WHAT'S ALREADY DEAD
(AUTHOR'S NOTE: This takes place after the first ending of Star Fox Command. SPOILERS!)
"It is a man's own mind, not his enemy or foe, that lures him to evil ways."
"It's so boring on this ship! Give me something to shoot at!" complained Falco loudly to himself.
A soft sobbing was heard outside the door of Fox's room.
It wasn't normal for the brave leader of the Star Fox team to do this. Well, at least, there once was a point where this wouldn't be normal for it to be normal. But since the day Krystal finally left for good, Fox was a lot more quiet. He would always act as if nothing's wrong, and you wouldn't be able to tell that anything even was, yet every time he stepped out of his bedroom, you could see some wet, messy fur beneath his eyes, as if his heart was being broken again and again, and one of the worst days in Fox's life since he was told of his father's passing, was being repeated in a never-ending, insufferable cycle.
Falco knocked on his door. The sobbing ceased.
"Don't tell me you're still not over her." He said.
"I'm okay." Said Fox. "I just had some allergies."
Falco turned the doorknob, presuming it was safe to walk in. He pushed the door forward and walked over to his long-time pilot companion. Fox was finally caught in the act. He was holding a picture frame of him and Krystal on a picnic in a Cornerian valley, one of the most beautiful landmarks on the planet. And luckily, it was one of the only places not rummaged during the Lylat, Aparoid, and Anglar Wars. Perhaps, even those life forms had a soft spot for this particular beauty. Fox had fallen asleep during the photo and Krystal was smiling and giving him a loving kiss on the forehead. That photo, once in Fox's heart, had turned into something ugly, and the glass of the picture frame was stained with the red-green-blue particles of Fox's heartbroken, lovesick tears of despair. They were so sizable, you may think someone spilt their drink on it.
"Sheesh." Falco muttered. "Is it the sob flu?"
"Leave me alone, Falco." Said Fox. "Every squad leader needs his space every once in a while. You, of all people, should know that."
"Fox, you can't dwell on the past forever." Said Falco. "You need to get on with your life! Look what this is doing to you! You can't even fly your arwing correctly anymore!"
"YOU THINK I DON'T WANT TO, FALCO?!" Bellowed Fox in Falco's face.
Falco got so startled, he nearly toppled backward. Fox had never yelled at him before, and there had been times in their relationship where Falco had been a real sarcastic prick towards him. He was so patient, he would be there to save his feathered ass without retorting even slightly. How could the departure of a single Star Fox pilot have changed its leader so drastically?
"Y'know, Fox," Falco said sternly. "You can be a real asshole. You need to at least gain a hobby, instead of sitting there feeling sorry for yourself. Otherwise, the leader of Star Fox, the brave, intergalactic hero who the people of Corneria and the rest of the Lylat System have deeply embraced and entrusted their lives to, the superior pilot who Slippy depended on, the man who Peppy cared for like a son when your father died, and my most reliable partner, through good and bad, who I have always looked up to...really is dead. And never coming back..."
Falco stormed out of the room, not forgetting to be so kind as to slam the door on his way out, let alone not even saying "goodbye".
Fox jumped. He had never heard Falco call him his role model before, nor ever even attempt to give him pep talk, but he still didn't care. What was the point?
Fox, unable to take anymore of the pain in his heart, finally decided to take action...but not in the most reasonable of solutions.
He took his pistol and stared at it for five minutes. Had it finally come down to this? Was this how it would all end?
Fox aimed the laser pistol at the side of his head. All it took was one, simple, single, swift movement of his right index finger to finally liberate himself of the unloved, unwanted shell of a hero who had done too much for the world around him to receive what he had in return. Was he finally going to do it?
No. He forgot to close his eyes again. That was the most important part. Because of this, he once again caught a glimpse of his photograph. He felt a very hulking and powerful sensation in his chest, and he collapsed, and began sobbing loudly and erratically. Once he felt that he could sob no longer, as his eyes were exhausted from producing tears, he looked at the photo again, and felt an emotion he had never felt so intensely before: HATRED.
Fox glared at the once beautiful image, as if concentrating all of the rage in his body into it. To share his pain, suffering, and anger for this now haunting reminder. As he stared into it, he turned his gun gently away from himself and directly at the photo and, with perfect accuracy, blew a hole through Krystal's smiling visage.
Falco was on the TV, watching the G-Zero Grand Prix.
" Boy, I'd sure love to do that stuff once I retire." He said to himself as he watched a racer slam another into fiery, chaotic oblivion.
He was knocked away from his fantasy when he heard a sudden door slam.
Falco turned his head to see Fox walking toward the door to the Arwing room.
"Hey, Fox!" Falco called. "You feeling any better?"
Fox wasn't saying a word. He just continued walking, like a zombie or a robot.
Falco was starting to get impatient. He put his DVR on pause and stormed over to him.
"What is your problem? I'M TALKING TO YOU!" yelled Falco. "Quit ignoring me like a child!"
"Shut your beak, Falco." snapped Fox as he gave Falco an unusually menacing glare, as if he was a pissed-off wild animal, ready to maul Falco in the blink of an eye.
"There's something I have to do."
"Really? And what would that be? Getting a drink at the Cornerian --"
"None of your business!" Fox hissed as he shoved Falco aside.
Falco growled angrily as Fox slammed the door.
"Man, he's starting to piss me off!" He yelled.
- - -
Panther, Wolf, Krystal, and Leon were having drinks at the Corneria City Nightclub. Wolf and Leon were seated at the bar. Leon was cackling about stories of how many of the Anglar Empire's cronies he had "made suffer", and Wolf didn't exactly talk much. Only to the bartender when he wanted another drink of Wolfgang's Blood Red, the latest alcohol the place began serving. Other than that, the only noises you'd hear from him would be embarrassed grunts whenever Leon did that godforsaken hyena laugh whenever he'd finish a story. It was like claws on a chalkboard.
Panther and Krystal, meanwhile, had a seat in one of the fancier dining room tables, which was one of the closest seats to the stage. Standing on it was a dog with a black leather jacket playing some soft, romantic jazz. Even if you weren't a music person, it was the kind so entrancing, you wouldn't say a word.
Panther put his arm around Krystal, and smiled at her as she sank her teeth into her double cheeseburger deluxe special, moaning with delight. Her and Panther had fought up an appetite. A big one. And the reward money they had earned from blowing Octoman to bits...it was a fortune. Talk about delicious rewards, as Panther would put it.
"Would you like a third serving, my dear Krystal?" Purred Panther. "Our day was long and fulfilling, and we are now as rich as we are hungry for some first class goodness."
"Of course!" Krystal smiled at him, with some ketchup on her upper lip. "Aren't you hungry, dear?"
"Oh, very, darling." Panther laughed.
He then leaned his head gently toward her ear.
"But I don't care for food right now." he purred. "I am, however, craving for --"
Wolf choked on his sixth shot of Blood Red and Leon yelped as a loud shattering of glass was heard. Everyone gasped in horror. And then silence. All except for what went on at the bar table near the entrance door at the very back.
"Tell me where they are or you'll need a body bag!"
Krystal knew that voice all too well. It was her blasted ex. She grunted as she crouched under the table and got out her phone. She opened her contacts and called the only person she knew who could stop him.
* * *
Falco was watching an episode of the Super Mario Bros. Super Show. Captain Lou Albano had just realized he had thrown Magic Johnson's bowling trophy into the furnace by mistake. His eyes were widened in great horror as he glanced at Luigi.
"Uh ohhhhh...." He gasped in comedic fashion as the studio laughed.
Falco was trying his best not to laugh at this scene. It wasn't known for its laughs, or for its animation quality for the cartoon segments. But this scene was so over exaggerated, Falco couldn't help himself.
"So glad they decided to rerun this!" He laughed insanely. "Such nostalgic value!"
Falco then hit the pause button, as he felt his phone vibrating. Falco was an Answer button away from some shocking news.
"Krystal? Sup?" asked Falco.
"Falco! It's Fox! He's gone berserk!" Whispered Krystal, trying not to panic too loudly. "He's just attacked one of the bartenders and is coming for --"
The signal was cut off.
"ROB! Trace Krystal's location!"
"Krystal's communicator is located in the Corneria City Nightclub."
"Gotcha! My Arwing repairs ready yet?" he asked.
"Arwing repairs are 150% complete."
"I have included a Plasma shot with an extra speed boost upgrade."
"Thanks, ROB." Falco said as he darted for the Arwing room.
"Gratitude much appreciated." said ROB as he resumed typing on the Great Fox's computers.
* * *
Wolf and Fox were engaged in intense fisticuffs as Panther held Krystal tightly close to comfort her as she gasped in shock.
Wolf took Fox to the ground with a swift roundhouse kick and then leaped on top of him.
"You'd better get your act together, Fox! Lest I cut you down to size like a hot knife through butter!" He yelled in Fox's face, his claws aimed for his neck as they glistened within the purple light of the disco ball.
Fox glared at him, unfazed by his loud, furious threats.
"Your pistol's missing." Replied Fox.
Before Wolf could realize Fox had tricked him, and his pistol was still in his holster, Fox fiercely kneed him in the stomach at the blink of an eye. Wolf flew into the air and landed on his back, panting profusely, unable to find the energy to get himself back on his feet. Child's play.
Fox pointed his gun at Wolf's forehead. It was finally time to kill this meddling scumbag once and for all. And not a moment too soon.
"I've always known you and your little group of wannabe Star Fox members were no match for me, Wolf." He taunted.
"I'm sick of your foolishness, Fox."
"Well, good! Because I'm just sick of you in general!"
The sound of his laser pistol echoed loudly as it pierced through Wolf's skull. A bloody hole was implanted in his forehead as his corpse stared off into space. The leader of Star Wolf was in a different place now.
Everyone in the room panicked at their traumatic encounter with death. Fox just smirked and chuckled as a drop of Wolf's blood stained his front teeth.
He didn't stop there.
He stepped on over to Leon, who was too confused by all the chaos to notice Fox's pistol directed toward him.
Leon's head landed against the flat bar room table.
"How ironic. You've always loved watching people's suffering, you scaly sadist." He said to Leon's body. "How did yours feel?"
Fox then went to finish what he started. He headed for the stage. The musician shrieked and ran off as Fox took a glance at him.
"Coward." Fox mumbled.
He looked around and caught a glimpse of Panther wrapped protectively around Krystal.
"Come out of there, you blackhearted scoundrel!" Fox bellowed as he directed his gun toward Panther.
A bottle near Fox shattered into pieces from a swift laser.
"I should be saying the same to you, you dirty traitor!" yelled a familiar voice.
Fox looked behind him to see Falco, his gun pointed in his direction.
Falco strafed slowly towards him, his gun ready to fire.
"Seriously? I'm the traitor, Falco?"
asked Fox. "Isn't Krystal the one who chose to leave my side? To selfishly betray MY team and leave me by my lonesome for some cocky feline?"
"No, Fox!" Falco yelled. "The real traitor of the Star Fox team is you!"
Fox glared in great anger and disbelief at this wingmate of his who was once his most trusted ally.
"First of all, you're the one who forced Krystal to leave in the first place! She never betrayed you, you betrayed her! Along with the love of your life, you've also betrayed your duties to protect Lylat, all because you've been too busy victimizing yourself to even give a damn about the world around you! And now you're not just ignoring them, you're destroying them! OPEN YOUR EYES, YOU HYPOCRIT!!"
Fox's glare normalized. He took a glimpse of his pistol, and then of Falco. Then of Panther and Krystal. He started to cry. He went over to Krystal and opened his arms.
"Krystal...." Sobbed Fox. "I'm....so..... sorry."
Fox was crying so profusely, he could barely make out a sentence, but Krystal understood. She came out from under the table and hugged him, moved by him. She was going to hug him one last time before walking out with Panther. Fox needs a hug more than anything, she thought. Fox slowly aimed his pistol, and pointed it to the back of her head.
Krystal fell to the floor. Panther screamed as he held Krystal's shell tightly in his arms.
"You can't kill what's already dead to you." Said Fox, with a psychotic grin.
"You bastard!!" Shrieked Falco. "You double-crossing, backstabbing son of a bitch!!"
Before Fox could laugh like a murderous hyena, a laser was fired by a grief-stricken Panther.
"You took her away..." Hissed Panther. "YOU TOOK THE LOVE OF MY LIFE!!"
Usually, Panther wasn't the type of guy who was a loudmouth. He was always the calm, laid back member of Star Wolf. This was the first time anything had set him off.
"Then don't keep her waiting, scoundrel!!" Fox yelled as he blew away the last Star Wolf member.
Falco was too startled to even react as Fox kneeled down and placed Panther's gun against Krystal's head.
"You two have fun in Hell, now." grinned Fox. "But not too much fun."
By now, almost everyone in the bar had fled. Those who weren't either dead from shock or shot to death like the first bartender were just too scared for their lives to even make a sound.
Fox felt a powerful force against his back, and he was launched into the stage's left amplifier. As he came to, he felt a lump on his head and tasted blood in his throat. Fox was pretty angry before, to a homicidal level of no return. But now he was livid beyond the normal limit of anger. He was like a completely different person, almost like a wild animal of savage proportions.
He turned and saw Falco. He had kicked him with the strength of a mule. Fox roared as he darted at him at rage-induced speed that would scare off a rhino.
Falco felt Fox's fist penetrate against the front of his beak as he was rocketed against the first bar room table, knocking it over, the glasses and bottles crumbling like they were cookies.
Falco got up and felt a crack in his beak. It was painful, but he had to ignore it....he had a much bigger problem to worry about. He ran back toward his attacker, who shot a laser in his direction. Falco, following his instincts, grabbed his reflector device and boomeranged it. The circular mirror-like object deflected the laser, and it turned back and struck one of the top amplifiers. Slowly, the amplifier unhinged, and fell towards Fox, who dodged it in the nick of time, but dropped his pistol, which was crushed on impact.
Fox cursed before being tackled by Falco at full force.
Falco pointed his gun against Fox's head.
"I'm sure you won't be seeing your father where you're going, Fox." Spoke Falco severely. "He'd be too ashamed of you anyway."
"I was doing what was right!!" yelled Fox. "I was doing what was right for the team! You can't kill me! You'll be reduced to nothing without me! I built this team with my bare hands! I've killed Gods, aliens, and fish with the press of a button!! And I, the man who's responsible for your lives, who has bent over backwards for you with somersaults, barrel rolls, and those blasted U-turns, techniques none of you ungrateful pilots would care to do for shit, will give you all your comeuppances, even if I have to destroy you one member at a time! I've accomplished something none of you could ever achieve in a million years! I finally took out Star Wolf! It was so easy, yet you wouldn't be able to do jack without my help! I'm not a traitor of the team...I'm the sole member. I AM STAR FOX! STAR FOX IS ME! And you're nothing more than a walking lump of Arwing fodder!"
Fox flipped Falco over and jumped on top of him as they wrestled for Falco's pistol, which slid away from the impact.
Finally, after a long and desperate struggle, a voice cried, "FOR STAR FOX!" and...
From the ashes, two silhouettes arose from the rubble. One was dragging the other, who now remained lifeless. The walking shadow-like figure was out of breath, but triumphant.
The victor's name....began with an "F".