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The Rose's Thorns

Chapter Text

Beep…Beep…Beep…Beeeeeep.

Now accessing Lylat Military database; Section B2-Cornerian Space Force; Subsection F8-Team Starfox; Biographical logs-Captain Fox McCloud.

Audio log no. 1785, now opening…

"The name's Fox McCloud. It's been almost eight years since I joined team Starfox to defeat the evil scientist, Andross, and avenge the death of my father, James McCloud. Thankfully, though, my father's partner, Peppy Hare, had taken me under his wing, so, I guess (in a sense) he is more of a father to me than a mentor. I had also been assigned to work with this two-bit jock, Falco Lombardi, and highly jumpy mechanic, Slippy Toad. After the Saurian Crisis, a new member, the most beautiful vixen I have ever had the best possible fortune to know, had joined the team and had encouraged me to fight just to win her heart. I want her to know that I like her, but I just get too shy, and I'm scared of being rejected. I just don't wanna lose someone as special as her, especially not to this eccentric freak on team Starwolf, Panther Caroso, who is deliberately trying to steal her away from me. So, yeah. Not the best conditions to work under, but…hell, I got nowhere else to go and nothing better to do. To anyone who is listening to this, this is it. This is what I'll spend my life on until me and her are together, as more than just friends or acquaintances."

Recording end. Now exiting database. No further authorization will be provided without consultation of Military officer.

Chapter Text

The time is 7:00 AM.

BUZZ…BUZZ…BUZZ

Fox McCloud stirred under his covers after hearing that annoying sound.

"Ngh…damn clock!" He said furiously under his breath.

Fox pulled a small, suppressed blaster out from under his bed and shot the clock.

"Now I can finally get more sleep. I'll clean up the mess later." He pulled the covers back over his head.

Today was the first day of a 10-day break from being a mercenary. The Starfox team got a break four times each year. Although they were fairly rare, they were worth fight for, all just for peace and quiet for over a week.

After spending another 3 months living on the Great Fox, and after having exterminated the Aparoids, Fox was now back to living in his own house on his home planet, Corneria.

After another hour and a half, Fox got out of bed and made his way to his room's bathroom.

He stepped inside the shower, where he spent roughly ten minutes under the soothing warm water.

Afterwards, he made his way to the kitchen to eat some breakfast.

He sliced a tangelo into several wedges, and poured some cornflakes and milk into a bowl.

As he ate, Fox glanced over at a picture of his team, known as Starfox, on a small table in the corner of the dining room.

It depicted himself standing next to his team members, Peppy Hare, Falco Lombardi, Slippy Toad, and…

"Krystal…" Fox whispered.

He stood up from his seat and picked up the framed photo, looking sadly at it.

Ever since Krystal had joined Starfox after rescuing her on the planet Sauria, Fox had become infatuated with the blue Cerenian vixen and could hardly ever stop thinking about her.

This was what led to his hope complications. Krystal appeared to have similar feelings towards Fox, but since he didn't know much about women, it could just be friendly gestures.

Fox had wanted so much as to have the one day come where he could express his love for her, and have it returned by her as well.

He stared at Krystal in the photo and sighed dreamingly.

"If only it were easier…" Fox said to himself.

It wasn't only the fact that Krystal was difficult to talk to that made it hard to win her affection.

A new member of Starwolf, Panther Caroso, was a black feline who was trying to take Krystal for himself, and Krystal has shown a few, faint signs of affection for him.

Fox grew angry at the thought of Panther and Krystal together. If Fox didn't have her, then he simply couldn't think of another way to live a happy life.

"Okay, I have to tell her before Caroso can." Fox said.

Growing anxious, he thought for a moment, "Oh, but what will I say…?"

Fox walked in front of a mirror on the living room wall.

"Krystal…" he started off, "…we've known each other for almost two years, and during that time, I've found you to be very…motivating—no, I mean…" he paused for a few seconds.

"…well, I'm not gonna word this correctly but, Krystal, I just want to tell you that, flying alongside you all this time has made me realize what a great and beautiful person you really are, and that I…I lov-…"

Fox couldn't say it, no matter how hard he tried.

"Agh, screw it! It's never gonna work!" he yelled out loud.

The discouraged vulpine sulked on the sofa, staring at the spinning ceiling fan.

Supposing he did, out of an insanely wild possibility, manage to pull it all off, what would Krystal's response be? Would she be pleased by it and return her love? Or would she run off and rip his heart out?

Fox didn't like the suspense. He couldn't stand the thought of life without Krystal. If she rejected him, he was almost sure he'd never recover from the unendurable pain it would cause.

But if he didn't tell her how he felt, how could she ever come to like him?

Fox decided to set these questions aside for now and proceeded with preparing for the first day of his vacation.

He got dressed out of his bathrobe into some normal attire, got in his car, and drove off to visit Falco, who only lived 9 minutes away.

Chapter Text

Falco Lombardi had gotten up early spent his morning watching his favorite movie (The Matrix: Reloaded) which he hadn't gotten the chance to see in months.

About 5 minutes after finishing the movie, his doorbell rang.

"Hmph, accepted the invitation, huh?" The avian said as he made his way to the door.

The person he was expecting to see came into his view as he opened the door.

"Hey, Fox!"

The vulpine smiled. " 'Sup, Falco?"

Falco shrugged his shoulders, "Not much, but Katt just decided to break up with me again."

Fox laughed. "You still hung up on Monroe?"

"Yeah! She didn't like the fact that I didn't answer any of her messages while we were away." Falco looked annoyed, "I told her that I couldn't find my damn phone, but no. She just has to go and ruin our friendship with her stubbornness."

Falco took a second to calm down.

"Well, anyways, why don't you come in? Mi casa es tu casa." Falco said as he motioned his arm towards the interior of his house.

Fox walked in, trying to suppress his laughter, but Falco was still able to hear him.

The avian glared at the vulpine. "What's so damn funny?"

"Everything, man!" Fox replied under the strain of laughing. "You can never learn to let go!"

Falco rasped. "Like you're one to talk! What about your current status with Krystal?"

Fox stopped laughing, and looked confused.

"You've had your eyes on her nonstop since she joined the team!" Falco said with a fake smile, "I see you stop and stare when she walks by, and you end up with a beet-red face after trying to 'speak' with her! Heh heh, quite a funny vibe you have, Foxie…"

The vulpine sighed, "Look, I really don't like to talk about it…and I like it even less for other people to get involved as well."

Falco threw a narrow-eyed glance at Fox.

"Is this about Caroso?" The avian questioned.

"NO! No…" Fox said quickly. "I was referring to you. I'd appreciate it if you could keep your beak out of other people's business."

"We all know that's a lie." Falco said, shaking his head, "Fox, look, I hate that Godforsaken feline no-brain as well, but perhaps not as much as you, because, well…" he smiled in a partially-hysteric manner, "…he's been trying to snag Blue Beauty away, am I right?"

Fox glared with a slight facial flush. "Stop this right here, Lombardi. You're acting like you were back in the eighth grade. I don't like it."

Falco gave a single, whoop-like laugh, "That was fifteen years ago!"

But Fox retaliated further, "It still disturbs me!"

"You've never known what it's like to be in a relationship!" Falco shouted in a childish tone.

Fox imitated his tone; "Well you were turned down by a crapload of girls in high school!"

"But you've never even had a girlfriend! So that goes to show that chicks have problems with you!" Falco rebutted.

"Well, let's see…" Fox said, starting to count with his fingers, "…you were dumped (not broken up with) by Roxanne…Miranda…Naomi…Heather…Alexis…and, oh yeah, Katt Monroe…times a hundred and fifty-million! Case in point."

Falco groaned. "…Well to get Krystal to like you, why not wear a shirt that says 'Please love me, Krystal, I'm mad for your person'!"

Fox gasped, and his eyes widened to the size of Slippy Toad's eyes. "You take that back!" He said, enraged.

"You take that back!"

"Take what back!?"

"I don't know! Just take it back!"

"I'm taking nothing back!"

"Me neither!"

"Fine!"

"Fine!"

"God!"

"God!"

"Bleh!" Fox said, raising his hands and making a strange face.

"Bleh!" Falco replied, doing the same.

The two stared at each other for a minute.

"I'm outta here!" Falco yelled.

He marched out the door. A few seconds later, he came back in.

"This isn't your house!" he said.

Fox left without another word, made a small scratch on the wheel guard of Falco's motorcycle with his car key, and drove off in his car.

"Hmph, who knew so much trouble could spawn from a simple, everyday conversation?" Fox asked himself out loud.

He thought about how things were going between himself and Krystal, and thought that he might be able to take everything to the next level.

His love for her burned hotter than the Lylat binary system. He had never felt this way about another girl before in his life. He only wished she thought of him that way…

Krystal was apparently going to be taking a walk in the park today, or so he heard back on the Great Fox from R.O.B.

He supposed that it wouldn't hurt to stop by and maybe "accidentally" run into her there. The park in question wasn't that far, anyways.

Fox arrived at the park 5 minutes after leaving Falco's.

He looked around for a bit of time, but he didn't see Krystal anywhere (and she would be quite distinct, because very few Cornerians have blue fur).

He walked around a large pond, looked around the playground, where there were several kids, and across a large, open grass field (which was used for sporting events), but still no Cerenian vixen.

He walked into the woods on the edge of the park to continue his search. He saw a blue figure, wearing a pink T-shirt, high-heel sandals, and a black skirt, walking towards an opening in the thick trees that led out of the small forest.

Fox had wanted to say "Hi, Krystal!" to her, but before he could get close enough, someone else appeared through the opening she was walking toward.

It was a tall, black cat with a white patch of fur on the side of his face, wearing a bright blue formal suit, and holding a rose in his mouth.

"Panther!" Fox whispered.

The vulpine pulled out a blaster pistol from a shoulder holster under his jacket (which he was allowed to carry since the military provided him with a concealed-carry license), chambered it, and moved towards the vixen and feline.

It, after all, was the goal of Starfox to apprehend all members of Starwolf, as they have a massive bounty on their heads. But Fox wanted to detain Panther, not for justice, but to do it personally.

He hid in a bush nearby, and noticed Panther kneeling in front of Krystal, and saying something Fox couldn't make out.

The vulpine felt a wave of despair wash over him. "Oh no…" He whispered inaudibly.

"Panther…" Fox heard Krystal suddenly say, "…yes! I will!" And with that, Panther stood up, and they both hugged.

At that moment, Fox felt his heart shatter into microscopic particles.

"No…" Fox said under his breath at the horror of what he'd just seen.

Never had this level of sadness come over him within 5 seconds, with the exception of hearing about his father's death.

Fox put away his blaster and ran away, back into the park. He simply could not be courageous enough to shoot Panther when every last ounce of his happiness had just been removed from him.

It was all over. Krystal was getting married to Panther. Fox's worst nightmare had come to fruition.

Fox couldn't believe what terrible anguish he was in right now. He could feel it not just emotionally, but physically, too, as if his heart was literally broken apart.

He was almost sure he was never going to recover from this. It was going to scar his soul for life…

The heartbroken vulpine walked slowly through the park, not wanting to take in what a beautiful day it was; after what had just happened, it wasn't beautiful anymore.

Fox trudged only a few inches at a time, his eyes staring at the ground and streaming tears, his torso leaning forward, his ears and tail drooping, and his arms dangling from his shoulders.

He at last arrived in his car, and drove off, never letting Krystal know he had shown up at the park in the first place.

Chapter Text

Falco had heard about Panther's proposal to Krystal and became worried about how Fox would react if he found out.

The day after hearing, Falco rode his motorcycle down to Fox's house at around noon to check up on him.

Fox had spent almost the past fourty-eight hours laying on his couch without sleeping, the floor around him covered in empty beer and ale bottles, and all the curtains shut.

Falco had arrived at that moment and knocked on his door.

"Yo, Fox!" he yelled loud enough for him to hear.

Falco knocked again a few seconds later "Anybody home?"

Fox only let out a quiet, depressed moan.

Falco peeked through the door's window and saw him lying on the sofa.

"Look, buddy, I know it must hurt, but you shouldn't let it ruin your vacation!" Falco said through the closed door. "You're bringing everyone down! You gotta look at the positives of all this!"

Fox merely turned his head and stared at Falco.

Falco spoke again, "If you could just talk to me, I'm sure you'll feel a lot better."

Fox threw the empty bottle in his hand at the door, which broke it into several pieces.

Falco let out an impatient sigh, and opened the door.

"Fox, at least listen to me." The avian said with urgency.

Fox sighed, "…What do you want?" he finally said.

Falco replied, "I can't stand to see my bud upset like this. I want to help. Look around, this place is a total junkyard. You're acting like you're dead."

Fox sat up. "…Something very important to me is dead…something inside me…" Fox placed his hand to his chest, "…my heart."

"Look," Falco said, "I know just how upset you are; you'll get over it in a little while."

"You don't understand!" Fox blared out. "The one meant for me is getting married to a goddamn lowlife!"

Falco folded his arms.

"Do you know how that feels!?" Fox asked.

Falco reply was somewhat subtle, "So what if she is engaged? You never even made a move on her!"

Fox growled and glared at Falco.

Falco ignored this and continued, "I'm sure you can get over this with a bit of time. It worked for me after several breakups."

The vulpine gave the avian a doubtful look. "It will take a very long time for that to ever happen…" Fox said in a quiet tone.

"Look, Fox, there's plenty of fish in the sea. Who knows? Maybe you'll find a girl better for you than Krystal."

Fox shook his head. "She's the only one for me; I've never felt it better around her before than ever."

"Well," Falco said enthusiastically, "I can figure out a way to resolve all of this. Just wait here."

Fox just stared at the floor, "No promises." He said, silently and gloomy.

After about 15 minutes, Falco brought Fox upstairs to show him something on his laptop.

Falco signed him up on an internet dating website ().

"What!?" Fox yelled twelve inches from Falco's face, "You signed me up for this without telling me!?"

Falco only smiled, "What's the matter, furry?"

Fox sat on his bed as he glared at Falco.

"Well, in case you need to know what the hell is the matter, feathers, I'm not gonna start dating on the internet!" the irritated and grumpy vulpine shouted.

"I don't think it's as realistic as actually meeting someone else!" Fox shouted again.

Falco laughed, "Oh, come on, man! Several of my best relationships started on the 'net! Don't be a big dick about it!"

Fox stood up and left the room. "Forget it! You can erase that account!"

Falco shrugged, "Suit yourself, Captain McCloud." He said while throwing Fox a mocking salute.

"I think maybe you have somewhere to be, Lieutenant Lombardi?" Fox said, pointing to the front door on the first floor landing.

Falco stood up and walked down the stair. "Alright, but just try to find a way to perk yourself up again…"

Falco pinched his nostrils. "…and for God's sake, please take a shower! You sitting still for a long time caused mildew to grow on you." And he left, his motorcycle roaring away.

Fox raised his arm and sniffed underneath it.

"Whooh…birdbrain's right, I should get all this shit cleaned off me."

Whenever Fox used his shower during the day, he left the lights off and allowed sunlight through the ceiling window to be his light source.

As he stood in the warm jets, he couldn't help staring out of the window and seeing two outdated arwings flying past. He imagined how nice it would be to take his for a joyride.

He even wished he was in one of the two that had just flown by, while in the other was…well, it's too painful for Fox to even think of the name of the vixen that rejected him.

Every time Fox thought about Krystal, he felt a surge of pain in the hole where his heart had once been.

Fox imagined himself standing in front of Krystal and Panther.

"Oh, it's you." Krystal said absently.

"Why are you here?" Panther entered in.

Fox was really upset right now. "Why did you do this, Krystal? Why?"

Krystal put an evil smile on.

"Panther is a real man! He's smart, funny, handsome. You're just pathetic!"

Krystal's crushing words had emotionally weakened Fox even further.

"If you REALLY believed I would be YOUR girlfriend, you're just flat-out wrong!" Krystal continued.

"I wouldn't date you if you were the last living being in the universe!"

Panther took Krystal's hand, "You tell him, babe." He said, arrogantly.

Fox wasn't sure how to overcome this situation.

He would have wanted to explain to Krystal how he felt, but she was already engaged to Panther which would have been quite awkward, and even humiliating, to say. His uncontrollable, burning, volcanic anger would send him into taking revenge on Panther, but doing so may result in Krystal hating him for good, and Fox couldn't live if she hated him.

With his mind spinning over the countless questions he desperately wants answers to, Fox decided to step out of his shower (now that his fur was clean again), get into some clothing, and pay a little visit to Starwolf's new member…

Chapter Text

Panther and Krystal had spent a good portion of the first few days after the proposal with each other.

They went to the movies, restaurants, and tonight, they were sleeping at a hotel, so no one on Starwolf or Starfox would bug them.

The check-in was somewhat complicated.

When they went up to the counter in the lobby, the collie sitting behind it looked suspiciously at Panther.

"We would like a room for the night." Krystal said.

The employee turned to Krystal, "Alright, I'll need you to fill out these forms." He said, passing two check-in forms to Panther and Krystal.

After about thirty seconds of writing, they handed them back, and the employee looked at Krystal's with shock.

"Krystal? From team Starfox!? OH MY GOD, it's you in person!" An enormous smile of excitement spread over the dog's face.

He took a minute to collect himself after admiring Krystal.

He viewed Panther's form, "And…Nathan Foster…?" He said, with a curious look on his face.

The feline only shrugged, "Yes, why do you ask?"

"Well," the employee began, "you look remarkably like that Panther Caroso guy on that wanted poster of Starwolf that's been everywhere…"

Panther folded his arms, "I'm unfamiliar with this 'Panther Caroso'."

The dog stared for several seconds.

"…eh. Whatever." He said at last. "Here are the keycards. Hope you enjoy your stay!"

"Thank you!" Krystal said, before starting to walk away.

"Hold on, Krystal." the collie said to the vixen. "This gentleman is your date, right?"

Krystal corrected him; "My fiancée."

A puzzled expression emanated from the employee.

"It's strange," he said, "I always thought you and Fox McCloud would be together…"

As soon as Krystal heard his name, she instantaneously became worried about Fox.

Of course, she didn't want Panther to be disappointed when he proposed to her, but she hasn't thought about Fox since the start of the vacation.

Oh no. Krystal thought to herself. What's gonna happen when he finds out about our engagement? I think he's gonna hate me, never want to talk to me again

Fox's voice arose in her mind; "Krystal…how could you!?" His voice sounded extremely heartbroken, which only invoked her feelings for him.

"I thought you loved me! He's our enemy! You can't be DOING THIS TO ME!" Now sounding as though he was in a total breakdown, Krystal felt really guilty, even though he might not know yet.

"Krystal…Krystal…" Fox kept sadly saying her name, sadly.

"…Krystal…Krystal!" Panther said loudly as they walked down the hall to their room.

Krystal suddenly returned to the real world. "Oh! Yes, Panther?"

Panther grew very concerned. "You're acting very strange, hon, Panther finds it to be unhealthy."

"Well, I can't stop thinking about Fox…" Krystal said.

"What!?" Panther hissed. "You can't possibly still be attached to that useless vulpine, now can you?"

The vixen looked even sadder.

"He's not good enough for you!" Panther said. "You're with Panther now! You accepted my proposal! And soon we shall be together for eternity by a bond of matrimony!"

Krystal thought for a few minutes.

"Well, I can't upset you, Panther. It wouldn't be very ladylike." she said sincerely.

"I was only thinking about what his reaction may be to all this. I never said I'd leave you for him!" She stated.

A look of relief spread over Panther's feline face. "Well, that's alright. Forgive Panther, my dear blue rose."

"Y'know," Krystal said in a serious tone, "those metaphors are starting to bore me. I also don't like how you speak in third-person, it's kinda creepy…"

Panther looked confused.

"It's nothing to take as offensive or personal," Krystal continued, "but you might be better off trying to be more civilized."

Panther sighed, "Panther has never been out very much, so I don't know much about social skills."

Krystal smiled, "That would explain so much…" She said slyly.

As soon as they got to their room, Panther and Krystal set their spare clothes on one of the two beds; they had planned on sharing the other.

The feline yawned and stretched.

"Well," he started to say, "it's been a long day…I'm going to take a shower, sweetie. Just wait here for me, alright?"

Krystal shrugged, "I'm certain you can trust me."

Panther spent the next twenty minutes in the shower, singing a song Krystal couldn't make out, in such an off-key and…well, generally bad voice.

Krystal, during that time, sat out on the balcony of their room, staring at the clear, Cornerian night sky.

So many stars filled the sky, and the vixen took in every ounce of their beauty.

But she couldn't stop thinking about Fox, and began to have flashbacks…

She remembered Fox freeing her from the Krazoa palace on Sauria…which revived Andross as the Krazoa god for the price of doing so.

Krystal felt slightly embarrassed about being so rude to Fox just a few seconds after first meeting, but felt a pang of relief that he forgave her after she apologized.

"My sensors indicate that Fox's temperature is rising." Krystal giggled as she remembered R.O.B. unintentionally revealing that Fox developed a crush on her.

During the Aparoid invasion, she remembered Tricky, a Saurian EarthWalker, teasing Fox about him and Krystal coming back for their honeymoon.

"We're not yet…uh…" Krystal couldn't control her laughter as she remember Fox looking like he was about to piss in his pants.

Thinking about the battles against the Aparoids, Krystal would always recall Fox saving her from enemies on her tail that she couldn't shake, even if she was an inch away from having to retreat. She sighed in delight at the reminiscence of her hero saving her life many times.

Krystal was deep in thought, but was sucked back into her physical body when she heard a door open; Panther had gotten out of the shower, wearing a bathrobe.

"Hello, my love," he said, "I'm back. And my…you look positively beautiful in the starlight." He said in a fake-sounding romantic tone.

Krystal blushed slightly, "Oh, Panther, you sure know how to make good compliments."

"Well, it's something Panther is naturally skilled with." Panther said.

Krystal laughed, "I thought you weren't good with socializing with others!"

Panther smiled, "Well, it's not every day you come across a gorgeous blue fox who is easy to speak to; all you need is confidence."

"I guess that makes sense." Krystal said in a tone of agreement.

Panther glanced over at the digital alarm clock.

"It is getting late, darling, shall we slumber?" Panther motioned his arm towards the bed.

"Yes," Krystal said, "anything for you, Panther."

Panther looked rather pleased. He and Krystal got under the covers.

"Goodnight, Krystal."

"Goodnight, Panther."

While Panther fell asleep, snoring, Krystal lay awake, partly due to the sound.

But she mostly wasn't able to fall asleep because she was worried about Fox.

She gazed out the window at the stars. "Oh, Fox…" she whispered.

"…where are you? How are you doing at this moment? What are you doing at this moment?"

She paused.

"…if you know already, Fox, I'm sorry. I can't simply find it in myself to leave you with a broken heart. When the time comes, I'll make it up to you…"

Panther made a strange gibberish murmur, but fell silent and began to snore again.

Krystal lay awake for most of the night, thinking about Fox…her hero…her partner…her love

Chapter Text

On the morning after Krystal and Panther returned from their stay at the hotel, Fox decided to visit Panther's place (which he bought to live in with Krystal on Corneria) to get his revenge.

Panther's house was somewhat unusual.

Instead of the front door opening inward, like on his house (and practically every house he's seen), Panther's front door opened outward.

Fox figured he could use this to his advantage as a hit-and-run type of revenge.

He drove his car to Panther's address, which he found in the phone book, and walked quickly and silently to the front door.

"Heh heh," Fox snickered, "Just wait until I'm finished with you, Caroso! This is just part one of my revenge. There's far more to come…"

He rang the doorbell a single time, and stood off to the side of the door in the direction it would open.

It took about a minute, but Fox started to hear footsteps approaching the door.

The door opened up. "Yes?" Panther's voice said while opening it.

Fox, who was hiding in the blind spot behind the door, slammed it into Panther's face.

A crash was heard from inside, indicating that Panther went flying backwards, and knocked something over.

"I hope that hurt, cat-boy!" Fox yelled through the door.

The vulpine turned and ran back to the car, laughing insanely.

He ignited the engine and started to reverse out of the driveway fast.

Just as he shifted into "drive" to start leaving, Panther opened his door again, now with a black eye, and aimed a machine gun at Fox's car.

Several chains of loud bursts and sharp clanks went off; Panther fired the gun and many bolts hit the fenders and doors.

Fox ducked. "Hey, Caroso," he said to himself, "haven't you ever heard of 'suppressors'?" He drove off while still being showered with a barrage of laser blasts.

If he thought he could put enough distance between himself and Panther by simply hiding around a corner, Fox should have thought again; Panther got in his own car and began to chase Fox.

Firing his fully-automatic weapon, Panther had to periodically steer clear of any cars incoming, and to be careful not to let the gun slide off of the rear-view mirror on the side of the vehicle.

Fox lured Panther onto a busy highway, where he had a very hard time maneuvering his way through traffic to keep up with Fox.

He kept firing the weapon when he could, not even caring who heard it.

"Damn!" Fox shouted inside his car, "This guy just doesn't know when to give up!"

Several Cornerian police cars began to get behind Panther and attempt to get him off the road.

"Stop the car!" One of them yelled through their speakers. "PULL OVER!" Another one said.

But Panther pointed the machine gun behind him and began to fire at the police vehicle.

Many of the cops pointed their blaster pistols out the windows and fired at Panther's car.

Fox continued to flee, flooring the accelerator and avoiding everything else, whether it be car or laser bolt.

Panther continued his assault, periodically alternating the direction of his weapon between Fox and the police.

"He wreckin' my new car!" Fox said, "This thing was just polished!"

At that moment, Fox heard a loud bang that didn't sound like a blaster shot.

An officer had blown out one of Panther's car tires.

This happened twice.

Now that both of the rear wheels were gone, Panther began to lose speed.

Panther kept his finger on the trigger, but then the rifle stopped firing and beeped.

He's out of ammo.

Panther put the brakes on and obviously decided to submit himself to the authorities.

Fox pulled over as well; he wanted to see what would happen to Panther.

All of the officers stepped out of the cars with their blasters drawn.

"Get out of the car!" One of them shouted.

Panther stepped out and raised his hands, still holding his rifle.

"Drop the gun!" the same cop shouted, his blaster aiming at Panther.

Fox stepped out of his car with a blaster pistol and aimed it at Panther as well. Holding the weapon in both hands, Fox put his dominant finger on the side of the barrel, and his non-dominant finger on the front of the trigger guard.

Soon, Fox and all of the police units had their blasters pointing at Panther, who placed his rifle on the pavement.

The officers moved in and made the arrest, handcuffing Panther and escorting him into one of the vehicles.

"You easily deserved this, Caroso." Fox whispered under his breath, placing his weapon back in his car.

Panther was very shaken up. "You can't do this to me! I didn't hurt anyone! This is tyranny!" He shouted as he struggled to get away, but was too restrained to do so.

I should probably leave this to the police… Fox thought, wouldn't wanna end up interfering.

Fox got back into his car and drove off.

When he made it back to his house, he glanced out the window anxiously, but as far as he could tell, no one followed him.

"Well, I hope going through all that shit was worthwhile." Fox said to himself.

"If not," he continued, "I'll be right back at square one."

Fox grow impatient, but simply decided that waiting would be the best choice for him.

Chapter Text

Panther had been taken down to Corneria City's police precinct, where he was interrogated for information on the earlier event.

"It was self-defense!" Panther told the officer, "Whoever it was gave me this bruise!" He pointed to his black-eye.

The officer folded his hands, "I see," he responded, "and do you know who it was?"

Panther darted his eyes around the room, thinking. He hadn't seen the face of his attacker.

"…No." he finally answered, "…I didn't see him clearly. I don't even remember what his license plates said."

The officer wrote down more notes in a small notebook, and when he finished, he put it in his shirt pocket and moved back on to Panther.

"Alright, Mr. Foster, here are your two options; 1, you give us 5,000 credits to clear your name, or 2, you go to prison, in solitary confinement, for 3 years." He smiled, "what'll it be?"

Panther took no hesitation. "I'll pay off my fines."

"Then it's settled, 5,000 Lylat credits by Friday. Miss the deadline, and you will be imprisoned."

This wasn't a problem to Panther.

He knew how to create counterfeit credits via computer programming and put them in his banking account (which he is using his alias as his name for). It was nearly impossible to distinguish the counterfeit credits from real ones.

He hadn't told Starwolf about this, though. He knew that if he used this to clear their bounty, they would try to track down the person who did so to thank them and try to recruit them into Starwolf, and since Nathan Foster didn't "exist", it would sent them on a wild goose chase, and Panther has a very short patience span.

But if Panther told his two team member, Wolf O'Donnell and Leon Powalski, they would question him as to why he hadn't done it sooner, and would very well disband him from Starwolf.

"Okay, I'll have everything accounted for before the end of the week." Panther said to the officer, just before they let him go.

Fox had come down to the precinct to see if Panther had received an actual arrest. This was going to be somewhat complicated, though, since visitors were not allowed in the interrogation rooms.

The vulpine simply sat on a bench outside of the building to wait. He knew that, if they were to release Panther, his questioning would be ending in just a few minutes.

If Panther showed up in that time, Fox would be able to get back at him a second time, but with more caution. However, if he didn't come out after 30 minutes, Fox will assume he will be sent to the detention center and will worry about him later.

Fox would have been able to keep his plan going…if the next thing hadn't turned up.

A thin, red Cornerian vixen was walking out of the building. Her left forearm was wrapped in bandages, and she had a very disturbed expression.

She took a seat on the same bench Fox was sitting on. After a few minutes, she spoke to him.

"Tell me," she said, "have you ever accepted the fact that life is something that gives you no good things?"

Fox was a little confused and shocked by the question. "…Why?" he asked.

The female fox stared at the ground, "Oh, no reason." She quickly tried to hide her bandaged arm.

"Why do you have that on?" Fox asked her, pointing to the white wrapping. She immediately stopped trying to put her arm behind her body and sighed.

"About a month ago," she started, "I broke my arm when I ended up attempting a…" she looked at the pavement again, "…suicide."

Fox gasped. "Why would you do that?" he asked the vixen, quietly.

"Yeah," she simply said, "I hear crap like that all the time."

She glanced at the setting suns. "What's so good about life? What's so bad about death?"

Fox also looked at Lylat and Solar on the horizon. "…What would you gain from it?" he said in a sagely tone.

"Life…" Fox said again, "…is a very delicate thing. It has two sides; a light side, and a dark side." He glanced over at the vixen. "The light half is the one where you are able to see your surroundings clearly, and have little complications or worries." The vixen glanced over at the vulpine. "And the dark side is the one where your visibility of everything is impaired, and you don't know what to do or how to handle a situation."

The red female sighed, "I let my dark half take over, I guess." She glanced at her arm.

"What's your name?" Fox asked her.

The vixen exhaled silently, "Kathryn," she responded, "Kathryn Sinclair."

"I'm Fox," the vulpine said, "Fox McCloud."

Kathryn's eyes widened and her jaw dropped. "Fox McCloud!? From team Starfox!? OH MY GOD! I'm such a huge fan of you guys!"

Fox smiled, And suddenly, her dim bulb lights up to a full, 100 watts. He thought.

"At least I got some satisfaction of making the decision to continue life…" Kathryn said.

Fox agreed; it's not every day you come across a famous pilot, especially if you were on the brink of death.

"So, why are you here?" Fox asked Kathryn.

Kathryn's smile faded, "Well, it has nothing to do with this," she pointed to her bandaged arm, "I was called here because…they were taking my testimony."

Fox looked confused, "Testimony?"

"I was a witness" Kathryn stated, "to a shootout."

She continued, "It was earlier today, on Red Dwarf Avenue, I saw two cars going far above the speed limit, and one was shooting a machine gun or something at the other. It was a black figure, from what I could tell."

Panther, Fox thought, she must have been spotted by the police while I was fleeing from that crazed maniac.

Even though it was a very dramatic incident, Fox had no intentions of telling Kathryn that he was involved in it.

"Well," Fox started, "sounds like it was pretty crazy out there for you."

The vixen nodded.

Fox looked at his wristwatch, "It's getting late, I should be going." And with that, he stood up. But before he was able to walk away, Kathryn stopped him.

"Hey, hold up!" she said. The vulpine looked back at her.

"What is it?" he asked.

"Well," she began, "I know we've just met and all, but, do you…" she paused, "…wanna spend some time together?"

Fox thought about how things were going right now with himself.

"I'm just such a huge fan, and I really wanna get to know you better." Kathryn said. Fox decided to take up the offer.

"Sure, I'm on vacation. Plus, I've got nothing else to do."

Kathryn smiled, "Great! Here's my phone number." She said, handing Fox a small note.

"I'll see you around." Fox said just before turning to go back to his car.

He pulled out of the parking lot and drove back to his house. Several thoughts ran through his head at the time.

Wow, what was that all about? Fox thought. I guess I can just run on luck…from time to time.

The thought of Panther had completely faded from Fox after meeting Kathryn, since something about her seemed…unique.

Fox couldn't put his finger on it, but Kathryn seems like a one-of-a-kind type of person. He hoped to get to know her better soon enough.

Chapter Text

Panther immediately went back to his house and booted up his computer.

He wasn't going to focus on catching his attacker, considering that he had no leads to go on.

But, Panther thought, I KNOW I've heard that voice before. If only I could put my finger on it…

Panther opened the necessary program and entered in the appropriate codes. Unfortunately, though, due to his computer's limited RAM, it would take a while for the decoding process to make 5,000 credits.

Despite this, he had to get it done. He enabled the command and the process began.

"And now, Panther waits." He said to himself, and with that, he sat on his couch with a separate laptop.

As he was browsing through the news, a message appeared in a chat room that he was logged on to all the time.

The message came from Krystal: Panther, are you online right now?

He had forgotten completely about Krystal, since they had planned on going to the mall with her later. He simply responded: Yes, my dear, I am on the web.

It took a few seconds for Krystal's reply to come: Where have you been? I've been calling, texting, E-mailing, but you never answered.

Panther, of course, had been taken to the precinct for an interrogation, where he received a fine that had to be paid within 5 days. He wasn't going to mention this to Krystal, though, since she would completely freak out. He took a moment to fabricate a lie: I had some business with Starwolf to take care of. I apologize about not consulting you first, hon.

Krystal seemed to be thinking for a long time before she wrote back: Oh, it's no big deal. But I was just completely stumped as to wherever you were. I really wanted to spend the day with you.

Now beginning to feel really guilty, Panther typed the following: Don't worry about it. Panther with make it up to you. Would you like to take a flight to another planet?

Krystal appeared to type fast: Why? I'm on a break from flying. That arwing is a pain to maneuver.

Panther simply improvised: I could hook up your arwing to my wolfen, and I could fly them both.

Krystal was apparently somewhat confused: Well, in space, I can understand. But in the atmosphere, can the G-Diffuser handle such a heavy weight? An arwing weighs about 3,500 kilograms.

Panther chuckled as he typed his response: I've been secretly modifying my wolfen to be better than Wolf's or Leon's. I've installed a System-4 interplanetary W-Diffuser (Warp-Diffuser), which is an improved variation of the G-Diffuser. Plus the hyperspeed regulator is much more efficient now.

The next reply Krystal gave was a little subtle: Oh, that's interesting.

With that, Panther decided to seal the deal: Alright, it's settled; we can fly to Fortuna, Katina, MacBeth, or whatever. But, I'm still unsure about Venom…

Krystal agreed: Well, I suppose a little trip would be nice. I've been bored enough as it is.

Her response gave Panther a little confusion; how was Krystal bored if they had been spending a lot of time together doing a lot of fun activities? But the feline simply shrugged his shoulders and replied: Very well, I'll talk to you tomorrow, my love.

Since he didn't need any further messaging from Krystal, Panther simply closed his laptop and looked out of his massive window in his living room. He sighed longingly, as he couldn't wait to just run away with Krystal to another planet in the Lylat system.

He decided to take advantage of this as a little preparation for…the next stage after engagement…

Panther was drawn back into reality when he heard someone knocking at his door. He quickly rushed over to answer it. But since he had become paranoid after the incident earlier that day, he peeked through the window some ten feet to the left of the door. He saw that his Starwolf teammates, Wolf and Leon, were at the door.

He opened it, and Wolf was the first to speak, "Hello, Panther." Panther shook the lupine's hand, "Evening, Commander." He glanced over at Leon, "…and Lieutenant." Wolf chuckled slightly, "I told you, you can address us by our real names." Panther nodded.

"Well," the feline began, "I'm still grateful that you made me a Captain even after just joining the team." Leon made a disgusted expression. Wolf simply smiled, "I see a lot of potential in you as a pilot, but this is not what we came here for." He said reluctantly towards the end of the sentence.

"What is it, then?" Panther questioned. "There has been a problem back on venom with some armed rebels, and the Venomians have requested us to help take 'em out the day after tomorrow if Venom doesn't prevail." Wolf said, urgently, "You with us?"

Panther thought for a few seconds, he could be missing some good quality time with Krystal, but since he did like to help people in times of danger, he agreed to go. Wolf nodded, "Alright, we'll give you a call if we are needed, see you then!" Panther shook Wolf's hand again, "Yeah, see ya." He and Leon (who never spoke a word to Panther) got back into Wolf's car and drove off.

Panther really hoped that Krystal would be understanding if he had to go on a mission, but knowing her, it was going to be somewhat complicated.

Fox was at his house with Falco, surfing the web and watching videos on current events. Such as a drugstore robbery, senator Minny Hunter's recent resignation, and a volcanic eruption on an island in Corneria's second largest ocean, known as The Aranalis Ocean.

They got bored fast, and right as they were just closing the browser, the doorbell rang. Falco looked up from the laptop's monitor, "Who's that?" he asked Fox. Fox simply walked to open the door, and he had a pretty good idea of who it was. He had given Kathryn a call to see if she had any plans, and since she had none, she agreed to meet up with Fox.

He answered the door, and the red vixen standing before him was unmistakably Kathryn Sinclair. "Hey, Fox. S'up?" she said. Fox let her inside and spoke, "Hm, not much. You?" Kathryn shrugged, "Same." She said. They walked back into the kitchen, and Falco stared at Kathryn.

"Fox," the avian began, "who is this?" Kathryn walked over to Falco. "You're Falco Lombardi, aren't you!?" she asked, excitedly. The avian suddenly got both confused and nervous, "…Yes?" he responded. She grabbed Falco's hand and moved it up and down repeatedly, "I'm Kathryn Sinclair. I'm such a huge fan of you guys. You all are freakin' awesome!" she spoke rather fast, and both Fox and Falco had the same expression on their faces.

Kathryn took a second to calm down, "Sorry, I kinda lost my cool there." She said, quietly. "It's all good. Understandable, too." Fox said. Falco silently laughed, "So you've moved on, then?" he said to Fox, who blushed slightly, "N-no, I've just met her!" he said quietly, so Kathryn wouldn't hear (she was looking at the photos of Starfox on the walls, which increased her distraction).

Fox glared at Falco, "You sure know how to take things the wrong way. She just a fan, that's all." Falco let out a short laugh, "Yep, but things change. Keep that in mind, my man." Fox rolled his eyes, "Whatever…" he said, stubbornly, before turning back to Kathryn. "So, what's your time-killer to be?" the vulpine asked the vixen.

But Falco chimed in, standing next to the table and holding a glass bottle, "How about a 3-way game of…Spin-the-Bottle." He gave the bottle a spin on the table and smirked hysterically, his eyes narrowed. Fox walked to the opposite end of the table, smiling sarcastically. "Yeah, or we could play Spin-Falco-and-hit-him-with-a-Bottle!" he said, placing a hand on the bottle to stop it spinning, and glaring angrily at the avian. Kathryn laughed at Fox's comeback. "Hmph, good comeback, McCloud." The avian said. Kathryn interjected, "Oh, come on! You gotta admit that was clever!" but Falco disagreed.

"Whatever…" Kathryn replied. "So, I wanna know what it is you guys do everyday." She stated. Fox took the request; "Well, how about a VIP tour of Starfox archive, young lady?" Fox said, imitating a tour guide. Kathryn looked extremely eager, "Sweet! That would be awesome!" Fox nodded in agreement, "Well, alright then," he began, "let's start with the basics, shall we?..."

Chapter Text

After Falco left, Fox began by showing Kathryn some records of their past missions; everything from data files to visual and audio recordings taken from the arwing cameras.

He started with one of their earlier missions with the objective to defeat Andross and his henchmen. "Damn," said Kathryn, "that's gotta be pretty nerve-racking, putting your life on your arwing's shields." Fox nodded, "Yep, it can get pretty tense out there, but in my seven years of experience, I've learned one thing: never panic. You have to be able to remain calm, no matter how bad it gets. Otherwise, you can't rationally make decisions."

Kathryn's eyebrows rose, "Wow, you're pretty amazing. I could never keep calm with several laser blasts around me."

"Like I said," Fox continued, "it takes experience. I felt the same way on my first mission." The recording continued until Starfox battled Andross in the Venom system. Kathryn was surprised when she noticed that the first Andross was merely a decoy. "For a cold-hearted bastard, Andross sure was pretty strategic." She said, amazed. "He only sent a part of himself to fight in a supercomputer, but was still dangerous…genius. Terrible, but genius…"

"Yes," said Fox, "fighting inside of the base was a pain, since it was about to explode. But even after, Andross still lived. Just a small portion of his brain was destroyed, not all of it." Fox stared at the paused clip. "Afterwards, we continued to hunt him down, battling Starwolf before finally killing him once and for all." Kathryn gazed outside of a window at the sky, "…You truly held a strong grudge with him ever since your father…well, I'm sorry about what happened to your father."

Fox nodded in agreement. "It's alright, Andross is gone, and Venom is becoming weaker. Soon, all of the other systems will have control of those corrupted apes. I feel as though I have already avenged the death of my father."

Fox's father, James McCloud, had been a veteran pilot on the original Starfox, along with Peppy Hare and Pigma Dengar. Andross had been responsible for James' death by implanting a bomb into his arwing, which exploded and produced a black hole. James was pulled into the black hole and was never seen or heard from again. Since Fox's mother, Vixy McCloud, had died during Fox's childhood, Peppy had taken custody of Fox, and trained him to fly an arwing to join Starfox. Fox was full of thirst for revenge, and agreed to Peppy's proposition.

"Anyways," Fox said, "Enough with the recordings." He turned off the computer. He then took Kathryn into the basement of his house to a more elaborate computer with many monitors and a joystick and throttle. "This is an arwing combat simulator." Fox said. "We were issued these to get a feel for the arwing before actual combat. We had to pass a certain number of levels with a certain score." Kathryn analyzed the machine, "Wow!" she said in amazement. "I've never seen anything like this before!" Fox nodded, "It's commonly issued only to the military associates. But it won't be long before this stuff is available to the public."

"Wanna give it a shot?" Fox asked Kathryn. Kathryn nodded excitedly, and sat in the bulky chair. "I'll start you off on Difficulty Variation: 1, which is the easiest." The vulpine said while making the necessary adjustments on one of the smaller touch-screen monitors. "Arwing Combat Simulation activated. Welcome back, Captain McCloud." The device said in a female cybernetic voice as the large screen turned on with a Cornerian Army Insignia on it. "Please press the flashing green button when you are ready to begin Difficulty Variation: 1 simulation." A small button began to pulse a green light right below the main screen, with the word "Start" written on it. Kathryn pressed it, and immediately all the screens became radars, maps, and readouts, with the exception of the main screen, which showed a first-person view of an arwing.

"Warning-incoming fighters!" R.O.B.'s voice said as several enemy fighters began to appear on the radar as flashing red triangles with warning beeps that synchronized with the flashing. Kathryn placed her left hand on the throttle, and her right hand on the joystick. She immediately thrust the throttle forward, making the ship move faster.

"Lock onto the ships by holding down the trigger." said Fox. Kathryn did so, and when she released it, a heat-seeking missile was fired at the enemy fighter, which exploded afterwards. "Got him!" Kathryn said. She began to pull the trigger haphazardly as she steered all over the place, until she finally managed to take them out. Kathryn assumed that this would be the end of the simulation, but the arwing kept sailing forward until… "Stealth squad detected!" R.O.B. said as several ships began to appear out of nothing. These ships were larger than the first set of starfighters.

Kathryn jolted the joystick abruptly to the left, barely missing the first ship. "Use a bomb!" said Fox. "How!?" Kathryn shouted. "It's the thumb-button on the joystick!" Fox responded. The vixen pressed the button, and a metallic sphere with blinking lights discharged from the side of the vehicle. It created a large explosion upon impact with another ship, sending debris and shrapnel in every direction. Kathryn steered around the loose metal and shot another bomb out towards another one of the ships. After a few times of doing this, a single buzz sound met their ears instead of a bomb being discharged.

Fox looked at a monitor. "You're dry." He said. She used all of the bombs. "No matter, the blasters still work." She said, turning straight down towards the last ship. It was charging up it's cannon as the monitors beeped indicating a lock-on. Kathryn frantically steered around, but didn't get out of the sights. "What do I do?" she said to Fox. "You have to deflect it's attack!" he said. "What!?" Kathryn said just before the cannon fired. "DO A BARREL ROLL!" Fox said. Kathryn thrust the joystick sideways, and began to spin like a football, the attack was deflected, but it didn't destroy the ship.

Fox briefing pointed out a readout with a layout of the arwing on it; all of it was a steady blue, but some of the left side and front side were flashing red. "Your timing was off by half of a second," said Fox, "that blast took 50 shield units. 50 more and you're screwed!" Kathryn immediately held down the trigger, allowed the missile to power up, and just before the enemy was able to take another shot, Kathryn fired the missile, which was just enough to finish it off.

"Difficultly Variation 1 complete" the simulator said in it's generic voice again. "Rank: 7/10. Level pass." Fox looked impressed, "Wow," he said, "you did better than I did on my first try." Kathryn simply shrugged her shoulders, "I practice a lot with a flight simulator I have on my computer back at my place, so the controls are somewhat natural for me." She said. Kathryn glanced at her watch. "Oh, noon! I have to get to the mall soon!" Fox looked a little off-kilter, "What for?" he asked.

"Well, they're having a sale on clothes which goes on 'til 2 o'clock, and I've being seeing a lot that I really would like." "Well, I'll see you later, then" said Fox. Kathryn was about to leave, when she stopped at the door and looked back at Fox. "But…I know this might seem a little silly, but…you wanna come with me?" Fox glanced around the room and thought for about 5 seconds. "…Sure, why not? Beats sitting around and doing nothing." Kathryn's expression brightened. "Great! I can drive for you." Fox was putting shoes on when he responded, "No, I can drive for you." Kathryn laughed slightly. "Oh, it's fine, Fox. I'm a decent driver. Besides, it's my car." Fox smiled, "Alright." He said. They both got into the bright red minivan, and drove off to the mall in Corneria City.

Chapter Text

At around noon, Panther's computer had created about 1,700 credits ever since he launched the program last night. Panther worried somewhat, since he had only a few days left to pay off his fines, but he was going to be spending some time with his fiancée, which did help him feel more at ease. He planned on going to the mall with Krystal to window-shop, and simply kill some time with her.

His doorbell rang, and he went over to answer. Still paranoid about the incident, he looked out through the window at the side. To his delight, he saw the blue outline of his dream girl in a white shirt. He answered the door just as she was about to ring the bell again. "Hello, beautiful." Krystal simply stood with a vacant stare, "…Hello, Panther." She said, passively. It was becoming evident that she was tired of him addressing her with adjectives.

"Well," Panther said, making his way to his car (which now had new tires he had put on last night), "are you ready to go?" Krystal shrugged, "I believe so." She replied. They got into the car, and drove off. They didn't talk much on the way, and the car was apparently having a somewhat difficult time with the new tires, since they were different than the front two. Panther found the accelerator and brake to be somewhat more…touchy than usual. But he adjusted to the new control, and kept the car as steady as he could, so Krystal wouldn't get carsick.

When they arrived, they spent the first 15 minutes in the food court. Panther ate his food quite fast and grotesquely, but Krystal only took small, feeble bites. She couldn't get Fox off of her mind. She was worried about how to talk to him when she could, how Panther would reacted if he see her speaking with him, and if Fox would still continue their (…well, complicated) relationship. She couldn't keep eating; the worry and fear had made a knot in her stomach. Panther noticed her lack of appetite, "What's wrong?" he asked the vixen. Krystal felt it best not to tell him the truth, at least, not the whole truth.

"I've had a lot on my mind lately," she said, "I just don't know how to talk to someone if I feel like they won't listen." Panther wiped food of the fur covering his face. "Well, I cannot read minds, like you, but if you want to talk to someone about your problems, I'm all open." He said, smiling. Krystal simply shook her head, "That's not what I meant. I think I could have made someone very upset by now." Panther moved his hand in to place on her shoulder, "Who might that be?" the feline asked, just before Krystal swatted his hand away. She stood up from the table, "I'll talk about it later." She finally said, before gathering her used napkins and other trash, and throwing it away.

Panther pulled a small note out of his pocket and skimmed over it. "Oh! I have to pick up some dinner!" he quickly rushed over to Krystal and grabbed her hand. "You can help with that, right?" he asked. Krystal, however, was caught off-guard, as she was thinking deeply at the moment "…Huh? What do you-" Panther didn't wait for an answer before pulling her away "-AH!" After running this way and that, Krystal was carrying armfuls of large plastic bags full of groceries, while Panther only carried a few.

"This is shopping for dinner? How much do you eat?" Krystal asked Panther in shock, through the weight of the bags. Panther's ears perked up, and he glanced over at her. "…Hm?" he uttered, "Did you say something?" For a second, Krystal wondered how he didn't hear her, but just decided to play it lightly; "…Nah, nevermind." She replied, still slightly straining her voice under the groceries' weight.

Fox and Kathryn spent a good portion of their day at the same mall. They purchased clearance items, checked out some of the newer stores that hadn't been there on their previous visit, and generally picked up everything that Kathryn was looking for.

"Is there anything else?" said Fox, who was carrying about half of the bags of Kathryn's items. Kathryn simply shook her head, "Oh, it's fine. I've drained my credit card enough for one day." She glanced over at Fox and smiled, "I had fun, thanks." Fox bowed his head once, "Yeah, same here."

As he stared at Kathryn, he couldn't help but notice how much she resembled Krystal, though obviously there were some differences. Kathryn's fur was red, of course. Unlike Krystal, she had no brades in her hair, or bands on her tail; she simply wore both loose. She also spoke in a Cornerian accent, like his own, and in a higher-pitched voice than Krystal's (almost a late-teen voice, though Kathryn was in her twenties). Other than that, her facial and many other physical features seemed to strongly resemble Krystal's.

Fox immediately began to shift his attention from the blue vixen in his thoughts, but hesitated. No, he thought, I can't fall for Kathryn, I love Krystal. He continued to think for a few seconds, ...but I can't have Krystal since she's been taken. Does this mean I should move on and forget Krystal? He could hardly bear the thought of doing so. No, I don't want to forget about Krystal! Ow! Headaches… He massaged his temple. This is all so confusing. "Uh…Fox?" he heard Kathryn say as they walked. Fox glanced over, "Yes, Kathryn?" "Are you feeling alright? You were pressing the side of your head…" Fox took his fingers down, "Uh, yeah…bit of a headache right now." Kathryn didn't say anything in response.

Walking past them was a black cat holding a few grocery bags, and next to him looked like a pile of grocery bags on slender blue legs, held clumsily by thin arms of the same blue color. "Wait, was that…?" the person holding all these bags said as she past them. Fox froze, I know that voice anywhere… he turned to see Krystal. "Fox!" she dropped the bags, and Panther gasped and rushed over to pick them up. Fox was going to have a bit of difficulty talking to the last person he wanted to see right now… "H-Hello, Krystal. How's your vacation been?..." Krystal closed her eyes and shrugged, "Fine, I believe. You?" Fox nodded, "Same…" This wasn't true at first, but after meeting Kathryn, his break was lightened up.

Panther merely kept his attention on the dropped bags. "…could've spilled everywhere…" he muttered, stuffing a large jug of iced tea into a bag. Kathryn rushed over to Krystal, grabbed her hand, and rapidly shook it up and down. "Hello, Krystal. It's GREAT to see you in person!" Krystal was a little surprised, and then she felt a slight pang of confusion. "Fox, who is this?" she asked the vulpine, who was now some 5 feet to the left of her since the red vixen pushed him. "My name is Kathryn, Kathryn Sinclair, and I am a HUGE fan of Starfox!" She was talking so fast with excitement that it was enough to make a fatigued person alert in a few seconds. "Yes, I can see that…" said Krystal, who's arm was simply flopping around like a useless appendage as Kathryn continued to shake it.

After managing to wrench her arm out of Kathryn's steel grip (which surprised her, since her hands looked so scrawny), Krystal moved on to Fox. "Why are you with her?" she asked. Fox raised an eyebrow, "She's just a fan, I figured I'd let her get to know me better, and what we do, and…" he trailed off. "…anyway, why are you with him?" he said, pointing to Panther, who was now picking up a bundle of bananas ("…damn! They're bruised!..." he murmured when examining them).

"Well…" Krystal stammered as she had no choice anymore. She let out a sigh of regret, "…we're engaged, and we're on a date." Fox's eyes widened, "So it's true…" his voice was rich with disbelief, "…the sick bastard decided to propose to you, is that right?" Krystal made a nervous leg movement, "Well, yes…see, I didn't think it would be…proper…to turn him down…" she blushed under her fur, "…and on the other hand, I was hoping if it was alright for me to…y'know…use my arwing to go on a date…on another planet…"

Fox had been torn by this, but he didn't express it. All he did was turn to Panther, who was checking inside of a box of saltines ("…broken apart…splendid…") Fox snatched the box from Panther's hands. "Yeah," he said, sarcastically smiling, "they're broken apart, alright. And you know what else has been broken apart?" Panther stared idly. "My dreams. Every single thing I lived for had been taken out of my hands…" he pulled an unbroken saltine out of the box, "…and crushed." He crunched the cracker in his hand, and opened it to reveal small particles of it.

"Crushed into a superfine, subatomic powder!" Krystal and Kathryn walked over to see what was going on, but Fox kept his attention on Panther. "So now, you think you can crush other people's hopes with the simple bend of the knee joint, am I right? Damn, looks like I've horribly misjudged everybody here! But I don't care no more! No! As long as every single person has happiness in their lives…" Panther was thoroughly stunned, Krystal and Kathryn stood with confused expressions.

"…then I really have no reason to put any of that happiness into my life. Because that's what it's about, right? Caring about everything but yourself? If everybody is happy, then that means I should be happy, too, right? So that's what I'll do. I'll let you two go and date on some other world…far beyond this one, and let you be! But I hope your wolfen crashes and you die!" By the time Fox had finished his childish performance, Panther continued to sit on the floor, staring up at the agitated vulpine, with two amazed and shocked vixens behind him.

Krystal cautiously stepped towards Fox. "Um, Fox…what was that just now?" Fox panted and slurred, "Mmmbl…gffhg…throobmh…" All he did was mumble a bunch of gibberish. "Fox…?" Krystal asked desperately. "…nng…w-water…" Kathryn looked confused, "Huh?" she said. "C-can't talk…n-n-need…water…" Fox was panting heavily as he briskly walked away. He immediately went into a restroom and splashed some cold water in his face.

After he managed to contain himself again, he looked at himself in the mirror. "What was I thinking!?" he said out loud (thankfully, no one was in there to hear him), "What good would that ever do!? I can't just lose control like that! Krystal would never respect me again if I keep doing that!" He gathered his thoughts, and decided to try to handle this more maturely next time. For now, he's just going to have to let this one slide…

As he left the restroom, he found Kathryn waiting for him. "Oh! Kathryn…" he was about to apologize to her for letting her see what just happened, and for letting himself do it, but she just placed a hand on his shoulder. "Fox, it's alright, I understand perfectly how you felt." Fox tilted his head, slightly puzzled. "Whaddya mean?" Kathryn took her hand off of his shoulder, "You really care about Krystal, don't you?" she asked him. Fox blushed under his fur, "Um…yes, it's true. But what made you think-" "It's what a lot of fans believe. They think you two are perfect for each other." Said Kathryn.

Fox sighed, "So, anyway, what did you mean by 'you understand'?" Kathryn glanced around, as though she thought someone was watching them, "Well, about a month ago, my life was actually good." This sounds like it's gonna be a long story… Fox thought. "I had finally graduated from law school as a defense attorney." Fox was surprised; Kathryn was a lawyer? It didn't seem at first like she was the type… "And I was hoping to start my own law firm, but that was not what I wanted in the full run." She paused, but Fox didn't speak, "I wanted to hopefully become the assistant at a firm run by…him."

"Him?" Fox asked. "Alan." Kathryn answered, "He was the main goal in my life, I wanted to work alongside him. He was the most gorgeous vulpine I have ever laid my eyesight on. I wanted so much as to talk to him, he was simply the love of my life…" she sighed dreamingly, "but then came the day I found out he was already married to another vixen, Mariah. She was an actress, and had never made any interactions with him that I was ever informed of." Her eyes moved to the floor in sorrow, "He broke my heart…" she said, sadly.

Fox's face fell with sympathy, "Oh, I'm sorry to hear that, Kathryn." Fox placed his own hand on her shoulder to ease her emotions. "But I know perfectly how you feel. It turns out that Krystal is engaged with that other guy you just saw. It tore me apart as well, that's why I've been upset lately." Kathryn looked up again, "Aww, that's too bad. I also thought you two might end up together someday." Her voice was full of sincerity and understanding. "See…what happened with Alan and Mariah…is kinda the reason why I attempted suicide…" Fox simply let out a hum of agreement. Kathryn continued, "…but after spending some time with you, I completely regret walking down that path. There's too much to live for. Just because you lost the love of your life doesn't mean the world is over, right?"

Fox smiled, "Tch, no way." Kathryn also smiled, "I mean…I'm sure there's plenty of other ways to be happy without love…" Fox shrugged, "I'm sure there is, too…" he realized that he couldn't get Krystal back, and would have to move on, but he wouldn't want stay single all his life. "Y'know," Fox said, whose blood pressure was starting to rise, "You remind me quite a bit of Krystal, almost as if you were…oh, I don't know…her counterpart…" Kathryn began to feel a warm flush rising in her face, "Well, to be honest…when I first became a fan of Starfox…I always thought you were kinda…well…cute." Fox felt as though his bones were being dissolved, like his blood had become too acidic.

"Well, it's just a…fantasy that I've lived with for a while…" Kathryn said, embarrassed. "Ah, yeah…I've decided that I should just move on from Krystal, and…" he didn't say anymore. He and Kathryn were locked in a stare. Fox felt as though this was coming too fast, but decided to go with the higher speed. Slowly, the both began to lean towards each other, with their eyes closing as well. They leaned their heads to the side. Their lips were just about to touch; Fox's heart was beating about ten times per second; he and Kathryn had become detached from the rest of the world…

"Beep-beep-beep! Beep-beep-beep!" a semi-loud sound was coming from Fox's pocket. He opened his eyes and straightened up again, so did Kathryn. "Is that your phone?" she asked. "Uh, yeah. Just a sec." Fox pulled out his phone and answered. "Hello?" "Hey, Fox, haven't seen you since mission success, am I right?" Fox recognized the voice, "Slippy? That you?" "Bingo! I figured I'd check up to see how you're doing right now." "Well, vacation is going well." "Hmmm, you sure? 'Cause Falco was just talkin' me up on how you became such a crybaby when you heard of Krystal's engagement." Fox lowered the phone from his ear, "I'm gonna get that guy's feathered ass later!" he muttered under his breath.

He heard Slippy say something over the phone, but couldn't make it out. "What?" he said, with the phone to his ear again. "I said he also told me you found another girl." "Oh, Kathryn, yeah it's-" "Oooh, Kathryn's her name, huh?" "Look, she's not what you-" "Oh my, God! You're hitting on girls, huh, Foxie?" Slippy was laughing hysterically over the phone. "Listen, call me back when you've learned the definition of the word 'Scandal'!"

With that, he ended the call, and turned off his phone for good measure. "Well, that sounded like quite the exciting call." Said Kathryn, sarcastically. Fox nodded, "Yeah, you have no idea." He said. Kathryn glanced at her wristwatch, "Well, I suppose I should take you home. I'm done here, anyhow." Fox agreed, "Yeah, let's head out."

It took about 5 minutes to find Kathryn's car, and Kathryn drove off to drop off Fox at his house. As they drove, Fox spoke up: "Listen, Kathryn, about what happened there…after you told me about Alan…you don't suppose…" Kathryn became anxious again, "Well, I guess we could…it does seem likely that…" she trailed off. They both continued to agree at the same level, over and over, until they reached Fox's street.

"Alright," Fox said, "I hope to s-see you soon..h-how does tomorrow sound?" Kathryn blushed again (she thanked God for her fur), "Y-yeah, that'll work out p-perfect!..." Fox nodded, "Alright, see you around." Kathryn waved as he shut the door. Fox took one last glance as she drove off, until she disappeared from sight. Fox immediately fell on his back onto his front lawn, and let out a satisfied sigh. "Wow…" he said to himself while staring at the sky, "…to think, even after just a few days, I've fallen for her. Plus, she had an interest in me before we even met…" he closed his eyes, "…this is fantastic." He laid there for a few more minutes, before finally entering his home.

Chapter Text

Krystal lay on her bed in her hotel room, with several thoughts running through her head. Right now, she was really upset about what happened at the mall. While anyone would guess it was Fox's outburst at Panther, it actually wasn't. Krystal had believed that Fox and Kathryn Sinclair were on a bit of a date. "Talk about hitting a girl where it hurts…" Krystal said to herself, tears streaming down her face.

She slapped herself, "Oh, why am I blaming him!? It's my fault! I accepted Panther's proposal, and I waited too long to talk to him!" the vixen curled up, holding her legs in her arms, her chin against her knees. "Fox, please!" she said, as though he were actually there, "I know I hurt you, and I am aware that you felt it best to move on, but I completely regret my decision for Panther! I love you, Fox! I always have! I just didn't want to upset Panther! Please, I'll leave him if you could just give me another chance!..."

Krystal stood up, walked over to her window, and stared at the clouds in the sky with her hands folded together on her chest, "…please." She whispered, tearfully. She lay back on her bed with a splitting headache from all the stress. She only kept her thoughts on Fox, until the pain in her head became so great that she passed out.

Panther's computer was about halfway done with creating the 5,000 credits. He still had a little less than 2,500 to go. He spent time that evening instant messaging several of his friends on other planets in the Lylat system. Suddenly, a chat room with the name "Wolf O'Donnell" appeared on screen. The first thing Wolf said was: "Caroso, we need to talk. This is urgent."

Panther typed in a reply: "Alright, what is it?" he waited for a bit for Wolf to send something back. Finally, a particularly long one came up: "It's about the Venomian rebels. We were given the impression that they were heading for Papetoon, but the shuttles they sent were unmanned. Decoys, in other words. It took a bit of work, having to hack through some cloaking devices, but we discovered that they are heading for Corneria." After taking the painstaking time to read the entire thing, Panther felt relieved that wouldn't have to leave Corneria…or Krystal.

Panther wrote back: "So what do you propose we are to do about this?" Wolf's response came quick, as though he were in a hurry: "Well, it won't be necessary to prepare for travel. All we'll need to do is establish an ambush. We'll make it seem like Corneria City's a sitting duck, lure them in, and, *BAM!*, annihilate them…I hope your wolfen is in good shape, Loverboy...Yes, I know about you and Krystal." Panther smirked as he wrote back: "Very well, I'll be sure to be there. I just need to put some fuel and ammunition into my ship. But I'll be there, regardless."

It took about a minute for Wolf's reply: "Good, we'll make preparations tomorrow. The rebels don't have lightspeed engines on their shuttles, so it will take about two days for their arrival." Panther didn't say anymore and simply closed the chat room. Damn, could I have any more luck than this? Panther thought, Well, maybe it's still best to tell Krystal…

The feline knew that she would find out about the rebels coming to Corneria sooner or later. Just for the sake of her safety, it's better to inform her up-front. He took his cell phone out of his shirt's breast pocket, and called Krystal from his contact list. The dial tone came, and he waited, but after the fifth tone, the voicemail greeting came up: "Hello, this is Krystal from team Starfox. I'm unable to call back right now, so when you hear the beep, start talking." Panther found her extended-absence greeting to be a little strange at the last part, but that made no difference.

"Hello, Krystal. Panther here. I'm calling to inform you that I have to take care of some business with Starwolf, and I may be gone for an entire day. We have to fight off some Venomian apes who are coming to assault Corneria, so Panther suggests getting to a safe location the day after tomorrow. If possible, carry a loaded handgun, just in case they start a foot-attack. I hope you'll understand why I've been so worried lately. Please call back as soon as you can." With that, he ended the call, and stuffed his phone back into his shirt pocket.

As he sat in his armchair, the feline glanced out of the window at the sunset, he remarked at how glorious it looked. He decided to go and sit on his patio and watch the blue and red suns sink on the west horizon. He couldn't help but yearn for Krystal to be at his side, for then it would be perfect. Panther sighed. He wasn't sure why he couldn't contact Krystal. Did she go somewhere and forget her cell phone? Is her phone's battery dead?

Right about now, Panther decided to simply stop asking himself pointless questions. He closed his eyes and lay back in the chair, taking in the peaceful atmosphere around him…

Krystal awoke later to find the sky getting dark. She glanced over at her alarm clock to see that the time was 7:30 P.M. "Ugh…" she grumbled, placing a hand on the side of her head, "…when did I fall asleep…?" The vixen sat bolt upright in realization, "Oh! I completely forgot! I have to talk to Panther about cancelling that trip!...And maybe to agree on an engagement divorce…" She began to lose the feeling that guilt may come over her from doing it.

She didn't exactly find Panther to be someone very enjoyable. He seemed so self-centered and arrogant. Maybe rejection would be something of retribution for him. She immediately slipped her shoes on and drove over to Panther's house. On the way, she thought of nothing but the hope that doing this might help increase her chances with Fox, as it would make sense if it didn't. Fox did seem very upset when he learned the truth about her and Panther. But she was going to fix that. She was going to set things right.

When she arrived, she knocked on his door. There was no one answering, but instead, she heard Panther shouting in another room: "Please, come in! The door's unlocked!" Krystal hesitated, wondering why he wouldn't come. "Hurry!" she heard him yell. Krystal immediately opened the door and looked around. "Can you please help me in here?" she heard Panther's voice coming from the bathroom. "Krystal? Is that you?"

She swallowed, and began to walk back to the door. "I know it's you, Krystal!" Panther said again, "Maybe Cerinians are the only species with the ability to read minds, but normal beings can sense their specific aura, you know!" Krystal sighed and began to walk to the bathroom. She knocked when she got there. "Panther, are you in there?" she asked through the door. "Yes, can you please come in here?" he replied. Krystal grabbed the knob, but stopped, "Are you decent?" she said. "Uhhh…yeah…" Panther said hesitantly.

Krystal opened the door, "Alright, what is—AAH!" she screamed and covered her eyes. Panther was in his bathtub. "Y-you're not decent, you lied to me!" Krystal yelled, still shielding her eyes. "I had to! I need your help! You see, I kind of stood up to grab the soap, fell, and injured my lower back. And now I can't get out, or even lean forward without severe pain." Krystal's head fell forward, "Ohhhh…and to think even something like this slipped right by my telepathy…"

Finally, Krystal decided not to leave him in there. "Alright, how long have you been laying there?" Panther rubbed his chin, "About an hour…and the water has become freezing-cold." Krystal, who still had her hands over her eyes, simply spoke again: "Well, can you at least…cover up?" Panther nodded, "Yes, just one second…" he grabbed a washcloth, and place it over his…well, Y-chromosome makeup. "…there, the gun is under the car seat." He said in a pathetic tone.

Krystal, however, continued to move around blindly; one hand covering her eyes, and the other probing around in front of her. Panther sighed impatiently, "…Marco." He suddenly said. "I know where you are! Just give me a second, here…" Krystal blurted out. She finally found his hand. Keeping her eyes shut, she used her other hand to grab his other hand.

"Okay, on the count of three, I'll try to pull you out." She said as she got a firm grip on his hands. "Ready? 1…2…Now!" She pulled upwards as Panther tried his best to bend his arms, but suddenly, Krystal's feet lost traction, "WHOA!" she yelled as she ended up sliding forward into the tub with Panther. She leaned up and gasped in surprise. "DAMMIT!" she shrieked. "Krystal! Is this really the best you can do!?" Panther shout in her face. The vixen glared at him through her wet indigo bangs, "What, with my scrawny figure, you expect me to lift you!? Oh, come on!"

After managing to get out of the tub (which was difficult from the weight that her wet clothes had), she simply grabbed Panther's ankles and started to drag him out. He put a towel on, so she didn't worry about covering her eyes, but doing this was far worse: "…Do it more carefully…no, too close!...OWHOWHOWHOW! That hurts like hell!...easy, easy, easy…I'm losing fur here!...my skin's got too much traction!..." She dragged him out into his living room, with his back squeaking loudly across the hardwood floor, but then dropped his legs.

Panther looked up, "Oh, come on, Krystal! Don't abandon Panther in the middle of the floor!" Krystal shook her head in disgust, "I've done enough for one day! This has just drained me beyond limits! Now I need to wash my FUR and my CLOTHES a million times!" she said, smugly. "Oh, come now!" Panther said, raising his fist, "You're strong like steel!" Krystal folded her arms and sternly narrowed her eyes at him, "And you're stupid like dumbass!" She proceeded to sit down on the couch to calm down.

Panther was saying a bunch of random crap to her, but she didn't care. All she thought about was what could happen if she didn't get rid of Panther soon. This scenario might just be a sliver of what's to come next. I need to wrap this up quickly, she thought, I just can't handle any more of this. She figured she'd do it tonight, and soon. She wanted to get rid of Panther as much as she wanted to be with Fox. Hopefully, she can figure this all out.

Chapter Text

Panther had managed to haul himself onto his sofa in the living room, since Krystal refused to do so. And since he was unable to do it himself, he requested Krystal to prepare him dinner. The vixen reluctantly agreed, and spent the next fifteen minutes stirring and measuring and cutting and whatnot.

"How long before my salad's ready?" Panther called from the living room. "I'm making it right now!" Krystal called back. Panther paused for a moment before his next response, "You know, I'm not happy with how things are this evening." Krystal rolled her eyes and sighed with impatience, "Oh, yeah? 'Cause I'm having the time of my life!" she replied, both sarcastically and ruefully. Yeah, I'm trapped in the vast cell of Hell right now, really wanting to get out. She thought to herself.

"Krystal!" a voice suddenly whispered. The vixen glanced up and looked around. "Over here!" the voice came again. Krystal turned to the window above the sink to see a large shape outside of it. She gasped as well as flinched and grabbed the fruit knife she was using, holding it above her in a stabbing position. "Eek!" A look of panic spread over their face and they held up their hands in front of them while turning their head away. Suddenly, Krystal lowered the knife as she realized who this was.

"Katt?" Krystal said, "Katt Monroe?" the female feline looked up again, "You're not gonna stab me, are you?" she said. Krystal chuckled and set the knife down, "Nope, I wouldn't. Anyway, what are you doing here?" Katt placed her hands on the windowsill again, "I stopped by your house, but you weren't answering the door. So, I figured this was the second place to look. Since you and Mr. Korasi are together, I heard…" she gave Krystal a sly look.

"It's Caroso…" Krystal corrected her, "…and, well…yeah, we're engaged." Katt smiled, clearly pleased, "Wow, that's awesome! Damn, you are so lucky! I wish I could have that happen to me!" her eyes were lit in awe. "But…haven't you broken up with Falco recently? He's been moping around about it ever since the last week of duty…" Krystal asked the feline. Her face fell, "Hmmm…yeah. But now, I feel really bad about it. I wanna get back together with him! I should have been more patient with messages…"

Krystal interrupted Katt's train of thought. "But, I think I wanna call off the engagement…" she said, regrettably. Katt looked like she just got tased out of nowhere, "What!? But why? Isn't Panther a great guy?" Krystal rubbed the back of her head, "Well, that's the thing. He's not really…my type. Plus, he has quite excessive needs. Quite excessive…and I think I want to go back to Fox." Katt nodded in agreement, "Yeah, probably. If you don't like Panther, then Fox is, like, totally your target! To be honest, I think he's really nice and sweet. I always thought you two would make a cute couple…" her voice trailed off teasingly.

Krystal didn't care about this, though, "Well, at least it's someone with dignity, a proper personality, generosity. And not someone who makes it uncomfortable to sleep in the same bed, as well as carry all of his baggage, and make you drag his lazy, naked ass across the floor." Krystal closed her eyes and held her hands to her head, "Ohhh…the squeaking of his skin's traction…the trail of disgusting fur left behind…" Katt began to look nervous, "Krystal, please…you're scaring me." Krystal gave Katt a tragic look, "Well, you don't know genuine anxiety until you've splashed down, face-first, into the briny depths of Panther Caroso!"

Katt's eyes widened to the size of the onions Krystal was using in her cooking, "I-I think I'm g-g-gonna go now…" and with that, the feline ran at breakneck speed away from the house, her tail swishing as she ran. "Katt! Wait!" Krystal called out the window, but she didn't she Katt anywhere. She was gone. Meanwhile, Panther had been sitting in the living room watching television, so he didn't hear Krystal's conversation with Katt, but he was getting hungrier every second. "Where's my salad!?" he called into the kitchen, "Are you eating it!?"

Krystal faced towards the kitchen's swinging door and took no hesitation with her answer: "Yes, I am! Mmmm…good!" She put the fork she was holding into her mouth, closed her mouth on it, and pulled it out. She couldn't help it; she was too furious.

Fox had been in a bit of a fog ever since his day with Kathryn. At first, it seemed a little like he was drunk; he was lying on his couch, flipping through the pages of an internet catalog, and making strange comments on certain items: "A wristwatch that has a phone and a calculator and an audio recorder? A ha ha haaa!" he said hysterically as a priceless smile spread over his face. "…That's revolutionary!"

It was clear that the Starfox leader was overdosed (and maybe even intoxicated) by happiness. His hormones in his brain were completely on overdrive. His muscles were occasionally spazing out. And he felt so full of energy, that he could possibly put a massive crater on Titania's dune sea with a single punch. He spent a good portion of time laughing heavily, up until he heard his computer playing a weird tone. He stopped and went to check and see what it was.

He noticed Falco was calling him on Skype. He accepted the called right after turning his webcam on. "Yo, Fox. How youse been hangin', bro?" the avian said in his jock-tone. "Oh, well. Things have been pretty good, overall…" Fox didn't know what else to say; his previous mind state had erased everything else from his consciousness. Falco gave a hollow laugh, "You been spendin' some time with Sinclair?" Fox simply decided to just play it safe, "Yeah, I've been with Kathryn. So what? It's none of your bees' jam." Falco gave a real laugh this time, "Well, I guess you've got no way out of this one! Krystal's taken, and Sinclair…maybe not. And if she isn't, go for her!"

Fox had thought about arguing, but just considered it best to be honest, "Well, I guess. I really am trying to move past Krystal, and…well…Kathryn has helped to speed up the process…" Falco burst into uncontrollable laughter, "I knew it! I knew it! Foxie's been hittin' on Kathryn!" Fox glared through the webcam, "Look, it's no big deal! I never did this when you hooked up with Katt!" Falco finally managed to control himself, "Alright, alright, I'm done. It's fine, dude, I was just joking, alright? Jeez…no need to be so damn serious all the time." Fox nodded, "Good, it's best you don't be too much of a jokester. It tends to get tiring after a while."

There was the sound of a hip-hop tune coming from the computer. "Hold on a sec…" Falco said as he thrust his hand into his pocket, and pulled out a cell phone. "I see you found your phone." Fox said into the microphone, "Where was it?" Falco glanced around nervously, "Don't ask…" he said, discreetly. Falco glanced at the LCD, "Oh, it's Katt! I should probably go for now. Our calls tend to last as long at a brimful System-4 Interplanetary shuttle engine." Fox shrugged his shoulders, "Alright, Lieutenant, take as long as you need."

And with that, Fox ended the call, and was about to stand up, when he saw a message appear. It consisted of a picture of a red vixen, along with the name "Kathryn Sinclair".

Fox's face lit up. He immediately accepted the request, and decided to give her a call. It took a moment, but sure enough, she responded. "Hey, Fox." She said, smiling. "Hey, Kathryn. How are you doing?" Fox replied. Kathryn sighed in delight, "Well, it's been a pretty good day, even after having to call it a day with you. You really brightened my day, Fox." Fox blushed, Damn, how I can manage to pull off something like this, I don't know. he thought, Just how do women think and behave…?

Fox returned to the call, "Yeah, it's the least I can do. I believe even celebrities have to spend time with the averages." Kathryn laughed and blushed, "Well, I really am thankful for it. To be honest, out of all my trips to the mall, today's was absolutely the best. It just seems better when you spend that time with someone you l—well!...Like a lot…" Kathryn began to blush harder. Fox spoke again, equally embarrassed, "Well, yeah. And…well, I kinda have to admit…I really like you too, Kathryn. You helped to fix all my problems."

Kathryn's white facial fur was flushed to the point of almost looking as red as the fur on the sides and top of her head, "Well, you really are the first person to have that kind of appreciation for me…" Fox thought for a split second: No guy has ever loved her? Wow…that's astounding! She's pretty hot, come to think of it… After that brief thought, Fox went back to Kathryn, "Well, I know it's been just a few minutes, but I think we should call it a night." Kathryn bowed her head once, "Alright, see you tomorrow?" Fox needed no time to think: "Yeah! Totally!" Kathryn smiled with excitement, "Great! Well, goodnight Fox."

After finishing the sentence, she blew him a kiss, and his face felt as though it was just hit by a disruptor set to "stun". "Yeah…'night Kathryn." And with that, he closed the laptop, and lay on his couch, happier than he had ever been in his life.

Suddenly he heard a voice call to him, "Fox." It echoed, as if in a large theater or gymnasium. Fox looked around, "Hello?" he called back. "You don't have to look around." The voice said again. Immediately after, a bright light appeared in front of the couch, taking the shape of a vulpine, and then dimming (though still glowing a little). It was a translucent male red fox with a grey jacket, green shirt, red scarf, sunglasses, and a stripe on his head just like Fox's, only brown instead of gold.

Fox stared in amazement, "Dad?" he said, thoroughly stunned. "Yes, son, it's me. It's good to see you again." There was no doubt about it; this vulpine was indeed Fox's deceased father, James McCloud. Fox stood up, "Dad, you're alive? Or…am I dead…?" James chuckled, "No, you're alive. I'm just a spirit of my former self." Fox blinked a few times, "Oh, right. Well, why did you come here?" James frowned and rubbed his chin, "Because I need to tell you something important about your current relationship." Fox tilted his head, "With Kathryn?"

James nodded, "Yes. You see, I cannot sense the energy between your two souls as identical. Miss Kathryn is not your soulmate." Fox became confused, "What? But, I like her a lot, and she seems to like me." James spoke again, "Yes, that's true, but even the happiest pair do not always end up together. Their souls must have identical aura for it to be true love." Fox sighed, "Dad, I'm sorry, but you just aren't making sense."

The deceased vulpine continued, "Miss Krystal emits the same energy from her soul as well as yours. You two are a match. Plus, I already know that you two will be together; I've seen you're future." Fox shook his head, "No, Krystal is getting married to Caroso, and-" James cut him off, "She may seem like she's rejecting you, but deep down, she still loves you, son." Fox continued to think, "But, I really like Kathryn, and I can't just leave her suddenly! If I do, then she'll-" Once again, James stopped him, "Fox, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but…Kathryn isn't going to know who you are soon."

Fox narrowed his eyes, "What do you mean 'won't remember me'?" James simply clasped his hands together in front of him, "You'll see soon enough…just remember what I told you, and you can still live your life happily." James began to fade, "Goodbye, my son." He said before vanishing completely. "Dad, wait! Come back!" Fox said, but he was gone. Fox lay back down on his couch.

Me and Krystal will be together? That can't be right… he thought, If she truly loved me, she wouldn't have accepted Caroso's proposal. Fox thought more about the possibility of him and her being together before finally making his way up the stairs, and into his bed, falling asleep rather fast.

Chapter Text

Today was the day that Krystal was to get married to Panther. All the preparations have been arranged: Panther selected Wolf to be his Best Man (which he accepted reluctantly); Krystal selected Katt to be her Maid of Honor (which she accepted gratefully); and since nobody was able to locate Panther's family (no need for Krystal's, since all of them are…well, you know), they simply decided to invite members of Starfox and the military to serve as witnesses to the ceremony.

Krystal still remained full of uncertainty; she still loves Fox, but promised to marry Panther. If I actually do this, I just know that Fox will never talk to me again… the vixen thought as she drove her convertible, already in her bride clothing. What will everyone think if I turn Panther down?

Krystal was losing both her confidence and hope at a hyperactive rate. The look of her pure white dress was enough to do that to just about anyone, but the thought of Fox's reaction to this made it even worse. But for now, she was just going to have to play along and see where it will land her. It took her 20 minutes to arrive at the church, where she was greeted by a raccoon in a formal black suit. "Good morning, Miss Krystal." He said with a bow of his head. "Good morning, Mr…?" "…Rourke. Thaddeus Rourke." He replied.

Krystal put on a fake smile, "Mr. Rourke. Yes, I'm ready for the ceremony." The raccoon pulled out a pocketwatch, "You're a little late; the ceremony is about to begin. But, since you've prepared in advance, it doesn't appear to be a major issue." Krystal nodded, "Am I dressed good enough?" she asked. "You look astoundingly beautiful. Mr. Foster is going to be stunned, I'm sure." He smiled warmly at the vixen as he escorted her into the building.

He was finishing up running through an invitation list to double-check if he's gotten everyone accounted for, when Krystal spoke to him: "Hold on a minute, where's my Maid of Honor?" Rourke dropped the clipboard in shock, "Oh my! Katt!" he immediately ran into the back rooms, "Katt! Katt Monroe!" One of the doors opened, and Katt stepped out wearing her dress for the ceremony, "Sorry! I meant to come out sooner! I just had a hard time with my earrings!" she said as Krystal noticed a few micro-scabs on both of her ears.

"Okay, any second now, it'll be time to begin!" Rourke said urgently. "You ready, Krys?" Katt said. Krystal hesitated, and then answered, "Yeah, I'm sure I am…" She blushed briefly, and then the organ started to play, "Okay, this is it." The vixen's heart beat rapidly as she prepared to enter the chapel, "Start on your left foot." She said as she took a step forward. "Krystal, that's your right-" Katt said before Krystal cut her off: "Too late now! Keep going."

The doors opened, and Krystal was greeted by several glances of the Corneria military, all of them were smiling, and a few were crying out of happiness. She even saw everybody from Starfox was there, too. Peppy, Falco, Slippy (and his girlfriend, Amanda), but she did not see the one who she was hoping for. Fox… Krystal thought miserably. She looked around the entire room as she took her steps (seeing Leon Powalski on the opposite set of pews to the one Starfox was in), but Fox was nowhere to be found.

Krystal had invited him to the wedding (regrettably), but it looks like he didn't show up. Krystal finally reached the altar, where Panther stood smiling very happily, and behind him stood Wolf, who had a very blank, emotionless expression. Krystal stood adjacent to the feline via the building's bilateral symmetry, and Katt took her spot adjacent to Wolf's. Behind a podium in front of Krystal and Panther was a bear, who was obviously the priest who would conduct the ceremony. It took a moment for the church to quiet down from both the talking and the music, and the wedding began.

"Dearly beloved," the ursine priest began, "we are gathered here, in the sight of God…" he motioned his arm at the blue vixen, "…to witness Krystal of Cerinia, the newest member of Starfox, heading-" Krystal grabbed Katt's arm and began to pull her towards a side door in the room, "-away from the altar,-" the priest continued as Krystal and Katt ran down the stairs to the exit, "-down the stairs,-" Krystal opened the door, and bolted out with Katt, "-and out the door!" the priest finished his sentence.

"Stop her!" Panther shouted, "Someone stop her!" Wolf immediately sprinted towards the door, "Krystal! Get back here, NOW!" he yelled. Krystal kept pulling Katt's arm as they made their way to Krystal's car as fast as she could with Katt's resistance. "Wait, wait!" Katt said frantically, "You left before the ceremony ended!" Krystal simply pulled out her car keys and unlocked her car, "I'm not gonna do this, Katt! Come on! We gotta get the hell outta here, now!" She literally pushed Katt into the passenger seat, swung herself sideways over the hood, started the car, and drove out of the parking lot just as everybody who was in the church came outside.

Panther was completely confused, "Krystal!" he shouted. He immediately began running across a large field in the direction of the street her car made it to, "AAAAH! COME BAAAACK!" Suddenly, he tripped and fell on his face, covering his bright blue suit with grass stains. Falco quickly rushed forward, "What the hell is wrong with you!?" he shouted some fifty feet away from the feline. Slippy simply stayed over by Amanda, "What's going on?" he asked her. Amanda shrugged, "No idea." She replied.

Panther lay on the ground, not wanting to get up. But he did when he realized what was going on. Krystal still loved Fox. Panther sat with his head up as he felt his body superheat. "I'm gonna kill that son of a bitch!" he whispered, "And then Krystal will be mine forever! Just you wait McCloud, this won't go so easily; all who see my rose meet death!"

Meanwhile, Krystal and Katt were still driving away, but they didn't go back to their houses; Krystal decided that they could head downtown. They both got out of their dresses (They were already wearing casual clothing under their dresses, which was fortunate, since Cornerian wedding dresses had sleeves). Katt was still unsure about everything, "You know, you just bailed out of what everyone thought was a good thing. I'm sure people are gonna have a different outlook on you from now on." She said, concerned.

Krystal wasn't answering, and when Katt glanced over, it was easy to tell why; while Krystal was driving, she was listening to music on her iPod, and she seemed to have her full concentration on the song, despite the volume not being loud (she shifted her head forwards and backwards in correspondence to the rhythm). Katt was even further disgusted, "Will you just listen to me!?" she said, loudly. Krystal's ears perked up, and she glanced over at Katt, "What?" she said, pausing the song and removing her earbuds, "What was that?" Katt gave Krystal a stern glance, "Do you know what you have done?"

"Yes!" Krystal said, "And I have no regret for it!" But Katt was still not convinced, "Don't you know that Panther guy is just gonna hate you for running away from him?" she said as she raised a brow at the vixen. Krystal shrugged her shoulders in a smug fashion, "Well, not like I really care! Besides he doesn't really…'do it' for me." She said before stuffing her earbuds back into her vulpine ears. "Besides, I knew it was on your mind from the start! No need to really discuss it…" she started her music back up again. Katt simply stared at Krystal while she just kept her eyes on the road. Bitch… Katt thought. Krystal glared over at her, "I heard that!" she said, furiously. Katt sighed, Damn, telepathy is a good thing…if you have it… Krystal glanced over again, "Yes. And you are just gonna have to get used to it!" Katt growled angrily, pounded on the dashboard, and sat biting her lips with a constant glare.

Krystal suppressed a laugh, She should understand, but if not, she'll learn soon… she thought to herself.

Earlier that day, Fox had received some letters in his mailbox. Most of them were from some of his friends in the military, one was a bill, and the last one was from Sacred Lord Church. Curious, he opened it, and read that he was invited to the wedding of Nathan Foster and Krystal of Cerinia. He crumpled the note into a ball, and tossed it into a trash can.

Fox was not going to go to Krystal's wedding. It would not be of any benefit for him, and he decided that he was going to spend the day with Kathryn. He was about to pick up the envelope, when he noticed something else was in it. When he took it out, he saw that it was a photo of Krystal and Panther. He took a pair of scissors and cut the two apart. Putting the Krystal half on the table, he looked at the Panther portion.

"You ruined my break, Caroso! I'll be sure you suffer great retribution!" Fox said to the piece of paper in rage, "But, what to do…?" he thought for a moment, "…Nah, nevermind." The vulpine went out to his backyard, and walked towards his barbecue grill, "You and I can have a cookout later." He said, using two fingers to through the picture piece, like a frisbee, onto the grill. And he snickered at what he said as he used the large meat fork to jab Panther in the chest and crotch simultaneously.

He immediately got a call on his cell phone, "Hello?" he said, as always when answering a phone, "Hey Fox, it's Kathryn." "Oh, hey! You ready for me?" "It's just be a few minutes, I'll text you my address a few minutes after the call." "Alright. See you in a few!" "Yeah, bye for a few minutes!" Fox ended the call and fired up his car. He had already received Kathryn's text and entered the address into his phone's GPS. She was only about 10 minutes away from his house. He drove through the neighborhood on this glorious, sunny day, which fit his mood perfectly. One thing Corneria is famous for is it's splendid weather; everything from clear skies to the annual monsoon.

He arrived at Kathryn's house, which he hoped was the right one. It was a large, two-story, white-colored house. He waited for a minute, and sure enough, Kathryn came out wearing a black T-shirt and tight blue jeans with ripped knees. She got into the passenger seat, "You ready?" she said. Fox nodded, "Let's roll." And they were off into Corneria City.

They had a very great day that day (even better than yesterday). They went to watch "The Hunger Games" at an Imax theater. The movie was a very well-rendition of the book it was based on; it was about a female teenage feline, named Katniss Everdeen, who is to participate in a death fight known as the Hunger Games, and to hopefully save the life of her partner tribute, Peeta Mellark, a male teenage cheetah.

The movie was so tense that Fox and Kathryn found themselves holding each other. When the movie got to the romantic part, both of them were so focused that they both reached into the popcorn, touched each other's hand, looked at their hands, then at each other, and laughed awkwardly.

After the movie, the two went to Carrabba's Italian grill for lunch. The food was absolutely splendid. Fox and Kathryn decided to share a plate of spaghetti they ordered, and as they ate, they both dozed off and began to pull the ends of the same strand into their mouths, eventually making their lips meet. They pulled away, laughing awkwardly (again).

Afterwards, they drove to a lake outside of Corneria City, and rented a boat to take around the lake for the day. As they paddled into the middle of the water, the boat moved quite fast, and Kathryn couldn't help but lean on the bow. "I'm queen of the WOOORLD!" she shouted. Both she and Fox laughed for a long time after. They couldn't stop.

Eventually they let the boat drift around the mid-portion of the lake, and lay staring at the sky, with the sun setting. "You know, Fox, today has just been far different than how I expected." Fox glanced over at her, "How so?" he asked. Kathryn also looked at him, "If I could put it in one word…it's been…dynamic. I've had more fun the past days than I've had in a long time…and I have you to thank for that, Fox." She smiled dreamingly at him. Fox raised a brow, "No, you have the writer, midnightwolfGX, to thank."

Kathryn narrowed her eyes, "Well, yeah, I thank the writer of The Rose's Thorns for making all of this possible with his imagination. But, really, ever since I met you…you have just…made everything amazing. I finally feel comfortable with the world…with who I am…" she trailed off. They both decided to sit up after lying for so long, "But," Kathryn continued, "I think there's just one more thing that will complete my day with you…" Fox's blood pressure began to rise, as he had a feeling of where this was going.

"What is that?" Fox asked Kathryn. She stared at him with a glimmer in her eyes, and she, too, felt her own pulse kick in. "…This." She finally said. And she leaned forward, closed her eyes…and kissed him, on the lips. Fox's muzzle tingled crazily, but he ignored the feeling, closed his own eyes, and returned the kiss with just as much passion. The two foxes became separated from the rest of the universe. Fox's first kiss; it was a little colder than what he had always imagined, but overall, it was just about the best thing he has ever experienced.

After a long while, their lips finally broke out of the kiss, and Fox felt a great sensation spread throughout his body that he just couldn't figure out what came from. It was a few seconds later that he noticed the suns vanished over the horizon. "Wow, it's getting late." Fox said, "Let's head on back to our dwellings, shall we?" Kathryn nodded, "Yeah, let's go."

After another 5 minutes of paddling, they returned the boat, got back into Fox's car, and they were off. Kathryn was staring out of her window at the red sunlight, "Beautiful sunset, isn't it?" she said. "Yeah. Those are things I never get tired of…" Fox replied, "…they may be just as red as you, though probably not anywhere near as beautiful." Kathryn blushed deeply, "You are such a good flatterer, Fox." She said.

They arrived at Kathryn's house just when the sun was about to be gone for the night. "Well, this is it." Fox said. "I'll see you tomorrow?" she said, taking off her seatbelt. Fox nodded, "Yeah, you will. I feel like I want to see you everyday." Kathryn smiled her dazzling smile, and she hugged Fox. Fox hugged her back for a few seconds, and then they separated and she opened the door.

"Well, goodnight." She said. "Goodnight." Fox replied. And she went inside her house. Fox drove off, happier than he had ever been in his entire life. He felt as though he just won the lottery.

Kathryn looked out her window as Fox drove away. She was also very happy for this day to come. And also happier to mention a secret to herself: I love you, Fox…

Chapter Text

Fox awoke to a bright, sunny morning. He noticed the time was about 8:45 A.M. I guess I slept in, the vulpine thought, oh well, it felt good. The phone on his bedside stand rang, making his consciousness strain. He answered it, hoping that it was going to be the voice of the lovely scarlet vixen he'd spent the past few days with, but instead…

"Hey, Fox. You up to your knees in any business?" It was Falco. Fox raised his eyebrow at no one in particular, "No, why would you think that…?" "Well, why didn't you show up at Krystal's wedding yesterday?" Fox was fully aware of the wedding, but had quite a few reasons not to show up, "Well, I decided to spend the day with Kathryn. Besides, going to the wedding would just have made everything worse for me. Now that she's married, there's nothing I can do about it."

"Well, I hate to break it to ya, Foxie, but Krystal ran off just as the ceremony began. Katt went with her, too." Fox's eyes widened in surprise, "Really? She doesn't want to marry Caroso?" "…Well, from how it looks, she's been trying to avoid him for some time now. Plus, she seems really uncertain. She's hiding something, and I wanna know what it is!" Fox lowered the phone briefly. Krystal didn't want to marry Panther, and Fox had a pretty good feeling as to why…

Forget it… he thought, She had her chance with me, but simply walked right by it. I'm with Kathryn now, and I won't change my mind about that. He put the phone back to his ear again, "Yeah, as the Captain, I'll see if I can't squeeze some info out of our first female Lieutenant. She knows she'll have to listen to me." But there was really no need, since Fox already knew.

"Well, anyways, would it be alright if I stopped by with my weapons to use your blaster-repair kit? I need to get all of 'em tuned up for when vacation ends." Fox's blasters and disruptors were already in good shape, so he was sure it wouldn't hurt to lend it to Falco, "Sure. Just try not to spill anything on it." "Thanks, man. You're very reliable as a friend."

"Hey, I should probably go. Kathryn could show up at any minute now. She may not call, but I admit I enjoy her surprises." Falco remained silent for a few moments, and finally spoke: "Okay, just don't stay too long on planet Sinclair; I still exist too, you know…" Fox laughed when he hung up the phone. And, as if right on the proper moment, the doorbell rang. And Fox had a pretty good feeling he knew who it was…

He went to open it to see the vixen that could brighten even the darkest day. "Hey," she said, "How've you been the past few hours?" Fox shrugged, "Typical. You?" Kathryn also shrugged, "Yeah. I hope arriving with no notice isn't a problem." She said. Fox shook his head, "Nope, not ever a problem for you. I could never deny someone as remarkably beautiful as you." Kathryn blushed under her fur, "Well, I'm grateful to be accepted by someone as incredibly handsome as you." Fox, too, felt a warm flush rising in his face.

"Well, come on in. Falco should be stopping by sometime soon, unfortunately." Fox said, motioning his arm inside his house. "Well, shame on him if he decided to interject on our damn good time." Kathryn said, obviously thinking about trying to spend every second possible with each other.

They decided to simply sit on the patio in Fox's backyard. As they sat, Kathryn decided to speak up: "You know, Fox? I never would have imagined that I could ever, in my life, have the chance to speak to a celebrity. Let alone start a rela—uh! Friendship with one…" she blushed. Fox placed his hand on her's, "Kathryn, it's okay. I agree that it's a relationship, too. We both like each other in a special way, and that's a perfectly healthy and acceptable way of interaction."

Kathryn placed her other hand on Fox's, "Yeah, it's just so new to me…I've never had a boyfriend, not even in high school. I have always been so envious and jealous of other couples. And now that I'm in a growing relationship, I've totally let those feeling go." Fox looked deep into the vixen's eyes, "Me too…" he said. And nothing more came out of his mouth, as he leaned in and planted his lips onto hers. She began to kiss him back and wrap her arms around him. They continued for several minutes, before the doorbell rang again, making their eyelids shoot up, startled.

Fox regrettably pulled away to go and answer, who could only be Falco, at the door. He opened up to see the blue avian in his gray, skintight motorcycle armor. Seeing Falco wearing it stunned Fox on account of how thin it made him look—he was so used to seeing Falco in his Starfox uniform, or normal attire. "Yo, Foxie. My I enter the dwelling of McCloud?" Fox nodded, "Yes, enter you may." He said, motioning both arms to the inside. Falco went into his house, and to his garage, where he would work on the weapons he had back on his motorcycle.

As Fox went back to the patio, the sound of the garage door opening could be heard. Fox sat back down next to Kathryn, "Let's pick up where we left off, shall we?" she said. And they both resumed their necking session. They had their lips locked for quite a long time; in fact, they lost track of time. They had been kissing for nearly 15 minutes before an air-raid siren started blaring in the distance. They separated their lips and looked around anxiously for a few minutes, before a sudden bang and a burst of green light went off in the sky, making them both jump. It happened many more times at once. They ran inside, and Falco came in shortly after.

"What going on?" Kathryn asked, nervously. "Either it's the Disneyland fireworks show…OR SOMEONE'S SHOOTING AT US!" Falco responded. Several more blasts went off outside before Falco rushed outside and, seconds later, came back in with a bulging sack in his arms, "You guy's won't believe this; I just saw a Class-VI Venomian freighter followed by two Papetoonian-origin frigates!" Fox stood up, "WHAT!? Venom is attacking!? We didn't do anything! What would they have to gain by…wait."

Fox thought for a moment as they rushed into the basement, laser blasts still all around the house, "Falco, you said there were some frigates based on Papetoon's designs, right?" Falco nodded, "Definitely." Fox suddenly realized, "They're rebels! I should've known there'd be more before the aparoids came…" he paused before a cannon-like sound went off, and the ground shook for a moment.

"Well, sitting around's not gonna do nothin'!" Falco said, reaching into his giant bag and pulling out a 40mm Zoness-style launcher. "Falco, wait!" Fox said as he rushed back out the door, but it was too late.

Krystal, too, was being shot at by the Venomians. She was extremely worried about Fox, and decided to take the chance to rush over to his house. She immediately grabbed a 45-caliber blaster pistol from the vault in her basement, and her rifle-converted-staff from the rack in her bedroom. She then got on her motorcycle, opened the garage door, and accelerated out of the garage. She began to head over to Fox's street, when she saw Slippy running around in panic.

She couldn't just leave him. She rode over to him, "Private, what are you doing out here!? Get on!" she shouted. She got Slippy's attention and he climbed on the back of the motorcycle. She pulled the throttle back as hard as she could, and they shot forward, several laser blasts and explosions everywhere. Fortunately, they were not injured. By the time they were a hundred feet from Fox's house, they saw a gray figure rushing towards the street, and shoot some kind of missile at the ships.

Krystal got off of the bike, and Slippy did, too. Slippy rushed over to the figure, whom he recognized as Falco, while Krystal stood by the motorcycle, watching the projectile sail up. It exploded upon impact with one of the large, helicopter-like rotors on one of the two large frigates. Fox had just come out when this happened. The rotor had detached from the ship, making it fly sideways into the other.

The rotor, however, was still intact; it was still spinning at a high speed, flew upwards, curved in a 180-degree arc, and came sailing downward…straight towards Krystal! Krystal gasped and stood frozen with shock. "KRYSTAL!" Fox shouted, starting to run towards her, "NOOOOOOO!" he put the momentum of his run into her, shoving her out of the way before the rotor came crashing to the ground, destroying the motorcycle and shredding through the pavement below it. The vulpine and the vixen sat up to look at it. Falco and Slippy rushed around the hole of burning debris over to them.

"Are you alright!?" Falco asked them. "Yes," Fox said, "damn, that was way too close!" Slippy nodded in amazement "Yeah!" he said before turning to Krystal, "You were almost a Krystal salad!" Krystal smiled and laughed a little, "Hah, you're right!" Fox helped Krystal up, "Hey, you're not mad at me for…y'know…pushing you, right?" Krystal looked surprised, "No, Fox! I would've done the exact same! Thanks for saving my life, Fox." The vixen said, looking very pleased. Then she glanced into the large, smoking hole and at the flaming scrap metal, "Too bad my bike's gone, though…" she said, sadly.

Falco stepped forward, "Well, if we don't do something about the Monkey Madness," he pointed at the ships, which were about to crash-land, "we're gonna lose more than just bikes!" Fox was first to reply: "Yeah! Let's get our weapons ready." he said, "It's gonna be a busy day…" They rushed to their houses, Fox finding Kathryn nervously waiting for him. "I told you to stay in the basement!" he said. "I was just getting too worried!" she replied. Fox grabbed her arm and pulled her into the garage.

"C'mon, we gotta go!" he said, pushing her into his car, "their ships are gonna land, but they're most likely still armed!" He brought as many blasters, disruptors, launchers, grenades, and ammo that he could in one trip. He then started the car, and drove out of the driveway and onto the street as fast as he could. His car speakers started to make a ringing sound, and he pressed a button on the dashboard. "Hello?" he said, "Fox! We have to get to someplace where we can trap them!" Krystal's voice said over the speakers.

"Alright," Fox said, "where have you planned we should go?" To his surprise, Falco replied: "Well, we're gonna try and rendezvous with you at Corneria City mall. We figured it's large size and many rooms would be a good place to prepare a little tripwire for these apes." Fox immediately floored the accelerator, "Okay, I'll see you guys there in a few minutes!"

It took a bit for them to get to Corneria City, but fortunately, the Venomian freighter had landed with the other two ships back in Fox's neighborhood. They ran at breakneck speed inside the building after nearly crashing the car trying to "park" in a hurry. Fox and Kathryn found the other three at the fountain court in the middle of the building, having to run past several panicking citizens. "What's the situation?" Fox asked. "Well, we've already alerted the mall security, and they're having everyone evacuate." Falco said, "And we've told the local police about the Venomians, so hopefully, they can buy us some time, too."

Fox hoped that the situation would turn out okay. With the size of all of the ships, there couldn't be more than 800 rebels, but it would still take time to get rid of them all. All they could do while waiting for the arrival of the rebels was set up traps and alter the building to their advantage.

As Starwolf had anticipated, the rebels arrived. But they hadn't sufficiently planned, as they arrived earlier than expected. All they could do was try and prevent the rebels from causing too much destruction.

They had already discovered that someone had damaged one of the frigates, forcing the others to land for it. As they tried to use sniper rifles to ambush the first few soldiers to step out of the ships, the others quickly learned their location and began chasing them. Wolf drove the truck they took, while Panther shot a machine gun standing out of the sunroof, and Leon sat in the trunk in the back with a grenade launcher to take out the vehicles that the Venomians pursued them in.

But they were badly outnumbered, and wouldn't be able to get them all. "I think we're just gonna have to flee, period!" said Panther to Wolf. "No! I have a better idea. I've confirmed that the military and police are planning some kind of defense at the mall." Wolf said enthusiastically, "What say we head to that safe haven?" Panther glanced back briefly, "Okay, but step on it!" he shouted before starting to fire at their pursuers again.

The Starfox team and other Cornerian soldiers, officers, and mercenaries showed up at the mall, which was now free of citizens. They set up barricades with several pieces of furniture, and planted several traps around the building. Now, they all sat behind the barricades, ducking, with their guns pointed in front of the barriers. It was almost the beginning of another battle to save his world; his home; his people. Fox was determined to stop the Venomians and protect everyone he loves.

From outside, several cars could be heard approaching, doors thudded shut countless times, and a large glass pane broke as the first attacker entered the building…

Chapter Text

Countless Venomian rebels entered the building. The Cornerian forces started to open fire on them, cutting several of them down, but at quite a slow pace. They started to return fire with many assault rifles and shotguns. In minutes, several of the Cornerians were injured. The Starfox team managed to run through an opening in the offense and use an unmanned barricade. Fox used a 10-gauge, pump-action shotgun blaster, Falco off to one side of him with a 42-caliber, bolt-action rifle, Krystal with her staff-rifle (which proved quite effective), and Slippy with a fully-automatic 22-caliber blaster rifle. Kathryn simply took cover under a very large desk.

"This don't look too good!" said Falco, taking out three apes and rapidly pulling the bolt in panic. "Oh man, I'm not ready to die!" Slippy yelled, "I haven't even told Amanda that I am loco-crazy for her!" Fox ducked, and hit Slippy in the shoulder with the stock of his shotgun, "Pull it together, Private! We gotta take out these assholes before you worry about your girlfriend!" Slippy glared, "She's not my girlfriend! (…yet)."

They continued to struggle with taking out the Venomians, running low on ammo, and having the nearest supply of plasma cartridges being beyond a thick line of enemies. But suddenly, a figure wearing all-black motorcycle armor and helmet jumped down from the second floor, right in front of the Starfox team. They then drew full-auto twin 40-caliber blaster pistols (they could tell the caliber from the model) from cross-holsters and began to shoot at the Venomians. They tried to shoot the black figure, but they had quick, cat-like reflexes and the apes could not land a shot.

The figure sprinted at the soldiers, jumped really high (which gave a lot of hang-time), did a front flip, and shot a large amount of apes during mid-flip with both weapons. They crumbled to the ground as the figure landed perfectly on their feet. With the wing of enemies gone, the black figure holstered their weapons, and sprinted over to the Starfox team. Falco stood up, "Whoa, that was badass! Thanks, man…" he said to them. They removed their helmet and spoke: "Hey. Am I late?" Falco looked thoroughly stunned.

It was Katt. This came as a surprise to all of them; Katt had very little combat experience…but since she's a cat, her instincts and reaction time are suitable for battle. "Katt, what the hell are you doing here?" Falco asked her. "Were in on this together, right?" Fox looked at Falco curiously. Falco responded to this: "Well, Fox, after the Skype call the other night…Katt and I got back together." He said, quite happily. Fox didn't really care, but decided to make him feel fortunate, "Well, that's good news." Said Fox, putting on a fake smile.

Kathryn came out from under the desk and stepped forward, "Hello. Who might you be?" she asked the feline. "Katt Monroe, I'm here to help fight the Venomians." She replied. "My name is Kathryn Sinclair. Nice to meet you." She held out her hand, but Katt didn't shake it. "Nice to meet you too, but now might not be a good time for introductions." She pointed to more rebels coming from the central fountain court, and down their branch. "Come on, we gotta move!" said Fox, making a break for the ammo storage in one of the larger, 2-story shops.

After replenishing the ammo in their weapons, they took as much as they could before the Venomians entered the store. They attempted to try and run for the elevator having to fire shots in defense along the way. Fox figured that he might be able to make the elevator go into the basement; he was the lockpicking expert of the team. Everyone agreed that it was worth a shot, and they made their way to the back exit, where the elevator was.

Luckily, Fox happened to have a lockpick hidden in his shoe. The Starfox team fired at the oncoming apes as Slippy pummeled the elevator button repeatedly. After about a minute, the door opened, and Fox rushed in. "I'm gonna pick the basement lock! Kathryn, you help Katt and Falco hold them off!" he yelled over the blaster fire, handing Kathryn a blaster rifle. She held it with her index finger and thumb as far as she could from herself, "No! I'm not shooting this! I hate guns!"

Immediately after she finished, one ape soldier fired a shot at Kathryn through the doorway. Thankfully, it didn't hit her. But what it did hit was…"My earring!" she shrieked, quickly tapping the melted stone and silver, "This was blue diamond!" her frightened expression was quickly replaced with intense rage. She started to get a normal hold of the rifle, "Son of a bitch!" she whispered loudly and furiously. She chambered the rifle, strode towards the doorway like a Wild West criminal, and opened fire on the Venomians. She pulled the trigger rapidly, showering the Venomians with a storm of indigo laser blasts. Despite it being a semi-automatic blaster, Kathryn was firing so fast that it looked like a fully-automatic weapon.

When the entire second team had been destroyed, Fox, Falco, Krystal, Slippy, and Katt all stared at Kathryn, equally surprised. "Oh my, God!" said Krystal as Kathryn pointed the blaster straight upward, and, holding the muzzle 8 inches from her face, gave it a short, quick blow. "That was pretty good!" said Fox. "Well…pretty good, for a rookie…" said Falco. "Hey! John Marston would call that really good!" said Katt to Falco. They didn't dwell too long on this: "Come on, let's get down to the basement!" said Fox, pointing to the elevator.

They started to head towards the open door, but then a laser blast came from behind them, startling them all. When Fox drew his pump-shotgun and glanced back…"What!?" Fox said, "You!" Standing just outside the doorway was a white primate, wearing a bulletproof vest, laughing and holding a 9mm Venomian blaster pistol. "Oikonny!" said Falco, pointing his rifle at the ape. Oikonny started to raise his pistol as the avian, but Starfox surrounded him and held their guns on him (even Kathryn, who doesn't like guns, and still had the rifle Fox gave her). Oikonny dropped the pistol in shock, and Slippy quickly picked it up and shoved it in his leg-holster.

Oikonny simply held his hands up. "Why are you here?" Fox questioned Andross' nephew, "How did you survive our last battle? What has Corneria done to inti-" Oikonny cut him off: "I didn't travel for three days to play 20-questions with you, McCloud!" he shouted, "I came for revenge! You have ruined my chances of becoming the Emperor of the Lylat system!" Fox narrowed his eyes, "What makes you think that you would ever-" Oikonny interrupted him again: "I could've helped the system! I could've made our worlds a better place!" Fox glared, "You liar!" he yelled.

Suddenly, a thick, white smoke filled the air, which seemed to be coming from a device in Oikonny's hand. "Don't let him get away!" Fox heard Katt shout. "Get him! Shoot him if you have to!" Falco said next before more blaster shots rang out. But Oikonny got away…

Meanwhile, Starwolf arrived at the mall, having lured in more Venomian reinforcements. Wolf simply drove the pickup truck through the large glass pane doors. It bought them a bit of time for them to make their getaway; they got out of the truck, fired when they had to, and rushed for the back of the building. Leon fired another bomb at the vehicle that stopped closest to the entrance, but that was his last one. "Shit!" he yelled, throwing the launcher on the floor and pulling out his 38-caliber disruptor rifle.

"We're not going to be doing any better if they managed to get inside!" said Panther. He was right; it was evident that the traps the military and police set up have failed, and the rebels have full access to the building. "We've failed!" Panther said again. Wolf gave him a cold look, "We're only going to fail if we give up! We are not going to stop fighting; it's too late to stop the forward momentum!" Panther hesitated, then his face grew rich with confidence and determination, "Alright. I'll do it. I'll do it for everybody! I'll be a hero! Krystal will then have to marry me!" Wolf stopped firing again, and looked confused.

"Well, you don't have to do it for the sake of just one person…" the lupine said. "Oh, alright," Panther responded, "but everybody will have a positive outlook on me afterwards! So, LET'S DO THIS!" he said with strong emphasis. He then switched his empty assault rifle with an older Titania-style, lever-action blaster rifle, and let out a battle cry as he fired it as fast as he could chamber it. Wolf smiled as he fired his Gatling gun, Such a strong spirit…though such a weak personality. I guess I'm lucky I didn't promote him to Corporal…

Starfox found no sign of Oikonny once the smoke cleared out. But that made no difference; they had to buy more time. Once again, Fox managed to pick the lock that would take the elevator down to the basement, and sure enough, it went down. When they arrived, they started trying to pile everything they could against the elevator doors as a makeshift semi-barrier.

A stairwell that led up to the surface was in the back of the basement. With this being, Fox ordered Falco to take a glance outside and see if it's safe to proceed. Falco opened the door about a centimeter, then wider to stick his head out. He looked left, then right, then up, and came back in. "Coast is clear!" he said. "Alright," Fox said, "You guys go ahead! Me and Kathryn will cover you from here! Turn your radios to channel 17!" Katt hesitated, "Fox, are you sure you and Kathryn will be alright?" Fox nodded confidently, "Yes. If we do get into trouble, I'll activate the distress signal on my PDA. Now go, that's an order!" he said. Katt's head dipped as she closed her eyes regretfully.

"Yes, Captain," the feline said, "just don't do anything rash!" The remainder of the Starfox team went out of the emergency exit, while Fox and Kathryn stayed behind. "Come on, this way!" Fox whispered loudly to Kathryn, pointing to a door that lead to the stairs. As he opened it, a flash of red light and a bang went off, and Fox's shotgun flew out of his hands. He looked up at the stairwell up ahead to see Oikonny pointing his pistol (which he must have taken back from Slippy) at him; he actually shot Fox's blaster out of his hands! He looked over at a frightened Kathryn, and made a "get back" motion with his hand. "Don't move." Said Oikonny as he walked towards Fox, still keeping the blaster on him.

When he was 5 feet in front of him, he started to speak: "You were the one who arranged this plan, destroyed my ships, and killed my men, weren't you?" Fox hesitated. Oikonny threateningly pulled the hammer on the gun back due to the pause. "W-well, it was defense! We didn't make the first-strike!" said Fox, "How else were we supposed to react when being shot at!?" Oikonny glared, "You have expended all of our equipment and men! And you are going to pay!" Suddenly, a flash of blue light went off behind Fox, and Oikonny's pistol went flying backwards.

Fox turned to see that Kathryn was pointing her blaster at Oikonny. "What are you doing to our planet!?" she yelled, angrily, "You are not suited to be an emperor! You are destroying worlds, not saving them!" Oikonny smiled, "And what do we have here? A fiancé, if I'm not mistaken?" he said to Fox. Fox's expression became stern, "No! We're not engaged! Were just friends!" he shouted deafeningly, "But that's not what matters! We're going to have you arrested, Oikonny! That's how Corneria will gain atonement." Oikonny smiled very demonically.

"That may be how you perceive it…" he began, "…but if Corneria does not submit to me as their leader, they will be doomed!" Lightning-fast, he punched Fox in the face, picked up his shotgun, and ran towards Kathryn. The vixen's gun had jammed, and she was trying to fix it, but it was too late…WHAM. Oikonny struck Kathryn over the head with the stock of the blaster, knocking her out instantly. She fell to the cold, stone floor and the rifle discharged as it made contact with the floor. Fox watched in horror as this happened. But his grief was soon replaced with a highly volcanic fury.

He immediately stood up, rushed to grab Oikonny's pistol, and made it back to the doorway…early enough. Oikonny laughed as he stood over the unconscious vixen, "And, to finish the cruel deed…" he aimed Fox's blaster at her head, but Fox reacted fast to this; he aimed Oikonny's own blaster at him, and fired before Oikonny could. The crimson bolt went through the primate's stomach, causing a large blood splatter, and making him drop to the floor, abandoning Fox's weapon. He lay panting for a few seconds, before he started to glow a bright blue. Rapidly spinning lines engulfed Oikonny…and he faded. Fox knew what this was—a vital-signs emergency teleporter, which teleports a wounded fighter to a medical capsule if major injury is sustained.

Fox stuffed Oikonny's gun into the back of his pants, and rushed over to Kathryn, kneeling beside her. "Kathryn!" Fox said, trying to wake her up by shaking her, "Kathryn!" he shouted into her ear. After no response, he put two fingers to the side her neck, and was relieved to make out a pulse. "Kathryn, please, wake up…" Fox said desperately. Then, a strange idea came to him, "Oh, Kathryn, please forgive me." And with that, he slapped her across the face. Immediately afterward, she slapped him right back, and slowly opened her eyes as she sat up. "Kathryn!" Fox said, full of relief. And he wrapped his arms around her, "You're okay!"

Kathryn simply sat passively. "Um…no, I've got a really bad headache." She said, clutching her head with her hands. "And, another thing…how do you know my name?" Fox was confused, "What? You told me your name after you met me at the police station…" Kathryn continued to rub her head, "Police station? I haven't been to a police station recently." Fox immediately understood, "Oh no, oh no, oh no." he said, over and over. "What's wrong?" Kathryn asked. "When Oikonny hit you over the head, he gave you amnesia!" Fox replied in complete disbelief. Kathryn tilted her head and raised a brow, "Okay, who's Oikonny, and why would he hit me over the head?"

Fox couldn't believe that Kathryn forgot everything. It was all over with him and her. "But, Kathryn, do you know who I am?" he asked. Kathryn let out a thinking hum, then her face became surprised, "Wait, aren't you Fox McCloud from the Starfox team!?" Fox was thankful that her memory hadn't completely failed, "Yes! So you remember the past days we spent together!?" he asked hopefully. Kathryn had a confused look again, "What!? This is the first time I've met you in person! Oh my, God, I know I'm gonna die!" she said, grinning ear-to-ear.

Fox had been saddened again. She has had the memory of her past days erased. But she seemed to be quite happy, "Come on, let's get out of here. It's creepy down here…" she went to open the door that led outside. Fox tried to stop her, but she already got a glimpse of the outside. "Oh my, God!" she said, looking at the blast-holes, destroyed vehicles, and fires everywhere, "What the hell happened here!?" she asked no one in particular. "Well," Fox started, "we're at the mall, and-" "Nevermind," Kathryn said, "I don't know what's going on here, but I'm leaving before anything else happens!" Fox followed her out as she ran up the stairs, "Kathryn, no!"

But the red vixen had already gotten in an undamaged car, and was almost finished hotwiring it when Fox came. "Kathryn, please don't go! We've been through a lot together! You can't give it all-" "Listen, Mr. McCloud." She said, suddenly, "I don't know what sort of dilemma you've had with me, but I don't think I could go along with it properly!" Fox was crushed by her words, and she didn't stop there, "but remember this: I'm grateful for what you've done for Lylat. You are a true hero in my, and several peoples', eyes." Fox had merely listened to the words without letting them sink in. "Goodbye, Fox McCloud. We might not meet again, but I will value your heroism forever…" Fox smiled, and she rolled up the window, and drove off, very fast. Fox watched her until she vanished from sight.

He then fell to his knees and began to silently sob, burying his face in his hands. His palms overflowed with his tears, and released them to let them splash onto the pavement. Fox was sure that this was, truly, the saddest moment in his entire life. He was Kathryn's friend, if for ever so brief a time, and even that title was taken from him, and shattered. "And it's all the fault of that Oikonny!" Fox whispered furiously under his breath. A door opened up behind him, and the Starfox team came out. "Hey, Fox! We've been told that Starwolf's here! They're trying to help us fight these chimps off!" said Falco.

Fox continued to sit on his knees, crying. The team came up to him, "Hey, Fox, what's wrong? Where's Kathryn?" Slippy asked. "K-Kathryn is…g-g-gone…" Fox sobbed some more before Krystal spoke: "Gone? You mean she left?" Fox looked up at his team members, "O-Oikonny hit-t her over the h-h-head with my gu-u-un…and sh-she suffered amnesia…!" Everybody was in shock. Katt stepped forward, "I'm sorry, Fox." Good old Slippy tried to lighten the mood: "Hey c'mon guys! Let's go and teach the baboon-bastard a good lesson!"

Fox looked at Slippy very passively, "I hate to break it to ya, Slip, but Oikonny's gone, too. I shot him in the torso, and it triggered a vital-signs medical teleporter." Everybody looked like they just lost an open opportunity. "Ah, well…" said Krystal, "…I'm sure we'll get him someday."

"Anyways, Fox," said Falco, "there's still a few Venomians to take out. The military and police have taken out most of them, but there's still a little over a hundred." Fox took his face out of his hands. He knew what he had to do…He quickly went to a weapons pod on the street, grabbed a disruptor-style assault rifle, a shotgun, and two pistols. He started to rush inside the building, "Fox, wait!" Falco yelled. But Fox wasn't going to stop. He was going to avenge the lost memories of Kathryn. Breaking through a glass door instead of opening it, Fox immediately was being fired at by more Venomians. He shot back at them, making them lose reinforcements quite fast. Fox was so angry that this was essential the only thing that had the magnitude to release his anger.

The Venomians tried to hit Fox, but not even the marksmen could score a hit. With the automatic disruptor now empty, Fox threw it at one enemy, stunning them. The highly aggressive vulpine then took out the semi-auto, 12-gauge shotgun. He fired quite rapidly, taking out several apes with one shot, each time. He started to make a run for a store nearby, and when he arrived, the Venomians were only seconds away. He quickly shot the latches that held the security hatch up, making it drop and lock into place. He then discarded the shotgun, which was now out of ammo, and drew the two 40-caliber pistols. He took cover behind the checkout counter, and the Venomians fired.

Fox stood up, took a shot, and squatted back down. Luckily, he had brought several plasma cartridges with him, so after repeating the process a few times, he would change the magazines and resume. He was very conservative with his ammo, and made a one-shot-one-kill streak. He kept the process up until all of them were on the floor, some dead, others incapacitated. He spun the two pistols on his fingers twice backwards, and then threw them on the ground; they were empty, and he had no ammo for them.

He then proceeded to use a back exit to the store to come back out to the main branch. Cautiously, he drew Oikonny's handgun and took out a knife out of a sheath on his belt. He held them in a Harries hold-fashion, regularly glancing behind him to see if any more Venomians would show up. Suddenlt, he was knocked to the floor, making the gun and knife slide to the wall on the far left of him. Then, a female ape pinned Fox down, and held a gun to his head. "So," she said, "you're the legendary Fox McCloud of Starfox, is that right?" Fox struggled to get her off of him, but he was immobilized. She continued: "Where's the rest of Starfox, hm? Falco, Peppy, Krystal, and the asshole frog? What's his name…Slippy?"

"Get the hell off me!" Fox blurted in her face. She simply smiled evilly, "Oh, I will, but only after I see what happens when the muzzle is at your head, and I tense my index finger…" Suddenly, a bang was heard, and she fell on top of him. Fox looked over to see Krystal lower a 45-caliber blaster pistol, "…Not if I tense my finger first!" she said. "Krystal!" said Fox, "Thank you, I thought I was gonna die!" Krystal smiled, "Well, I guess that makes us even for the turbine incident." Fox also smiled, glad to have burned off the excess steam he held earlier, "Yeah, I guess we're all done with life-debts…"

"Anyways," said Krystal, "We've been informed that the remaining Venomians are retreating. They are using evacuation shuttles from their larger ships." Fox let out a sigh of relief, "So, it's over…" he said. Krystal nodded, "Yes, you did it, Fox! You scared the last few off! You've saved Corneria!...Again." Fox closed his eyes and bowed his head once, "No, we all did it. And I'm glad there's minimal destruction." Krystal was about to leave, but stopped briefly, "Anyways, I'm sure there will be better things to come soon. I'll see you later, Fox." Fox waved to her as she left, "See ya!" he said.

The vulpine stood in the middle of the vast building, looking at all the damage done to it, but never feeling this happy until after he was sure that he had accomplished something. While it is true that he has lost many precious things along the way, in the later run, he found it to have worked excellently. All's well that ends well.

Chapter Text

Starwolf was running low on weapons and ammo, but the Venomians began to retreat. Despite this, they cut down as many of them as they could with their last disruptor rounds. Panther, now full of accomplishment, holstered his weapons, and fell to his knees, "We're finished…" he said. Leon kicked him over, "You didn't leave many kills for me, you bastard! Learn to play fair next time!" he hissed at Panther. Wolf chuckled, "It's not whether you win or lose; it's how you play the game that matters." Leon looked confused, "This was no game!" Wolf smiled again, "If you look at all the properties of something, you can come up with countless perspectives."

Leon, not finding this relevant, decided to excuse himself from the group, and watch the Venomian evacuation shuttles leave the planet as he took an undamaged vehicle. Panther, meanwhile, stood up, "It's been a long day. Panther needs to rest…provided, of course, that my house isn't smoldering ash by now." Wolf glanced at his PDA, "Nope. The rebels didn't mount a full-scale assault on suburban areas, since there was no threat." Panther smiled, "That's good, then. I'll be seeing you, Commander." Wolf made a hand-sign that resembled Spock's Vulcan hand-thingy, "Farewell, Captain Caroso."

Immediately after he got home in a burnt car, it broke down on Panther. Despite the major battle that occurred that day, Panther still found a letter in his mailbox. Perhaps he missed it when getting the others from a different time? It was from the Corneria City Police Department. Panther's fine wasn't due until tomorrow…but why would they send a notice? He took it inside, opened it, and read the note within:

Mr. Foster,

The military and police units have provided us with information that you were involved in the battle earlier today against a band of Venomians with two others. Don't worry, this is not anything bad—quite the opposite. Your service was outstanding from what many eyewitnesses reported, and your efforts to defend us are greatly appreciated. As a personal thanks from the CPD, your 5,000 credit fine has been nullified. Just please don't shoot any more weapons in public—you're going to end up scaring everyone. Anyways, me and all the units thank you for your assistance.

Vaughn, Stephen

Police Chief

Corneria City Police

Panther was completely overtaken; his fine was revoked! He didn't have to worry any more about his super-slow, badly-outdated desktop computer. He immediately stopped the encoding process, with less than 1,000 credits remaining, and shut off the computer; it needed a break from all it's hard work. His doorbell rang immediately after. To even more delight, he opened it to Krystal, though he was puzzled by her resentful expression. "Hello, Krys." He said, "What brings you here?" Krystal slipped off her engagement ring, and held it up.

"Panther, I'm sorry…I don't want to marry you." She placed the ring on the floor in front of the dumbstruck feline. "What!?" he said in shock, "Why?" Krystal clasped her hands together, "I was flattered by your proposal, honestly. But…I just don't feel ready for…someone like you." Panther was starting to have his eyes well with tears. "Panther, don't! Please!" the vixen said, quickly, "I don't want to feel bad about doing this!" Panther looked up, "B-but Krystal…I-I thought…we were…" Krystal tore her eyes away, "I'm really sorry…I have to go!" she said before running back to her car.

"Krystal! No!" Panther said, desperately. But it made no difference; Krystal started the car, and sped away. Panther watched her go, then turned his attention back on the ring, "Hopefully, she didn't find out it was just stainless steel and blue glass…Panther's not one for sterling silver and diamonds." he said to himself, secretively.

Fox, meanwhile arrived at his home to find it still fully intact, much to his relief. Though the street was still damaged from the Papetoon frigate rotor, none of the houses on his street had visible damage. As Lylat and Solar both set, he couldn't block out the memories he had of Kathryn. He was still very sad that she lost her memory. James was right. But Fox didn't lose all of his happiness.

"I'm grateful for what you've done for Lylat. You are a true hero in my, and several peoples', eyes." Fox remembered her words that motivated his to do his best, always. For her. "We might not meet again, but I will value your heroism forever…" Fox smiled faintly. They would not meet again, but she will respect and praise his efforts to defend his world for as long as she lives. But Fox hoped that tonight would help to ease his efforts. Falco had invited him to a karaoke party that they would have with Starwolf as a temporary truce, and to celebrate yet another victory over Venom.

It was later that night that Fox had showed up at the party, as well as Starfox and Starwolf. Even Peppy showed up. A few other military officers that they were acquainted with were there, too. Several of them greeted Fox as he entered the building, and Fox spent the next 5 minutes passively shaking hands. After getting some of the refreshments, Fox sat at a table, and an announcer showed up on the stage. "Okay. We will begin our karaoke segment momentarily. It will start with Starfox, whom is sponsoring the event, and then alternate between each member with the other three-" the Labrador motioned his arm at Starwolf, "—who also have a part in setting up this event. First come, first serve." He finished before laughing.

It started with Slippy, who sang "Shout at the Devil" by Mötley Crüe; Leon came next, and sang "Barracuda" by Heart; Leon was followed by Falco, who sang "Don't Stand so Close to Me ('86 remix)" by The Police; and afterwards was Wolf, who went with "Viva la Vida" by Coldplay. All of them got applauds at the end of the songs, and gave a fairly decent performance.

Krystal was up next, and she took the microphone, "Okay, this one is from the start of the century. And it was in one of my favorite animated Disney films, Atlantis: The Lost Empire." She cleared her throat, and then "Where the Dream takes You" by Mýa Harrison begins:

"They'll try to hold you back,

They will say you're wrong.

But they will never understand

The journey that you're on…"

Fox's jaw dropped at how fabulous her voice was. He was sure it could get rid of his headache, if he had one. But, he never knew Krystal actually knew how to sing so amazingly.

"They'll try to change your mind,

They'll try to change your heart,

But they will never understand who you are,

And you still believe.

And you know.

You must go.

Where the dream takes you.

(Where your dream takes your heart)

Where your heart longs to be.

(Your dream will lead you on)"

Panther didn't want to hear the singing voice of the vixen that completely and utterly rejected him, so he tried to block it out by putting his iPod on a high volume.

"When you finally found that place,

You'll find all you need.

Where the dream takes you.

(Where the dream takes you)"

Fox stared up dreamingly at the blue vixen, suddenly starting to realize that he was falling back in love with her…

"There's something in your soul;

That won't be denied.

It's the faith to dream that keeps…

The dream alive?

So you still believe.

And you know,

you must go,

Where the dream takes you.

(Where your dream takes your heart)

Where your heart longs to be.

(Your dream will lead you on)"

Panthe couldn't make her voice go away from his hearing, even if he tried to cup his hands over his ears. He was too lovesick to take much more.

"When you finally found that place,

You'll find all you need.

Where the dream takes you.

(Where the dream takes you)

Go where your heart is meant to be;

And you may find

Somebody there,

Someone to share your dream."

Despite the loudspeakers being so…uh, loud, Fox was almost being put to sleep. Krystal's voice was very somniferous and pleasant…

"When you finally found that place,

You'll find all you need.

Where the dream leads you.

(Your dream will lead you home)

Far as your heart can see,

There's a world that waits for you,

You're not alone;

You'll find your home;

They'll try to change your mind…

They'll try to change your heart…

But, you must go…where the dream takes you."

The crowd erupted into applause as the song ended, and Fox clapped particularly loudly and let out a loud whistle. Krystal gave a bow to the audience, "Thank you, that was quite fun, I must say." She said before putting the microphone back into the stand, and leaving the stage. She came out of nowhere, in just a few seconds, in front of Fox. The vulpine glanced up at her. "Hi, Fox." She said, "How was that?" she asked him. Fox smiled very pleasantly, "That was amazing, Krystal. Not just the song alone, but you. I've never heard any girl sing better. It's what you may call 'Krystal-clear'."

Krystal blushed under her fur at this, "Thanks, Fox. I'm glad to be appreciated." She said in return. It was Panther's turn to sing, and he decided to sing "Angel of Mine" by The SubSonics. Fox and Krystal both didn't think it was as good as the actual song; Panther's voice was off-key and out of tune, plus it sounded very scratchy and hollow. Generally, his performance was quite mediocre, and not at all romantic, like how the song was supposed to be. And this was notable when the audience gave a rueful applaud.

"Alright," said the announcer, "the last Starfox member who is singing is Fox McCloud." The crowd became very enthusiastic. Krystal was about to turn to Fox, but saw him trying to sneak out a door. "Fox, no!" she said. Seeing her, Fox sprinted out the door, slamming it shut. Krystal came out, "Fox, you can't back out on-" she looked around, but didn't see him anywhere. "Oh, come on! What are you? Spiderman?" Suddenly, a voice came from her left, "I'm here, Krys." It was Fox; he was hiding in a bush. "Well, you're on! We gotta get you on stage!" she said, grabbing his hand, and (despite his resistance) pulled him back inside.

"So, without further ado, please enjoy Starfox's last song for the night!" said the announcer as Fox got up on the stage, and nervously grabbed the microphone, causing a high-pitched blaring. People plugged their ears, and Fox covered the microphone with his hand, which stopped the blaring. "O-okay," the anxious vulpine said, "this one's a newer song too…but still pretty good. And it is in Trauma Team for the Wii. A game that I really enjoy, to be honest…" A few people laughed drily. But Fox cleared his throat, waited for a few, tense seconds, and "Gonna Be Here" be Ben Franklin begins:

"When I wake up bathed in sweat at night and

I cannot tell what's real and where the dreams end."

My one savior calls my name and gently conquers the storm (conquers the storm, conquers the storm)

Krystal instantly was overpowered by Fox's voice. It was very clear and lively and…beautiful. She didn't think that Fox spent any time practicing singing.

"I know there's

A safe haven where my prayers are answered, yeah,

And love breaks the bonds of fears and nightmares.

A voice in my heart says let it go, it's alright.

It's alright, yeah.

But we both realize,

Forever will die."

Panther's face completely twisted with disgust. He didn't like how Fox's voice sounded (obviously on account of his arrogance and megalomania)

"I am gonna be here, right beside you.

I'm the one who will never leave you.

I will hold on

Throughout the darkest storm.

I am gonna be the one you can count on.

I'm the one who will hold on to you.

We've got the power

To turn the dark to light.

I am gonna be the one."

Tears formed in Krystal's eyes as she looked up at Fox, now beginning to have her feelings for him majorly invoked.

"When I have you by my side it feels like

I am blessed in a way I've never known, yeah.

I feel so alive, I wanna live like this every day (everyday, this everyday)…

Forever.

But I know it's not forever,

And the day, the good times, like sand, slip through our fingers.

And somewhere the Reaper's coming out of Hell, but

It's all right yeah.

Though you and I, my friend,

We've seen how it ends."

Panther knew that his iPod was useless against this volume…and the emotions that the two songs he had to hear held.

"I am gonna be here till the end, yeah.

You and I, till the final breath.

I will hold on

Throughout the darkest storm.

I am gonna be the one with the faith, yeah.

I'm the one who will help you stand, girl.

We've got the power

To find a brighter day.

I am gonna be the one.

I'll be the one,

For you girl, for you girl.

I'll be the one,

I'll be the one,

I'll be the one."

Krystal felt strongly that Fox had emotionally dedicated this song to her. Like the song was written for the purpose of him to sing it to her.

"I am gonna be here, right beside you.

I'm the one who will never leave you.

I will hold on

Throughout the darkest storm.

I am gonna be the one you can count on.

I'm the one who will hold on to you.

We've got the power

To turn the dark to light.

I am gonna be the one."

Krystal was so overjoyed that she felt like she had just died in the battle, but was now in the ruins of outer heaven, feeling as though there was more to come in the internal heaven…

Just you and I.

Just come on girl, yeah.

Just you and I.

We can stand and fight now.

Just you and I girl yeah.

We can stand and fight now.

I am gonna be the one.

I am gonna be the one yeah, yeah.

Be the one…"

When the song faded completely, the most massive applause erupted from the audience. People stood from their chairs, clapped above their heads, gave loud whistles, and repeatedly chanted his first name. Fox was very satisfied; everybody had a very strong appreciation of him giving all of his emotions through song. He felt really great, even better than winning a battle, or being promoted to Captain. Fox was once again the strong, confident mercenary leader that he always was.

"Thanks, everybody." He said into the microphone, "I'm glad to have gotten an opportunity like this. I'll always remember this, for the rest of my life." He set the microphone back into the stand, and made his way back to the table he sat at. Krystal was there waiting for him, "Fox, you were amazing! You have just about the best singing voice I've heard in my entire life! Even better than anybody on Cerinia!" Fox blushed and rubbed the back of his head, "Awww…shucks. I was just doing it for everyone. For Starfox, for Corneria." Krystal pointed at the door, "Come outside, for a moment?" she asked. Fox nodded and followed her out.

It was a little cold outside, but it felt strangely good, in a way. "Fox," Krystal began, "I realize that when I got engaged to Panther…I made a mistake." Fox felt his pulse start to pick up in tempo, "So…that means…you and Caroso are…" Krystal nodded, "Yes, I dumped him. I called off the engagement. I couldn't do it. I couldn't marry him. Not over…you, Fox." Fox was now damp with sweat beneath his clothes, "Y-you don't mean…" Krystal smiled up at him, "Yes, Fox, I've made my decision…" "Krystal…" Krystal then pulled him into a deep, immense kiss. Fox knew this was coming, and he returned her kiss. With her lips touching his, a strong tension relief slowly spread from his muzzle, down his neck, and throughout the rest of his body. Krystal's kiss was just about the greatest thing he has experienced (even better than Kathryn, he regrets to admit to himself).

Panther had been secretly watching this. And when the two touched their lips, Panther's heart suddenly felt excruciatingly tight. He ran out a side exit, and into the woods nearby, where he fell to his knees by a creek, and began to cry. He put his body to the ground, and buried his face in his arms. Despite Panther never being easily upset, this was the one thing that forced him to cry his very heart out ever since the last time when he was in his teen years. "I-I can't believe…all that time…all those feelings…all those things…were fake!" He looked at himself in the creek, and a single teardrop fell into the water, creating an expanding ripple. "Screw you!" he shouted, hitting the surface of the water where his reflection was. Then, he continued to cry, and didn't stop for a long time. "Just you wait…Krystal and McCloud…all who see my rose…meet death…"

But, as for Fox and Krystal, tonight was an absolute joy. The two had never had a happier moment together. They would never…ever…forget that night.

Chapter Text

After the night that Corneria celebrated Venom's defeat, Fox and Krystal resumed their relationship from the point that they left off on. But this time, they are now aware of each other's feelings, which has helped to speed up the process. Sure, their vacation is over, and yet, they are still happier than they have ever been in their lives. They would surely fly alongside each other forever, from the viewpoint of many others.

Fox and Krystal have finally made a bond of eternal love that is likely to never be broken, and now fight to the finish with more endurance than before. They never quit a job until it's finished, ever. Falco and Katt are also overpowered with happiness from getting back together, and Katt has considered joining Starfox. Seeing as to how it has encouraged Falco to fight, Fox took no hesitation or regret to accept her. Even the spazzy Slippy had finally become the official boyfriend of Amanda. Now, Starfox was stronger than ever, and was now full of thirst to fight off any threat to the Lylat system, and with the support of their loved ones at their sides.

-Present time-

"And that" said Fox to his son, Marcus, "is how your mother and I got together." "Wow! Great story, Dad!" said Marcus, "Can you read me another?" he asked. Krystal came into the room, "No, Marcus. It's time to go to bed." Marcus' face fell, "Awww…but, Mom!" Fox leaned towards Marcus, "Marcus, if you don't go to sleep…granddad's ghost might haunt you." Marcus' eyes widened, "Goodnight!" he said, crawling under his covers and turning out his light.

Fox and Krystal left the room, both laughing quietly. "He sure is a feisty one." Said Krystal. "Yes…I don't know how long we'll manage this." Said Fox, before he laughed again. The two vulpines then went to their own room, and got into their bed next to each other. "I'm so happy we actually got together, though." Said Fox. "Yeah, I can't believe I almost chose Panther over you." Said Krystal. The two then hugged, and turned out the light. "I love you, Fox." "I love you too, Krystal." The two lovers slept, as they always had, under the moonlight.

Many years earlier, though, it was unbeknownst to Fox of what happened to Kathryn Sinclair, as he pretty much forgot about her after the day of the Venomian assault. Kathryn had heard of all of the Starfox members happily in a relationship with someone. She did feel grateful for them, but at the same time, she was envious. She was still single, as she had always been, and was getting discouraged from her repeated failed search for her ideal male counterpart.

Kathryn wandered aimlessly through the streets of Corneria City. Alone. Unconfident. Unloved. She felt like she was the only single person in existence. Everywhere she went, she often saw a happy couple together, which only amplified her emotions. She also happened to see a feline couple kissing in the park ("Get a room for that!" she said to them as she walked by, leaving them with a confused expression). The red Cornerian vixen sulked on a bench in a very quiet area and sighed. Who am I kidding? She thought sadly, I'll never find a man…

She happened to look up to see a gray fox crying on a bench two bench-lengths away from her on the other end of the walkway. At first, she wondered how she missed him. Her eyes widened, Is that…? It can't be him. She thought. She stood up and made her way over to him. He looked up at her, and his eyes became as wide as hers were. "Kathryn? Is that you?" he asked. "Alan!?" she said in surprise. The gray vulpine stood up, wiping his eyes, "Just where have you been all this time?" he asked. Kathryn shrugged, "I have my reasons. Anyways how are things with you and Mariah?" she asked.

Alan then had a look of immense pain rip across his face, "W-well…we were f-f-fine together…" she noticed that he was starting to cry again, "…bu-but then, the Venomians c-came…and at-t-tacked…and I got out of-f the mall…but Mariah didn't c-c-come out of the building…and…Mariah's…" he started to cry moderately during the end of the sentence, and then super hard afterward. Kathryn suddenly realized; the Venomians have killed her. Alan lost his love, and there is hardly anything more painful than the loss of a loved one.

Kathryn wrapped her arms around Alan to help calm him down, and Alan put his own arms around her, "I'm sorry, Alan. I know she meant a lot to you." Alan sniffled a few times before attempting to control himself again, "…I-it's okay…I'm strong…I can get through this…When a broken heart heals, it is hardened…" Kathryn knew very well what he meant, considering that Alan and Mariah were the cause for hers. "Alan." She said. "Yes, Kathryn?" Alan replied. "Please don't overthink this…" she said before pulling him in and planting a kiss on his lips.

Alan found this questionable for a split-second, but was quickly relieved of grief and kissed Kathryn back. The two kissed for a long while. Alan was the first to retreat, "What are we doing?" he asked. "Trying to lift the dark clouds over emotions…" Kathryn said, dreamingly. It was evident that Alan was quickly smitten by this action, and found his attention being aimed at the fiery red vixen before him. "Kathryn…you're right. I should move on, and…find someone else." He said. Kathryn began to get excited, "And just who would that be…?" she asked. Alan slowly pulled her head closer to his, making their muzzles touch as they both looked deep into each other's eyes.

Alan waited for a few seconds before he said the one, powerful word that no one would forget in an early relationship: "…You." The both began to kiss again, and embraced each other. At the most unexpected moment, and at the time of grief for both of them, Alan and Kathryn have found their first love. Though this technically isn't Kathryn's "first" love, it is one she is sure that amnesia could never take out. As for the one, brief relationship she experienced, it tragically sank into oblivion. She'll never know what it was, nor will she know why it happened. But Kathryn has learned to not let the past torment her. As always, life will continue…and with good work in life comes good rewards.