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>>after the lylat wars — chapter three::

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>>AFTER THE LYLAT WARS — CHAPTER THREE::

Alankria

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 one of Circe de Soleil's songs.

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All I ask, all I need, let me open whichever door I might open.

I am drifting somewhere between dim consciousness and sleep for several hours, with little on my mind. Then, gradually, I remember what happened.

I remember who I am and what I have done, and I remember leaving the Great Fox when all the others were asleep and flying my jet down to somewhere on the surface of Katina. I remember looking back at the swan-like figure of the Great Fox only once as I flee away from it, wondering what would happen to the team.

I was leaving, unable to bear myself in their presence. Falco was bored already, Slippy had been offered a job from the Cornerian Intelligence Service and Peppy was looking to marry a woman he'd met before the war and raise the children she was expecting.

StarFox would fall apart, no matter what happened to me. And I didn't care.

And now I am lying in the den of a lone survivor, and yet despite her presence at my side I feel so alone. I cannot tell her what I have done or she would react like everyone else did. With disgust and pity, like I'm some thing to be locked away and observed.

Only one person ever looked at me with neither of those emotions in his eyes. Or, should I say, his one remaining eye.

I groggily open my eyes and look around. Daylight is creeping around the flaps of material of the den, and I can feel a light aching behind my eyes. Katlana and I are the only ones here, in this deserted place. That's how it feels anyway.

A part of me wants to stay here with Katlana, to drink and rut in the dark until the days become indistinct and I eventually die. But another part of me, a presence inside me that I hadn't been aware was there, thinks maybe this isn't the best idea. But no matter how much I try, I cannot think what I can do. I don't want to die, not really, and I don't want to live either; yet drifting is too much like death and existing is too much like life.

'"Fox," a small voice says, distracting me from my thoughts. I look down and see Katlana's bloodshot green eyes looking up at me. "Ve'y pretty," he slurs. "Love pretty." I can't think of what to say to her. "You nice. Make me feel no lonely." From the way she stumbles over Cornerian I wonder if it's her first tongue. "Other men hurt. On'y one other nice, but cold. You warm, not cold. You eyes like his one, though. Hurting." She cuddles closer. "Hold me. Never let go."'

I can feel an aching for this poor girl, and an urge to smear those tears off her face and make her smile. I imagine that she has a beautiful smile.

'"I'll hold you, Angel."'

Let me fall, if I fall, though the phoenix may or may not rise.

I don't know how long I stared at him, how long I wanted to reach out a brush a lock of that sandy-blonde hair from his closed eyes and wipe the shadows from under his eyes. But I couldn't. No matter how many times I ran the image through my mind — doing that, then telling him what I felt about him and him telling me he felt the same and… — no, it would never happen.

And so I turned and left. And now I am wandering along the road in the early morning sun, having found another girl the previous night, and I find myself passing Katlana's den again. I hurry past. I both couldn't bear to see him and long to see him.

As the sun warms up the puddles in the street and the dampness in my clothes and fur, I hear a familiar sound from several blocks away.

The rapid patter-patter of machine gun fire. Instantly I am alert, against the wall and looking around me for danger; all before I am aware of it. I can think of only one organisation that would running around at the moment with machine guns: little pockets of Venomian resistance. Supposedly my allies.

As that thought occurs to me, and coupled with it the idea of joining such organisations and become their leader, another thought comes to me. An intense loathing of everything they stood for. And with that…

I fought like them. I killed like them. I fought for and killed for the same reason they did. I am them who I loathe so much.

I look down at my paws, paws that held weapons, weapons that killed mercilessly, indiscriminately…

Suddenly a movement catches my eye. Five of the Venomian Resistance soldiers round the corner. Two of them fire at a woman sitting on the pavement. She is reduced to a senseless heap of flesh. Fear stabs at my gut " they are killing anyone and everyone in their path. And even if they did recognise me they are so filled with hate that they would kill me anyway.

I hoist myself agilely through a nearby glassless window and wait, crouching in the dim of the building for them to pass. But one shouts — they must have seen me, and it was stupid for me to think they wouldn't follow someone who ran — so I shuffle back and run through the building into the street behind.

More resistance soldiers. Back into the building, up two flights of stairs and jump across the gap to the next building. I take my place by a window and watch as four of the resistance soldiers progress along the street — presumable the other has chased me. But armed with a length of metal I stand a small chance at surprising him.

And with a lurch of fire to my gut I watch as two resistance soldiers enter Katlana's building.

I will dance so freely holding on to no one.