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>>after the lylat wars — chapter two::

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I will dance so freely. Holding onto no one. You can hold me only if you too will fall away from all these useless fears and chains.

Disclaimer: StarFox characters, places and concepts are copyright Nintendo. The songs lyrics featured are from the same Circe de Soleil song as in the previous chapter.



I will dance so freely. Holding onto no one. You can hold me only if you too will fall away from all these useless fears and chains.

I glance away from the shirt and move on. Eventually I find a ginger tabby cat girl, perhaps a year younger than me, set up in the open front of what was once a skyscraper. Glass panels have been blown away by the war leaving the open space, and inside the girl has built a den of scrap material. She sees me standing in the rain and beckons me inside. I gratefully step out of the cold and into the comparatively warm interior, tucking the medal into my pocket.

She says that her name is Katlana and she is a fallen angel. Despite the grime she is beautiful enough to be an angel and she has had enough of the alcohol scattered around her to believe that maybe, before the war, when life was good, she was an angel. She asks my name and I just tell her 'Fox'. She accepts that and smiles.

She has a television in one corner, and by some chance it still picks up a slightly hazy satellite picture. I find it almost unbearable to watch the Cornerian News. It is full of stories about the rebuilding of the planet and all the plans for rebuilding the Lylat System. And then there is a story about me. A reporter is asking Peppy where I am. He says, without faltering, that I've gone out of the System to deal with some other business and that I am expected back at some point. I assume he found my note. I can't remember quite what I wrote, only that it said I needed to leave and that I might be back. I didn't want them to think I'd killed myself, even though the thought had crossed my mind.

She offers me a drink of something indistinguishable in a filthy bottle. Smiling, I take the bottle and sniff. Whatever it is, it will strip my stomach lining and fry my brain. For once in my life, since a friend of mine became an alcoholic, I want to be drunk. I want to forget everything and lose myself in the blissful realm of drunkenness. It will be the ultimate escapism.

The first swig burns all the way down. Katlana grins at me as I can't help but cough. She swigs from her own bottle, a long swig that only someone who has no lining in the digestive system could handle, and I take another swig. The stuff is strong, probably left over by the Venomians; I can already feel a gentle humming behind my eyes.

The rain keeps falling as we keep drinking, and after a while I have to lie down because the little den is spinning. I lie down among crumpled sheets and Katlana lies next to me. She is less drunk than me; I can barely keep my eyes open but she is focused on me. She slides her paw under my shirt and runs it over my chest. The feeling is nice alongside the buzz of the alcohol, so I let her do it. It's gone dark outside, and my vision is gone; I can only see her leaning over me, pressing her mouth against mine. The alcohol muddies my sensations and I kiss her back. Some distant part of me thinks that I never kiss girls, I'm always too shy, but that part is distant and right in front of me is Katlana the fallen angel. I fumble at her top, manage to slide my paw underneath and feel her small breast. She's not wearing a bra. She makes a small purring sound so I continue what I'm doing. Then she slides her paw down and unzips my trousers. I'm too mellow, too vacant to give serious thought to what will happen next. Only that she's hitched her skirt up around her waist, that she's sliding over me.

What happens next is an indistinct blur of sensation. When it's over we lie side by side, tugging our clothes back into place; and then she cuddles up to my side and starts crying. As soon as I feel the wet plop of one of her tears against my arm I realise that I'm crying too. I curl up with her, my fallen angel, and let the alcohol slide me into sleep.

There's no reason to miss this one chance, this perfect moment.

As night falls and the rain begins to cease I decide to get up. I glance once out of the window, sparing a glance down at where Katlana the ginger tabby has made her home, and wonder when I should go. There are a few hangouts for us outcasts, places where we can drink some paint-stripper and play with manky cards. The alcohol burns and the memory of what it did to my mother has so far kept me from falling into its seductive embrace; the cards are entertaining for as long as it takes for the first nose to be broken. No, I will consign myself to wandering the streets, musing.

I pull the drenched shirt in from the windowsill, cursing my stupidity for leaving it out, and drape it over the pathetic attempt for a radiator, which is currently eking out a pitiful burp of lukewarmth into the room. Luckily it is summer here. Come winter " if I am here, or even alive, come winter " it will be too cold to survive. I pick up a sweater from the floor and tug it over my bare chest. I pull shoes onto my bare feet, make a vague attempt to rub dirt and grime off my cargo pants, and leave my little hovel. I walk down two flights of stairs to reach the street. The stairs reek of come, urine, shit and alcohol. The smells of destitution. Too familiar.

I shake myself and walk into the street. A pitiful streetlight is spitting out a haze of light into the wall of gauzy rain that drifts gently from the sky. I start walking.

As I walk I can't help but think of the end of the war. In particular I think of when Andross died. I remember running into Andross' throne room to deliver the news that the last defences had fallen and that the Cornerians were entering the base, only to find him locked in hand to hand combat with Fox McCloud. The boy was clearly losing; he was outweighed by Andross and for all his prowess, Andross was the better fighter. Andross was fighting like a man who knew he was going to die; desperate. Fox had a fire in his eyes that I had seen in the Venomian Lizards' eyes. As I watched, mouth agape, Fox lunged at Andross and sunk his teeth into Andross' arm. The ape howled in pain as Fox bit down with his powerful vulpine jaw, and tore at the soft flesh. I remember muttering something along the lines of 'Holy mother of fuck' as blood spurted from Andross' arm in almost comic fountains.

Then the explosions began, tearing into the throne room and setting the drapes on fire. The door behind me was blocked, Andross was struggling to fight with his life leaking out of his arm, Fox was fighting like a wild creature. I had never seen anything like it, never would have expected it from the demure boy I had known at the Academy. I knew he had strength, because it took a strong person not to fall apart when their mother was torn to pieces in a car bomb and his father tortured to death several years later, but this was something else.

And then, as the fires raged, eventually Fox's jagged teeth found Andross' throat and tore it to pieces. Man and boy went down as one, Andross gargling and trying vainly to injure Fox, Fox falling with him. And then, what seemed like hours but could only have been seconds later, Fox stood up and looked at me through the flames.

I trip over a pothole and realise I have walked full circle. I glance up at my current home and then across the road to Katlana's den. She is always ready for a quick fumble in her crumple sheets, and that is the kind of thing I need right now to distract myself from the look I had seen in Fox's eyes when he looked at me through the flames.

Helplessness. Remorse. And fear.

And I had wanted to wipe that all away and replace it with the smiling, laughing, joking boy I had knew less than two years ago.

I shake myself and walk into Katlana's place. As I approach her den I wonder if she will be alone. Sometimes she is, sometimes she isn't. It doesn't really bother me who's there to watch. I just need the sensation to make me think of something other than the terrible pain. Sex can do that, it can make you think that everything's okay even if it's just for those precious minutes. So I step up to her little tent and nudge the scraps of material aside.

And my heart trips up and tears itself in two when I see the ragged figure lying at her side.

Just let me fall.