There was Never any Reasoning

New Plan?

Upon the discovery of Lollipop’s journal being completely blank, the teams had to make their reports to General Peppers and Commander Tompson. Fox and Wolf are awaiting a call from the General and Commander to make their reports on their findings. It was approximately five minutes until the call.

“You know they’re going to be furious that a few things have been set back.” Fox said. He was talking to Wolf while preparing notes and other sorts of evidence to show proof of what they’ve done thus far.

“And? People like that Commander Tompson don’t generally tell you when you’ve done a good job. All they really do is hound you about that’s how you’re suppose to do your job.” Wolf’s met plenty of high strung men in the army that were much like he described.

“You’ve met him?” This brought Fox’s attention to Wolf. Fox hasn’t met the Commander just yet and was a bit nervous about doing so since he was of a higher importance then he or Wolf were, maybe even General Peppers was.

“Not personally, no. Neither did I ever plan to until I joined this little scandal.”

It doesn’t entirely matter how long you’ve known someone to know when there’s something bothering them or something that’s just amiss. Fox and Wolf weren’t on the best of terms but neither were they on the worst of terms, landing their “friendship” somewhere along the lines of acquaintances since Wolf didn’t see Fox as a friend. Though Wolf does have a grudging respect for Fox.

“Oh.” Fox replied. “You alright? You seem a little off.” Foxed asked with concern in his voice.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Too many late nights I suppose...When is he suppose to call anyway?” Wolf asked Fox, changing the topic. He didn’t like too much attention. Right then an incoming call is appearing on their screens. Fox answered, and at the same time, trying to mentally prepare himself. It’s not everyday that they get called in to do reports or a call in general. Fox stood with his heels together, one arm by his side and his shoulders squared as he solute for the general. Wolf had yet to get up from his seat when the General and Commander appeared in a holographic form. From the look on the Commanders face, he didn’t seem too pleased. ‘And we’re off to a bad start’ Fox thought to himself.

"Good afternoon Fox. It’s always good to see a friendly face, my boy." The General greeted. He was a lot chipper than the Commander. The tom cat just stood there staring at him as if he was trying to steal his soul with those beedy green eyes. Fox brought his arm down as he spoke.

“And to you two as well.” Fox said. Pepper’s noticed that Wolf was next to him and began to fret.

"Where’s O’Donnell? I specifically asked for-"

“I’m right here.” Wolf interrupted as he walked next to Fox, stuffing his hands in his pockets.

"Good.” Commander Tompson said in a low tone.

"Gentlemen, I would like you to meet Commander Tompson. He is the one who has been working this case since its start. He’ll tell you everything you need to know if you just ask.. Now if you don’t mind, I wish I could stay to hear what you’ve manage to find but I have an important meeting with the ambassador of Talira, and she is not a very patient woman. General Peppers, over and out.”

The General signed out and left the three standing there in silence. Tompson looked between the two men in front of him, via screen, not saying a word. Wolf saw this as a chance to say something.

“There wasn’t any-”

"I don’t want to hear a word from you O’Donnell." Tompson snapped.

“Figured you were going to be like that.” Wolf commented. He wasn’t stupid. Neither was Fox. They both knew that there was a strong chance that the Commander wasn’t going to like him. Wolf on the other hand knew for a fact that he wasn’t going to like him, not that he cared. He’s heard a lot about Tompson and his little crew of fighters and there’s no doubt in his mind that he has heard a lot about him too, especially after the stunt him and Leon pulled on them several years ago.

"I’ll make this clear because apparently you already know. I don’t like you. I didn’t want you working on this case and I certainly didn’t want to meet you. But as we can see, none of that happened. The less I see of you, the better." he turned his attention towards Fox ”Now I assume you have something that’s useful."

Fox nervously pulled up holographic versions of the items they had found. Tompson looked at the objects and examined them. There wasn’t much to say nor look at and turned back to Fox, awaiting for an explanation.

“Just a few things that she had when she was registered at the asylum. The clothes aren’t much of a help besides seeing what she liked to wear and o style of her home world. There’s a locket, collar, and photograph that seemed to momentums from home. The image was scratched out, especially the person in front. Thus rendering the question as that there might be someone she’s after or something she wants to keep a secret. The collar on the other hand is worn to the point where she should have thrown it out or give it to someone who wanted it. But she didn’t which leads us to the idea that she considers it as a precious gift or something along those lines. And the locket is wielded shut, hiding whatever’s in there......” Fox explained. He took a couples seconds before mentioning the journal. “Then there’s her journal. Her sketch book wasn’t retrieved to our misfortune.”

"As much as these little trinkets are interesting in a way and will give us some ideas and minor leads. Finding her journal is most intriguing indeed."

Tompson seemed to be impressed with what they’ve presented. It was too bad that none of it was going to help too much. Wolf spoke before Fox could and ruined Tompson’s happy moment.

“Too bad it’s blank.” Not a hint of nervousness nor sympathy was found in his tone. Fox may work for his people and the military, he still couldn’t get over the little things that aren’t so normal for regular people.

"Of course." He’s not mad? Fox wondered. ”Things like this tend to happen more times then not, whether we like it or not. I should’ve known that it wasn’t that simple. My only question is how she could have known not to write anything?”

“That’s what we were asking ourselves sir. We’re working on a answer now.” Fox said.

"Right. I take it that’s all for now. Besides that I need you all to go to the planet of Shinu. The people there are concerned about their families and have seen multiple sightings of her over there. She may not be on that particular planet still but could possibly still be in the area. A fax report will be sent your way about the details and description of what the eye witnesses have seen and the evidence my team has collected."

“Oh goodie.” Wolf said sarcastically.

“Right. We’re on it. We’re actually near the planet as is.” Fox stated.

"Mmm. One more thing. The meeting that the General has told you about has been moved to next week on Thursday at sixteen-hundred sharp. The council is itching to hear what we have so far. Tompson, over and out."

Fox was a little put off. He expected Tompson to be furious about the set back, yet he wasn’t. Wolf went back over to the table where her belongings were at, left within the brown box they came in. While Fox was a little stunned on how the report went, Wolf’s mind was still set on the objects that were once this crazy lady things.

“You still seem a little off Wolf. What’s the matter? And don’t say it’s because of Commander Tompson.”

“Nah, I wouldn’t let that old flea bag have the satisfaction of knowing that he’s getting under my skin.” Wolf picked up the pink collar and looked at it. “I was just thinking about Lollipop and who was she before all this. I mean there had to have been a time before all this where she was a normal, sane person. Right?”

It was obvious that these little things meant something to her, especially the collar and necklace. ‘But why would she leave it behind?’ Wolf thought.

“You think that it’s some kind of importance to her?” Fox asked

“Yeah, but then again it could have been something that she was wearing just like her necklace there.” He slowly set down the collar. There was something oddly familiar about it and couldn’t place where he’d seen it before. Wolf sighed to himself and set it back into the box. Old memories that he can’t remember have been stirring up quite recently. Each time he shook them away, not wanting to deal with the numbing pain of not being able to change the past.

“As for Lolly, I can only imagine that she was just another normal girl. But something had to make her snap if that’s the case. It’s not though. Let’s just stick to what we do know.” Fox said turning his attention to the calender in front of him.

“And tell me what we do know Fox. What’s one thing we know for certain about her without a shadow of a doubt?” Wolf was growing irritated by the day with this case. Sure it wasn’t any joy ride. It was a job. Once he didn’t have a choice whether or not to accept. In that moment the rest of both their crews came in, hearing their conversation as they came in.

“Well we know for a fact that she’s a girl and that she’s nuts.” Falco stated. The tall blue bird walked past Fox from behind to go to the few steps to get to his chair.

“Besides that you smart ass.” Wolf growled, crossing his arms over his chest.

“What about the Commander that you two were supposed to talk to? Didn’t he explain anything to you?” Krystal asked. Wolf leaned back against the table, holding himself up with the back of his waist as he crossed one leg over the other. They awaited Fox to explain but Panther beat him to it.

“Well Commander doesn’t typically like us. I know for a fact that he hates Wolf.”

“Why?” She asked

“I’m not sure about the little details but from what I’ve been told by Leon is that they had a run in with him once before and it didn’t end well with the Commander.” He explained.

“Hates a strong word there, Panther.” Leon snickered.

“Not really. He did almost kill me.” Wolf said. All but Leon looked over to Wolf. It wasn’t that they were surprised at what he said, no. It made sense why he would try to kill Wolf. There was a large bounty on his head, he’s wanted for various of crimes, most wanted being for murder and most importantly it would put a dent in the military’s finances for paying whomever could turn him in.

“Tch’ yeah. I remember when we pulled that money stunt. The look on their faces was the best thing I’d ever seen.” Leon started to bark a laugh at the memory.

“Oh?” Falco questioned.

“Yeah, that’s right.” everyone besides Wolf turned to Peppy. “I read it in the paper. Fox was in just the beginning his teenage years at the time. Don’t ya’ remember reading it with me Fox?” Peppy asked him. He could tell he embarrassed him a little because of the tint of pink brushed against his orange coated cheeks. Peppy just smiled and chuckled. He didn’t mean to embarrass him in front of his idol. Wolf may be on the wrong side of the law but he was and still is an excellent pilot and Fox had always had a feeling that even though Wolf acted as this tough coconut on the outside, that he had to be good somewhere in that shell of his. That is one reason why he felt embarrassed. The other was that Krystal was here too. No matter who that person is or how old they are, being the one talked about how they were when they were younger is always embarrassing, especially if it’s in front of someone you like.

“I think so..” Fox was walking on thin ice for his own good so he had to make sure he chose the right words for now. “You were turned in by a lizard guy. Brought you in all beat up, bruises everywhere and some blood too. But it never said who it was that caught........you...” It pieced together perfectly. Leon being a lizard and working with Wolf. Though didn’t they know Leon back then too?

“Little confused I see.” Leon said.

“Didn’t they know you back then too?” Fox asked.

“Nope. Wolf kept me hidden from the publics eye majority of the time when we first started in this business. It wasn’t until I busted him out that they labeled me as his teammate so it wasn’t any good to keep hiding.”

“Oh.” It made perfect sense now. ‘Wolf must really trust Leon that much if he did such an extreme stunt like that’ Fox thought.

“So what now?” Slippy asked.

“Commander Tompson didn’t really explain anything and we didn’t get the chance to ask him anything either. He left in a hast. But he did say that his squadron would usually find something and it turn out to be useless. That’s something to look forward to.” Fox said as he put away the papers.

“Don’t forget to set a course to Talira.” Wolf reminded Fox. NUS immediately set the course.

“The Xever galaxy?” Krystal questioned.

The Xever galaxy was known for its more “worldly-connected” type of people. Most of the planets consisted of little or no technology. Perfect place for hiding and even more so for slipping away undetected. Krystal and Slippy knew of a few planets that still spoke in their native tongue and often performed their accent rituals. One planet in particular was named Mullark. They were a dominate race of wild best ranging from cats and dogs to rats and birds. They tend to stick with their own kind and will chase off anyone that they don’t wish to be on their home world.

“That’s pretty far from Arnia alright.” Slippy said as he pulled up a map, typing in the destination and last known location. It was whole other galaxy away from the previous one they were in.

“We need to spread out and search each planet. How many are there anyway?” Fox asked. Slippy zoomed in on the galaxy. The map showed twelve small planets.

“Damn” Leon and Falco said in union.

“They’re just as big as a moon.” Peppy said. Peppy began counting everyone in the room, minus NUS. “Let’s see....five, six, seven....We only have eight people Fox and that’s not including NUS.”

“That’s fine.” Wolf said. He had a piece of paper in his hands. Walking over to Fox, handing him the sheet. “There’s more where that came from.”

The sheet simply told them that Tompson had two planets under control. Since they were working with him and his team of specialist, he saw no need to worry about the other eight. He was lucky that they were assigned to the area by him because he could use the extra help without needing to send an eighth of his men over there just for surveillance.

“Those must be the details of the witnesses then....” Fox saw the stack of papers in Wolf’s hands. Setting it down he grabbed the top sheet. He read aloud. “The man claims to have seen Lollipop hopping from one planet to the next as he and his family were passing through the small galaxy. She jumped on top of their vehicle to escape the law enforcement that was tailing her, causing a collision to happen.” He set the paper down as Wolf read another out loud.

“This one says that she had used this couples child as a shield and hostage against them and abandoning the child a few hundred yards away from them after they lost sight of her. The kid was bribed with money if he stayed in the spot she left him at. Officials bribed the boy again and discovered that she had left the planet by time the found him.” He stopped reading the paper and looked up. “She’s spending a little too much time around that area.”

“Perhaps she’s waiting for someone?” Panther chimed in.

Fox pulled up the notes that both them and Tompson had taken. He searched through the files on anything about her working with someone and nothing had appeared. The words “Partner” or “Alliance” hadn’t even showed up as a relevance to the search either.

“That might be a possibility. None of the notes say anything about a partner. All we can say about that is that there is a fifty percent chance that she is working with someone and a fifty percent chance that she isn’t working with someone. That’s something we all need to keep in mind when we go up against her.” Fox exited out of the notes and went to his seat. “We should be there before too long. Do what you need to do to get ready.”

“Remember the whole part where they can’t be on their own?” Falco said. “Yeah, so what’s going on there?”

“Simple. We go in pairs for just the three. It’ll cut down the amount of the people that could be searching a whole miniature planet on their own but that’s just something we’ll have to deal with.” Fox pressed a few buttons to pull up the notes again to review them some more. A sly smirk made its way across Fox’s face as he spoke up again. “Since Falco was so kind to remind me of that, he’ll be paired with Leon. Wolf is with me and Panther is with Slippy.”

“What!” Falco and Slippy yelled in union.

“I don’t mind helping out in the field Fox, I really don’t...but uh couldn’t Krystal go with Panther instead?”

“What?” Krystal squeaked from her seat.

“I find it funny that you picked the complete opposites to work with one another.” Peppy said, referencing to the four crew members. Though he knew Fox always has a strategy. He was right to assume so too. Wolf chuckled to himself. He hadn’t said much of anything since the rest of their crews walked in. Sitting at the table again, he leaned his chin on his fist as his elbow supported his shifted weight, with one leg crossed over the other. He closed his eye, the light is starting to agitate it.

“Something amusing?” Panther wondered aloud, the question being directed towards Wolf.

“Not really...” He replied.

“Right. Like we’re suppose to believe that.” Falco scoffed. Wolf let his annoyance be known with a sigh.

“If you must know Lombardi, and apparently you must. I was thinking about why Fox put you four together. Not that the two of you would ever admit it, but the pairs are compatible.”

“Explain.” Falco demanded. Wolf opened his eye slightly to see if Fox was looking. To see if he was giving him a disapproval or not. He was still facing forward, acting like he isn’t apart of the conversation.

“Think about it. Then again that’s hard for you bird brain.” Leon insulted Falco.

“Basically it’s two halves of a whole. Panther maybe cunning majority of the time but he isn’t technical smart like Slippy is. So if needed and it will most likely will be, Panther would be Slippy’s cover fire while he’s doing whatever it is he does. Both you and Leon are alike in more ways then one but Leon has a few things over your head as you do him. Leon may be a fit person but his fighting skill isn’t all that, whereas yours is. You can be the distraction while he can slip in and get to the important part of the task.” Wolf explained. Even though they hated to admit it, Wolf was right.

Krystal on the other hand was a little brought back by this. She didn’t expect them to open up to any of them like that. Regardless if they were neutral enemies or not, they were still enemies. Sharing tactics wasn’t something that you do with someone that you want to take down in the future. Then again Wolf is a lot smarter then he lets on. Him and Panther both. Leon shows it off all the time. She knows that Wolf is quietly picking and choosing the right words to say to let them in but at the same time keep them at bay. Smart, she thought to herself.

“What about you and Fox?” Krystal asked.

“As far as I’m concerned, we’re both mature enough to stop bickering at each other and compromise to get things done.”

“You know you’re insulting your own team right?” Said Falco

“They’re grown men. They can handle petty insults, otherwise they wouldn’t be on my team in the first place.” Everything that Wolf shot back at Falco came out smooth and sarcastic with a mature tune to his voice. Leon chuckled at Falco’s agitated state.

“Alright Falco, calm down.” Fox said. He was still smiling. Fox is indeed mature but can also be childish like Slippy. Unlike the two, Fox knew the perfect timing between acting like a child and acting as an adult.

“Don’t tell me that, that’s why you put us together?” Falco said. It doesn’t take much for him to become irritated.

“Actually it is. Like Wolf just said; Two halves of a whole. Think of it like a puzzle. You have to have the right pieces in order for it to work. It’s just the same with us. I know you’re not going to listen to Wolf, even if I ordered you to. Besides, I just finished reading that there’s a abandoned facility on one of the planets that I need Slippy to hack into. From what I’ve seen and have been told by Wolf, is that Panther has a keen eye and has a pretty good shot. So while Slippy is busy, Panther can keep him safe. The forest there is very thick and it gets dark pretty quick.” Fox explained.

“Oh I get it. That makes perfect sense. Since it get dark faster, I’ll need a light. The light will attract unwanted attention. I’ll be too busy trying to hack it so Panther would be the one to ward them off until I get done.” Slippy said, making a shorter summary.

“Right. Leon and Falco will be on a duel set planet just three planets from Panther and Sippy.”

“Duel set?” Falco asked. He’s never heard of a planet like that.

“A duel planet is extremely rare.” Panther eyes widen with wonder. He, himself has only ever seen and been on one duel set planet.

“So you’ve been to one before?” Fox raised an eyebrow.

“I have. It’s been a long time but still amazing to walk upon. There’s very few out in the universe. One was taken apart by a war almost three millennium ago.” Panther said, searching his memory. “They’re tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing. Especially if you don’t know you’re way around one. They’re basically moon sized mechanisms. Supposedly built to keep the most insane of people out of reach. They look like a planet from the outside but on the inside it has miles of metal passages running through the planet with its core being a cage. Many traps, triggers, lasers, and cameras. Even as old as they are now, everything should be fully functional.”

“Those things are death traps. No one needs to go there.” Krystal said. She had gotten up from her seat to grab a few papers that were about and figured she should pick them up and go file them away once she had explained herself.

“Is there something wrong with that toots?” Said Leon .

“My people hated those things. All they were ever for was to lock people away. A lot of the times when pirates tried to raid my home world to kidnap our women and steal anything else that they could get their hands on. They’d take it and them and disappear without a trace. And especially because we weren’t a planet that like technology, there was nothing that we could do to stop them from leaving. It wasn’t until we began to make trade with Corneria that my father, the king, had asked a general that was sent to make trade with us found the bodies of the women that were taken on one of those things. Pardon me if I’m a little agitated by the fact that we’re having to go past something that means too much to my past.” She took a deep breath and left the room as fast and as steadily as she could.

Fox knew she hated bringing up her home world. It wasn’t like she could visit it any time she wanted too; it had blown up. No traces of it ever being there. Though that wasn’t the specific reason why it bothered her so much. It was the fact that it was her entire culture that had just been erased from existence except for her. The people that she once called friends, family, and neighbors. The only she actually did have from home was the outfit she was wearing when she first met Fox and the others. Fox would never know the pain of loosing an entire planet where you knew everyone by name, but it was quite similar to loosing his father because his father was his world.

“Thought she was okay about mentioning her home?” Falco asked

“That wasn’t mentioning her home, Falco.” Fox calmly spoke. “It was a piece of planet history and a major part of her cultures history. It was terrible thing that often happened to her home world that if I was in her place, I wouldn’t let it slide either. It’s a sensitive topic for her, just dodge it as much as possible.” Fox didn’t go after Krystal because he knew she needed space right now. It would do her and them some justice.

“Alright...” the room grew quite for a minute before Leon asked what him and Wolf were planning on doing.

“What about you two?”

“The two of us will be the next planet up from you two. It’s a tribal planet so it might help if we could get their acceptance. Maybe even an alliance from them if they’re willing to help us.”

“What happens if they disagree.” Wolf asked.

“Then were screwed. Mainly because there isn’t any signal on any of the planets.” Fox said. “Peppy and Krystal will mainly be scouting through their own little planet they land on. Were only spending four days there before we have to pack it up and head to the council meeting.” Fox finished.

Everyone agreed and went on about their business. Wolf headed back to his Arwing, though to go anywhere but to have a few minutes to himself. Leon and Panther also went to the dock. Panther was there to get some fresh air. The may be closed though he could always feel a wonderful breeze coming from there. Leon on the other hand didn’t want to be around the others. It wasn’t that they made him feel uncomfortable, just that he was out number and was beginning to make himself uneasy to be around them so he left with Panther. Though they both had the idea that Wolf might have something to say. After all there was the whole part where they didn’t exactly follow the rules.

“What?” Leon asked Panther out of the blue as they made their way down the hall to the loading docks.

“Just thinking.” He replied.

“About?”

“You must be really bored if you want to hear what I’m thinking about.” Panther purred.

“Yes. Yes I am. Now spill it.” Leon demanded.

“Well I personally find it weird that Wolf is rolling along with everything that’s happened thus far. Even though it hasn’t been much.”

“And? He saw an opportunity to get the bounty paid off our heads for the first time. Is that so wrong?”

“It is if he’s keeping secrets from us. Think about it, Leon. Isn’t it a bit odd that he’s been well behaved since we got here, especially around Fox and even towards him.”

“And?” he repeated. “He might not accept Fox as a friend but he does have respect for him. He’ll never admit it but he does.”

“I know that. My point being is that even he would have some sort of defense up. Whether it’s cracking funny insults towards the others or standing his ground like the leader he is.”

“So you admit my jokes are funny?” Leon snickered as he caught that part of the sentence.

“Not my point.” Panther was beginning to become aggravated by Leon.

“Okay, okay. Seriously though. What do you mean?”

“I’m not sure how to put it exactly. Let’s just say it’s a gut feeling.” Leon nodded in agreement. They both came out the door that lead to the docks. At first glance Panther saw Wolf’s cockpit open. He was sitting there looking at something in his hands but Panther couldn’t see what it was.

“Figured you’d be here.” Panther said as he walked up next to the space craft. Leon tailing in a few feet behind him.

“Mmm.” He said.

“Something bothering you?” Leon asked.

“No.” Oh, so all of a sudden you’re not a talker, Leon thought to himself. Wolf set whatever was in his hands back into its hiding place. “What’re you two doing down here anyway?” He asked them.

“I wanted some fresh air. And Leon is a lost pup without someone so he followed me.” Panther mocked.

“Bit me flea bag.” Leon retorted. Wolf’s eye darting between the two as they bickered back and forth. Panther noticed the slightest detail that was bugging him earlier that he just couldn’t officially point out until now.

“Mmm.” Wolf repeated. He jumped out of the vehicle and stood before his teammates.

“Trying something new?” Panther asked Wolf. Wolf on the other hand didn’t know what Panther was talking about until his yellow feline eyes darted a few inches down from Wolf’s face and quickly looking back up. Shivers shot up his spine, hoping that he hadn’t figured it out already. Wolf reached up and gently touched the thin neck brace that was around his neck from under the cloth, still baring a confused expression on his features.

“The turtle neck, Wolf. You once complained about how itchy it was whenever you wore one, remember?” Panther explained. That was right. Wolf hated wearing turtle neck shirts because it always made him itchy. Though he was lucky enough to find one that didn’t itch, or at least not as bad. His nerves calmed down after hearing what he meant.

“Oh. Well it doesn’t bother me so I figured why not. I’ll need one just in case we have to go to a cold place.” he shrugged as he let his hand fall back down to his side. “Why?”

“Because I have a thing for fashion. Why does everyone ignore that factor of me?” Panther asked himself. He was a bad guy but just like everyone else in the universe, he had his own little hobby. At one point in his life he considered being a fashion designer. He was a child at that point in time and had followed that dream for quite some time. Though life isn’t easy and ripped that dream my Panther’s heart, and like Leon and Wolf he too was forced into a life of crime but in a much more forceful way. The dream he once had died along with his family. Panther simply walked back the way him and Leon came through, leaving the two to speak amongst themselves.

“He’s a strange cookie.” said Leon.

“Yup.” Wolf replied.

“But seriously, Wolf. You alright? You’ve been acting weird since you told us we had this case to work on.” Leon doesn’t tend to show his emotions and rarely allows himself to feel concerned about others. Wolf was the exception.

“Thought you weren’t soft.”

“Wolf..”

“I’m fine. Just stressed out okay? There’s a lot ridding on this...” ‘Like my head’ “...and I intend to make this job a success. Now you heard what Fox said so try to work with that bird brain a little. The sooner we catch her the better.” Wolf gave Leon a pat on the shoulder and made his way back to the control center. Wolf walked right past Panther whom was leaning against the wall with his eyes closed and arms folded over his chest, waiting for the two to follow. Panther knew that Wolf saw Leon as a younger brother and would do anything necessary to keep him alive. Hearing every word coming out of Wolf’s mouth, Panther faltered. There was a twinge of scarce in his voice as he spoke. Leon didn’t seem to notice. Leon walked up beside Panther. Panther’s eyes followed Wolf for a moment as he passed by him. Standing up straight, he waited for Wolf to walk a few more meters ahead of them before he spoke.

“Now that was definitely off.”

“What?” Leon paused for a second and looked at Wolf. He got smaller and smaller as he continued down the hall. “Wolf?”

“Yes. I understand that in a way that he, nor you, will ever admit but he doesn’t want me, let alone you to worry about something. It’s like a mother putting on a brave face for their child and the child falling for the act. Besides he’s been way too nice, even if it’s just us he’s talking to.” Panther explained.

“So you really do think Wolf is hiding something from us?” Leon asked. He now sees that Panther was right.

“Yes I do. How we plan to get him to tell us is going to be tricky.”

“Tricky is my middle name.” Leon snickered.

Then the two made their way back where the others were. Once they entered the room they saw that Wolf and Fox were reading notes again. Wolf off to the side but still standing next to Fox while Fox was talking with Peppy about this and that. Falco and Slippy seemed to have been keeping themselves occupied for the mean time. Krystal on the other hand was still missing. Panther figured that she was still off on her own.

“Panther.” Wolf called out to him, waving him over. Fox patted Peppy’s arm as he turned around, walking past Panther and Leon as he left the room.

Fox had left the room for two reasons. One was to see if Krystal was okay. The second was to grab something that will pin a extremely strong signal to each person, that way it could reach the Great Fox in case anything went south.

“Krystal?” Fox called to her. She was standing next to the filing cabinet reading the papers in her hands. She looked up. He looked more closely and saw that her face was faintly stained with a few tear streaks. Walking up to her, he wrapped his arms around her and gave her a friendly hug. Sure everyone knew it was a touchy topic for her, though none of them have seen her cry about it. Fox was the only one that she had let them see her cry. It was by accident of course, she had asked Fox how he would deal with stress or any emotion he didn’t feel like dealing with and he had told her that he would go to the training room to take his mind off things. He didn’t think she would take his advice but went to check anyway. He stood in the doorway for ten minutes before she gave up on trying to push her feelings away and broke down crying. It was a sad sight to see. Krystal had held herself to a very high standard because she is- or was a princess. She wasn’t allowed to show weakness in front of others. After he made his prepense known, he walked over to her as she quickly wiped the tears away and acted like nothing happened. She had tried to play it off like she was just leaving and that it was sweat on her face but Fox wasn’t buying it. He pulled her back and sat her down. He waited five minutes before she finally told him what was going on with her. He felt sorry for her and they both knew that there was nothing they could do to bring back her home world. Since that day him and Krystal had become closer. She would never figure out how he knew what was wrong with her at any given time. She gently hugged Fox back, wiping the tears away when they let go.

“Thank you.” She quietly said.

“Any time.” Fox smiled. “You wanna talk about it?”

“It’s the same as I always say, Fox. The loss of my world is heavy in my heart. It is something I’m never going to get over.”

“Yeah....Though this time it was something that continuously happened to your people while you were still living there.” Fox leaned down a little to get her to look in his eyes and it worked. Her crystal blue eyes met his emerald green ones. She sighed aloud.

“I was still a child when the pirate raids came towards my planet. Cultural based planets could care less what happened above them as long as their people weren’t bothered. That would be the only time they would get involved. I had seen a pirate when I was eight years old. I knew he didn’t belong on my home world and I immediately ran to my parents. It was a good thing that they just assumed I was running away in fright of their presence. So when I told my father whom was taught be a kind person from long before my birth, how to speak in your tongue. He told them to leave and never come back. The strange man said he couldn’t do that. That’s when he yelled for his men to attack. Using weapons that we had never seen up until that point were used against us. They came back again and again and again. Relentlessly took everything we had. Leaving us with barely enough food for our own families and supplies to make homes for our children. We eventually migrated to the other side of the planet and after a few years their terrorizing began again. But that’s also when we began trade with Corneria. My father said that if he could take these evil people away from our planet and keep us safe then he would glad to be an alli to them. I specifically remember that part because I was hiding behind my father’s leg.” She smiled at the memory. Her father would always call her his BooShiNaKa, which in her native tongue meant “My precious little world”. Tears began to form in her eyes again. How she missed her father.

“Your mother wasn’t in the picture?” Fox asked, rubbing her shoulder.

“She had died from a rare sickness the year before the pirates came, thank the gods.” again, Krystal wiped the tears from her eyes. “Thank you Fox. It means a lot for you to care so much.” She smiled weakly. Fox pulled her into a hug again, muffling her cries.

“It’s not a problem Krystal. It’s always better to let you’re emotions out then to keep them bottled up inside you. If you ever need to talk then just pull me aside alright?” Fox said. The concern in his voice was mixed with a bit of his sweet personality. Krystal loved how much Fox cared about others. She dried up her tears enough to make it to the rest room and back to the command center.

“I think I’m going to fine now.” She said

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.” She gave him a quick squeeze before heading off to the bathroom. “I’ll be there in a few minutes.”

He smiled at her before searching for the devices. He walked over to one cabinet and looked inside it. He didn’t see it at first then he saw it after he moved a few things from out in front of it. He grabbed it and went back to the command center.

“Hey Fox.” Falco said as he saw his leader walk back into the room. “When were done with whatever it is we’re supposed to do on our own little world, how do we report that we’re finished or get off the world and back to the Great Fox?”

“It shouldn’t take you and entire day to infiltrate a building. One of the papers that Tompson faxed over has the exact location of your targets, so we’ll be dropping you off either near or on top of them. It only takes mere hours to jump from one planet to the next. At noon of the third day NUS will start picking us up.”

“Alright, I guess.” Said Falco.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

After everyone had been dropped off at their destination, NUS reported to Commander Tompson. He parked the Great Fox near his fleet of men. So far each pair are making their way towards their targets that were assigned to them. Panther and Slippy were already there. They only had a minor problem. The field of booby-traps that laid out before the duo.

“This is fantastic.” Panther grumbled.

“Aw come on. We’ve been through worse, right?”

“I suppose.” looking into the field that stretched out in front of them, Panther can make out a few traps here and there. “I can see a few of them. There’s no telling if there’s any implanted mines.”

“Don’t worry about that. I got this baby to track those down for us.” Slippy pulled out a metal detector. It was built like any other you would see only more high tech. It bared a larger rang and stronger signal to detect metal and will identify the object by name while showing in image of it on a small screen.

While Slippy and Panther began to make their way through the death field, Falco and Leon were making their way to their destination. Their boots clanking as they walked. The planet was covered in a large moss and trees even survived on the planet. The ship lifted up and left them as they continued.

“It really is metal...” Falco whispered to himself in disbelief.

“Too chilly here for my taste.”

“Lets just get to the center and figure out what we can find.”

“Right. I just wonder why we had to come to a total metal planet that needs to be hacked into to find anything.” Leon said.

“Good point.”

Krystal and Peppy were left on their little planet to search for anything unusual. Everything they see they have to report, even if it’s nothing. Peppy’s planet had more fields than Krystal’s did. Her’s is a thick jungle. By the sounds of it, there may be a few wild life in there. She’ll just have to be careful and calm her racing heart. Meanwhile Fox and Wolf were set on the tribal planet. It was more baren then Fox had exspected. Deserted desert for as far as the eye could see.

“This is going to be fun.” Wolf sarcastically complained.

“Hopefully we won’t run into any wild creatures here.”

“Yeah....Let’s just get this over with.” Fox put out his arm to stop Wolf. “What?”

“Were already being watched.” Wolf followed Fox’s gaze and say multiple sets of eyes staring at them from a distance. They stayed there staring, didn’t move even if they say that the pair could see them.

“Well....lets see if they’re going to follow us. They might cause us a problem later.”

“So big white eyes don’t freak you out in the least?” Fox looked at him for a moment before looking back and seeing that they were gone. “Looks like they left already.”

“Doesn’t mean that they won’t be back.” Wolf’s heart had been racing since they arrived on the planet. It wasn’t that he was scared because there might be something out there trying to kill them. He’s already been in those situations before. It was the fact that Tompson was too close for comfort. A press of a button and he was dead. He shook the thoughts away and tried to focus at what their objective was in the mean time.

“Let’s head towards where the eyes were just at.” Fox said and started walking. Wolf close behind.

Leon and Falco were having fun trying to find a hatch to get inside the center of the planet. They searched high and low for an opening of some sort. As far as they could see, there was trees and moss everywhere. No hidden passage way that they could find. Leon jumped on top of a large, oddly shaped boulder. Falco stepped closer to the rock as Leon got a better view of the surrounding area. Pulling at the thick vines that Leon was currently standing on, Falco saw that there was some sort of round red metal.

“Hey. Get off that real quick, think I found something.” He pulled at the vines some more, ripping them from atop of the “boulder” only to find out that it wasn’t even a rock.

“I think we found a way in.” Leon smirked.

“Yeah. Only two hours here and we found one.” Leon twisted the circular object and it shot open, slinging Leon ten feet away with him landing on his back.

“Ahahaha!” Falco busted out laughing. “Funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time.”

“Shut up.” Leon gripped. He picked himself up and began to crawl into the howl after Falco.

“So far there doesn’t seem to be any traps for entering. Let’s head this way.” Falco began to walk off towards his right. The railings below were lined up equally and parallel. In every direction there was a door that allowed one to pass to the next level, both above and below. Leon left marker prints on the walls to let him know if they’ve been there before or not. Falco had no knowledge of this. A special contact lens allows Leon to see the marked place’s by using his specialty pen for that purpose.

Falco noticed the small doors and opened the next one. They both jumped down to the next level until they arrive at the core. Unbeknownst to them that the sun was already setting. For Panther and Slippy, it wouldn’t be a problem entirely. With Panther’s night vision, it made it a bit easier to see what might be lurking in the darkness around the two.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

“Hurry up. We already spent most of the day trying to find this place. We need to get in and out a.s.a.p.” Panther told Slippy.

“Yeah I know that. It’s not like this is as easy as saying your numbers ya know.”

“What’s your point?”

“My point is that this place looks to be a few millennium old. This technology may be similar as to Corneria but it seems to have a lot more differences than predicted.” he explained. Slippy added before Panther could respond. “And yes this was built by the Cornerian government. Why it was abandoned is still a mystery today. They reported that the people working here had just vanished into thin air. Eventually everything stopped working on it’s own. I just feel bad for those families that never knew what happened to their loved ones that worked at these facilities.” A clicked sound came from the circuit box.

“What was that?” Panther asked.

“Uh, I think I got us in by messing up the circuit breaker.” Slippy pulled the doors apart before stepping in. The was sounds of rummaging coming from inside before Slippy jammed a crowbar between the doors and pried them open even more. “There we go.”

Slippy grabbed his things before following Panther into the building. The room the were in only had a metal desk covered in a thick layer of dust. Panther turned the flashlight that was built in on his gun, on. Looking around he saw that the whole place was covered in the thick layer of dust. There were foot prints in the dust covered floor, and they were fresh.

“Stay close. Someone’s either came here before us and left just recently or they’re still here with us.” Said Panther.

“Oh boy. This just keeps getting better and better.”

Slippy pried open the next set of doors, assuming the desk didn’t have anything worth checking out.

“What did Fox want to get from here again?” Panther asked Slippy to take his mind off things.

“Well he said that this one particularly was a information center for the work force here, the Cornerian army, and the asylum that Lollipop was issued in. He thinks she stopped by here before being sighted which would explain those footprint that we saw.”

“Right. Or she could have came this way after being ratted out.”

“That’s what I’m hoping she didn’t do.”

“Where would that information be held at exactly.”

Slippy pulled up blueprints of the building on his visual hologram watch. He had it scan the room to detect where the were currently to figure out which way they need to go.

“Well it says that all we need to do is go down one flight of stairs and make a few turns and we should find the filing room to our left. The only thing is, is that they’re regular papers and not stored in as data so we have to be careful with them or they’ll be ruined.” Slippy said.

The world outside continued. Turning from night to day within a few hours. Three more days to go before they will have to take their leave. Thus far, Panther and Slippy are on a lead. Everyone else is currently walking around aimlessly, such as Falco and Leon.

To Be Continued...

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