Chapter V: The Star Fox Revival
The Star Fox team were now altogether aboard Pepper’s Carrier, the weight of the past couple of days filling the room. Pepper had been taken ill in the early stages of the attack; the strain of this long term war had taken their toll on his nerves. Thus Peppy had taken command in his stead. It had been a desperate battle and the loss of life had been great despite the already small number of Cornerians left. They got lucky, and they all knew it.
“That was a mighty powerful attack Slippy, who knew you could pack such a punch,” Peppy said finally, trying to break the morose silence.
“Yeah, I wasn’t sure either. But the Arwings were built to contain all kinds of energy so, I risked it…” Slippy shuddered.
“At least it paid off. At least you did something out there and didn’t run away,” Falco added, finally tackling the elephant in the room.
“You saw what it was like out there, I didn’t want to waste all our lives,”
“Tch, so when the going gets tough you turn tail and run, isn’t that right Fox. I guess that explains why you went missing for ten years, things get too rough for little Fox McCloud.”
“What happened back then was an accident Falco, we can’t blame anyone for that!” Peppy tried to add.
“No Peppy, let him get whatever he needs off his chest,” Fox said. “I’m all ears Falco.”
“You should have been more careful Fox. A giant phoenix in space, like that’s something incredibly normal, what were you thinking!”
“All and good talking in hindsight Falco, but I didn’t get any support in that Asteroid Belt either, it got messy.”
“You should have known better! Maybe it’s a McCloud thing to disappear in strange corners of space, makes you all martyrs for a greater cause doesn’t it. Only, we’ve been the ones dealing with the clean-up ever since!”
“You’re being ridiculous Falco.”
“You left us behind Fox and I won’t stand in the same room as you any longer.” With that Falco stormed out of the room. Fox groaned as that familiar feeling of guilt began to rush back to him.
“He took the takeover of Corneria harder than anyone.” Peppy spoke up. “He took it upon himself to lead us to Venom and when it all fell apart; he couldn’t deal with the loss. He’s been running ever since, blaming you for what happened. I suppose it’s easier for him that way, though I don’t reckon he believes it entirely. But he thinks it’s better than dealing with his pain.” Fox bottled up his rising shame and smiled at the rabbit.
“Nobody seems to have come out of the last ten years great. These things shouldn’t have happened to any of you. But they have now, and we’re all still here.” The three friends shared reassuring looks. “We’re going to make all this right again, I swear to that.”
Fox found Falco leaning over the railings overlooking the hangar, staring intently at the Arwing he’d had such a troubling relationship with for a long time now. He was deep in thought and, though he’d never admit to it, broken up inside. As Fox approached he made an effort to compose himself. “Back for more? I swear you enjoy having your name dragged through the mud by me.”
“Can we put down our guards for just five minutes; things right now are hard enough without us fighting like this.” Falco turned away but he stayed put and waited for what Fox had to say. “I’m sorry Falco.” Was all he could say; Falco laughed to himself and the pair just stared into space for several minutes before either had anything more to say. Fox continued. “What’s happened since I left this dimension hasn’t been fair on anyone. To be honest I’m not even sure what that place did to me but I keep seeing ‘The End’ before my eyes. Sometimes I think I must be in purgatory or something, and I can’t shake this feeling it’ll all get worse from here.”
“Hmph, welcome to my world,” Falco stood up straight again. “You know why I never stuck around with these guys. I know I should have done but, they were so optimistic; I hated them for it. Slippy came up with the idea to bring you back and Peppy was so certain that we were all still alive for a reason. I just wanted to yell “it’s over, we’re done”. After losing Corneria and seeing what happened to Peppy, life became more of a punishment than a blessing.” Fox could understand how he felt; he’d been struggling with these issues ever since he got back. Falco on the other hand realised he hadn’t let any of this turmoil out for years. Composing himself he continued. “So I became a mercenary. Not for the money of course but just because every mission was an opportunity to be blown to pieces. Yet here we are now and still not a scratch on me. I’ve let them all down moping and even now I look at you now and I don’t know whether to be happy or to knock all your teeth out.”
“Please don’t do that Falco, you’re a lot stronger than you used to be, I might have permanent damage already.” They laughed, strained and cautious, but it was a step forward. “This reality is still new to me, but its horrors are plain enough to see. But we are still alive and a wise old rabbit told me something important. If we’re here then ‘the end’ has yet to be written’. A glint appeared in Fox’s eyes that Falco couldn’t help but pick up on.
“Don’t tell me you already have a plan?” Fox grinned at his friend.
“We might be rough around the edges now but if we can pull ourselves together, we’ll give Andross something to worry about.”
Once more the team were assembled in the conference room, this time there was an excitement in the air that had not been felt for years. Fox held the attention of his team as he explained his plan; the others sat in suspense at the bravado of it all.
“There are quite a few variables to consider in that plan Fox. We have no real idea of what we’re up against either.” Peppy opined as Fox wrapped his plan up.
“All we need to do is make a hole in Andross’ defences just long enough to get to the planet’s core.”
“But Fox!” Slippy cried. “Even if we get to that energy, we still know almost nothing about it. Without really knowing what it is how can we be sure it’ll all work out?”
“We know the Arwings can utilise it at least. We have to try. If we don’t try now, who knows how long it’ll take Andross to use that weapon against any and every system in the universe. What do we have to lose…?” The gravity of those words hung in the room for the moment.
“That’s insane Fox!” General Pepper had appeared in the doorway to the conference room unbeknownst to any of the team. He was pale and needed to hold onto the wall for support. “You want to infiltrate Andross’ chief military base in order to utilise an unknown energy source to rip a hole through space straight into the heart of Corneria and face Andross face to face.”
“I couldn’t have summed it up clearer myself.” Fox replied confidently. “A direct attack on Corneria would never work, not with so few of us. But if we can use Slippy’s invention to get to Andross directly we might be able to accomplish something in this war.”
“Is this true Slippy?”
“Well the theory behind the Dimensional Rifter came about through my research on the Awesome Black Hole. If I managed to open a hole into a separate dimension, I should be able to adjust it to create one into this one. We just need the energy to power it…”
“And that energy is waiting right for us on Macbeth,” Fox finished.
“But how can we be sure Andross won’t use that kind of power against us?” Pepper asked, but this time Falco responded.
“Those fortresses were using it as a power source true, but unless they were keeping it in reserve they weren’t using it as a weapon. We can’t be sure but I’m willing to bet Andross hasn’t the technology to stabilise it in that sense yet. Looks like those Arwings of yours were much further ahead of their time then you thought.”
“It’s just a blessing that kind of data never made its way into Andross’ clutches,” Peppy concluded. Pepper gripped the wall as he came to terms with what they were about to undertake.
“You’re all mad to think this plan will work. But you’re right we do have very little to lose at this stage. Andross may think we’re weak, but maybe we can give him a run for his kingdom just one last time.” The team agreed, optimistic for the first time in ten long years.
“I’ll of course be joining you out there,” Peppy added to the amazement of the room. When Fox protested, Peppy laughed. “If you’re concerned about my blind eye, we all know at least one pilot who flies with an eye patch on. Besides Slippy have enhanced my Arwing for such an occasion, I’ll be able to fly precisely as if I were ten years younger. Now let’s go get Andross”
The Star Fox team appeared once more at the end of Sector Z and on the horizon of Macbeth. But this time Andross wasn’t simply letting them enter its orbit without a fight. More of the fortresses were hung in position; no doubt several hundred enemy fighters waiting to be unleashed on any intruder. Several spheres hung around the planet, projecting a powerful shield that distorted the face of the planet. With Team Star Fox and Pepper’s Carrier in sight so soon after the battle in Sector Y, Andross’ army was nonetheless prepared for battle.
“Remember guys, once that shield has been disengaged we have to get into the planet’s atmosphere before they manage to bring it back online.”
“Let’s just hope our friend will hit that thing hard enough.” Falco added. They waited in anticipation as a swarm of enemy ships began to dispatch from the fortresses.
On Fox’s signal they sprang into action. The Cornerian fleet flooded out of the singular carrier and the brave fighters charged ahead to intercept the enemy fighters. Star Fox flew below and behind, aiming straight for the planet. However the enemy ships outnumbered their own immeasurably and they had to smash through a flock of their own on their course. The diversion had been a success. The giant whale of Sector Y, missed on Andross’ radars swam up, at an incredible speed straight at the shield encasing the planet. With a tremor that erupted through every ship in the area, it crashed into the shield and the spheres holding it together blew out of their orbit. The impact strong enough to momentarily cut off the shield, Team Star Fox successful entered Macbeth’s atmosphere.