>>TORPOR — CHAPTER ONE: GETTING AHEAD::
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Fox! It is copyrighted to Square Enix, who also made Final Fantasy and 8-Bit Theater, and other great RPGs. Support them by buying their games! Krystal is copyright to Namco, I also don't own her. However, the fan characters you may see in this fanfic belong to me and some of my friends, and I own them. Please do not use them without my permission.
Special Thanks To: John Williams, Beethoven, and Tiny Tim — their music inspired me during those many hours it took to write this!
The Star Fox team dashed down the hallway in urgent haste. This was a real emergency. Falco, Slippy, and Krystal kept up the pace, while Peppy was trailing behind on his Rascal. They pushed nurses and doctors to the side, and they shoved patients in wheelchairs and on stretchers out of the way. Apologies can come later, after they find Fox McCloud's room.
All that they knew was that something happened while he was gone on vacation. They received a message that Fox in the hospital dying, or almost dead, or something which wasn't quite clear. It took them a half hour to fly to New Centre City in their arwings, while Peppy arrived in the Great Fox. If the worst was to come, they hoped that at least they would not be too late to wish their courageous leader a final good-bye.
"Relax, all of you. No more panicking," the lion surgeon said outside the room, with a firm and calm voice. "He's gonna live."
A tear trickled down Krystal's face, "Oh thank you, doctor. How can I ever repay—"
"Though, we did have to amputate. His injuries were incredibly severe. I'm sorry, but he'll never be able to walk again," the surgeon shook his head in shame, and allowed the team into the room to see Fox. They all let out a collective gasp as they saw what was left of his figure lying on the bed.
"… KRYSTAL? … FALCO?" Fox moaned, via his voice synthesizer chip.
All that was left of the famous Fox McCloud was a disembodied head in a jar of liquid, remaining alive thanks to tubes connected to life support machines. Without lungs, he was incapable of speaking, but several wires attached to an implant in the back of his skull allowed him to communicate with a computer voice speaker.
The surgeon cleared his throat, "Ahem… I guess that was an understatement. We did the best we could, but only his head survived intact. He's lucky he didn't suffer any brain damage from that terrorist attack." He decided to be discrete and not mention to Krystal that Fox's reproductive organs were also somehow intact, and sitting in their own jar behind the curtain.
"Well, I guess that's better than nothing," Slippy said as he flicked the switch on in the engineering lab of the Great Fox. Fox's jar-case was given a few crude robotic legs attached to the base. "You'll get used to them in no time, Fox!" he exclaimed in his usual optimistic cheer.
"ARE - YOU - LAUGHING - AT - ME? DIE - FILTHY - SHIT - FUCKERS." Fox snarled within his jar. He wasn't able to express his frustration with his voice, so he just snapped his jaw open and closed while the voice chip did all the swearing.
"Well, folks," Peppy started his speech to the others while ignoring the angry jar tilting around on tiny legs, "our leader, Fox, is in no condition to fly an Arwing, much less properly lead the team. So in cases like this, we must appoint a new leader for the good of us all. And as we all agreed when we first formed the new Star Fox, that succession would go strictly by seniority. Since I've already retired, that only leaves…"
Krystal looked to Falco, who was leaning against the wall with a rifle. "Think you can handle all that responsibility, tough guy?"
Falco shrugged. "Normally I'd decline, but with my years of experience, I'm afraid that our survival depends—"
"Woah, hold it there," Peppy interrupted. "Falco, you left the team for 4 years. That time's counted off your total, it's only fair.
Slippy's now your superior by 2 years. That means Mr Toad here is the new Star Fox commander, like it or leave it."
The rest of the team fainted.
Fox's voice box started beeping again. "I - TOLD - YOU - DUMBASSES - YOU - CAN'T - DO - SHIT - WITHOUT - ME! - GET - ME - A - NEW - BODY - NOW! - MY - NOSE - ITCHES - AND - I - CAN'T - PICK - IT! - ARRGH!"
"Let me explain this again," Peppy started. "The Lylat System is under attack again. Andross's niece-in-law twice removed, named Dr. Andrea, has rounded up an army of nefarious pirates and mercenaries from the remains of Andrew's military. She wants to conquer the world and also destroy the McCloud family line forever… you know, the usual business."
"WHAT?" Fox chirped.
"She was the one who ordered the assassination attempt that left you like this. She's probably surprised that it half-succeeded."
"WHAT?" Fox chirped.
"So it's up to us, the Star Fox team, to defend Corneria once again! That means we get paid, you got that?"
"WHAT?" Fox chirped.
"Also, we need to find a replacement pilot to take your spot."
"DON'T - NEED - REPLACEMENT! - THEY - CAN - HANDLE - IT - FINE!"
"Actually, it's in the contract we have with General Pepper and the PR advertising deal. We gotta use all four arwings, or we don't get a cent. Everybody in the Lylat System has heard about your condition, and it's very embarrassing to our image."
"WHAT?" Fox chirped.
"Where do you think our money cames from during the peacetime? We're corporate mascots now, and we have to keep those toys selling, even during the new war."
"FUCK!" Fox chirped.
"Anyway, Slippy and the others went out recruiting today. They'll find somebody good"
"FUCK!" Fox tripped on his mechanical legs and the jar tipped over on its side. It rolled around on the floor tiles before Peppy set him upright again.
In a fancy restaurant in the city, at just that moment, the Star Wolf team was making sinister plans of their own.
"We'll finally be able to give Star Fox a taste of bitter defeat, once and for all!" Wolf O’Donnell exclaimed with glee as he twirled his fork around with his fingers.
Panther Caroso had a sneaking suspicion that the waiter wasn't paying close attention when they ordered. "Your plan is stupid.
We should be fighting them head-on, not trying to sneak around behind their backs. Joining with Dr. Andrea will finally give us our chance, and we should take it."
Wolf dropped his fork, and it clattered onto the filthy carpet. "No, shut up and listen. This Andross relative is stupid, just like all the others. She'll fucking lose. Thinking isn't the Star Fox team's strong suit either, but they're strong enough to win anyway. But where does that leave us? We're evil, we're clever… hell, we deserve better."
"But still… it feels wrong."
Leon giggled and hugged Panther's arm, "Don't worry, Panther-kun! How about I take you back to my place and you torture me for a while?" He winked.
"Good god, man, let go of me!" Panther leaned away from the chameleon. "Look, it's your choice to wear the fancy dress and ribbons, I have no problem. But no cuddling up next to me!"
"But you always let me hug you at home!" Leon purred while rubbing his neck against Panther's chest.
Panther groaned. He was polite and didn't mind Leon getting in his personal space most of the time, but this was just taking advantage of him. "Not in public! If anyone sees me, I'm — oh shit!" He ducked down.
Wolf looked around. "What?"
"It's my parents! What are they doing here?! If they see me with this fag, they'll think… Wolf, swap seats with me!"
Leon scanned the restaurant. "They're taking a table… and they're facing the other way, they won't see you, darling. Too many people in the way."
Panther reluctantly sat up again and hissed, "Don't 'darling' me! Let's just eat quickly and leave before they notice."
Wolf snickered, "But you two look like such a cute couple."
Leon feigned heartbroken shock, "We're not?"
"Don't talk to your wife that way, you child molestor," Wolf joked.
Leon pretended to wipe away a tear. "You're sleeping alone tonight."
"I always sleep alone," Panther started, then decided to change the subject or the teasing will never end. "Look, I'm just saying, why don't we just take a hostage, and force Star Fox into a duel against us? Fox himself is incapacitated, we actually stand an even chance."
Wolf rolled his eye. "You don't read much, do you? That never works. Trust me, my plan is so much better. We beat Fox at his own game, we get our own action figures in the process, and we drive Star Fox into bankruptcy. Without ever fighting each other."
Panther thought about this. "Okay," he sighed, "But we need four men to a team. You didn't think of that, did you?"
"Relax, we'll find someone. Plenty of people out there who can pilot."
"Not very well."
"So we filter through them. A decent pilot will show up sooner or later." Wolf shrugged. "Same as when we found you after those halfwits, Andrew and Pigma, left us for good."
Panther finally gave in. "Fine. But I'm making sure the new guy is damn good, or I'm personally kicking his ass out. Deal?"
Leon interrupted the conversation, "The food's here!"
The waiter, a short fox whose appearance gave the impression that he moonlights as a stoned hippie, placed the trays down in front of the guests.
Panther exploded. The muscular feline jumped up and screamed at the waiter while Leon futilely gripped his shoulders, trying to calm him down. "You fucking moron! I told you five times I didn't want the mushroom sauce! And you said you had it down! Goddamnit why don't you just piss all over my steak, don't you know I'm allergic to—"
"Son, is that you?" a deep, raspy voice came from the crowd that formed.
"You never told us you got married!" came a shrill female voice.
"Introduce us to the girl, son."
Panther was petrified by shock, while still holding the waiter up by the collar. Leon smiled cutely and curtsied before Panther Sr and Mrs Caroso.