Chapter VI: The Final Mission
The smog was once more thick as the team descended towards the planet’s surface; however this time enemy fire filled the air as the Star Fox team barrel rolled into range. They had entered an intense war zone which was now a veritable mine field of hostile lasers. Swirling and barrel rolling the team charged ahead unperturbed. Laser fire ricocheted off their hulls and joined the ecstatic frenzy that was around them. But their progress didn’t falter.
The laser fire stopped and the team knew they were only entering round two of Andross’ defences. Fox called for them to be on their guard and in good time too. A great, long winding arm swung through their formation and Falco’s ship was hit hard by the mechanical hand at its end. The attack scattered them, which was only made worse when four more of these arms swiped across them, the tentacle like arm brushing against Peppy’s cockpit and sending an electric current through him on impact. He careened out of control as the shock ran through his system and was lost to the smog. “Peppy!” Fox cried. Soon the entire area seemed to be swarming with these great arms, swiping freely at them and preventing any further travel to the planet’s core. “We need to get out of this smog,” thought Fox but the three of them seemed trapped inside a net. Soon enough Andross’ forces had successfully isolated each one of the Star Fox team, who were now completely lost inside this terrible smog.
“Come in team, is everyone all right?” Fox called as he ducked beneath a mechanical hand trying to smash his cockpit to pieces. The team were still fighting but the enemy could still not be identified. The hand appeared before Fox again and as he pulled his Arwing over to dodge he fired his lasers as best he could to blast it off course. But as his lasers connected with the hand a huge pulse shot down the tentacle, the size of which blew into Fox’s ship and a sharp current blasted through Fox’s body. He lost sight of his enemy again but just as he came back to his senses he noticed a small pulse of light in the distance the pulse had travelled. He pulled his Arwing around again as the arm made its return. Hoping his new idea would work he fired his lasers once more and as he made a wide berth to avoid the arm, the attack connected and the pulses again shot down the machine’s arm. Boosting as fast as he could he followed these pulses into the fog. “Guys aim for the hands; they’ll guide you towards the body.” As he revealed this information the great bulk of a Plasma Hydra, one of Andross’ most deadly space crafts, began to materialise.
“I’ve found one too Fox,” Slippy called and a moment later all the details for these machine appeared on everyone’s screens. “The body is impenetrable; but if we attack the hands our lasers will reach right down to their core.” The arms detracted closer to the bodies as the Star Fox drew in closer to their enemies. At short range however they were even more adept, slashing at amazing speeds and giving Fox and Slippy a battering. Meanwhile Falco found himself in an even tighter situation.
Three of these machines had locked onto Falco all at once and it was taking all his might to dodge them all at once, let alone finding an opportunity to fire at them. He somersaulted out of another attempt to grab him and cursed his rotten luck as he scraped across another hand that had directly reached out to him. He was about to dodge again when another hand reached out to grab, and this time Falco wasn’t able to get out of the way. He braced himself for impact, but the attack was intercepted.
Peppy had returned and witnessing the onslaught upon Falco had purposely flown in the hands path to protect his friend. “Peppy what are you doing, it’s got you?!” Falco cried.
“Don’t you worry Falco I have an idea,” he called back as the arm pulled him out of sight entirely.
Falco tried to follow in pursuit but another cross section of arms blocked his path. Thus in that moment Falco had an idea of his own. He pulled his Arwing to a stop entirely. “Alright you stupid machines do you worst.” A moment later, two opposing arms appeared either side of him, attempting to grab the Falcon. With a grin on his face, Falco boosted ahead as the arms crossed over each other where he’d just been positioned. However they continued to follow and thus he began all the fancy flying he could muster. Another somersault more and he had succeeded, the two arms were locked together and the electric current caused both to go haywire. An attempt to immediately detract their arms at that moment caused both machines to collide into each other at a tremendous speed, their supposedly impenetrable masses breaking up and causing both to fall into the smog up in smoke. Without a moment of hesitation Falco chased in the direction he believed Peppy to have been taken. He found him as a bright flash of light filled the area, followed by more smoke.
Peppy had fired a Nova Bomb directly down the hand that had caught him. The surprise had loosened its grip on his Arwing and he had flown away just before the thing exploded into smithereens. “Yeah I’ve still got it,” Peppy yelled triumphantly.
“Hmm I’ll give you a ten for ingenuity but style was certainly lacking,” joked Falco.
“Effective is all I care about,” he replied. “Now let’s go help the others.” They boosted through the smog and followed the sounds of battle to where Fox and Slippy were now struggling with three more Plasma Hydras. But as they reached them the sheet of smog was pulled away from them and the air became clear. A huge fleet of enemy ships revealed themselves, including more Plasma Hydras and more of the stronghold crafts Fox and Slippy had faced on their mission to save Falco. Suddenly exposed and utterly surrounded the true might of Andross’ army was now plain to see.
“We can’t fight all these ships with just the four of us. Fox you and Slippy need to get to the core.” Peppy declared.
“What about you!” Fox cried.
“We’ll fight to the bitter end,” Falco answered. “Go Fox, we’re counting on you!” He boosted into the fray firing his entire arsenal at the enemy ships ahead.
“We can provide you with enough time to get to the core but you must go now.” Peppy followed Falco’s example and went on the attack. Fox became panicked; their ships seemed to be expanding with the words ‘The End’ coating them, as Andross’ ship surrounded his friends. He felt the demise of his friends was now inevitable and the thought of leaving them behind to such a fate was too much to accept. But he knew he had to move, or else their sacrifices would be in vain.
Only half believing his own words he told his friends, “As soon as the portal is open you guys get out of here alright!”
“We’ll do our best Fox, and you do the same,” Peppy replied and soon the two friendly Arwings disappeared in the throngs of battle. With a heavy heart, Fox followed Slippy down to the planet’s surface.
Several artillery tanks were scattered across the thin surface of the planet, firing all kinds of rockets and blasters to impede Fox and Slippy’s progress. But they made quick work of those and soon enough a hole into the core of Macbeth revealed itself. They dived into the energy below.
Slippy began his Arwing’s transformation immediately, the Rifter growing out from behind his cockpit. As he did so he opened his fuelling ducts and watched as the energy in the planet flowed ecstatically through his ship. As before he lit up light a star so bright even the fighters above could see the overwhelming build-up of power. Fox began to do the same, allowing this mysterious energy to flow through his Arwing, powering it for the battle ahead.
“Good luck Fox,” Slippy cried. The machine was building up, in a matter of seconds a hole in their dimension would burst open. “I’ll do my best to get the other two out of here but you need to promise me you’ll get out of Corneria okay whatever happens!”
“I’ll do my best Slippy,” Fox agreed though he wasn’t sure he could keep any promises
“Thank you Fox. Whatever happens, I’m glad we got to see you again before the end.” Tears began to stream down Slippy’s face, and Fox could even hear ‘The End’ in his voice.
“It’s not over yet Fox get a hold of yourself,” he thought. “Good Luck Slippy! I’m proud to have you on the team,” he replied. At that Slippy activated the Rifter. A huge tremor shook the entire planet violently as the machine began to rip open space and time. Fox bravely dived in at the first opening and Slippy watched as his friend disappeared once more into the strangest corners of space.
But to Slippy’s dismay, the machine could no longer be controlled. It began to grow wild, tearing more holes than he could keep track of, the energy powering the machine taking hold completely. He tried everything he could to shut it down, the universe around him seemingly being torn to shreds. He should have done more research, he should have known more about this energy before they took such a crazy gamble. As the Lylat System began to be ripped apart, the machine overloaded and was blown sky high from Slippy’s Arwing. He only managed to escape the core in time before he too was lost in another dimension.
Fox felt like he was flying through a void. They had all hoped a second portal would open up into Corneria directly from Macbeth, but he had not expected this corridor in its place. He knew something had gone wrong as many different portals leading to anywhere and everywhere in the Lylat System opened up around him. He was no longer sure where he should go, the wrong choice would mean doom for everybody. This place felt somehow familiar too, as if he’d travelled it before but had locked it away in a far corner of his mind. Those letters began to materialise ahead of him again alongside a fleet of Andross’ ships which were still some way behind them. Hadn’t he done all this before? He suddenly felt very tired, as if he was falling into a spell he knew all too well. He knew he had to get to Corneria, but the holes were too many, and what were the odds he’d ever find it. He began to fire his lasers and watched as the letters swirled upside down and topsy-turvy in front of him. He was Out of this Dimension once more; this was his end, the only one he’d known for the past ten years.
“Don’t give in son!” A voice cried out to him and a mysterious ship appeared ahead. “Follow me!” It called again and Fox somehow knew he had to obey, though he already couldn’t remember what he was supposed to accomplish here. But something about this ship gave him resolve and, flying through one of the dimensional holes, his ship appeared in the heart of Corneria and that terrible dimension was finally put behind Fox for good.
He entered Andross’ lair, the usurped building that once was the Cornerian army’s main base of operations. He flew down several corridors as alert sirens pounded through his ears. “How did you get here Fox!” was the anxious cry of Emperor Andross. “I’ll destroy you for such impertinence!” he yelled as Fox burst into his throne room and opened fire.
The pair had imagined their battle long ago before Fox had disappeared from their dimension. Andross would gloat about his strength but would respect Fox for his father’s sake, despite both being bitter enemies. Fox would calmly fly up to Andross and he would call forth his great telekinetic mask and the battle would begin. They would be equals fighting for the Lylat System, believing in totally different ideals but respecting one another’s strengths all the same. But this was nothing like what had been imagined.
Fox was ruthless, all the rage for what had been done to his friends under Andross’ rule flooded through him, his resolve entirely restored. Andross however, despite the power he had gathered in the Lylat System, had neglected his own personal battle training, never believing for an instant anyone would get so close to him again, overseeing everything he had planned since remotely from his throne on Corneria. And while he still had his telekinetic mask, it was no match for the energy flowing through Fox’s now supped up Arwing. He was beaten back quickly, and ashamed of his own failings, fled Corneria swearing to face Fox as equals one day. But today Fox wouldn’t allow this to happen.
A huge flash of light blinded Fox for a moment, allowing Andross to burst forth from Corneria and out into space. But Fox was in hot pursuit and followed him intently through the asteroid belt surrounding the planet. “I won’t allow you to be free Andross. You will pay for all that you’ve done!” Andross however paid no attention and attempted to shake Fox off all the same.
He smashed through a large asteroid, hoping the debris would slow Fox down. When it crashed across Fox’s hull, he quickly crashed through a second one to try and end him once and for all. However this time Fox blasted through the debris and found Andross entirely exposed in space with nowhere to hide, a flock of paper thin lifeforms beginning to swarm around him.
“Surrender now Andross. You’ve nowhere to go, you’re through!”
“You fool, Fox. I shall have the Lylat System again; you can never stop the might of Andross!” He laughed once more at Fox and again attempted to flee. But as he turned he was intercepted. A great phoenix appeared before his very eyes, birthing from the asteroid he’d just blown to pieces. Fox cried out to him, realising what the appearance of this creature meant. But Andross paid no attention, to him every lifeform in the entire system bowed to his whim. He attempted to run the phoenix down…
A great flash of light consumed the asteroid belt as Andross’ screams filled the area. When the light dimmed, Fox watched as those strange paper-thin lifeforms danced around the spot the Phoenix had just disappeared, Andross in tow, Out of this Dimension…
Corneria hadn’t been difficult to reclaim after all. Once the news had spread that Andross had departed from the Lylat System, many of those oppressed under his rule rose up and stormed his base of operations. Falco hadn’t been surprised; many of those named in the reclaiming of Corneria had been his employers in secret over the past decade, wanting to interfere with Andross’ plans. Some still loyal to the emperor had stayed to fight, but most had fled to avoid trial. Andross had been the heart of and soul of his empire, too many had been controlled by fear, very few truly believed in his him as a leader.
Macbeth was a different story however. The damage caused by Slippy’s Rifter had been severe and now the entire planet was considered an environmental hazard. All on the planet had fled at once, including the rest of the Star Fox team. The entire Lylat System had taken a real beating on this mission and none were sure of the long-term issues they had caused. They’d though that Fox too seemed had been a goner. But when he called in the victory over Andross cheers erupted aboard Pepper’s Carrier; a decade of oppression was over. But Star Fox’s cheers were somewhat hollow, they weren’t sure at what cost this freedom had been won. When Fox returned to them however, they celebrated their victory nonetheless.
“A hard future awaits us, and who will guide us through it is still uncertain.” Pepper declared, speaking to the people of Corneria for the first time in ten long years, the Cornerian standard emblazed along the sides of its once proud buildings. “But we shall lead it with kindness and love for the system that has grown so starved without either. We are a proud people; I can see that with so many of you standing here now. We may have been forced to bow before Andross, but he has never had control of our spirits. It is with these now that we must rebuild this system! I know we can do it, as hard as it may be. And as long as we have Team Star Fox to help us, we’ll never be made to bow to anyone ever again. Thank you Star Fox, you have saved the entire Lylat System!” An eruption of applause met this declaration but when the team were alone once more, the weight of the task ahead lay heavily on their minds.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do to undo the mess we’ve caused,” Peppy said.
“Looks like there’ll always be a mess to clear up in one way or another,” Slippy joined.
“I’ve always enjoyed a challenge,” Falco added, “and I reckon we’re up to it.”
But Fox was silent, lost in thought. One thought had grounded itself in his head. “Dad…” he said to himself. He turned to his team who were looking expectantly at his leader to decide their next course of action. “Alright Team, let’s move out!”