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>>after the lylat wars — chapter one::

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>>AFTER THE LYLAT WARS — CHAPTER ONE::

Alankria

Disclaimer: StarFox characters, places and concepts are copyright Nintendo. The songs lyrics featured are from one of Circe de Soleil's songs.

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Let me fall. Let me climb. There's a moment when fear and dream must collide.

The rain is like a wall of icy water, soaking everything it touches. The old capital city of Katina is deserted, but for me. The night is dark but I can still remember the lights from the cameras and the awards ceremony… people saying what a hero I am.

A hero? Heroes aren't supposed to have blood on their paws.

I look down at the medal in my paw. It was the highest award that a civilian could receive. Pepper wants me to join the army. For what end? More killing? I've done enough killing for the next century.

I turn my eyes to the dark sky. The clouds and the rain hide the stars. I grew up in the stars, they're more of a home than any planet. Stars don't pass judgement, they just watch. Let you get on with what you're doing. It's people who have caused every problem. …People like me.

The Venom soldiers are condemned for being murdering brutes, falling into bloodlust and killing mindlessly. I suppose those same people ignore the fact that I'm just as much a carnivore as the Venom Lizards, that I'm just as susceptible to bloodlust. The hero McCloud would never tear out his enemy's throat with his teeth when he ran out of magazines. No, he'd rather die than do what the Lizards do. Something like that. I don't know how they can believe that rubbish. But they'd never feel bloodlust, I suppose. They've never been in a situation where your teeth and your nails are all you have left, and when you're against a horde of Lizards with red haze in their eyes you have to fight like them to survive.

Blood tastes metallic. The stuff is more viscous than water and has that biting edge of metal, and the more of it that filled my mouth the more I wanted it. I tore at their throats and any other exposed flesh they were careless enough to neglect. And when I was done, I would feel powerful, whole. Only the horror I saw on my friends' faces told me that I had done something wrong. Something that had felt so right.

And now I walk through the buildings and I look up at one in particular. Someone has draped a shirt over the windowsill, maybe to dry it before the rains came. The more I look at that forlorn, dripping shirt an image begins to form in my mind of the young man who wore it when I last saw him.

Standing, bleeding for an almost-fatal wound to his left shoulder, staring at me across a wall of flame. I had seen in his eyes the knowledge that with Andross' body lying dead behind me, he too would be hunted and killed.

All I ask. All I need. Let me open whichever door I might open.

Condemned to death for a crime which no mercenary considers a crime: taking money from a man because you have killed for that man. And now I am hunted like the wild animal they call me on the television.

I watched the awards ceremony on my television with its dodgy and slightly illegal sky link. I watched as Pepper in his red uniform gave awards to McCloud and his friends. I watched their eyes.

The little one, Slippy Toad, had wide eyes. He seemed delighted to receive the award but intimidated by the lights, the paparazzi. Who could blame him?

The old one, the old enemy of Andross, Peppy Hare, was smiling slightly and the smile reached his doe eyes. He felt pleased and proud. Proud for himself or proud for Fox? Probably both.

The tall, enigmatic one, Falco Lombardi, took the award with no expression on his face. Only a flicker in his eyes showed his discomfort. He is a mercenary; before he flew for StarFox he flew for Andross a few times; he felt slightly ridiculous receiving an award for doing his job.

And Fox…

There was nothing in his eyes.

I puzzle that now. That complete lack of emotion. I had expected some pride that he had done the job and that he had finally avenged his father. But… nothing.

I roll over on my cold bed and look out of the window at the rain. I am in a ruined city, ruined by the war and now inhabited only by those who, like me, seek to evade the Cornerians. I will not be safe here long. I must make plans, contact old allies, arrange for somewhere to lay low for a few years until the Cornerians are bored of me and assume I'm dead. Maybe I should finally buy a replacement eye, or even have both changed and my fur permanently dyed.

But instead I lie on the cold bed and watch the rain. Leon used to say I was resigned to life. Perhaps now I am resigned to an absence of life. Maybe even death.

Someone I am is waiting for my courage.

The one I want, the one I will become will catch me.

So let me fall if I must fall.