most maneuverable fighters in the galaxy."
"We're getting our Arwings upgraded with missile launchers. Our Nova Bomb launchers have been downgraded to carry only three bombs so we'll have to use them wisely," said Falco.
"The bombers, both from Canis and Venom, can take care of the cruisers. The fighters will have two roles; one: to protect the fleet. And two: to protect the bombers," said Wulfe.
Just then, General Pepper entered the room," Wulfe, Fox. Come with me please."
"Yes sir," they replied.
The small room had several other officers and pilots inside. Pepper stood in one corner, addressing the group," We need to develop a strategy now before we go in," he said.
"I suggest we send the fleet in waves," suggested Fox," That way we'll have reinforcements on the way if anything goes wrong."
"We should go in all at once and surprise them. Do as much damage as we can as quickly as possible," suggested a Canine General.
Wulfe leaned against a wall and cleared his throat," Why don't we split the fleet into three groups, each with a different destination. That way we can ambush them from different sides."
"Good idea, Wulfe," said Pepper," And we can use your tactic as well, General. By using three vectors and the element of surprise we can destroy a maximum number of ships quickly."
"The one disadvantage is that we'll be risking a lot of losses at once as well," said Fox.
"True, but in this fight it's either them or us," said Pepper," Commander, assign the groups. Adjust cruisers and fighters accordingly. I don't want any weaknesses."
"Yes sir," replied Wulfe," Fox, come with me. I could use your help."
Wulfe sleepily looked over the flight roster again. Three flight groups, each consisting of two-hundred seventy cruisers with five-hundred sixty-seven fighters were finally assigned.
"I guess that's about it," said Fox. He yawned," I'd better get this to the general."
"Good idea. How long has it been?"
Fox looked at his watch," Five and a half hours."
"Ouch!" Wulfe rubbed his eyes.
Fox slid out of his chair and walked to the door," I guess this is it now. The attack will probably take place tomorrow."
"Yep," replied Wulfe," You up for it?"
"I guess so. You?"
Wulfe nodded," After eight years I'm ready for anything."
Fox left the room and went to Pepper's office.
The attack had been approved. Wulfe sat at his desk, fiddling with a pen. Sheena came in and knelt beside him.
"General Pepper wants us in the assembly hall in three hours, Wulfe," she said.
She gently rubbed his hand; he smiled and held hers in his.
"There's something I need to do," he said.
"Can I go with you?"
"This is something I need to do alone."
"For the past week it's been nothing but `Not now, honey', or `Later Sheena, baby'. Why are you shutting me out?"
Wulfe grunted," I just feel like I've been away so long. I need to get as much work done as I can. And this is more serious than Andross' pitiful little armada. I'm sorry, but I have to go before it's time."
"I... I understand."
Wulfe grabbed a dark trench coat from a hook on the wall and walked out of the room, leaving Sheena still kneeling beside his desk.
The sky was dark, and the rain had just started. Wulfe stood in the middle of the Cornerian graveyard, searching for the stone of one of his mentors since his accident: James McCloud. He couldn't see it, but why not? He had read that it was the largest in the cemetery. Then he saw it. It was lying on its side. Obviously some young punks had thought it a fun thing to do; to push over the grave marker of one of the most respected pilots in all of Lylat.
Wulfe scowled and shook his head. Who could do such a thing, he thought. He walked up to the stone and bent over it. Then with all the strength he could muster he lifted the great stone and set it upright again. Huffing and puffing, Wulfe stared at the stone once more. The stone angel fox had been broken off, and graffiti was painted all over it.
Wulfe shook his head again as he walked away. Some day he would be recognized in such a way. But he only hoped that he would die an old wolf.
Sheena was walking down the hall when she was met by one of Pepper's aides. He told her to report to the general's office immediately. Sheena walked through Pepper's big wooden doors and saluted the general.
"You wanted to see me, sir?" she asked.
"Yes, Lieutenant. I want to know why you won't be flying in the attack?" said Pepper.
"Well, sir, I have to take care of my children. If Wulfe and I both go in there and don't come back then who will take care of them?"
"I've already made arrangements for a caretaker. She is very good and even took care of some of the military's children."
"That's enough, Lieutenant." Pepper reached into a drawer and pulled out a small felt box and handed it to Sheena. Sheena opened it, and inside was the rank of Commander," I think this will convince you, Commander Litefoot."
"It would sir," she placed the box back on Pepper's desk," But under the present circumstances I don't think that that would make a difference. I need my children."
"And Lylat need you! You're going to walk out on us when we need you the most. It's your duty!"
"Then I resign. Effective immediately!"
"It's not that easy. And as of now I'm ordering you to fly or I'll have you locked up for treason!"
Pepper stood in the massive assembly hall again, which was now filled with every person involved with the attack. Pilots stood shoulder-to-shoulder along with Commanders and Admirals. The General stood on the main platform next to a holographic projector. A large three-dimensional image of the enemy fleet slowly spun, large enough to be seen by all. Everyone stopped chatting and the Assembly Hall went dead.
"You can see here the enemy fleet, located in sector 4.567 mark 679. Don't let their size intimidate you. We have a strong force with us, and some darn good commanders. The fleet has been split up into three groups, designated Assault 1, 2, and 3. Assault 1, which is the lead attack group, will make a direct frontal attack, while 2 and 3 attack from either side; all three groups will engage at pointblank range."
Falco leaned over to Slippy," But at that close range we won't last long against that fleet!"
Slippy hushed him and let Pepper continue.
"Although the weapons systems on these cruisers are low power, they do have a strong defense mechanism," the view zoomed in on one of the cruisers. A red sphere began to circle around the craft," They are protected by an energy field, which is generated from several heavily armoured points along the ship," several parts of the ship lit up. "The shield must be deactivated before any attack can be attempted. Warheads are preferred in order to cut through the tough armour.
"Each flight group has been assigned a sufficient number of fighters, each arranged into three designations. Assault 1 has been assigned flight groups Alpha, Beta, and Gamma. Number 2 has Blue, Red, and Gray. And 3 has Wolf, Husky, and Bulldog; for those Katina pilots who want their squadron name to go down in history. Commander Litefoot has volunteered to lead the fighter attack. He will fly in flight group Alpha. Flight group Red will be led by Fox McCloud, and Wolf will be led by Sakey Yonule. I want to wish you all the best of luck. I will maintain command of the entire fleet from my flagship, the Avenger. Good luck, all of you! Dismissed!"
Wulfe met with the other two flight leaders. Sakey grinned as he flashed his insignia.
"Well look at you. Alpha Leader, huh?" she said.
"Well I guess Pepper thinks very highly of me," said Wulfe," Don't worry, I won't let it go to my head."
"If we live through this we'll all earn promotions," joked Fox.
"Don't say if," said Wulfe," I've just gotten my sight back and I'm not about to get shot down!"
Then a voice came over the intercom," All flight crews, man your stations."
"Well, I'll see you in the combat zone," said Fox.
"Stay sharp," said Wulfe," And watch your six!"
Wulfe made a wrong turn.
"Hey Wulfe, the hangar's this way," said Fox.
"I know. There's something I need to do."
A small monkey hunched in a corner of the now empty Assembly Hall, secretly transmitting a signal to the lead Venomian ship.
"Once they're too involved to do anything about it, we'll send in our strike force. Katina will be ours. Once we own Katina, we'll be able to take over Lylat, just as Andross tried years ago!"
"Excellent," came the voice over the communicator," Katina is now guarded by only a dozen fighters. They will be wiped out quickly!"
Wulfe and Sheena sat on the edge of the couch in their quarters, kissing. They knew that they may not see each other again, but it was a chance that they were going to have to take. They would be in separate flight groups flying into battle against impossible odds, but Wulfe knew that she was a good pilot who could hold her own in a dogfight.
The kids were asleep in their rooms, and the caretaker was reading a book in the kitchen. Wulfe and Sheena quietly walked through the door and towards the hanger, where several other pilots were headed.
General Pepper stood in the main bridge of his cruiser. It was the largest and most powerful cruiser that Corneria had, and he didn't want command of any other ship. He watched as several smaller ships flew ahead of them, then came the tiny starfighters. Some were large, like the Canis V-45 which was over fourteen meters long, and others were small like the Venom Invader III which was only a few meters long, but still a deadly fighter!
The main group of fighters passed by, led by Wulfe's fighter, a newly modified Canis V-40 Foxx. In his Academy years, the Foxx was the very first fighter that Wulfe had ever flown, and he was glad to have it now. The heritage of his planet was important to him, and if he was going to kick some major butt he'd rather be in a V-40 than an Arwing.
"All wings report in," he said.
"Red Leader, standing by," reported Fox.
"Wolf Leader, standing by," reported Sakey.
"Alpha Squadron is ready to fly, sir!" reported a cocky badger pilot in Alpha 2.
Wulfe opened a channel to the Avenger," General, we're in position. All fighters accounted for."
"Proceed with the countdown," replied Pepper. The next ten seconds were the slowest that Pepper had even experienced," All groups assume attack coordinates."
Reports came in to the Avenger notifying them that all ships in the fleet were ready.
"All craft, prepare to jump into hyperspace on my mark," said Pepper.
"Alright. Stand by," replied Wulfe.
As soon as Pepper gave the signal each pilot and navigation officer in the fleet sent their ships into hyperspace.
The first thing that Wulfe saw when he exited hyperspace was the side of a huge cruiser. They had arrived at the fleet.
"Arwings, engage all-range mode!" shouted Wulfe," Accelerate to attack speed, and fire at will!"
Wulfe received his first battle damage in eight years. A laser cannon was tracked on his ship," Am I getting rusty or what?" He pulled his ship into a loop and evaded several more of the shots.
His sensor screen was now filling up with green dots. The fleet was arriving. Fighters soon buzzed around him as they fired on the cruisers. As ordered, the deflector shield generators were targeted and some were soon destroyed. Approximately three cruisers were destroyed in the first two minutes.
Suddenly Wulfe's fighter shook violently. The enemy fleet had launched fighters and three of them were on his tail.
"Fighters, coming in!" he shouted.
"I'm on 'em!" said Alpha 2.
Alpha 2 shot the fighters out from under Wulfe.
Wulfe sought his own targets and was soon wreaking havoc among the enemy formations.
The Lylat fleet was holding up fairly well against the first part of the enemy fleet. Four Cornerian cruisers had been destroyed and they had lost fifteen fighters. Pepper's cruiser was under attack, but the big guns on the Avenger soon discouraged the attackers. Avenger was flanked by six Cornerian modified heavy corvettes, which provided anti-starfighter cover for Corneria's lead cruiser. With a ship that could mix it up with several large cruisers, it would be a shame to have a lucky pilot get in and blow it away with a missile.
The Canis bombers were making attack runs against the enemy cruisers' shield generators. Once the shields were down on an enemy cruiser, both fighters and cruisers would fire upon it until it exploded. Wulfe assisted on a small frigate and cheered as it went down in flames. His shields were at 60%, but he just transferred energy from his lasers to his shields and brought them up to 80%. Wulfe felt sorry for the fighters, such as the Arwings, that couldn't recharge their shields. Also, the unshielded Venomian fighters were being wasted, but still achieved sufficient kills.
A large Cornerian cruiser, who had been under heavy fire from several cruisers and fighters, exploded right next to Wulfe. He was blinded by the bright flash, but only for a moment; it sure freaked out Wulfe though.
Fox McCloud, who had command of Red Squadron on the far side of the enemy fleet, was holding his flight stick in a death grip. Never had he seen so many fighters in one place before, and never so many that wanted to kill him all at once!
"Watch yourself Fox, three from above!" came Star's voice over his head set.
"Red 3, Red 2 pull in!" ordered Fox.
"Got 'em!" replied Red 3.
The two fighters swooped in and buzzed past a cruiser. Red 3 shot down a fighter, but two more fighters came behind him and shot him down. They were both taken down by Red 2.
"Three of them coming in. At 20 degrees!" reported Falco.
"Cut to the left, I'll take the leader," said Fox.
Falco turned to the left and found an enemy in his sights. Fox turned around a cruiser with a fighter on his tail. He slowed his Arwing and turned tightly. The enemy fighter overshot him and found himself in Fox's sights. It only took a few shots to finish him.
Fox was being shot at from behind. He flew directly at a cruiser and then pulled away at the last second. The fighter couldn't pull away in time and he was incinerated in the cruiser's engine.
Fox sighed. That was one less bogey to worry about. An Arwing flew by, a few dozen meters in front of him. Fox watched as it smoked a fighter.
"Yes!" said Fox silently.
Admiral Jerec was not pleased.
"Apparently General Pepper didn't take me seriously. Prepare to fire the missile!"
"Yes sir," replied his assistant.
You will pay for this with your lives, thought Jerec.
Wulfe found himself chasing a fighter alone deep into the enemy fleet. It was too late to turn around and if he did then the fighter would be on him in a second. He finally managed to get a lock and then fired. Just as the fighter exploded several more launched from a nearby frigate.
"Oh crap!" shouted Wulfe.
He decided to turn tail and run for the Lylat fleet. As he turned he was buzzed by three fighters from Alpha Squadron.
"You didn't think we'd let you have all the fun, did you sir?" shouted Alpha 3.
"Not at all," replied Wulfe. Relieved that his wingmen were darn good!
The enemy fighters soon found themselves under attack by the three Alpha's and Wulfe.
"Status report!' ordered Pepper.
"10% of our fleet is gone, but the enemy is doing worse sir. Thanks to our direct frontal assault they're taking heavy losses. But they're massing their forces towards the center... where the missile is," reported a Commander.
"How's the Avenger doing?" asked Pepper.
"Shields at 76% sir. Our hangers still contain thirty spare fighters... if it comes to that, sir. And your personal shuttle is ready and waiting at the first sign of a hull breach."
"Thank you, Commander."
His ship was hurt, but Pepper wasn't out of the fight yet!
Sakey's fighter group had popped up in a weak part of the fleet. There were just small corvettes and frigates, which were taken care of by the pair of Canis Heavy Cruisers that were flying spearhead for Assault 3. Sakey, in her modified Arwing, was making substantial kills, and her leadership skills had kept most of her pilots alive.
"There's a bogey on your tail!" shouted Wolf 4.
"Take him down!" said Sakey.
Wolf 4 was already preparing to clear Sakey's tail, so he just followed orders and smoked the enemy fighter.
"Craft under attack!" came a message from the lead Canine cruiser," The Red Fang is under attack! All fighters respond!"
"I'm on it. Wolf Squadron, come with me!" ordered Sakey.
The fighters flew to the aid of the damaged Canine cruiser. Large bombers were delivering powerful heavy rockets against her shields. The ship couldn't take much more damage.
"Shoot down those rockets! They're too slow to be any trouble!" ordered Sakey.
Wolf squadron targeted the large, powerful projectiles as they approached the ship, barely making 100 kilometers per hour; they made easy kills.
The bombers were being escorted by at least two dozen fighters, and had very weak armour. They went down quickly which allowed Wolf Squadron to play with their new friends.
"Watch out! Fighter at .06!" reported Sakey.
"I'm on it, Wolf Leader," replied Wolf 2.
He lined up his sights with the enemy ship and fired twice; that was all it took to destroy the enemy fighter.
"Good shot Wolf 2!"
As the Lylat fleet moved slowly through the enemy fleet, explosions lit up space that could be seen for miles. It was a battle for freedom, from a group of tyrants who tried to justify their actions by calling themselves "heroes". They wanted to eradicate everything that had Andross' name on it, as well as every memory of Andross. But it wouldn't be that easy.
Fighting against them was one of the most awkward alliances ever created. With their large fleet, that had been massed within a week, they had the chance to save the entire Lylat system.
Their fighter pilots were trained military officers, rogues, and mercenaries; each with their own skills. Only the best would survive this battle, and the weak ones were slowly being eliminated. The cruisers, regardless of their strength or class, were the major factor in this battle. With each one that was destroyed on the Lylat side, six enemy ships were killed.
The gap was being closed. With the Cornerians a mere ten kilometers from the missile there was no going back. The weakened and damaged enemy cruisers had closed the opening from which the Lylat fleet had come through and were coming back for a counter attack.
"We're almost ready, sir,' reported Jerec's aide.
"Excellent. Fire the missile as soon as it's ready," replied Jerec. He licked his lips. Solar was a large ball of fire almost half a lightyear away, but it still shone brightly. He would destroy it; he had made up his mind and there was no going back.
"We're ready , sir," reported an ape Commander.
"Launch!" ordered his captain.
The Venomian task force entered hyperspace for Katina. Finally, the main military power in the Lylat system would fly the flag of Andross.
"Sir!" shouted Commander Grayscale.
"Yes, what is it?" asked Pepper.
"We're getting a report from Katina."
"Katina?" said Pepper. He took a step backwards as the ship shook from a torpedo hit.
Commander Grayscale nodded," They're under attack by Venomian forces. It was a setup, sir! The Venomians had a hidden agenda!"
Pepper cursed. He paced around the bridge and finally stuck a lollipop in his mouth. His bridge and command staff knew now that he was really under stress. Another torpedo hit the Avenger. Pepper turned around quickly and pointed towards the fighter display screen," Commander! Send Bulldog and Husky unit to assist."
"And launch our thirty fighters. We'll need to force Venom from Katina!"
A message came across the head sets of all pilots," Attention! Those pilots from Bulldog and Husky units of Herot base on Katina. You are ordered to return to Katina! Venom is attacking!"
Sheena heard the message and smiled. Now I can kick butt on home turf. She waited for the familiar voice of Bill Grey, their flight leader, to give the order to disengage.
"You heard him," Bill said," Bulldog and Husky unit, follow me!"
His fighter broke away from the fighting. His old fighter groups joined formation behind him. After clearing the battle zone they prepared to enter hyperspace for Katina.
"Uh, sir?" began Sheena," With our small force, how can we defeat the Venomians at Katina? What do we do when we get there?"
"Hold 'em," replied Bill," Hold 'em at bay. As long as it takes!
"It's away!" said Jerec's aide.
"Prepare to escape as soon as Solar explodes," ordered Jerec.
"Yes sir," smiled his aide. He was happy to serve his commanding officer, and this was their greatest victory ever.
"They've fired the missile. All flight leaders attack!" ordered Pepper.
"We're on our way!" replied Wulfe," Alpha group, Wolf group, all fighters follow me."
The missile was still six kilometers away, but his V-40 could close the distance in about forty seconds. Several more fighters joined them as they approached the missile. The fastest cruisers, small corvettes and light frigates, were following to provide fire support for the fighters.
"We need to bring the shields down as quickly as possibly," said Wulfe.
"You've got it, Wulfe," replied Sakey.
As soon as they were in range they fired at the missile. The shields barely dropped in percentage. The missile was armed with several automated gun turrets that fired powerful laser beams. Two fighters exploded.
"Watch those guns! They're deadly!" said Wulfe.
The escort fighters for the missile engaged the Lylat fighters. Another dogfight began. As they fought the missile gained speed and was soon far from the fighting.
"This sucks! We need to destroy it now!" shouted Wulfe.
He broke away and set his engines at maximum burn. He reached the missile in fifteen seconds and opened fire with his laser cannons and missiles. The shield dropped to 90% but the guns kept Wulfe from doing any more damage. His shields were at 43% and he doubted that he could take one shot from those guns, even with full shields. This is gonna take a while, thought Wulfe.
His lasers were at full power. He drained the energy from them and regenerated his shields to 66%. Feeling a bit safer he began another attack run. The guns fired but Wulfe bobbed and weaved through the bright flashes of destructive light energy. He locked on with a pair of missiles and fired. Two guns were blown off the missile by the explosion, leaving one side of the projectile totally defenseless.
"Alpha group, fire your missiles at the unprotected side," ordered Wulfe.
"Copy, Alpha 1," replied Alpha 4.
Wulfe flew past his wingmen and cleared away any fighters that may have come up from behind and shot them. The fighters delivered their payload, but the shield remained at 70%. They were still a long ways away, and Solar was getting closer.
"The missile's shields have dropped to 66%, sir!" reported Jerec's aide.
"Darn those Cornerian pilots. They may destroy my missile!" Jerec paced for a few seconds," Launch my War Drones! And I want you to send a dozen to Corneria as well!"
"Sir," replied the aide, and he gave the order to launch Jerec's own deadly fighters, the War Drones.
Specially designed robotic fighters, the War Drones were incredibly fast and maneuverable. Each equipped with four rotating arms with a laser cannon at the end of each one, a single Drone could successfully intercept an entire squadron of enemy fighters. The War Drones soon caught up with the Lylat fighters and began their reign of terror. Two Cornerian fighters exploded, and Wulfe's shields dropped to 30%.
"Where did these guys come from?" he half shouted.
"They were just launched a minute ago, sir," reported Alpha 4," From that big ship in the center."
Wulfe checked his bio-scanner," No life signs. They're nothing but droids. Nothing to worry about, guys. Just pretend they're only toaster ovens!" Wulfe received another shot," With guns!"
A Drone exploded, but another was flying around, keeping its four arms locked on four separate targets. Shot after shot fired from the powerful cannons; another fighter exploded. Then the Drone collided with a concussion missile fired from Wulfe's fighter.
"Suck on that ya tin can!" shouted Wulfe.
There were only three Drones left now. Two fighters from Alpha Squadron were ganging up on it. The Drone rotated its cannons towards its back and fired several shots. The attackers broke away, allowing the Drone to get into a better attack position.
"We need to attack him from several angles!" ordered Wulfe," Alpha 4, get his belly in your sights!"
"Yes sir!" replied Alpha 4.
The Cornerian Light Arwing dodged a few stray laser bolts and came up underneath the Drone. He fired his cannons in fire-linked mode and watched as the arms rotated to meet his attack. Then Alpha 6 came from another direction, firing his cannons at the droid. The arms rotated once again. Wulfe came up from the front and fired the death blow. The Drone exploded.
"Good job, Alpha!" he said.
The other Drones soon experienced the teamwork of Alpha Squadron.
Inside the palace of the King of Corneria, military personnel and servants were running around. The missile had been fired and they needed to get the King and Queen out as soon as possible.
"Your shuttle is ready Your Majesty," reported the King's personal aide. He bowed deeply.
"Very well. Shall we go?" he nodded to his wife.
The two were escorted to the shuttle by several heavily armed troopers and as soon as they were safely aboard the shuttle it took off. All of the fighters in the Royal Air Defense Squadron launched to escort the Royalty safely out of the system.
As they flew through the atmosphere an alarm went off. Several unidentified fighters were coming out of hyperspace. They were long, black, and had four mechanical arms protruding from the sides of the ship.
"Send the fighters to destroy them," ordered the King's military advisor.
As the Arwings gained speed to intercept the intruders, the shuttle revealed its hidden armament. It appeared to be just a normal shuttle, but as hidden doors slid open they revealed heavy laser cannons, gun turrets, missile launchers, and a tractor beam projector.
Three Arwings were shot down as the Drones flew through the ranks. They turned to counter attack and succeeded in destroying two Drones. The Drones were programmed to seek out the King's shuttle and destroy it, regardless of their losses. The King's shuttle was also escorted by four cruisers, who immediately opened fire as the Drones came into range.
The warhead gunner on the shuttle made sure he had a solid lock on each Drone before firing an Advanced Concussion missile. The Drones shields were strong, but an Advanced missile could cut through them and seriously damage the fighter's hull if not actually destroying the ship. The King held his wife closer as lasers rocked the small shuttle, but it not only had offensive capabilities. The shields could withstand a direct broadside from a Dorisby-Class cruiser. They would hold.
"We have a starship class sir. I found it in a database from the Dlorr System," reported Pepper's Lieutenant.
"Well!?" demanded Pepper.
"Yes sir. It's a Galaxy-Class Destroyer. They seriously outmatch any of our other ships; but the Avenger may stand a chance against it."
"Give me a status report on the missile."
"We have twenty fighters on it sir, but it's got some more fighter support and the guns are keeping our ships away."
"Open a channel to the fleet," ordered Pepper.
Pepper stood on the bridge of his favorite ship, about to send her into a battle that she may not win. But if he was to go down in flames he would rather be on board the Avenger than any other cruiser.
"Channel open, sir."
"Attention all craft! We've got to give those fighters more time! Concentrate all firepower on that Galaxy-Class Destroyer!" Then he turned to his helmsman," Take us in!"
The Avenger achieved full speed and flew directly towards the enemy fleet's flagship.
"You heard the boss," said Fox.
He led his squadron on a direct course through the mayhem towards the big cruiser in the center of the enemy's fleet. His flight group had been through the worst of it and now they were just waiting to see who was going to win. Fox had Falco, Peppy, and Slippy with him. Unfortunately Star and Fara had been assigned to another group. Of course, it was Fox who did the assigning, and he knew how much Fara and Star hated taking orders from him.
As the ship grew larger in their cockpits, the cruiser's big guns began to fire. A laser hit Fox's ship, sending it spinning out of control," Watch it! Those guns are powerful. Don't make any slow moves or you're dead!"
The group fired lasers and missiles as the cruiser tried to drive them off. A fighter from Red Squadron exploded. Several other craft were assisting: fighters, cruisers; all trying to do as much damage as possible. Some crazy Invader III pilots were even crashing into the ship. Then came Lylat's big gun: the Avenger. As soon as she was in range she opened fire with all of her forward armament. The Destroyer's weapons were stronger, but had a shorter range and could not fire for several seconds.
The two ships returned fire, like two giants going shot-for-shot with huge wooden clubs. Both were already damaged, but it would be the true test of power and strength to see who would win and who would lose. The Destroyer launched more Drones, and the Lylat fighters kept coming. It was all becoming a large mass in the center. Some cruisers were even colliding to eliminate the enemy. It had become all-out mayhem.
A small Canine frigate was firing its turbolasers at the Destroyer when an enemy corvette smashed through its engines. The frigate exploded, taking the corvette with it. Fighters were flying around, shooting at anything and everything. It was one of the worst space battles that had ever occurred.
"Report!" demanded Pepper. It was the fourth call in five minutes.
"Sir, we're down to 23% shields and our hull has potholes worse than Andross' fortress. We need something to draw laser fire from the Avenger or we'll all be destroyed!"
"Did you hear that, Fox?" asked Pepper.
"Will do, General," replied Fox," Star Fox, pull in!"
The four Arwings originally from the Star Fox team swooped towards the Destroyer.
"Keep them occupied as long as possible," said the commander.
"I'll fly across their forward guns and try to draw their fire," replied Fox.
He pulled his Arwing into a spin and dived towards the front of the cruiser, his guns blazing. Several shots hit dead on, and actually destroyed one of the gun turrets. Other turrets pointed towards his ship and fired. Fox tried to dodge but took a hit.
Peppy and Slippy joined together for a combined assault. They fired lasers and missiles and managed to get a lot of attention. Both escaped with light damage.
"I'm going in!" said Falco.
He flew towards the front of the ship, his bright blue lasers reaching out and hitting the hull of the cruiser. He dodged left and right to escape the enemy laser shots. As he pulled away, the belly of his Arwing was totally exposed and he took a direct hit, point blank.
"I've got a problem here," he shouted.
His Arwing was stuck in a spin. The shot had damaged his flight control system and he was flying on a straight course, unable to turn. Two more shots hit his ship.
"I need some help over here, Fox!"
"I'm on my way!" replied Fox.
Fox's Arwing, followed by Slippy and Peppy tried to create a diversion, but the gunners were concentrating on the disabled target. Another laser shot made Falco's ship bounce violently to the right. It then collided with another laser shot. With his ship already heavily damaged and his shields barely functioning, Falco screamed as his Arwing was reduced to flames around him. All that remained was a singed pair of wings and some wreckage.
"FALCO!!" screamed Fox.
"Nooo!" shouted Slippy.
The team was devastated. They had lost Falco. Fox was enraged," That's it. Let's take 'em down, Star Fox!"
The three remaining Arwings grouped in their classic formation and prepared to fire all remaining weapons at the ship.
"Excellent work Star Fox!" Pepper called to them," Their shields are out."
"We'll finish him off General! He's ours!"
"I understand. All craft break away!"
The fleet began to move apart, led by the damaged Avenger. Star Fox locked on and fired all remaining missiles and Nova Bombs. Eight bright red warheads and four bright balls of energy crashed against the cruiser one by one.
"Report on the primary target," ordered Pepper.
"Their hull is heavily damaged!" replied the commander.
Then a bright yellow and orange ball of fire lit up the bridge of the Avenger. The enemy mothership was no more. As the explosion spread, several enemy cruisers were enveloped as well; making it a four for one. The Cornerian transmissions were filled with cheering. Everyone was clapping and celebrating, except Star Fox.
"Good job team," said Fox solemnly," Let's finish the job."
The missile was down to 15% shields and was still taking a beating. Its last functioning laser cannon was barely working, but still packed a punch. The Lylatians had eight fighters remaining against it.
Sakey, who had been flying as Wolf Leader for the entire attack, was fighting as hard as she could. The missile had a tough defense, but she knew that she and her compatriots would win. She took a direct hit from the cannon which dropped her shields. Sparks popped inside her cockpit and part of her dashboard melted.
"Ahh!" she gasped.
"Are you alright, Sakey?" asked Wulfe.
"Yeah, I'm fine," she replied.
She wasn't fine. That last shot had eliminated her shields. She would be a sitting duck without them. She began to break away from combat. Then she got a plan. If she could convert all power to her engines then she would be able to make it to Solar before the missile would. Then she would have plenty of time to intercept it from the front. She broke away and made Solar in a matter of minutes. There she stopped her ship and waited.
As she waited she thought about the situation. If she stayed around and the attack wasn't successful then she would be killed, along with everyone else in the Lylat system. If she attacked the missile again she might be destroyed. Or... she could escape now and live for certain. But all of those innocent lives... lost.
The missile was getting too close to Solar for Wulfe's comfort. There were only six other fighters left now that Sakey had disengaged.
"We need to destroy it now!" he shouted," All craft lock on missiles and fire."
"But sir," replied Alpha 2," I'm out of missiles."
"So am I," exclaimed Wolf 3.
"Doesn't anyone have any missiles?"
Sakey checked her dash. A faint light could be seen through the melted mess of metal and plastic; a small red missile indicator light. She thought about the innocent lives again. Would she take responsibility for their deaths. It would be like being the one to drive a spear into an innocent's chest," I think I can help you, Wulfe."
"Sakey, are you armed?"
"Armed and ready. I'm packing!" replied Sakey.
She flew on a direct course for the missile, Whatever happens I'm either going to live or die. And I won't be able to live with myself if I could have helped and I didn't!
She centered the missile in her crosshairs and switched on her targeting computer. It beeped several times then locked with a long beep.
"I'm locked on!"
She pressed the firing button. Nothing happened. She pressed it again. A spark flew out of the dashboard and the light flickered out. She'd never even had any missiles," Sorry Wulfe, I'm empty."
Wulfe sighed. He knew what had to be done. He was the flight leader after all," It's over. All craft prepare to retreat."
"We might have another chance, Wulfe," replied Wolf 3.
"We have no choice! We can't destroy it in time without any missiles."
Sakey nodded slowly. She knew what had to be done.
She accelerated and flew on a direct course for the missile. The automated gun, in its final operating moments, still served the warhead to which it was mounted to. Red laser shots fired at Sakey's ship. One shot blew her starboard wing off, sending the fighter into a spin; but it still remained on course. Another shot caused a small explosion on the rear of the ship; but Sakey kept coming. She was mere meters from the missile now.
"Goodbye Wulfe. Neeeaaaaaa!!!"
"Sakay!!" screamed Wulfe.
Sakey's Arwing collided with the missile and exploded. The missile's front section was ripped wide open and then self destructed. The rest of the missile exploded a few seconds later.
"Woo hoo! Did you see that!" shouted Wolf 3.
"That's a pretty sight," Alpha 2 gave a sigh of relief. It was finally over.
Wulfe sat quietly in his fighter. Sakey, his mentor and dearest friend, was dead. She gave her life for us, he thought. A small tear ran down his cheek.
As the battle was unfolding, the remaining cruisers from the Galactic Freedom Unit began to retreat. With their flagship and their powerful weapon destroyed, they no longer had anything to fight for. Their fleet had been drastically reduced in number and the Lylatians were still attacking as fiercely as they had in the first few minutes of battle.
As the last cruiser left, cheers could be heard on all channels. The Lylatians had won; yet lasers continued to fire. The Venomians, adding to their attack on Katina, now opened fire on the Cornerian ships.
"Those Venomian backstabbers!!" shouted Pepper," All craft engage the Venomian forces!"
Cornerian cruisers and fighters now began to fight again, this time against an enemy that they thought were long ago defeated. But with the Cornerian military weakened by the battle, Venom had a good chance to finally take over. The other ships, such as the Canine cruisers, which had started to depart as soon as the battle ended, now returned to fulfill their promise to fight with Corneria. Venom soon found itself overwhelmed by V-45's and mercenary fighters. A Dorisby-Class cruiser exploded.
"No!" shouted the captain of the lead Saruzin-Class Cruiser," Not again!"
The last word had barely left his lips when the bridge was hit by a heavy rocket. The armour was blown away and everyone inside was sucked out into space. The flagship was destroyed seconds later.
The other Venomian captains soon turned their brains back on and headed for Venom air space. Once again the Cornerians had won, and cheering and hollering rang through the speakers on every ship in the fleet. The only people in the fleet who weren't happy were Wulfe Litefoot and the Star Fox team; minus one.
Wulfe had watched as his mentor and best friend killed herself to save the entire system. Fox was still enraged. Not only was he mad at the Galactic Freedom Unit for killing Falco, but also mad at himself. It was his command that sent Falco to his death, and his responsibility. It was something that he could never forgive himself for... ever.
The remnants of the Lylat fleet grouped over Corneria, except the Venomian cruisers. The Canines volunteered to send two heavy cruisers to Katina to clean up the Venomian mess there and then sent the rest of their fleet home. All of the Cornerian fighters returned to the CAAF bases and the mercenaries (those that stayed behind in the hope of a reward) landed in various space ports in the nearby area.
There had been heavy losses to the Cornerian fleet. Out of the three hundred available Cornerian cruisers, they had lost one-hundred twenty-three. Their fighter compliment had been cut by two-thirds as well. Canis denied access to their own records, but they also sustained heavy losses.
Fox McCloud burst into the Cornerian POW camp. He pushed his way past the guards and marched down the rows of prisoners who had been rescued from escape pods. Slippy, Peppy, and Star tried to keep up, but Fox was walking too quickly. He knew who he wanted to see. He had seen his picture and POW number in the newspaper.
He stopped in front of POW #426 and stood in front of him. The guard stood close by," Please stay back, sir," but Fox didn't listen.
He launched himself at the prisoner, his fists flying. Each punch connected with the prisoner's face like a rock falling from the sky. Blood soon showed on Fox's knuckles. The guard had barely stepped forward when Slippy and Peppy grabbed their friend and dragged him off of the prisoner. Finally there was quiet.
"You killed Falco!" screamed Fox. He pointed a bloody finger right at the prisoner's chest," It may not have been you who pulled the trigger, but I'm holding you responsible. I'll personally execute you!"
"I have no idea of who or what you're talking about," replied the prisoner. He wiped the blood from his mouth.
"I think you do, Admiral Jerec. It was you who got the big idea to destroy Solar, therefore dragging Corneria into this conflict, who then called for help. We came because we owe a lot to Corneria, and went to fight with them. If you'd never even come then Falco would still be alive right now!" Fox now had tears running down his face.
"It had to be done," said Jerec, blankly. It was as if he didn't care what had just happened a day earlier.
"So does this!"
Fox reached for his gun and almost had it drawn before Slippy, Peppy, and a half dozen guards jumped on him and knocked him to the floor.
"Let me go! He has to die!" shouted Fox. He punched and kicked, but was soon restrained. The guards carried the struggling, and now handcuffed, Fox to the entrance of the POW camp. They removed his shackles and shoved him outside.
"Stay away from here," ordered the guard," It'll take General Pepper himself to get you inside again, Commander."
Fox kicked dirt at the guard and spat. Then turned and stormed away with his trio of friends in tow.
Pepper sighed as he closed the big wooden doors that led into his office. The battle was finally over, and as the Avenger sat in a repair bay he was looking forward to a long relaxing nap.
"I need to talk with you General," a voice from behind called out.
Pepper nearly jumped out of his clothes," Wulfe! What are you doing in my chair?!"
Wulfe smiled and leaned forward, making the padded leather chair squeak," I need you to do me a favour."
"Like what?" asked Pepper. He motioned for Wulfe to get out of his seat and Wulfe stood beside his desk.
"I want you to add my name to the list of casualties."
"But why? Half of the people here know you're alive. It'll be quite a bit of trouble convincing them that you didn't really fly back home with them."
"All I need is a large supply of memory potion. I'll just filter it through the air ducts one night and they'll forget what happened after the battle ended. Then all you have to do is add my name to the list before taking a dose yourself. I'll be the only one who knows I'm still alive."
"Very well. If that's really what you want," Pepper said reluctantly. Then he cleared his throat and added cautiously," What about your wife and kids?"
The kids! They were here in the same building; just down the hall and barely two minutes away. Wulfe shook is head," I'm sorry General, it's something I have to do. I can't fight these urges. I need to get back to my old life." Wulfe hung his head sadly.
Pepper nodded solemnly. He went into a small room adjacent to his office and came out holding several vials of memory potion," I'll see that these get filtered through the air ducts on the night of your choice."
"Tomorrow. We need everyone here at once."
Pepper nodded once more.
After a banquet to celebrate the victory, all personnel involved in the attack were invited to stay on base for the next week, including the mercenaries and bounty hunters. Though a bit suspicious, the mostly grungy mercs couldn't pass up the opportunity to get a good night's sleep in a comfortable bed.
That night, around two o'clock, a light blue mist began to filter out into the rooms of the sleeping people; even into the hallways and other rooms. Every room in the building that had an air duct was filled with the blue mist. Each person who breathed it in slowly drifted into a deeper sleep, and would awake feeling rested... but forget everything that happened after the battle.
Sheena anxiously searched the list of casualties that had finally been sent over from Corneria. She hoped and prayed that Wulfe's name wouldn't be on it, but as she scrolled down it was right there in bold print: Commander Wulfe Litefoot. She gasped. Her hand went to her mouth and tears began to gather around her eyes.
"No," she said softly. She still couldn't believe it," NOOOO!!!"
Sheena punched the screen, sending it flying across the desk and onto the floor. She collapsed to the floor and sat on her knees, sobbing," Why?! He was such a good pilot... a good father. Why did he have to die. Why couldn't it have been someone else?"
She thought of her children. Did they know already? Would she have to be the one to tell them? She shook all over. Her husband was dead, and she was left alone with three children who were too young to look after themselves. What was she to do?
No records were ever presented for the groups of mercs and bounty hunters who had sacrificed their lives to protect Lylat, but they were all posthumously awarded with a large memorial in Corneria City's Central Park.
As the service went along, Wulfe stood alone. Dressed in a dark gray trench coat, Wulfe felt out of place once more. He couldn't start from where he was. He needed to join a group to get some money and start over. Maybe even Star Fox? With the loss of Falco there would definitely be an opening. Wulfe sighed and looked up into the sky. The dark clouds blocked the view of the cruisers in orbit.
The service was coming to a close. Pepper was giving his final remarks. Wulfe listened intentively. With one final word, Pepper pulled the sheet off of a small bronze statue. It stood about two feet high and was the exact likeness of Sakey. Wulfe began to cry. There she was, perfect and in one piece. His mind filled with memories of their past. How she had taught him everything he had known about being a mercenary. His first mission. And then the thoughts about her killing herself. Wulfe turned and left, missing the twenty-one gun salute. He had seen enough.
His last stop before leaving Corneria for the last time was the graveyard. There he stood for a few moments in front of James' grave marker. He leaned over and put his hand on the smooth marble surface. He hoped to be remembered the same way.
Wulfe pulled out his stun laser and shot the three guards that were looking after the fighters in docking bay 12. There sat his modified V-40 Foxx. He patted its battle scarred hull and climbed aboard. With the ship missing, he was sure that no one would think he was still alive. He could think of it now," Yeah. We're sure he's dead 'cause we don't have his fighter."
Wulfe knew exactly where to find Star Fox. Their ship, the Great Fox was still in orbit. Fox had been monitoring the trial of Admiral Jerec for the past two days and was eager to find out when they were going to execute him. With little Cornerian military ships nearby, Wulfe slipped out of the atmosphere and approached Great Fox.
"Rob, wake up," he called to the Fox," This is Wulfe, requesting permission to land."
The metallic voice of the Star Fox team's droid came through Wulfe's headset," Permission denied, you imposter. Wulfe's dead."
"Stupid droid," mumbled Wulfe," Rob, I can prove it's me." Wulfe leaned over to his keyboard and typed in a few digits. It was the access code for Great Fox's computer core. Good thing I snatched this the last time I was on board, thought Wulfe. He just hoped that Star Fox hadn't changed their codes in the past eight years.
"Yes!" shouted Wulfe. He was in. He quickly began to disable the security systems on the Great Fox. Rob soon found himself powering down for a long nap.
Wulfe flew into the hanger and landed his ship in the empty slot where Falco's Arwing would have gone. Wulfe exited his fighter and looked around the hanger. There had been a few small modifications since he'd last been here, but the hanger was still relatively the same. He then decided to find his old room. After passing through the living room and lounge, Wulfe opened a familiar door. The light was out. After flicking on the light he found that the room was empty.
Wulfe felt a tingling sensation in his bladder. It was that time again. He counted the doors from his room to the bathroom and was rewarded by the familiar wooden frame. He opened the door and was surprised to see a female Fennec sitting on the john.
"Oops! Sorry!" said Wulfe. He quickly closed the door just as the Fennec looked up at him.
"Aahh! Get out!" she shouted. She grabbed a spare roll of toilet paper and threw it at the now closed door. Then she realized something," Wasn't that...?"
A loud scream emanated from inside the bathroom," Foooxxyyyy!!!!!"
Fox came running down the hall just seconds later," Fara! What's wrong?"
Then he saw Wulfe standing there. He stopped dead in his tracks and gasped," What are you doing here? I thought that Falco's ghost would come to haunt me, not yours!"
Wulfe just grinned. He took a few steps towards Fox," But I'm not a ghost; I'm not dead. Try to put your hand through me."
Fox reluctantly reached forward, ever so slowly, and touched Wulfe's arm. He jumped back," Well, you're real enough for me. But I read the list. You were..."
"Dead?" interrupted Wulfe. He chuckled," I planned it that way. Thanks to General Pepper and a large dose of memory potion, everyone in that building the night of the banquet thinks I'm dead. Afterwards, Pepper added my name to the list and took a dose himself. Even he think I'm dead."
"Oh my gosh, Fara!" exclaimed Fox, remembering why he had come in the first place. He rushed into the bathroom. He came out a few moments later with his girlfriend," It's okay. He's not dead," assured Fox.
Fara took one more look at Wulfe and screamed again.
"Look Fara," said Wulfe," Can a ghost do this?" he leaned over and kissed her. Fara blushed slightly.
Fox was not amused," Alright Wulfe, you've made your point."
The excitement had gotten the attention of the other members of the team, and the hallway was soon full of surprised, chatting people.
"I thought you were dead!" said Slippy.
"I'm glad you're still alive. You're a great pilot!" complimented Peppy.
"You've come back, eh Wulfe?" said Star, and she winked at him.
"Yeah, Wulfe," said Fox," Why are you here anyway?"
Wulfe cleared his throat. It was time to tell all," I'm really very sorry for the loss of Falco. He was a great guy, and a skilled pilot. Now I know that I could never replace him, and that you guys don't quite know me as well yet, but I was hoping that you guys would let me fill in the empty space?"
Fox stepped forward and placed his hand on Wulfe's shoulder," We'd like that, Wulfe."
He hugged Wulfe like a brother. Falco had meant a lot to him, and he was honoured to have Wulfe as a team member," Welcome to Star Fox!"
Back to Star Fox Stories
Characters: Wulfe and Sheena Litefoot & their kids Jay, Crystal, and Rose, Sakey Yonule, Admiral Jerek, Major Furze, Admiral Chun, Captain Fenris, Cyberwulfe.
Inanimate Objects: Galactic Freedom Unit, RCN, BX-38, Galaxy-Class Destroyer (Laurentien), V-40 Foxx, V-45 Wolf Wing, Y-Class Heavy Cruiser, J-Class Light Frigate, the Avenger, War Drones.
Red Fox and her team, as well as the Black Fox, are copyrighted to Red Fox.
Other characters, ships, and/or weapons are copyrighted to their respective owners.
by Jars of Clay
I am the only one to
blame for this
Somehow it all adds up the same
Soaring on the wings of selfish pride
I flew too high and like Icarus I collide
With a world I try so hard to leave behind
To rid myself of all but love
To give and die
To turn away and not
Another nail to pierce the skin of one who loves
More deeply than the oceans
More abundant than the tears
Of a world embracing every heartache
Can I be the one to
Or grip the spear and watch the blood and water flow
To love you - take my
To need you - I am on my knees
To love you - take my world apart
To need you - broken on my knees
All said and done I stand
Amongst remains of a life I should not own
It takes all I am to believe
In the mercy that covers me
Did you really have to
die for me?
All I am for all you are
Because what I need and what I believe are worlds apart
And I pray...
I look beyond the empty
Forgetting what my life has cost
And wipe away the crimson stains
And dull the nails that still remain
More and more I need you
I owe you more each passing hour
The battle between grace and pride
I gave up not so long ago
So steal my heart and
take the pain
And wash the feet and cleanse my pride
Take the selfish take the weak
And all the things I cannot hide
Take the beauty take my
The sin-soaked heart and make it yours
Take my world all apart
Take it now take it now
And serve the ones that I
Speak the words I can't deny
Watch the world I used to love
Fall to dust and thrown away
I look beyond the empty
Forgetting what my life has cost
So wipe away the crimson stains
And dull the nails that still remain
So steal my heart and
take the pain
Take the selfish take the weak
And all the things I cannot hide
Take the beauty take my tears
Take my world apart. take my world apart
I pray, I pray, I pray
Take my world apart