It was another day for the crew to begin their investigation again. Rolling over the facts and samples they already had and making connections between things. Such as her purpose for breaking into the FireStrike head quarters and leave empty handed. Fox had watched a few camera feeds that General Pepper had recommended to him to see if he could come up with anything that they hadn’t already. Every camera she came into contact with she either flipped it off with her middle finger then broke it, or smile at the camera before entering the building only to come back out empty handed, and looking at the camera once more before she left. This “game” she was playing was a game that she makes the rules as she goes along. Commander Tompson repeatedly tells everyone that she is needed alive. Fox let that note hum for a minute or two before asking himself the question why? They have her DNA but they still need her? That specifically didn’t make any sense. He made a mental note to ask one or the other as to why they still needed her.
The one thing she has done was proven herself real quick. After Lollipop had escaped the famous Wolf O’Donnell, which is something that rarely happens, Leon presented them with a couple strands of her DNA that they reported back to General Peppers and Commander Tompson. By time that the two leaders had known, the samples were sent to a private specialist to better examine the evidence. Wolf and Fox were currently speaking as the two went over her file from the asylum that Peppy and Slippy had retrieved. Fox was also waiting for General Peppers to show up some time soon.
“How long has it been now?” Wolf asked Fox.
“Three hours.” Fox told him, glancing at the bottom of his screen for the time. Both have been going over facts and ideas they had in mind. Taking notes as they went over possibilities. While Wolf went over the printed out forms and back history of the establishment and whatever they had on Lollipop as a person, Fox went over the data that Slippy found most intriguing and thought that it was important enough for Fox to take a look at.
“What’s your say?”
Wolf skimmed back through the paper to find a few things that Lollipop had done during her time at the asylum, nothing he read made him suspicious of her or the establishment and its staff, nor did it make him feel any sympathy for her.
“Nothing much besides her rejecting food after a few months. They had to force feed her every three months it says....uh..few fights with other patients and that she bit a couple of people that worked as staff members. What about you?”
“Similar things. That and she talked to herself a lot. Saying things like ‘What about me?’ and ’There’s no way out.’” Fox quoted from the entry log. Wolf chuckled. It didn’t seem funny at all to Fox. Fox looked over to Wolf, giving him a puzzling look.
“’There’s no way out?’. More like she found plenty of ways out.” He had a point. Peppy sent a blue print of the facility with highlighted escape routes that she could have very well taken to escape. “It’s either that or a metaphorical term. I mean the girl did loose her mind, remember that.”
“Yeah...” That was all Fox could say to the few statements that they shared between themselves. A thought or two passed by his train of thought. What if she never had a clear head on her shoulders in the first place? Or what if she’s chasing, searching for her sanity? Fox threw those ideas out the window. They don’t make sense even though he was the one to think of them, and yet he couldn’t understand it either. Reading over s few more paragraphs and he thinks he found something worth it “...I think I found something that might be useful.”
“It says here in the registration commission that all patients are allowed to keep journals and, or, a sketch book.” Fox said as he tried to search for further leads as where they would hold the books if the patients is either dead or checked out.
“A diary huh? A book holding personal thoughts and ideas that’ll lead us to her goal. Not bad pup.” His comments never cease to annoy Fox. Rolling his eyes for a moment before locking them onto the screen before him.
“It’s a small award for working hard but it doesn’t say where they put her book, let alone anyone else’s that are still living there. You can’t expect them to keep the books with them, do you?” A rhetorical question. Fox scanned back over the text two more times, rereading each sentence slowly as to not miss anything he could have the first time, but ended up with nothing. “Nope. Nothing on where they’re kept. Send Leon and Panther there to see if they can recover the book and any personal belongings of hers that might still be there.”
“I’ll go do that for you since I’m headed their way.” Krystal spoke from behind the two. Neither man noticed the door opening and Krystal walking in, hearing the last piece of their conversation. She nearly gave both of them a heart attack. Fox’s fur stood on end from the sudden voice and Wolf was as pale as a ghost.
“Would you knock next time lady.” As usual Wolf was grouch, and she ignored his words as she turned her attention to Fox. Krystal couldn’t help but to giggle at the two. Wolf isn’t exactly an easy target no matter what you’re trying to do but to startled Fox was something that was becoming a little too easy for her to do.
“Sorry. Slippy and I just got back from the store with a few things. We also got a few snacks for everyone to keep their energy up.” Krystal set down the two bags in her hands atop of the table in front of her. “And here’s a small jug of milk for both of you.” She set one beside Wolf and handed one to Fox as he turned around in his chair. Their fingers brushing the others as the milk was handed to Fox.
“Thanks Krystal, you’re the best.” Fox said smiling at back at her as she smiled sweetly at him. Wolf groaned in annoyance as he rolled his eyes at the two oblivious love birds. With his nose in the sheets of papers in his hands he spoke.
“How ’bout you two just kiss and get it over with already. You’re making me sick.”
With a blush on both their faces they looked over to Wolf whom acted like he had said nothing wrong and continued to read the papers in front of him. Now that there was a fog of awkwardness in the room, Krystal found it to be a good time to go find Panther and Leon.
“I’ll just go tell them you got an objective for them. Bye.” Krystal was quick to leave the room. A quick good bye and she was off the lower deck where the others would be located.
“She left awful quick. Must have been something you said.” Wolf was toying with Fox and they both knew that.
“Stop messing with me.” all Fox received was a chuckle from the older dog. “You had to ruin the moment didn’t you?”
“Please...Five minutes would have passed before it got awkward in here. So you’re welcome.”
“Anyway...” Silence fell between the two dogs. Three seconds later, Fox’s thoughts were eating at him, begging him to say something on the matter, to receive answers of some sort.
“Is it that obvious?” He whined
“You have no idea..” Fox let his forehead hit his forearm on the table, groaning at the fact that he couldn’t see how everyone else saw it so easily besides him. He felt blind to the matter.
A thought wondered its way into Wolf’s head. Both him and Krystal were grown folk. Given that she had been trapped for a long while before the two had met and Fox being the one to rescue her from her imprisonment and it didn’t seem like Fox would be the one to date. With that in mind, Wolf came to the conclusion that neither of them have dated before, let alone stay in a relationship. Wolf personally didn’t care, at least not in a brotherly way like Slippy would or in a fatherly fashion like Peppy, but rather in a gossip type of out look.
“Haven’t had a girlfriend before have you?” He asked.
“Shut up.” Fox said. His voice muffled from him hiding his burning red face from the world around him. Once again, Wolf sat on the other side of the table chuckling at Fox’s poor misfortune. Not long after that, once Fox found his nerve again, they continued reading on about Lollipop’s paper work to see if there could be anything useful.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Down below deck, Leon and Panther were chatting with the General and the rest of the crew. Leon looked as if he had been laughing at something, or rather someone in this case. Slippy and Falco looked annoyed with the blunt lizard. Peppy and Panther on the other hand are more interested in what General Pepper’s had to say than listen to those three bicker like children.
“General Pepper. Boys.” Krystal greeted them.
“Ah, my dear Krystal. How nice of you to join us.” Panther immediately grabbed hold of Krystal’s hand, planning to plant a kiss atop of it. Krystal saw this and snatched her hand back. Her calm happy demeanor had changed to an annoyed expression in less then point two seconds.
“How many times do I have to remind you to not touch me?”
“As many as you would like to repeat it my dear. For I love hearing that sweet voice of yours, even if you do save it for that pipsqueak of a boy, that you deem your leader.” Panther smoothly rolled each word out of his mouth without mistake. One thing she didn’t understand was why he always mentioned Fox in these situation? She quickly brushed the thought off and turned her attention to Peppy and General Peppers.
“I’m just here to tell Leon and Panther,” she spoke Panther’s name in annoyance before continuing on “that Wolf needs both of them to head back to the asylum to collect a few items for evidence.”
“What could he possibly need as evidence from the asylum?” Peppy asked.
“It was actually Fox’s orders.” Krystal understands why they don’t trust the StarWolf team. As many a time they’ve tried to kill them all in dogfights, that was just one thing they’ll have to over look for now until they were all able to return to their regular routine. Though that was something that they’ll eventually get over in due time. At least she hopes that they will. It was honestly a childish way to act for professionals, and that goes towards both teams. The more she looked at everyone on an outside note, she could proudly say that they were all more as a family then they let on. She could see Leon and Falco as the older mischievous brothers whom were always fighting with one another or causing trouble for others. Peppy was the grandpa because he always watched over them and made sure everything was as it should be, and occasionally gave his advice because he knew they could use it. Slippy and Fox are those set of brothers that have each others backs no matter what and that they always get along. Then there’s Wolf. He’s more like an uncle then anything because he doesn’t fit here nor there, but yet he’s always there. Finally, there’s Krystal. She’s a combination of things such as a sister towards most of the group, a mother to some, and a aunt the the others, mostly because she takes care of them like a mother should, plays along like a sister, and looks out like a aunt. Confusing is an understatement when it comes to them. All in all she was just glad to be apart of this little group.
“You don’t say. Well, you two better hurry now.” General Peppers said.
“Are you here to speak with Fox?” Krystal asked.
“That I am my girl. I need to speak with both leaders privately. Now if you would ever be so kind as to point the way milady.”
“They’re above deck, main control room.”
“Thank you. I will see you all at a later time.”
“I hope you don’t mind if I tag along.” Slippy said “I found something within a video feed that all three of you should see.” In his hands was a clear case with a silver disk within it.
“Ah, good job. Hopefully it’s something I haven’t already seen. Come along now, I’m in a bit of a rush as it is.” The two left down the hall towards the elevator that will take them to the top floor.
General Peppers was a swell guy that often cared a little too much for their own good. He’s also the one giving them their jobs. It helps both parties out a great deal. The government with a specialty team that will get the job done and save a fortune at the same time, whilst the team can have a job and get paid for doing so. As she watched General Peppers walk away, Panther and Leon still hadn’t left for the asylum.
“What are you two waiting for? You have a job to do.” With anger replacing the sweet tone that she usually has, the two males quickly headed to their arwings to go complete their objective. “Men..” She sighed to herself. While those two were gone, there wasn’t much the crew could do but await their next orders. Krystal will personally be making notes on some more private matters that relate to the mission. But first she’ll send a text to let Fox know that they’ve left for their task.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Well Krystal just sent me a text saying that your guys have left and that General Peppers is on his way up.” Fox told Wolf.
“What does he want?”
The doors to the control opened once more. Both Slippy and General Peppers stepped in. The general seemed a bit rushed in Fox’s eyes.
“It’s good to see you, my boy. How is the investigation going thus far?” He greeted Fox.
“Swell I suppose. I read the entry log to the asylum and it said that all patients have either a journal, or sketch book, or both. Since Lollipop was registered there, we’re going to see if we can get her journal and read it to see if it’ll give us any leads.” Fox explained.
“Splendid!” Pepper’s barked in excitement. “And good old Tompson thought you all wouldn’t be anything but extra luggage to carry around. Show him didn’t it.”
“But that’s all depending if there are any leads from her book or if she even has one, sir.” Fox was right. Just because they handed her a book doesn’t mean she wrote in it.
“Still. His men have been lacking off from the years long investigation on the case, so their eyes are worn and wary from examining the information so many times. So, a new set of eyes was in order. Besides you all are smarter then you appear to be. I put all my trust and faith into your team Fox. I expect nothing but the best from you.” General Peppers spoke too highly of the StarFox crew much too often. Though, Fox does appreciate the boost in confidence but now he’s just bragging. It made Fox feel a bit sad due to the fact that the general was bragging about him in front of Wolf, knowing that him and his team are well hated throughout their solar system.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Woop-de-do.” Wolf sarcastically cheered. Naturally Wolf and his crew have a burning hatred for the StarFox team. Wolf’s reasons are a bit more personal then the others but nonetheless he was always annoyed when hearing about Fox and his team and how they were so great. Fox only inherited the team because of his father, that Wolf knew. More times then not they get lucky that they get out with a few bruises. Especially back during the Aparoid invasion when Wolf helped Fox by staying back until the Queen Aparoid exploded, no thanks to him. It was one thing to give them a pat on the back but he was just rubbing it in his face now.
“Ah, I almost didn’t see you there Wolf. Anything new you have to share?”
“No.” Wolf’s voice nearly cutting the general’s sentence off short. Wolf figured that just because he was working for General Peppers and under the command of Fox, didn’t mean he had to suck up to him like the others.
“That’s what I thought.” He sighed
“Well Wolf did get some information on her. It was technically his idea to head to the asylum in the first place. Without that bit of information then we would still be stuck at a dead end.” Deciding that now would be a good time as ever to intervene, Fox did just that. He understood that Wolf couldn’t care less what the general, or anyone else for that matter, thought about him. But then again, Fox was just stating the facts, which also happened to be the truth. If Fox had to be honest, he was glad that Wolf had a starting point otherwise they all would really but stuck in a loop right now. He owes Wolf for that.
“Ah, really now. That’s interesting to hear.” He said. Peppers’ was a bit impressed with Wolf.
“Oh that reminded me. She’s short.” Wolf said, not once looking up to meet their gaze.
“What does that have anything to do with the mission? The only thing you can actually say to that is that it helps with her speed.” Slippy said.
“That also reminded me of something else. She sucks at swimming.”
“Okay...?” Fox wasn’t entirely sure how to take that bit of information. But what he did do is type a side note on the split screen, quickly pressing the blue buttons on its keyboard that hovered in the middle of the air along with the screen.
“I take it you went into the water to chase after her, correct?” Asked Peppers.
“Yup.” Wolf said, ” Back to little toad over there. Yes it does give her speed. It also boost whatever speed she already possessed, which really isn’t much, and add that to her flexibility and that equals a nasty combo. Thought you were suppose to be the smart one?”
“Would you knock it off with that comment.” The sentence was beginning to bug the poor toad.
“It’s okay Slippy. Just ignore him. If it makes you feel better, you’re still the smartest guy on the ship.” Fox said. Truth be told that it actually did make him feel better.
“Yes it does, thank you.”
“No problem.” Fox replied
“What do you want anyway, can’t you two see that we’re busy.” Wolf asked.
“I’m here to let you know that the meet has been rescheduled to an earlier date. Everyone is to meet with the Inter-Galatic Council next Tuesday. They’re demanding to know what’s going to be done about this criminal.”
“Well first off, you can stop calling her criminal unless you feel like that’s necessary.” Wolf said. He had already assumed that they had her name written down somewhere and just decided not to use it.
“What do you mean?” Pepper’s asked
“You’re telling me you don’t know her name?” Wolf was taken back by this, looking up at him for the first time since they had walked into the room. The woman had been running from them for over five years and they still hadn’t gotten her name. “It’s Lollipop Tycoon. Now that may not be her birth name but it’s all we got.”
“Ah. Very good indeed Wolf. Keep this up and the bounty might be paid off earlier than you expect.” He said, not meaning every word of what he said. Wolf on the other hand just slumps back into his seat and continues to read the paper work.
“Well besides what General Pepper’s here for, I found something that took major computer skills to find.” Slippy went over to the computer where Fox had been reading the entry log and popped in the disk, uploading the file. Thus he began to explain what he means. “I found something that was completely different from her usual routine of looking at the camera going in and looking at it when leaving. Now this was hidden indifferently into that one footage of that one camera that showed nothing but static. A secret bar code of some sort.” The screen showed the static that Slippy had mentioned. “Now watch as I defrag this to break the code...” he then began jotting in a sequence of numbers, letters, and a symbol or two. This caught Wolf’s attention, and he looked up at the screen as well. “..and there we go.”
The screen went from a variety of grey static lines to a blank concrete wall. For the first couple of minutes nothing seemed to be happening when the camera jolted down a little bit and a figure jumped out from behind it. A slender figure with long hair and tail made their way over to the wall, pulling a small can out from the bag that they were carrying with them. The can much resembled a hairspray can. It was no doubt that this was Lollipop. Two bright lights shown brightly just twenty-three feet away from the other, giving enough light to see who was standing there. She looked over to the camera and began to shake the can. After shaking it a decent amount, Lollipop then began to vandalize the private property. Once she was finished she hurriedly ran from the wall, her ear flickering to the sound of boots stomping on the ground. It was easy to tell that she purposely left the can there, in a mocking manner or challenge. But what the wall said came no nothing less as a shock. “I know you’re WATCHING me.” Was what the first half said. The second part said “You DON’T know who I AM”. Both parts having capitalized words mixed with regular ones.
The screen was captured and saved under “case.file”. This might be useful later, Slippy thought to himself. He watched the video multiple times making sure he didn’t miss a single detail. Once he realized that there was nothing else there he quickly downloaded it onto a disk just in case the feed was some how tampered by her and it would burn the data, erasing the evidence.
“That’s it. Strange that she chose to say that, huh?” Slippy said.
“That’s not good..” General Peppers said in a low voice, not meaning to speak so low.
“All that means is that she’s aware of us. So what’s bad about that?” Wolf piped in and asked.
" ‘What’s bad about that?’ You say? It’s bad because she is always one step ahead of us as it is. She’s rubbing it in and mocking us, challenging us even. She wants us to play her little game.” General Pepper’s explained. Wolf may be a smart man, though sometimes he didn’t look further in things like he should since it’s his job.
“Then play we shall.” He said nonchalantly. He wasn’t a natural team player, and Wolf could care less if someone he worked with took the burn for whatever it was that they were doing. With his specific line of work he realized that he either had to push his way to the top or get shoved to the side. He learned that the hard way.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Panther and Leon left not long after Krystal told them their side objective. To make things quicker, they took a faster route to keep from waisting time. Besides the few traffic jams here and there it took them almost as twice as long to get back to the asylum then before. A little over two hours to get there and were greeted by the solider that secured the gate. Once they showed the officer had approved them, they parked their Arwings and headed back into the main building.
“What if she didn’t write anything useful? Or better yet, what if she didn’t write anything at all?” Leon questioned. They began walking up the trail that lead from the parking area to the front door.
“That will be answered as soon as we see what’s in the book. For now our orders are to simply retrieve her belongings.” Panther told Leon whom was walking next to him. Leon was looking all around himself and Panther, silently observing everything in sight.
“You sure do put a lot of faith into Wolf ya’ know. Whose to say he’s just sending us out to do things just so he can have all the glory in the end?” Leon said stuffing his hands in his pants pockets.
“That’s coming from someone who should have no doubt in his leader. You’ve known Wolf a lot longer than I have yet you don’t set all you faith in him. He’s not the leader of StarWolf for nothing you know.”
“I know that, but that’s not what I’m saying. Look, the way I’ve always seen it is that it’s always best to see the bad in people before seeing the good. Believe me, I’ve been screwed over by too many people to stray away from that motto. And it’s not that I don’t trust Wolf, well not entirely. Sure we’ve went through the war together but that’s nothing when all we did was hide until the recruits came in to help.”
“You’re point being?” Panther asked, raising an eyebrow at him.
“My point is that no matter what, the slightest things can change a person. Wolf is the type of guy to look out for himself rather then others.” Leon grumbled. Even if it was true, all Leon could do is suck it up because he knew that he wouldn’t last on his own out there.
“Last I recall, you two have been together during the war, after the war, and up until this very day. So that tells me he obviously cares for you like a younger sibling and I’m not so surprised that he hasn’t gotten rid of you yet.”
“What’s that suppose to mean?”
“You can be very annoying, Leon.”
The two walked up to the doors and entered the building. The cool air rushing past them as they made their way to the front desk. There they would seek out the information needed to obtain their goal.
“Excuse me sir?” Panther spoke clearly that way he could grab the employees attention. “I’m wondering if it was possible that we could collect an old patients journal and sketch book, along with anything else they might’ve had with them at the time?”
“Might I ask who you two are?” Edwin asked.
“I’m Panther Caroso and this is my teammate Leon Powalski. We are members of the StarWolf mercenary team. Like I said before, we’re here to collect evidence. It’s under the orders of General Peppers that we work with his chosen crew.” Panther explained.
“Ah. Okay. Let me call the boss real quick to have permission.” Edwin said as he picked up the phone and called Ms. Walker’s office. After she approved of the formality, Edwin then called another room for someone to bring up the objects of interest. “Ms. Amadi will be right with you with her things.”
“Thank you.” Leon and Panther stepped away from the desk, awaiting for Ms. Amadi to show up. Leon still looked around the area as if someone was trying to kill him.
“You need to relax. You’re stiff all the time, like someone is spying on you or something of the sort.” Panther said
“Shut it.” Leon snipped. “Besides, why do you trust Wolf so much? You said it yourself that you barely know him.”
“As true as that may be, unlike all the other people I could only imagine that the two of you had to work with until I came along, I actually succeeded in proving myself as a reliable candidate.” Panther was a very conceited person, always the one to hold himself high on a pedestal. He already had a intimidating face and aura around him, so his skill set only made him more deadly. He often finds it amusing to embarrass his teammates whenever he can. Just a little entertainment for himself.
“Whatever.” Leon said, rolling his eyes.
A small lady came to the desk and Edwin pointed to Leon and Panther. She was a short elderly hedgehog. She could have very well be in her late eighties. Walking over to the two with a box in her hand, she politely spoke in a calming voice.
“Here you go sir. Hope this helps you out any.” Ms. Amadi said. before she could have shuffled away, Panther spoke up, causing her to pause and wait for his question.
“Do you think you could tell us anything about Lollipop? Her records said that you were one of her attendants.”
The woman seemed quite and torn from the expression she gave off. Ms. Amadi didn’t say anything right away. Opening and closing her mouth as if she knew what she was planning to say and at the same time she couldn’t find the right words. Finally she decided that she should tell someone. Luckily for them that she’s telling the right people. That’s what she hoped at the very least.
“You seem nice. What I’m about to say may mean nothing though I do hope it will help you somewhat, if any. Though I would like to speak outside if you wouldn’t mind” Her voice was stern, meaning business with a sweet side to show that she’s harmless.
“That’s quite alright ma’am.” Panther gave Leon the box to hold as he opened the door to let her go through. They walked down the path a few more feet before she stopped and turned to them.
“You seem to be the right ones to tell.” she started off. “She wasn’t always like she is now...more times than not she was one of the sweetest little thing I had ever met during my time working here. She didn’t like any of the other nurses besides me and a few others. Not sure why.”
“She didn’t harm you in any way? The file said she bit a few staff members.” Leon asked.
“Well then they deserved it. Now I’m not trying to say she’s a saint but she as Hell didn’t deserve the treatment that they gave her, and that was back within the first few months when she first arrived.” Ms. Amadi stated, her brow furrowing slightly in what seemed to be anger. Panther recorded the conversation in silence, sending the feed to Wolf as it recorded.
“Could you simplify that down for us on what you mean?” Panther asked.
“Her record should have told you why she bit people. It did say, didn’t?” The old woman looked at Panther then to Leon, adjusting her glasses slightly. The silence and baffled expressions were all she needed to know that it didn’t explain why. Sighing to herself she began to explain it herself. “I have no doubt that they purposely left that piece of information out to save their own keister’s. They were always no good, even the headsman the ran this dump back then.”
“This is starting to get a little confusing now.” Leon complained
“Well let me start from the beginning, shall we.”
“Please do miss.”
“Well, back then she was a young sprite she was, still full of life even if she always looked depressed. A lovely little thing too. She was quite and rarely bothered anyone and always kept to herself. That’s including if it was for her. A lot of times she didn’t want to do anything and just stayed within her room. A few male nurses had to forcefully remove her from her room because it was required that she interact with other patients and get some fresh air. More times then not she would fight it and fight it until she stopped one day. She let them drag her out but she did not yet stop refusing to eat. After a few months of rejecting food she had to be forced fed.” Her face grew solemn. “And that’s when the beatings started...”
Leon and Panther looked at one another with shock. Beatings? Her report said nothing that was that physical. Force feeding was allowed but anything other then that was not allowed.
“Beatings...Why would they do that?” Panther asked aloud, not realizing that he was speaking aloud.
“because they could.” she continued to explain. “Besides me, there was another four attendants to look after her...for safety reasons. It wasn’t but another four months that she started to...mmm...change. She wrote even more things in her journal then normal. Scribbling things in it even.”
“Have you read anything in it?” Leon smirked
“Actually I have.” Leon’s smirk instantly dropped. “It was only when I knew I could get a chance to read it in privacy. It’s against the rules to read them. I remembered that she never mentioned anyone she knew by name. Though she did leave a lot of detail about whoever it was that she was talking about. But more down to the point that everything that she wrote sounded more like a memory or dream. Things that she wanted to get off her chest. She was even a excellent artist too. She often sketched this one little boy, he looks like a wolf but I wasn’t too sure. Besides that, she would cradled a picture in her hands, never did she let anyone see what the picture was of.”
“This should be most helpful Ms. Amadi. Our team graciously appreciate this very much. If we have anymore questions on the matter, would you be so kind as to answer them the best you can?” Panther pulled out a small card that had a single number written on it.
“Yes of course. You boys have a safe ride home, okay?”
“Yes ma’am” The two said in union.
“Wait...” Leon said. A questioned popped in his mind. Out of everything they had heard and discovered about Lollipop, there was one thing they didn’t get yet. “You wouldn’t happen to know what her actual name is, do you? I mean someone didn’t really name their kid Lollipop.”
“She refused to tell us nor could we make her. Over time we found a nickname for her and used it as her name. It was to at least identify her by a name.”
“Lollipop? How could you find that as a name?” Leon highly doubted the old woman.
“Because I would always give her a lollipop if she behaved. So I decided to call her Lollipop and it eventually stuck to her and then everyone was calling her that.” Amadi took her glasses off to clean them off with her apron that she wore above her nurses uniform. Setting the glasses back where they belong, she said her good byes and made her way back inside. As for Panther and Leon, they headed back to their Arwings and began their way back to the Great Fox. Leon spoke to Panther over the intercom.
“I hope this’ll give us some sorta lead on her.”
“I believe that this’ll give us some sort of idea of who she use to be and maybe why she’s the way she is now.” Panther replied. He gave a sigh. “I’m a bit thrown off though.”
“From what the old hag said? I’m not entirely sure we should trust her words. She is pretty old. There just might be a few loose screws in that noggin of hers ya’ know.”
“With age comes wisdom. And you can only get wisdom if you go through experience. And that can only happen by growing up you numbskull. Besides, doesn’t Lollipop have a few screws loose herself and she’s pretty young by the looks of it.” Leon had to admit that Panther had a point there.
“Which reminded me. How old is she anyway?” Leon asked.
“One glance at her and you could tell she’s old-”
“No, no. Not the hag. Lollipop.” Leon corrected him
“Oh. Not sure on the exact age but that guy we got the information from said that she looked around twenty-two. But then again that’s a rough estimate.” Panther told him.
“Yeah...” Leon trailed off. He couldn’t think of anything to say to keep the conversation going so the rest of the ride back was a silent one.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Okay, we’re back!” Leon barged into the command center with the box in hand and set it on the table, resting it in between Fox and Wolf.
“Sweet.” Fox said. He looked into the small brown box and pulled out a few things. First was her journal. It was a small green book that had ‘JOURNAL’ printed in capitalized, bold white letters. He set it on the table as he picked up a few more items out. One was a photo of a family. They looked like they would have been happy if their faces were still on the photo. Setting it to the side he picked up a pink collar. It was worn and faded, the different shades of hearts were especially worn out, barely making them recognizable. After that he pulled out a black t-shirt that had a pink mustache on it with a giant digital ‘M’ behind it and a pair blue jean shorts along with a pair of sneakers of some sort that were red. Never had Fox seen shoes like that before. He merely brushed it off as something that was stylish back where she came from, where ever that was. And finally he pulled out a locket. Fox examined it and noticed that it was wielded shut. We’ll just have to pry it open later.
“Clothes? A necklace? And a photo?” Panther said as he looked through the journal.
“Oh that’s really helpful.” Falco commented. Leon sighed to himself and looked over to Wolf whom was looking at the picture. He seemed to be deep in thought.
Wolf had seen that photo on the table and picked it up, looking over it. Even though the people’s faces were scratched out, he could still see that they were human. The little one down further in front of the image was completely scratched out, leaving a black blotch to take the person’s place. Strange, Wolf thought. A few questions ran through his mind while he stare at the picture such as why try to remove the people from the photo? What was she trying to hide? Wolf jotted the questions down to not forget them, saving them for a later time.
Yet the scenery felt so familiar, but at the same time it didn’t. He’s seen plenty of forest area on many different planets. But this narrowed it down ten-fold; A major clue in other words. The only place he knew that had humans was Earth. Then again that depends on when the photo was taken because humans have moved to other habitable planets to live their lives on. Wolf shook the idea from his head and set the picture back down. He heard what the jar-heads said and looked up to them.
“What did you expect them to do with her belongings when she was registered? Toss them out or something?” He stood up from his seat and stretched his arms out.
“Got a point there.” Falco admitted.
“I’m just glad we have something that’ll lead us further on, on the case.” Peppy said as he leaned back into his seat.
Meanwhile, while everyone was making small talk about their findings, they failed to noticed Panther’s ever changing expressions as he looked through the small green book. Once he picked it up from the table, he had to confess that he was indeed curious as to what she could have written in this little ideal object. As he flipped through the pages, most being blank, his appearance went from curiosity to worried-some after he flipped back through the book several times. He decided to speak up when he heard Peppy take a sigh of relief about finding this lead that should help them continue on.
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that.” Panther said with worry in his voice.
“What?” Wolf and Fox said simi in union.
“I mean that this may not be able to help us at all.” Panther flipped the book around to show them all the empty pages as he flipped back through. They were all shocked at what was showed to them
“How? That-She couldn’t have known we’d come after that?” Falco exclaimed with an indoor voice.
“Damn.” Wolf said. “That’s going to set us back a bit.”
“You think..” Fox groaned. It’s only been at least two weeks into the investigation and they’re hounded every step of the way. Particularly Fox and Wolf. Them being both leaders, they were held to a higher responsibility then any other. If they screw up then they’re in the dog house for sure.
“That’s a lovely surprise.” Peppy said sarcastically. It was indeed a surprise. One that they’re going to have to deal with soon.