Sliding Time 2:
Mission Parameters

by Fur and Fantasy
NC-17 for F/M and M/M sex
full contents and notes located at the bottom of the file

Obi-Wan stepped into his small quarters on board the Great Fox and began to change into his robes even before the engines fired. Fox had told him the briefing wouldn't be for several hours yet, not until well after takeoff, and it would likely be an hour until they could launch. Not everyone was as close to the ship as he was, or as willing to wake up so quickly.

He settled in to meditate the rest of the time. His first mission without his Master near was both exciting and a little scary.

It didn't help much that he had no real warning. They'd known that the mission was coming, but waking up in the dead of night to board the ship and get moving hadn't been expected this time, even if he had done it plenty of times.

At least the ship was well equipped for meditation just now; his quarters were spartan in the extreme, a bed along the wall and not much else inside them yet. Given how incredibly large the Great Fox was, it was a bit of a surprise to him. The ship was large enough to carry an army, rather than a single mercenary team of 6 members.

He allowed his mind to clear and drift in the Force, open to whatever it and the future cared to tell him, including nothing at all.

He found his way to the Moment, a strange sense here, so far from anything he was familiar with. It was hard to see what might come, but there was a desert there ... ancient ruins, of some sort. There was more, but not that he could make out clearly.

Given what he knew of Titania, it was probably connected to the mission to come. A pity he couldn't get anything more from it.

It was still a small bit of comfort to get even that much, so far from home.

He gradually roused himself when his internal sense of time told him six hours had pasted since lift off and it was time for the meeting. He quickly changed into what had been put together as his Star Fox uniform and headed for the conference room.

On the way, he noticed a number of droids moving about the ship, handling maintenance and keeping track of things. Most of them looked like somewhat more basic, primitive versions of Rob, he observed.

When he reached the conference room, he found the rest of the team gathered together. Slippy looked like the only one who was really alert, the rest in varying states of semi-wakefulness.

"Well, as soon as Fox -" Slippy started, cut off a moment later as Fox arrived, straightening his vest and sitting down next to Krystal.

"Sorry," he said quickly. "In the shower when the alarm went off."

"No problem," Slippy said with a bit of a shrug. "Not like we're going to be at Titania for another two days. So, everybody ready to get started?" He asked, looking around at the group and getting nods in response.

Obi-Wan nodded and was joined by various affirmatives from around the table.

"The mission, as you know, is on Titania," Slippy explained. "The archaeologist's camp there is having some trouble with raiders after artifacts and such." He brought up a display of the camp after the latest attack, structures ruined and tracks from vehicles all over.

"So far, they've been able to take cover in their bunkers, but the fact is that a great deal is lost with each raid, and there's an increasing threat of the raiders finding the scientists themselves and capturing or killing them," Slippy explained. "We know that they have both air support and land vehicles; I think we're going to want to use the Landmaster for this one, Fox."

"Just hope you've fixed up the handling on it after last time," the red-furred Fox muttered.

"Yeah, I have," Slippy said, reaching back to rub the back of his head sheepishly. "That didn't work out too well, so I went back to the old configuration. At any rate, we'll probably end up using the usual tactics. Wait for them to come for the next raid, then hit 'em hard when they show up. Landmaster to take on their ground transport, the Arwings to take out the air support and polish off the stragglers. With any luck we can chase 'em back to their base and get back some of the relics, if they haven't sold 'em yet."

"How populated is Titania?" Obi-Wan began the line of questions to get the information he was used to simply being given.

"It isn't, aside from the settlements and raiders," Slippy said easily. "There are a lot of ruins, and some evidence that it used to be a tropical world, but there haven't been any long-term sentient inhabitants in centuries."

"Then why not just scan for life forms? What aren't researchers will likely be the raiders." He suggested.

"The Titania Shadow," Slippy explained. "The sand there has an ionic signature that interferes with long-range scanners if there's any of it in the air, and limits short-range to visual. We can detect distress beacons and communications, they're focused enough to get through. But just heading out and looking for them is chancy at best, especially if you get caught in a sandstorm."

"And Slippy ought to know," Falco pointed out. "He managed to crash-land there during the War. Finding him was a bitch, and that was when we could detect his distress signal."

"Will we be able to detect any ships in or near orbit?" Obi-Wan shifted mindsets quickly and smoothly.

"The Great Fox can from orbit, and can keep up communications with the surface to make sure we know if something comes in," Slippy answered easily. "It's mostly a problem detecting things near the surface."

"Who is staying on the Great Fox, then?" He asked calmly, more than half expecting he would be as the junior member of the team.

"I'll be staying on board with Rob," Peppy said. "My reflexes aren't quite up to the Arwing's standards these days."

"And I'll probably be moving between our base on the planet and the ship," Slippy explained. "As needed."

"So it'll be mostly Fox in the Landmaster, with Obi-Wan, Krystal, and me in the Arwings," Falco summed up. "Just be sure you keep your Arwing hot, Slippy, in case we need some backup."

"If we can capture any of the raiders alive, I can get the location of their base from them in all likelihood." Obi-Wan offered.

"That's something to try for," Slippy nodded. "So try and aim for shields and weapons instead of engines, okay guys?"

"You blow up one hijacked supply ship...." Falco muttered.

"Any other questions?" Fox asked, sitting up and looking over at Obi-Wan in particular, clearly interested in his ideas.

"Well, I'm a little interested in just how Obi-Wan expects to get that information out of the raiders," Peppy said. "They're usually pretty close-lipped about that sort of thing, when there's a chance they might be rescued."

"I have much the same mental abilities that Krystal has," he nodded towards the blue Vixen. "I can reach into their mind and pull the information out if they do not decide to cooperate."

"All right," Peppy nodded. "Not used to that sort of thing being available," he admitted.

"Anything else you want to know before we start getting ready?" Fox asked Obi-Wan. "The Arwings are already being modded for desert flight, so we don't need to worry about that," he added.

"Do we have any intel or ideas who these raiders are, or are working for?" Obi-Wan obliged him. "Or how many there are?"

"Reports indicate at least three ground transports and twice as many air vehicles," Slippy said easily. "How many raiders that means, we don't know. Who they are or who they're working for... not really," he admitted.

"Probably a freelance gang looking to sell what they get on the grey market," Falco said easily. "It's a pretty lucrative gig, if you can pull it off. Low investment, low risk, high payoff if you swipe something good."

"Low risk until they irritate someone who hires us." Fox chuckled.

"Have they gotten anything valuable outside of academia yet?" Obi-Wan asked.

"Not that's known to be valuable to somebody who isn't a collector," Slippy explained. "It's kind of like art. It might not be valuable to the average person, but to somebody who likes the artist or the subject matter, it's worth a fortune."

"The usual 'if it's old or rare, it's worth a lot to someone' thing." Obi-Wan nodded. "Is the atmosphere breathable?"

"Yeah, but dusty," Slippy said easily. "Staying inside or wearing something over your muzzle is a good idea."

The human nodded and added 'scarf' to what he would want to wear. "What needs to be done before we arrive?"

"Not much at this point; some training would probably be a good idea, but that's about it. Everything else is already being taken care of. If we get an emergency call from the researchers, we'll have to send the Arwings out, but at this point it's more a case of hurry up and wait."

"Understood." Obi-Wan nodded seriously.

"Okay team, we're approaching Oberon," Slippy announced over the intercom, two days after the briefing. The trip had been uneventful, the Great Fox flying through space to reach the desert world without encountering any real trouble. "Everybody report to the hangar who's heading to the surface."

It was beginning to not surprise Obi-Wan when he was first to respond to such announcements, though this time it took the rest of the team less time than usual. He was half way threw his pre-flight check when the last one arrived.

Though, in their defense, they were probably sleeping, rather than just meditating.

Krystal climbed into her Arwing, quickly going through her flight checks while Obi-Wan, Fox, and Falco waited. It seemed that Slippy and Peppy were both waiting for the time being.

"Okay Star Fox; everybody ready?" Fox asked across the inter-ship communications, various affirmative responses coming back. "Then let's jet!" The hangar bay door opened, the force-field separating them from the vacuum of space glowing around the launch bay.

The Arwings took off, Fox quickly shifting to take point, Falco and Krystal behind him, Obi-Wan filling in the rear point of the diamond formation.

"Okay, our entry zone doesn't indicate any signs of a sand storm, so we shouldn't have any communications issues," Fox told them. "But if something comes up, and we get cut off, just touch down and wait for the storm to end before meeting up at the landing zone."

Again the affirmatives came over the comm.

Now though, Obi-Wan opened himself fully to the Force and signs of life on the deserted planet.

He could sense it there... a surprising amount of it, given what they'd told him. Much of it wasn't sentient, but there was an active ecosystem on the blazing world beneath him. As they entered the atmosphere, he got a sense of something that just wasn't right about some of it.

He pushed that aside for now... any world that was as messed up as this one would likely have Dark Side creatures on it. It was sentient life he was interested in.

And, while it was harder to pick up on, he could tell that it was there. There was the camp, near their landing zone, where the researchers would be, and he could sense more in the distance, presumably the raiders.

"~Something wrong, Obi-Wan?~" Krystal asked him.

"~I believe I have the location of the raiders.~" He replied silently. "Fox, I believe I have located the raiders. Are we going after them?"

"Not yet," Fox said. "We need to get the Landmaster on the ground first. Mark the location though; interested in a little recon?"

"Absolutely." He nodded.

"You and Krystal go take a look," Fox told him. "Remember, it's just recon. If you encounter any resistance, come back to the landing zone."

"Understood." Obi-Wan nodded and peeled off the formation with Krystal's Arwing. When they were clear, she fell in behind him as they spend towards the sentient life he could sense.

"~There's something wrong about this place,~" Krystal observed as they headed out over the desert. "~Are your scanners working any better than mine?~" She asked him.

"~No,~" he replied easily as they approached the camp at a fairly high altitude. "~This world does that.~"

"~Well, we're coming up on the camp, we'll be able to check ourselves. I'm picking up some weapon signatures, but nothing big. I'm going in for a closer look,~" she told him, turning her Arwing down towards the small camp while he maintained enough altitude to cover her from anything.

"Unknown ships; state your business here," a male voice asked, crackling over their intercoms, clearly speaking from the other end of a very old comm unit.

"We're looking for some raiders," Krystal answered. "Robbers who've been hitting a nearby archaeological dig. We're with the Star Fox team."

"Well it ain't us!" The person on the other end said sharply. "We don't have anything to do with those assholes!" Another voice in the background spoke, trying to calm down whoever was talking, and he sighed. "Ah Hell. If you want to ask a few questions, touch down on the rock base near here."

"~Well, I doubt they're violent,~" Krystal told Obi-Wan as she touched down.

"~If they are, I can deal with them.~" He assured her as they angled down.

"~I'm sure you can,~" Krystal agreed. "Thank you. We are landing." She informed them and angled further down to land. She waited a few moments for Obi-Wan to land, then hopped out, her staff collapsed and strapped to the back of her tight blue jumpsuit. A pair of Caracals were waiting for them at the base, about ten yards off. The male was watching them warily, and Obi-Wan couldn't help but notice that he was armed with a blaster rifle and that these two were not the only residents of this camp.

He could hardly blame him, especially not on a world like this.

"Are you here to get rid of those raiders?" The female Caracal asked.

"Yes, we are," Krystal nodded as they approached the camp. "We were making a recon flight when we noticed your camp. What are you doing out here?"

"Minding our own business," the male said gruffly.

"Todd," the female groaned. "I'm sorry; my husband's one of our little group's less social members. This is a small settlement that doesn't technically exist. I hope you won't have any problems letting that remain the case?"

"I understand," Krystal said easily. "I take it you know about the raiders we've mentioned?"

"Yeah, they roll over our base every few weeks," Todd grumbled. "We'd do something about it, but we don't have anything out here that's on a scale that'd take their vehicles on without collapsing the settlement."

Obi-Wan nodded. Now they knew what direction the raider camp was. "Have you had any trouble with them?"

"Nah, they barely even know we're here," Todd said. "They see the signs of the camp on the surface, but I'm pretty sure they figure it's an abandoned one. Besides, not like we have much of anything they'd want. If they've got vehicles like we've seen, even odds they've got better supplies than we do. Maya and I are still worried about 'em."

"Their movements over the settlement are trouble," Maya explained. "If it was air transports, we wouldn't mind so much. But with the ground vehicles, there's a chance they'll destabilize the compound. That, and they tend to wake up the local life-forms."

"It should be over with soon." Obi-Wan told them. "Anything you can tell us about them would be useful in hunting them down faster."

"They'll probably be making another attack in a few days," Todd said. "It's been a while since they've come by. Not sure what it is they're looking for, but most raiders like them don't keep hitting the same camp time and again ... maybe it's just that these scientists aren't being smart and getting out like most of 'em do."

"~Or they have not yet found what they want.~" Obi-Wan added silently to Krystal. "What direction do they come from?"

"That way," Maya said, pointing off to the east. "They come in, turn here, and head in to the camp. I think there's another group out past us, possibly one they're trying to frame for what they're -" She was cut off by an alarm klaxon that started blaring rapidly.

"~There's something huge coming,~" Krystal warned Obi-Wan, looking around sharply.

"Shit," Todd swore. "If you two know what's good for you, you'll get back in those ships of yours and get out of here!" He grabbed Maya and charged for a nearby structure that concealed the access to their underground settlement, but before he reached it, a mass of bright red tentacles erupted from beneath the sand, each one capped with a set of claws.

"Shit, Goras?" Krystal asked, backing towards her Arwing. "Fox said they killed this thing!"

"Get in an Arwing!" Obi-Wan all but ordered as his green lightsaber flared to life and he charged forward to protect the Caracals.

Krystal did as he said, quickly working to get her ship in the air as Obi-Wan moved in front of Todd and Maya, slashing with his lightsaber as the creature brought one of its clawed tentacles down in a hammer-blow. His blade cut into the hard chitin, making it draw back in shock and pain, but he knew he hadn't scored a particularly deep hit. Todd fired his blaster rifle at it, moving towards the building he'd been trying to reach.

"Maya, get inside!" He shouted to his mate. She nodded mutely, bolting for the building and getting inside just before another tentacle smashed it. As it came up, Obi-Wan was relieved to see that she wasn't there, a tunnel into the ground showing where she'd disappeared to.

"~Weaknesses?~" He called mentally to Krystal as he did his best to drive the gigantic creature back.

"~The tentacles... when they're down, it should expose its core body. Get Todd under cover, he can't do anything but distract it!~" She lifted off, firing a stream of energy blasts at one of the claws, drawing its attention.

"Todd, get under cover!" Obi-Wan passed the order on before making a leap between two tentacles to begin an assault on the main body.

He hoped that Todd did as he was told; he couldn't see the Caracal anymore when he looked back.

He could feel the core beneath him as he moved, causing the sand to shift above it. It had stopped just outside the underground fortifications of the settlement; hopefully it couldn't collapse them.

Either way, this creature had to be stopped for good. Obi-Wan could feel the pain and hatred that had gone into its creation, the evil intent.

"~Get down!~" Krystal warned him silently. "~I'm about to set off a nova bomb!~"

He didn't hesitate, he simply leaped to the ground and bolted for cover far enough away to not get caught in the radius.

The bomb exploded far above his head, the shockwave knocking him from his feet and vaporizing one of the tentacles, another ripped apart and the other two quickly taken off by Krystal's blasters and Obi-Wan's lightsaber. The creature heaved its body up out of the ground and bolted away from the settlement, Obi-Wan still clinging to its back.

A normal animal he would have leaped from and let it go.

A creature of the Dark Side needed to be put down.

He shifted and drove his lightsaber deep into its undulating main body. The creature let out a howl of pain, striking for him with one of its remaining tentacles, only managing to crack the thick chitin armor, giving Obi-Wan another opening to drive his lightsaber into it's body.

It twisted his gut to have the kill be so slow, that he was responsible for its pain, but he did not let him distract him. There would be time to meditate and come to terms with his actions later. For now, he had innocent lives to protect.

This creature was just too large, too well designed, to die easily.

Krystal managed to get around in front of it, firing her blasters into the open eye that Obi-Wan couldn't reach. Between the two of them, it didn't take long for the creature to collapse into the sand, a last gurgling roar of pain heralding its death.

Krystal brought her Arwing down as Obi-Wan extinguished his lightsaber and climbed down from the body.

"Are you all right?" She asked it.

"Yes," he nodded, his breath quickly settling to an even pace. "Did you contact Fox about this?"

"Yeah," Krystal nodded. "And I told them that we had it down. That was pretty damned gutsy, going after it the way you did."

"Perhaps," he considered the creature they had just killed and the mile-odd distance they were from his Arwing. "I'll meet you back at the settlement?"

"You want to walk it?" She asked him dubiously. "You could fly back with me... heck, even hanging onto the wing it'd be easier than the walk."

"I was planning to speed run it." He explained easily. "But if you don't mind giving me a lift, I'd appreciate it."

"Hop on up, in if you want," she chuckled, shaking her head. "Fox'd kill me if you managed to trip in the sand and break an ankle or something."

"Thanks." Obi-Wan nodded and leaped up on the wing before considering holding on to it or trying to cram himself and Krystal into her cockpit. The wing ride won out.

Fortunately, it wasn't really all that uncomfortable a ride. Keeping a hand on the wing, he couldn't help but consider the tactical potential of going into battle like this some time. It wouldn't be something he'd particularly like to do, but it might be useful in some situations.

It wasn't long before they got back, and he jumped down, Krystal touching down near the settlement as Fox and Falco flew out and circled.

"Everything okay?" Fox asked across the comm.

"It's under control," Krystal agreed. "I just want to try and check on the locals before we go back in, make sure nobody was hurt."

"All right; we'll see you shortly," Fox agreed, he and Falco turning back.

"Next time, leave some fun for us," Falco joked as they left while Krystal and Obi-Wan headed into the tunnel they could see to find the locals.

"Anyone here?" Obi-Wan called out into the dark tunnel.

Bright eyes glittered out of the darkness lower on, and a group of Caracals came out to greet them, Maya and two kittens.

"Thanks for the help," she said gratefully, bowing her head politely to Obi-Wan and Krystal. "Todd managed to break a leg on the way down, but he's in medical now; he'll be fine. You probably saved the third level from collapsing," she admitted.

"I'm glad it didn't do more damage." He nodded to her. "Will you and yours be all right now? We can provide some assistance if you need it."

"No, we'll be fine," she smiled. "If you can spare a little water and drive fuel from your ship, we're willing to trade for it, but that's about all." As she spoke, the kittens stood behind her, looking at Krystal and Obi-Wan with an expression of mixed curiosity and fear that both were used to. They probably hadn't been walking for too long, to judge by their age.

"We'll see what we can arrange," Krystal smiled back. "I hope you, your mate, and your children do well here."

"So do we," Maya chuckled. "If you can take out those raiders, let us know before you leave? Be a shame to let their vehicles go to waste, after all."

"We will take them out." Obi-Wan promised with an easy smile for her and the kittens. "We'll come by when the mission is done, before we leave orbit."

"Thank you," she nodded again, smiling up at him. "People like you two make me wish we weren't quite as isolated as we are. Good luck; if we can help you out, let us know."

"We will, and we will see you later." He bowed her before turning to leave with Krystal to continue the hunt for the raiders.

"Should we stop in to report before we keep hunting?" Krystal asked him, clearly willing to follow his lead on this one.

"If Fox really wanted a report, he wouldn't have taken off without one." He decided. "We know where they are, roughly. Let's get a lock on their location first."

"All right," she nodded, climbing up into her ship. "Soon as you're ready to take off, let's get going. With any luck, they haven't decided to move their camp lately."

"Agreed." Obi-Wan nodded as his Arwing powered up and lifted off to dart towards the next group of sentients he could feel.

Krystal's grim expression when she and Obi-Wan got out of their Arwings at the dig site was quite enough to get the rest of Star Fox out in a hurry.

"What happened?" Fox demanded, half worried, as he and Falco ran up.

"We found the raiders." She began, motioning them to continue inside.

"There were ten fighters on the ground, three ground transports and a fortified base with anti-aircraft turrets." Obi-Wan picked up. "It's a big, well-funded operation for raiders."

"Real big," Falco frowned. "The turrets look reasonably new?"

"We didn't exactly get close enough to check the use-by date, Falco," Krystal pointed out dryly. "But yeah, they did. I'd say they were installed fairly recently, probably about when the researchers started calling for help."

"That clinches it," Falco muttered. "Even if they are the usual scumbags, they're after something here, whatever Professor Greer says."

"It also means that our best course of action would be for me to sneak in and do some sabotage before the air strike." Obi-Wan added.

"You sure you can do that?" Fox asked him as they headed into the buildings that served as the camp's main shelter. "They've probably got a fair number of guards on duty, after all."

"I am sure," he nodded seriously. "I've gotten into much more secure locations. Enough explosives to cripple it would be useful, though."

"We'll have to review what you saw with Slippy, figure out how much that is," Fox said, stopping at a door and holding it open. "Come on, let's take a look at what we've found out, get everybody caught up."

Obi-Wan nodded and followed, running everything in his mind, calculating what he would likely need and the best ways in. He took a seat, the others coming in and doing the same, Slippy arriving a moment later.

"There's some incredible stuff here," he said as he took a seat. "I'm not really an archaeologist, but I can see why those raiders are interested."

"Anything in particular that stands out to you?" Fox asked him.

"No, not really," the Frog shrugged. "I'm just sayin'. So, what did you and Krystal find out?" He asked Obi-Wan.

"It's a large, well armed and fortified group." Obi-Wan supplied. "We saw ten fighters, three ground transports and a fortified base with anti-aircraft turrets."

"Ouch," Slippy murmured. "That's gonna complicate things. By the way, what was up with that Goras?"

"It seems there was more than one here during the war," Krystal said easily. "One of them attacked a group of settlers. By the way, Fox, we need to talk later."

"All right," he nodded easily. "Not connected to our raiders, I assume?"

"No, it's not, and they're not," Krystal said, shaking her head.

"Not by much," Obi-Wan addressed Slippy. "We just need to sabotage things first. I can get in easily and do damage, especially if there are explosives I can take in."

"Can you sketch out what you saw?" Slippy asked the Jedi.

"Yes," he nodded. "Likely a good deal of the internal layout if we have a few hours to spare."

"Unless they looked like they were getting ready to come out here, we do," the Frog said easily. "With a little luck we can figure out just what we need to take 'em out."

"They didn't." Obi-Wan nodded.

"Before you two get started, I want to take a look and see if we can figure out what they're after," Fox said. "Obi-Wan, Krystal, would you mind coming with me? You were busy when we were getting the tour from Professor Greer, and you're the two who've got the best odds of figuring it out."

"Of course," Obi-Wan nodded and stood with Krystal to follow him.

"Greer says that there's nothing down here he can think of that the raiders would want in particular," Fox explained as they left the room. "I don't quite trust him ... not on that, at least. Just a hunch, but I'm pretty sure that Ayredale's not telling us everything."

"He probably doesn't think it's something we need to know," Krystal pointed out. "We've done need-to-know missions before, Fox."

"I know," he nodded. "But in this case, I think we need to know."

"What makes you - oh my." Krystal interrupted herself when Fox pointed up at a symbol on the wall that was clearly familiar to them, though Obi-Wan didn't recognize it.

"What is it?" He asked softly, studying the symbol, wall and Force-eddies around it.

"A symbol we both saw pretty often on Sauria," Krystal explained. "And that I've seen back home. Fox, is there...."

"Signs of a Krazoa temple about fifty feet down," Fox nodded, turning to continue on down. "According to the Professor at least. I'm not sure if he doesn't recognize what he's sitting on top of, or hiding something."

"Hard not to recognize it, given that the Krazoa are pretty well known by the academic sorts by now," Krystal murmured, following her mate. "No spellstones though, I hope?"

"Not that he mentioned," Fox agreed.

"Thank heavens for that much," Krystal sighed, shaking her head. "We do not need another planet just waiting to come apart beneath us."

"Who were the Krazoa?" Obi-Wan asked while they moved into the temple.

"An ancient race that we encountered on Sauria," Fox explained. "They'd built a great temple there, and the spellstones that held the planet together. By the time we ran into them, there were only statues and spirits left, and Andross used them to try and resurrect himself. Here... well, I'm no expert, but we might be looking at the reason Titania became a desert world. If the Krazoa had terraformed the planet, but then whatever they had keeping it in place broke down...."

"It might have reverted to a desert world," Krystal finished for him. "It would make sense, given the legends on Sauria. Hopefully whatever they had there isn't going to break down the same way."

As they walked down into the dig, Obi-Wan became increasingly aware of what had given Fox his hunch. There was something here, something that resonated in the Force and drew on its power. It reminded him strongly of the feeling he'd gotten from Krystal's staff when she'd wielded it.

"This isn't just a temple," he told them softly. "It's alive with energy, the same kind as Krystal's staff."

"I thought I sensed something," the blue-furred Vixen murmured. She took her staff off, extending it and taking it in both hands. "Should I see if I can find the center of it?"

"Please do," a thickly accented voice said from behind them. Turning, Krystal collapsed her staff quickly, more on reflex than anything else as she and Obi-Wan looked at the Ayredale behind them.

"This is Professor Greer," Fox said easily, stepping forward to help with introductions. "Professor, Krystal and Obi-Wan. They were doing recon while you showed us around, so I thought I'd fill them in."

"Oh I understand, lad," the middle-aged Dog said easily. "Please, lass. Don't let me interfere with what you were planning to do." There was something about the Professor that didn't set right with Obi-Wan. He wasn't nearly as friendly as he acted, and keenly interested in something here.

"~He isn't right.~" Obi-Wan touched Krystal's mind. "~He is not here to just recover artifacts.~"

"~No... I think that's exactly what he's here to do,~" Krystal replied silently. "~Just not for his backers. Still, no way I can get out of this.~" She extended her staff again, focusing on it and trying to find the similar sensation. The crystal on the end glowed briefly, and her staff tugged towards one of the small buildings in the dig area.

"Something in there," she said. "Or just beneath it."

"Well, why don't we take a look at what's in there then," Professor Greer said easily, heading over to the building and pulling aside the light curtain that served as a door. There were pots and pieces of normal artifacts covering the small table, but nothing that stood out. All the same, Obi-Wan was sure that Krystal was right... there was something here, probably still buried.

"~Fox,~" Obi-Wan reach out the team leader. "~Should we uncover this now, or wait for him to? I do not trust this person.~"

"~We wait,~" Fox replied with more skill than the Jedi had expected. "~He won't have the chance to do anything he shouldn't.~"

"Well, I'll have to have one of our students take a look beneath the building once it can be moved," Professor Greer said easily. "It might be nothing, but it might be something of interest. I know the sensors didn't pick up anything in particular, but they aren't perfect here."

"Quite true," Obi-Wan nodded, taking the lead from the two Foxes.

"Well, thank you all for your help," Professor Greer said smoothly. "If you don't mind, we'd like to get back to work, see what we can do before the next raid happens, if it does."

"We'll leave you work then," Fox nodded, heading out with Krystal and Obi-Wan behind him.

"So, neither of you trust him either?" Fox asked them once they were out of earshot.

"Not even a bit." Obi-Wan confirmed, Krystal agreeing with them both with a quiet nod.

"I have a feeling that if he thought he could get away with it, he'd have tried swiping my staff," she muttered.

"Glad it's not just me then," Fox said quietly. "Every one of the raids, so far, has been after something unusual was discovered, according to the records. The unusual items weren't the only ones stolen, but they were always stolen. I think it's an inside job."

"That does mean we have good odds of recovering everything," Obi-Wan pointed out. "It also makes sneaking into their base all the more important. Do we have a list of what went missing?"

"We do, but it's a long list," Fox warned him. "More likely we'll end up disabling their vehicles, taking prisoners, and then clearing the place out."

Obi-Wan nodded easily. "Are we going to assault their base, or wait for them to come to us?"

"If we can, we're going to go to them. Though if I'm right, we might not get the chance; they might be on the way in a few hours. It'll be at least until tomorrow before we can get a mission put together to take them down if we do it carefully."

"With it being an inside job, they'll be expecting us." Obi-Wan nodded grimly.

"Exactly," Fox nodded. "So we're going to keep it quiet around here, as much as we can. I don't know what they're after, but it's something important, and we might have just shown them were it is."

"Sorry," Krystal said softly.

"You couldn't help it, Krystal," Fox said firmly. "We didn't know he was there, and no way to back away from it once he saw us."

"Not without letting him know our suspicions." Obi-Wan nodded. "We might be able to control the timing, though. The raiders are unlikely to come before the artifact is uncovered. We can do a lot to control that timing."

"Not if he's about to uncover it," Krystal pointed out. "And he did seem interested in finding them quickly."

"I can make sure the earth keeps blowing in," Obi-Wan suggested, very cautious of being overheard. "Even make them not see what they are looking for when it's found."

"If you can do that last one, please do," Krystal said quietly. "I want to get the chance to see what it is, and I'm sure we won't if Greer has his way."

"Then I'll go check up on their work and keep it on track." Obi-Wan winked at her before turning back. "I'll let you know how it goes."

"Hope you can help Slippy with the drawings," Fox chuckled.

"I can," Krystal smiled as they headed back to meet the Frog.

As Obi-Wan returned to the site, he saw that a number of people were filtering in, already starting to carefully move the building.

"We can do this on our own," Professor Greer pointed out as he noticed Obi-Wan. "Thank you for your help, but we can take it from here."

"I am sure you can," he said smoothly to the middle-aged Dog. "I am here to make sure the raiders do not get whatever it is. I will not get in the way."

"Did you see them on the way?" One of the students, a lean Cat, asked, looking up in concern from the notebook he was scribbling in.

"Not yet, but it is about time." Obi-Wan said and made himself comfortable in a spot where he could keep an eye on everything while calculating how to get an object away from all these people.

At least he wouldn't have to steal it blatantly. Not a Sensitive among them, he was sure, which would make fooling them easier. They went about their work, most of them a little curious about the additional observation. Small shovels and brushes were put to use, moving dirt, clearing out the entire area under the old shack, notes being taken meticulously.

They were getting close, slowly but surely.

It was here that he had an advantage. He could see it in the lines of Force in the room, and as they were working, he casually walked around the room, trying to look as bored as any guard would be doing this.

Gradually, they began to ignore him and he got close enough to focus on the item, still covered by enough dirt to not arouse excitement, and palmed it with as much enhanced speed as he could while he focused on the worker clearing the location to keep him from noticing anything was up.

With a slight sigh he continued his wonderings, making a solid appearance that nothing had happened.

"~Krystal, call me out of here. I have it.~"

"Obi-Wan, we need you up here to help finish the recon debriefing," Krystal called over his communicator a moment later. "I can't remember all of it."

"On my way," he let relief color his voice and hurried out, acting the part of a mercenary more than a Jedi.

Fortunately, nobody seemed to notice him as he made his way out, artifact concealed in his pocket. Greer was far too focused on the ground to notice it walking out right behind him.

When he reached the office, Krystal was all but vibrating in her eagerness to examine the artifact in his possession, and he handed the amulet over after locking the door behind him.

"Oh my," she murmured, taking it in her hands and inspecting the scripts on the surface of it. "I can't believe it...."

"What is it?" Obi-Wan asked, intensely curious about this item.

"This is in the language used on my homeworld," she explained. "Similar, at least. Similar to the one on Sauria too. It's some sort of ritual instructions, I think. This amulet... I think it was like my staff, a very important part of the priesthood here before Titania became a desert. With this, I may be able to unlock more of the staff's powers."

"That is good," he nodded while Fox looked at the pair curiously. "Does it do anything now?"

"Possibly, but I'll need some research time," Krystal said easily. "We can't let the Professor know about this," she added, looking at Fox seriously.

"Understood," he nodded. "Maybe we'll find similar items in the rest of the artifacts they've stolen."

"Most likely." Obi-Wan nodded, then turned very serious. "Now to prepare for that raid on their base."

Obi-Wan was dressed in his Jedi robes, their dusty brown and cream colors blending into the nighttime desert better than most expected. He was moving fast too, not at truly enhanced speed, but at a good clip until he was within sight of the raider's base. That was when he slowed down and began to move carefully to avoid detection from the guards.

He was at an advantage here; they didn't expect anyone to come on the ground, and he was well-trained in sneaking into and out of much more heavily defended places.

He noticed, as he approached, an unusual commonality amongst the raiders. In most places, the species were a wide blend. Even at the camp, as far as he knew, there were more than just Caracals. Here, all the guards along the walls and manning the turrets seemed to be either Monitors or some sort of Ape.

Given what he'd heard about Andross' armies, he had to wonder if this was somehow related.

"Report!" Somebody ordered from the top of the wall, distracting the guards long enough for Obi-Wan to get in close quickly without being noticed.

"Nothing out of the ordinary, Emperor Andrew," the guards said.

"~Krystal, we have an Emperor Andrew here.~" He supplied as he continued forward and began to scale the outer wall. "~Forces are all Apes and Monitors too.~"

"~Oh for the love of... well that proves it's an inside job,~" Krystal grumbled mentally. "~Andrew couldn't coordinate an effective raid on a lemonade stand without somebody helping him.~"

Obi-Wan held his curiosity to focus on avoiding detection as he moved silently to set charges and sabotage vehicles.

The turrets he was able to set to blow from the outside; the vehicles were going to be another matter. As he was considering how best to get in to their landing area, he heard Emperor Andrew again.

"Hey Pigma! Any word from our contact yet?"

"Nah," an old, half-squealing voice said irritably. "Don't know what the hold-up is. Mutt must have called a false alarm."

Well, that clinched it; Greer was almost certainly involved. And Pigma ... that name he recognized. The remains of Star Wolf were on this job.

That definitely explained why they were so well set up.

"~Krystal, be very careful about telling Fox, but Pigma's here. Want me to get him before we hit?~"

"~Only if you can think of a way to take him prisoner without Fox finding out. He'll go ballistic if he knows Pigma's around and doesn't have a job to do instead.~"

"~Capture him, easily. Keep it from Fox the entire trip back ... that I'm not so sure of. I can, but it's dicey.~" He told her as he worked into the vehicle yard and began to sabotage them.

"~Then don't. We can handle him in the air, same with Andrew, and Fox will handle it a lot better than if he's on the ground with him.~"

"~Understood.~" He let the Force fall silent again and finished dealing with the vehicles, then went to work tracking down where the stolen items were stored. The last thing he wanted was to have them destroyed in the raid.

He had to move slowly, keeping an eye out for guards along the way, occasionally pausing to let them pass. Outside what he was sure was the storeroom from the Force signatures inside, two Gorillas were talking to each other, and didn't seem inclined to leave soon.

"I don't know why we bother sticking around with Andrew," one of them muttered. "It's not like he's anything like his uncle."

"Yeah, but he does look after us, sort of," the other pointed out. "After the war, you think anybody else is going to? Emperor Andross did a good job of making sure nobody wanted us around any more."

He picked up a pebble and pinged it off the ground in the darkness near his hiding spot.

"What was that?" The other Gorilla asked, looking towards the noise.

"I'll check, you keep an eye on me," his partner growled, starting towards the noise they'd heard and soon disappeared from the sight of his partner.

"Come on Rell!" The one still at the entrance called out after several minutes, following him a moment later.

He didn't even see the human that knocked him out with a single strike and caught him to haul him away to be tied up and gagged with his partner.

Obi-Wan then slipped inside the storeroom, finding a number of storage cylinders. They weren't that different from containers back home, and it wasn't hard to guess that they held the various artifacts.

And, unless they took direct hits during the fight, they were probably safer like this than they would be if he moved them. Even if the building collapsed, the containers would take the shocks.

"~Try not to hit this building.~" He told Krystal. "~The fireworks will start on Fox's order.~"

A few moments passed before Krystal got back to him.

"~Light the place up for us; we're coming in.~"

Without hesitating, Obi-Wan pressed the detonator button and found a good hiding spot to wait for anyone who came in to the room to try to get the artifacts.

He heard the distant explosions of the turrets as chaos broke out. The Arwings came in next, strafing the already sabotaged vehicles and blowing them up while they were grounded.

"~All right; everything seems to be going well,~" Krystal told him. "~Turrets are down and we're keeping any serious resistance from develop - what the Hell?~"

"~What?~" Obi-Wan demanded even as he rushed outside.

He got out just in time to see another ship, one he hadn't seen before, take off from a launch slate beneath the surface, scattering other fighters as it took off.

"~Pigma's Wolfen was on site,~" Krystal told him. "~Get back under cover; we'll take him down.~"

"~Done.~" He responded even as he dived for cover, privately cursing that he should have grabbed the Pig when he'd had the chance.

Just then, a smaller Ape rushed in, wearing a large suit of armor with a grandiose, gleaming cape.

"Gotta hide, gotta hide, gotta - who are you?" He asked, spinning towards Obi-Wan as he realized he wasn't alone in the storeroom, grabbing for a blaster pistol at his hip.

Obi-Wan answered in action, leaping forward to strike the Ape solidly in the face. Andrew's head snapped back from the perfectly placed punch as he crumpled to the ground unconscious.

"At least we have one of you." He said quietly to himself as he bound the Ape and dragged him out of obvious sight. He couldn't help but notice that the armor was almost useless, clearly meant more to intimidate and impress than protect.

There was something beeping on the inside the armor - and it's beginning seemed to coincide with a sudden shift in the battle outside as it pull away from the base rapidly.

Obi-Wan suspected it was the Wolfen fighter escaping, so he went to work finding the beeping thing to make sure it didn't have anything to do with a base self-destruct or the other crazy things he knew dictators would do.

Instead, pulling off Andrew's chest-plate, he found a simple health-monitor and a transponder, presumably alerting whoever had the other end that the 'Emperor' had been taken prisoner. Given the sound of the fighters fleeing the base....

Yeah... that sounded like Pigma's usual style, from what he'd heard.

Unfortunately, it also seemed that somebody else was watching it. He could hear several people rushing towards the room, a pair of heavily armed Monitors charging in through the door, heavy blaster rifles trained on the Jedi.

"Ssstand up, ssstep back, and sssurrender," one of them ordered him.

He rose to his feet swiftly, his blue lightsaber flaring to life as he entered a defensive stance and waited for them to try and take him. "No."

Both of them fired on him, red blaster bolts streaking towards him from their rifles as they recognized that he wasn't about to surrender.

He knew the stunned look they had well when he deflected both blasts back to their rifles, shattering the weapons as they dropped them in shock.

"Care to try again?" He asked them evenly.

"What the fuck are you?" One of them asked.

"A Jedi." He answered simply. "Will you surrender, or do we have to fight this out?"

"What'sss a Jedi?" The other one asked his partner.

"I don't know, but you want to fuck with that?" He pointed out in a harsh whisper, both of them raising their hands in surrender.

"Good." Obi-Wan nodded and tossed one a rope with the Force and a motion of his hand. "Tie your friend up."

The Monitor did as he was told, Obi-Wan tying him up next. With any luck, there wouldn't be anybody else to have to do this with... though between Andrew and four guards, he was sure he'd at least have some good intel.

A few minutes later, he was checking out the contents of some of the cylinders, looking through the stolen artifacts and seeing if he could find anything else like the amulet. There were some that stood out, but nothing else that really felt like it had before he heard the Arwings returning and touching down.

"Damn it, how can that damned Pig get away every time?" Fox growled as they got out.

"~Let's keep it quiet that you recognized Pigma before the attack,~" Krystal suggested to Obi-Wan before the group got to the storeroom.

"~Agreed.~" He nodded mentally to her and went to open the door. "We do have Andrew and several guards prisoner." He tried to cheer up the irate Fox.

"Good," Fox said. "Especially if we can make this stick on Andrew for once. It look like they have the artifacts here?"

"Yes," Obi-Wan nodded and motioned inside. "I haven't done a complete inventory, but it looks likely it's all here."

"Good," Fox nodded. "Think you can undo your sabotage so we can use one of the ground transports to get this stuff back?"

"Easily," he grinned and produced a starter from his pack. "They'll all be functional in a few minutes. The fighters are not so lucky, but they'd be worth a fair price after a day's work to plug the holes."

"I wouldn't be so sure about that," Fox admitted. "Between Pigma and our own missed shots, most of 'em are in pretty bad shape. But if you can get the transports going, then we'll get all this moved back. Slippy, think you can slave-rig two of 'em?"

"Easy as pie," the Frog grinned. "Come on, Obi-Wan, let's get everything set up. If you think you can handle the driving, we won't even have to wait for your Arwing to come out here, do it in one trip."

"I'm sure I can drive it." He nodded easily and followed the Frog out.

The rest of the mission had gone off without a hitch for the Star Fox team. 'Emperor' Andrew had confessed everything, nailing Professor Greer for trying to steal the artifacts to be sold on the black market. Obi-Wan was still sure there was something more to it than that, but they couldn't prove anything more.

Greer was in the brig, along with their prisoners, the artifacts were in the hold, and they were on their way back to Corneria to report, turn in the guilty, give most of the artifacts to the University, and collect their pay. They'd even given the settlers enough water, food, and fuel to last them the better part of a month for their help.

Everybody was relaxing and celebrating ... for the most part.

"Obi-Wan?" Fox asked him from the door to the Jedi's quarters. "Am I interrupting you?"

He was, of course; Obi-Wan was taking advantage of the relative quiet and calm of the Great Fox to meditate, regain his center.

Fox knew it too, but for him to come meant it was important, so Obi-Wan opened his eyes calmly and came out of his meditative trance for his team leader.

"What do you need?" He asked softly as he motioned for Fox to enter and make himself comfortable.

"First off, I wanted to thank you for your help with the mission. Went a lot easier, cheaper, and faster because of it."

"Good," Obi-Wan smiled, knowing it would add a bit more inflection that his voice rarely carried to these people. "I am pleased it worked out as well as it did."

"Falco was pretty surprised that it did," Fox chuckled with a smile of his own, leaning up against the wall. "You and Krystal know something about these artifacts that the rest of us don't, don't you?"

"Only what you heard before she located the amulet." He shook his head slightly. "They are the same kind of enchantment that produced her staff and the constructs that held Cerinia and Sauria together. She believes it might enable her to unlock more of her staff's powers."

"I know about that," Fox said. "I just mean... the two of you seem to understand this whole 'magic' thing a lot better than anybody else. Krystal's studying that amulet so I can't really talk to her right now. What I need to know is if we're about to put something dangerous in the hands of people who don't have a clue what they're dealing with."

"If you intend to hand that amulet to the museum, I would say yes unless Krystal's studies say otherwise." Obi-Wan said seriously. "It is an item better kept with those who understand it."

"We'll see what we can arrange then... probably just 'forget' to mention the amulet, since it's not on any official logs," Fox mused. "That going to be a problem for you?"

"Not at all." He smiled slightly.

"Good," Fox smiled back. "You said you thought you could teach me to do some of the things you can?"

"The pilot oriented things, yes. Possibly a few other useful skills." Obi-Wan nodded. "Would you like to start?"

"We've got some time," Fox pointed out with a bit of a chuckle. "Might be handy to learn them. So, where do we start?"

"First, just some information for me." He grinned back. "Do you think you do significantly worse in the sims than in a real Arwing?"

"Significantly, no," Fox chuckled. "But that's because most sims aren't nearly as good as the live targets. If they really were as good, yeah, my sim results wouldn't measure up to my usual par."

"That is one of the primary signs of a natural Force pilot." Obi-Wan nodded. "It is because, conscious of it or not, you can only use the Force to deal with the real world. It enhances your awareness, your reactions and can give you a 'hunch' that had better odds than not of being true about what is going to happen in the next few seconds. From what I've seen of your records, it seems an accurate assessment of how you relate your flight experience, particularly in the beginning, when it was a surprise."

"Sounds about right," Fox mused. "Dad used to talk about it too, before he... you know. The McCloud edge," he chuckled. "So you think you can teach me to control it, use it consciously?"

"If you are willing to put in the effort, I can train you to use it better." Obi-Wan nodded seriously and stood to pull a blindfold from his training supplies. "The best pilots don't think, they simply do. The most important thing is something you've already learned: obey your gut reaction. The first thing to learn is to trust that even outside the cockpit. With the blindfold, you have to use your other senses to track things in the room. Eventually, against me, you'll have to listen to the Force to track the movement."

"All right," Fox nodded, taking the blindfold. "You're not going to use that lightsaber of yours, right?"

"No. You just need to track me. The better you get, the more difficult I'll make it." Obi-Wan explained.

"All right," Fox nodded, blindfolding himself. "Let's get started then," he said, focusing on his senses as their training began.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ =================== ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ =================== ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ =================== ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Wolf groaned and stretched out as he opened the door to his apartment. He was back after the fifth straight day of making overnight runs out to Meteos to keep the local space pred's under control, and looking forward to taking a day off. The money was good, especially back to back like this, but it was draining too.

He wasn't sure if SunWind was working tonight or not, but he was honestly hoping the Mouse would be home. They both needed a little company, he thought.

"Hey," SunWind's sleepy voice greeted him from the bedroom. "Long time, no see, Wolf."

"Sorry," Wolf called back sheepishly to his roommate and lover. "Did I wake you up?" He asked, stripping off his jacket and shirt, kicking off his boots before heading into the bedroom.

"Yeah, but I'm glad to see you." He lowered his voice, a touch husky but mostly just grateful. "Sleeping light is a habit."

"I know the feeling," Wolf smiled softly, letting his eye adjust to the darkness as he walked into the bedroom and crawled in next to SunWind. "Sorry I've been out so often lately; I'm not heading out tomorrow, and it should be quieting down pretty well so I don't have to go out again for a while. This week was space-fly mating season."

"Good," he snuggled close and nuzzled his packmate affectionately. "I'm not liking getting left behind."

"I'm sorry," Wolf murmured, kissing him. "I don't like leaving you behind either. You working tomorrow?"

"No," he shook his head a bit.

"Think you can stay up for a little grooming? Or you want to wait until tomorrow?"

"Grooming?" SunWind looked at him, his mind working to place a word he hadn't dared think about most of his life. "Y-yes." He managed to stammer before Wolf responded.

"Let's get the lights on then," Wolf smiled, reaching over to turn on the lamp, opening the top drawer of his nightstand and pulling out the key to the bottom one. He unlocked it, opening the drawer and pulling out an ornate wooden case, blowing a bit of dust off the top. "It's been a while since I've done this," he admitted. "I might be a little out of practice."

"I really doubt I'll mind." SunWind murmured and leaned up to kiss Wolf before rolling over to present his back.

"Been longer since you've been groomed properly?" Wolf guessed, opening the case and pulling out a carefully crafted brush, starting with SunWind's shoulders and brushing his short, tawny fur out.

"From a packmate? Not since my mother died." He confirmed with a soft moan. "It's not something that male Maru receive."

"Well we'll have to change that," Wolf chuckled, working down SunWind's back and shoulders, towards his ass. "Here, it's something for the whole pack. Now that I'm part of one again, I've got to take care of it."

"I hope you don't mind me relearning how to groom too." SunWind groaned, a shudder passing through his body at the incredible pleasure he'd long forgotten.

"Not at all," Wolf chuckled, brushing out SunWind's legs before switching to a new brush, with soft fabric in place of the bristles, working on brushing the Loup Maru's back-fur to a soft sheen.

"Good," he almost whimpered, his skin and muscles rippling at the brush's contact.

Wolf kissed his neck softly, brushing out his fur carefully.

"Next time I have to go out, you want to go with me?" He guessed.

"I think so," he nodded slightly and arched into the contact eagerly. "I'm not much of a pilot ...."

"We'll figure something out," Wolf promised him. "If nothing else, it's usually not a problem if I bring somebody along. Anyways, you already know how to fight. Roll over?"

"True," he nodded and rolled to his back, his arousal now clear and unashamed of it.

"Does your little friend want a little attention when I'm done grooming you?" Wolf asked him easily.

"I think so," He chuckled and wound his tail around Wolf's hips to tease his sheath and balls.

"Mmm ... we'll have to see what we can arrange then," Wolf chuckled, brushing out his fur and kissing him tenderly while his hands enjoyed their work on his packmate's fur. He had to admit that he was looking forward to his turn too. It had been a long time.

SunWind woke up to the feel of Wolf shifting on the bed early in the morning, just a few days after he'd gotten back from his last trip out to Meteos.

"You want me to what?" Wolf asked the phone quietly. "Look, I'm gonna need some backup to handle that .... No, I've got somebody, but you'd better make sure they know I'm looking for the same they'd pay Fox's team for this job." He paused, then growled lowly at the guy on the other side.

"Oh no you don't. My rep might be worth shit to the public, but the only team that has a better one doing this sorta stuff is Star Fox.... Well if they want the entire Star Wolf team for that sort of money, then they can check the damned news to find one of 'em! Look, I'll take eighty percent; they're asking me to make the haul from Corneria to Sauria in my Wolfen for fuck's sake...! Good. Yeah, I'll get my partner and get going. No, it's not anybody you know, and I'm not gonna bring him in first. If we live through this, I'll bring him around for the paperwork. No, his family's not gonna sue if we don- what? Fuck you, Danny!" Wolf snarled into the phone, slamming it down.

"Damned leech," he growled. "SunWind? You awake?"

"Yeah," he slid his arms around Wolf from behind. "Does Danny need a solid pounding?"

"Yeah, but he's my agent, so I can't really afford to give it to him," Wolf muttered, pressing back into his packmate. "He's a penny-pinching, sociopathic son of a bitch, but he's good at what he does. We've got a job, anyways. In the mood to see Sauria up close and personal?"

"Sure," he nuzzled Wolf affectionately. "What are we hunting?"

"Bunch of RedEyes on Sauria have broken loose, and the EarthWalker tribe isn't eager to fight something with teeth the size of large knives," Wolf explained. "We're supposed to kill or capture the rogues, preferably capture, but not required."

"Do we need to do any shopping, or are we just not going to try for capture?" SunWind cocked his head, working over their inventory in his mind. "It's going to be a hell of a hunt."

"Yeah, it is," Wolf chuckled. "A RedEye's about twenty feet tall and mostly muscle, claws, and teeth. I'm not inclined to bother with captures, honestly. They're bigger than I'm up for hauling around, dangerous, and I don't know if there's anything I'm licensed for that could drop them. If we manage to disable one instead of killing it, great, if not, I'm not gonna lose any sleep." He turned his head, kissing SunWind's muzzle. "Do want to pick up some supplies though, and I have to stop by the storage warehouse to check out the big guns."

"First, though, is breakfast." SunWind licked his ear. "And not in bed."

"Mmm ... afraid I'm not up for cooking at this hour," Wolf rumbled huskily. "Grab something at RD's on the way?"

"Sounds good," he chuckled and slid his hands along Wolf's body before stepping away to pull out fresh clothes. "Maybe we'll wash it down with a little fun later."

"Mmm ... just wait until we're at the hotel on Fortuna," Wolf chuckled, grabbing his own clothes. "You're gonna have to sleep in the Wolfen the next day."

"Just me?" He raised an eyebrow as they dressed quickly and efficiently. "Just how long a flight is this?"

"Probably about a week each way," Wolf admitted. "But a lot of that is on autopilot. Once we're out past Venom, I can turn it on and let it run until we're there."

"We're both going to be grateful to get out and stretch when we get to Sauria." SunWind shook his head a bit. "Pay must be pretty good to cover a two week round trip."

"That's counting stopping every night until we get past Venom to sleep on-planet," Wolf explained. "Fortuna's our first stop. But yeah, it's pretty good, between the trip and the risk. You probably heard me yelling at Danny to get us the pay the trip deserves. He probably would've called Star Fox, but they're still on another job just now."

"All the better for us," SunWind nodded and holstered his heavy blaster on his belt and several knives in various spots on his person. "Even if it is a long flight. How little do you want me to tell the club when I call in absent for the next month or so?"

"Whatever you want," Wolf said easily. "It's not like it's top-secret or something. If it was, Danny wouldn't let me take you without bringing you in first, and wouldn't have told me over the phone. Heck, you can tell 'em you're quitting if you want," Wolf chuckled. "If you're gonna be going with me from now on, you might as well at least get 'em used to the idea."

"I have been thinking about it for a while," SunWind admitted and headed for the phone. "Probably when we get back."

"So, what do you think of Fortuna so far?" Wolf asked SunWind as they stepped into one of the cheaper hotels on the small resort planet.

"It's pretty," he nodded as Wolf checked them in and both stretch out from their twelve-hour flight here. "It seems a little ... not quite natural."

"It isn't," Wolf admitted, using a false name and ID as he got their pass keys for the night. "A lot of the planet was rebuilt after the war. Andross had a massive attack ship that leveled most of the planet and almost turned the military base into atoms. The Star Fox team stopped it, but the rebuilding process involved a lot of importing life from Corneria to replace what was lost. Still doesn't quite fit."

"That would do it," He nodded and didn't even blink at the false ID, and let Wolf lead them to the room.

"Well, we can get some rest here before heading out in the morning now," Wolf said easily, leading the way up to the private room, sparsely decorated but with a decent bed and a fairly large TV. "So, anything you want to do tonight? Fair enough for us to take some time to ourselves before turning in."

"Maybe a movie and a little fun?" SunWind asked throatily as he pulled Wolf into a hungry kiss by the shirt.

"Mmm ... well, when you put it that way," Wolf rumbled, kissing him back and pressing the Loup Maru towards the bed. "Order dinner in?"

"Definitely." He grinned and twisted to bring them down on the sized bed together, then rolled on top to rub his own hard-on against Wolf's groin. "You have no idea what your scent does to me."

"If your tail was any sign, I think I do," Wolf rumbled, spreading his legs a bit unconsciously, wrapping his arms around SunWind and kissing him deeply. "You're just lucky I wasn't busy during the approach."

"Too many clothes." SunWind rumbled as he opened Wolf's vest, pulled his shirt off, and began to kiss his way down the Wolf's hard body.

"You're in a mood tonight," Wolf rumbled, reaching up to stroke one of SunWind's antennae lightly. It still amazed him how that touch could still SunWind so quickly as the Loup Maru shuddered in pleasure. "Want to slow down a bit, we can both get undressed?"

He nodded mutely and shifted to sit up a bit to divest himself of his open jacket, belt and weapons, but left his jeans on for Wolf to open and remove at his leisure.

"Want to go a bit farther than we have before?" Wolf asked him, kissing his powerfully built, tawny-furred chest and rubbing his thighs.

"Yes," he whispered throatily, suddenly as nervous as he was sure of it.

"It's safe here," Wolf murmured, undoing his jeans and slowly sliding them down his hips, kissing him tenderly. "Nobody's going to hurt you ... or hurt us ... for this."

"I'm starting to believe that." He smiled and claimed a lingering kiss that he groaned into when Wolf's hand cupped his balls. "You make me want to believe."

"Good to know," Wolf rumbled, shifting to lick SunWind's neck. "Want me to take the lead tonight?"

He nodded slightly and took his boots off with his tail, his jeans following shortly.

Wolf rolled him over onto his side, kissing him again, fondling the Loup Maru's balls lightly.

"Tell me if I go too far," he rumbled.

"I will." SunWind promised softly and continued to run his hands and tail along Wolf's body, as excited as he was nervous by what was coming.

Wolf kissed his way down SunWind's chest, rubbing his thighs gently. He knew what he wanted to do, to take his packmate until dawn. But he also knew that just wasn't an option, not without being careful about it. The trust was there, but a lifetime of fears he was familiar enough with were too. He started stroking SunWind's sheath, coaxing his shaft out the rest of the way and nuzzling the Loup Maru's stomach while SunWind rubbed his ears gently and spread his legs a bit more.

"Have you ever done this before?" Wolf asked him, shifting down further to take a long, slow lick at SunWind's sheath and balls.

"A few times," he admitted, his throat tightening with a whimper. "Long time ago."

"At least I'm not your first again," Wolf murmured, running a fingertip around SunWind's entrance as he pressed his tongue down into the Loup Maru's sheath, licking the tip of his cock as it slipped out. He could feel the excitement course through SunWind's body; the memories of this may have been old, but they were good.

SunWind caught his breath, he knew Wolf had said something relevant, but he was far too focused on the sensations to think it through right now. His mind completely lost track of thinking when Wolf took his cock fully into his mouth and lavished it with attention.

His broad, soft, canine tongue worked SunWind's shaft, fondling his balls and very slowly starting to work on his ass, stretching the tight pucker with his fingers. He was grateful that he could feel the hard body under him relax and the sounds of pleasure from above. He had to take his time, but it would be so worth it to feel SunWind come around him.

He suckled SunWind's shaft, very slowly pressing a finger up into the Loup Maru's body. He rumbled happily, enjoying the taste of his lover and packmate's shaft and pre, once it started to leak from his tip.

"Close," SunWind warned with a shuddering whimper, fighting to keep his hips relatively still despite everything.

"Go ahead," Wolf said, taking his muzzle off SunWind's cock for just a moment before returning it, suckling him, ready to swallow his seed when it came a moment later with a choked howl from above and several sharp thrusts from SunWind's hips.

Wolf swallowed every drop; the hot, thick, bittersweet fluid flowing over his tongue with a faint coppery taste. After a few moments, he pulled back, licking his lips and SunWind's shaft clean.

"Good?" He asked with a grin and a lick for his lover's tip.

"Very," he breathed, still trembling slightly from the rush as he rubbed Wolf's ears.

"Good," Wolf rumbled, kissing SunWind's neck and rubbing his sides as he moved to lie next to him. "Mmm ... tastes good," he winked. "So, up for more yet?"

"I think so," he nodded, his tail wrapping around Wolf's hips to tease his hard cock.

"Mmm ... I don't suppose you thought ahead to pack the lube?" Wolf asked him with a chuckle. "Otherwise, I can pick some up quick, won't take long."

"I didn't," he shook his head a little sheepishly. "I wasn't planning on doing anything new."

"No problem," Wolf chuckled, grabbing his pants and pulling them on quickly, not bothering with his shirt as he stood up. "One advantage of a hotel like this one; you'd be surprised what they've got in the vending machines." He ducked out the door, heading down the hall just after zipping up his pants.

It gave SunWind a moment to shiver and close his eyes, a recovery from an incredibly intimate act of trust for Wolf if they'd been on Haloeth. Even here, it meant something, even if just between them.

He knew what was coming next. Wolf planned to mount him. He couldn't help but consider it special. Not just for the trust he was showing Wolf in allowing it, but for how much Wolf had respected him in not asking until he'd become aggressive in his own eagerness. It wasn't the same as the few times he and Modo had done it, but there was something very similar in its anticipation.

A few moments later and Wolf was back, chuckling, a slender tube in his hand.

"If we wanted company, I have a feeling we could have it," he chuckled, setting the tube down and taking his pants off again.

"I only want yours." SunWind rumbled and shifted to his hands and knees to offer his ass to his lover.

"You are eager tonight," Wolf chuckled. He climbed up onto the bed, kissing SunWind's ass gently, spreading some of the cheap lube onto his fingers and spreading it onto his tight pucker.

"Mmmm, maybe I'm just ready." He drew a deep breath to calm himself when a second finger was added and knowing what was happening was inescapable.

"If you change your mind, it's okay," Wolf told him, kissing him between the shoulder blades and taking his time about stretching him out.

"I'm not," he looked over his shoulder to nuzzle his lover. "It's just been a long time."

"All right," Wolf rumbled, kissing him gently and carefully, slowly adding a third finger. "I can kinda tell," he chuckled.

"I don't doubt it." SunWind began to relax again, even if it took some effort. "I'm not real good at hiding things from you."

"Good thing you don't have to then," Wolf chuckled. "You're getting tired of hiding, aren't you?" He asked, curling his fingertips a bit to press against the Loup Maru's prostate lightly.

SunWind groaned deeply and dropped his head down, panting as he grew hard again. "Long time ago."

"Don't blame you," Wolf murmured, kissing him again and pulling his fingers out, the Loup Maru's ass squeezing down around them almost in protest before they were completely out. "Ready?"

"Yes," he almost hissed, his strong tail urging Wolf forward.

Wolf aimed his tapered tip for SunWind's ass, pressing it up against his entrance and then pressing forward with a groan, closing his eyes in bliss as he felt his lover's tight entrance cling to him. The breathy moans below him did nothing but encourage, as did the powerful tail wrapped around his body to tease his balls.

He started to thrust, licking and nibbling at SunWind's neck as he searched for the Loup Maru's prostate. His balls tingled, pleasure coursing through his cock to collect in them as they started twitching lightly, his knot swelling gradually.

"Tie?" He asked, panting.

He knew the answer before SunWind managed to get the words out. Panic jolted through both of them despite their moans.

"Not here."

"All right," Wolf grunted, his tip grazing SunWind's prostate as he leaned his head forward to lick the Loup Maru's antenna.

"Ohhh!" He moaned and leaned his head back, his body shuddering as his balls tightened and ass instinctively began to work the thick, hard cock deep inside it.

"Cum for me," Wolf rumbled, reaching up, taking SunWind's antenna and stroking it back gently, suckling the thick bulb at the end of it as he pressed his knot against his mate's entrance, about to explode himself.

He could feel it, the tension of pleasure across his lover's body, as SunWind clamped down around his cock and curled his hands around the blankets under them and grunted with the first spurt of seed that emptied below them.

Wolf groaned, his own balls pulling up close to his body, his seed spilling into SunWind's ass as he came hard against the Loup Maru's prostate while they both howled in the intensity of their shared orgasm.

"Ohhh," SunWind moaned deeply.

"Fuck, that was good," Wolf moaned, pressing against SunWind's back, rubbing his chest lightly.

"Yeah," he murmured and pressed back, enjoying the contact as much as the sex. "Up for more?" He asked hopefully.

"Mmm ... more of this, or something else?" Wolf asked.

SunWind reached up to cup Wolf's cheek and nuzzled him. "Willing to let me mount you?"

"There's a reason I only used half the tube," Wolf chuckled, pulling out of SunWind with a groan. "Mmm ... just be careful, okay? I don't bottom any more often than you do."

"I won't hurt you," he promised with a tender kiss and rolled Wolf to his back to make out and rub together until they were both hard again.

"I know," Wolf rumbled, not taking long to get hard, kissing his mate tenderly. "Just only did this once before."

"I understand," SunWind murmured and began to kiss his way down Wolf's chest while the tip of his tail gently circled Wolf's anus.

"Ooh... you're not bad at this," Wolf rumbled, rubbing his ears and antennae lightly.

"I've had a little practice." He rumbled hotly and rubbed his face against Wolf's groin while his tail pressed into Wolf's body just a bit.

"Ooh yeah ... mmm ... don't forget the lube," Wolf warned him, squeezing down lightly around the tip of SunWind's tail as it slid in and out, it's slender length just a tease of being mounted.

"I won't," he promised with a long lick along Wolf's cock before moving down to his balls, lavishing each with a lingering attention that they rarely had patience for.

"Sweet fuck," Wolf whimpered softly, enjoying the attention and lightly stroking the slender, hyper-sensitive antennae that were giving SunWind almost as much pleasure as he was getting. "You're gonna end up with a mouthful at this rate," he rumbled as his cock was swallowed whole.

He felt SunWind rumble in approval even as his slender tail disappeared from Wolf's body, only to return with a light coating of lube and seed to press in a little further, searching for the nub inside that would send his lover over the edge.

When he found it, Wolf howled, lightning bolts of pleasure shooting through his body as his balls erupted into the Loup Maru's mouth to be mostly swallowed.

Even expecting it, SunWind still wasn't very skilled at swallowing, and a fair amount of it dribbled from his long muzzle before he coughed a bit and pulled back, blushing.

"One more round for you now?" Wolf asked, spreading his legs wide with a rumble.

"After I stretch you out." He grinned and took the bottle of lube and spread a fair amount on his fingers to begin opening Wolf up enough for his cock.

"Oooh ... of course," Wolf moaned, pressing lightly into SunWind's touch, trying to force his body to relax.

He had to give the Loup Maru credit; he was patient. Soon Wolf didn't have to focus on relaxing, it was actually happening. By the time SunWind pressed a second finger into him, he moaned deeply and could feel his arousal picking up again.

His balls tingled lightly, his cock hardening as he rubbed the back of SunWind's head and antennae, occasionally moaning when his lover found a particularly pleasant spot in his ass. He was panting again when SunWind added a third finger, and soon found a mouth around his hardening cock and that tail playing with his balls and the base of his still barely swollen knot.

It wasn't taking long for his knot to swell, the tail around it and mouth above it sending even more pleasure through him as his ass tingled.

"I'm ready," he moaned, aching to feel SunWind inside of him for once.

The Loup Maru nodded and slipped his fingers out, his lover's cock slipped from his mouth and he settled back on his knees to look at Wolf's open, needy body while he spread the rest of the lube on his own cock. He leaned forward to kiss him.

"Like this, or against your back?" SunWind asked hotly.

Wolf hesitated for a moment, not honestly sure.

"Like this," he decided, wrapping his arms around SunWind and kissing him back. "Something that can be just ours," he rumbled.

SunWind nodded and slid back to settle between Wolf's legs and leaned forward, his cock against Wolf's anus as he gently pressed forward and claimed his mouth again.

Wolf moaned into his mouth, his body tensing a bit at the unusual penetration before he made it relax long enough for SunWind to get the thick, spongy head of his shaft past the nerve-dense ring of muscle. Here SunWind paused, his body trembling in his arousal but determined not to push his lover too quickly.

"Go ahead," Wolf told him, groaning a bit as his body relaxed, still spasming around the shaft inside of it on instinct. "Mmm ... you're already in, right?" He added with a half-way grin.

"Yes," SunWind moaned deeply as he pushed forward until his sheath was pressed up against Wolf's tight body. "So good." He panted softly, then began to pull out.

Wolf moaned with him, bearing down as SunWind pulled back, tightening himself up to make the Loup Maru work at it a bit more, then relaxing as he thrust forward again, pulling him into a deep, heated kiss as they mated with a tender passion neither displayed often.

"Okay, you have the plan down then Dan?" A slender Raccoon fem glanced out the end of the alley as she talked to her partner, a heaver-set male.

"Yeah, I've got the plan Mel," he said. "But why am I the one who's probably gonna get his ass kicked before you get the opening?"

"Because you're bigger, and a guy," 'Mel' pointed out. "What's more likely? You mugging me, or me mugging you?"

There was a brief pause before she looked back at him with a dark expression.

"And you had better get that one right," she muttered.

"All right, all right!" He said, raising his hands, blaster in one of them, wearing light armor. "You're sure you saw Wolf O'Donnell, right?"

"Hell yeah," she chuckled. "Trust me, not many other Wolves built like that, or with that voice."

"I hope you're right, because if it's not him...."

"Hey, there's a reason you're supposed to get the name before you take a shot at him," Mel pointed out. "All right Dan?"

"All right," the larger Raccoon nodded.

"Okay, looks like they're coming," she said, moving towards the back of the alley and getting ready to scream for help.

"So, grab breakfast, then we get going again?" Wolf asked SunWind as they left the hotel, stretching out in the sun and fresh air. "Assuming we can sit in the Wolfen again by the time breakfast's done?" He added with a chuckle.

"Yeah," SunWind blushed a bright apple-green under his tawny fur. "Besides, any chance not to eat rations is to be taken."

"I'll go with you there," Wolf chuckled. "Though the MRE's around here aren't half bad, compared to Venomian standards. Only thing more disgusting than the results was how much of it Pigma could put down."

"Any world called Venom is bound to be screwed up." SunWind pointed out with a shake of his head, then sniffed the air. "Something smells good that way."

"Andross' ide-" Wolf was cut off by a scream from a nearby alley.

"Help!" A woman shrieked. "Somebody help me!"

"Damnit," Wolf muttered, taking off at a run for the alley, SunWind barely half a pace behind him. They burst onto the scene, a Raccoon woman cowering in the back of an alley as she was menaced by a male with a blaster.

"C'mon bitch; gimme the money and you -" He was interrupted by Wolf tackling him from behind, slamming him into the alley wall hard. The Raccoon grunted, the wind knocked out of him and his blaster on the ground and snapped up by SunWind's tail before Wolf backed up a step, in a defensive stance, watching him and getting between the mugger and his prospective victim.

"Who the Hell are you two?" The male asked, panting as he turned around.

"Wolf O'Donnell; maybe you've heard of me?" Wolf asked with a growl. "Now get the fuck out of -"

"Trap." SunWind hissed a moment later, his attention divided between the two Raccoons before the female pulled a blaster behind Wolf's back. He didn't even think in flowing into Lumari and snapped his jaws closed with her hand, and the blaster, inside them.

She screamed again, a real one this time as SunWind's powerful jaws took her hand off. Wolf spun around, a little shocked by the sudden shift in the dynamic of things as she fainted.

The male reached for a knife, drawing it just in time for Wolf to spin back around, grabbing his wrist and twisting it sharply, forcing him to drop the knife with a snarl of pain before he was flipped around onto his back with Wolf's foot on his throat, the mercenary growling menacingly.

"Kill?" SunWind's low, guttural Lumari voice asked, giving both of them to his packmate.

"No need," Wolf growled, quickly putting together what was happening. "Is there?" He asked the Raccoon beneath him, stepping down a bit.

"No need!" He squeaked, looking over at his partner with an expression somewhere between concerned and terrified.

"See if you can stop her bleeding," Wolf told SunWind, releasing the Raccoon's throat and picking up the knife while SunWind shifted back to Maru and quickly bound the severed hand with a strip of cloth ripped from her shirt. "Next time you two decide to make a name for yourselves, do it in the field, not a back-alley."

"If you hurry, they might manage to reattach that hand." SunWind added as he stood and licked her blood from his muzzle.

The male stood, looking between SunWind and Wolf with a frightened expression before he hurried to grab his partner, and her severed hand, taking off without a word.

"Damn I hate when that happens." Wolf said quietly.

"It's common?" SunWind blinked at him, then thought back and realized that it probably was and would continue to be so.

"It's been a while, but it used to be a lot more common than it is now," Wolf said. "We should probably just head back to the Wolfen, get something to eat at our next stop," he added apologetically. "It won't be long before somebody decides to look into it, and Fortuna doesn't like to let things like this get far. Easiest way to avoid trouble is to just get moving."

"Right," he nodded. "Is my face clean?"

"It is," Wolf nodded as they tried not to look like they were hurrying. "Next time, you might try something that's got a little less chance to be permanent."

"I'll try to remember, but that is the risk of drawing on you." He nuzzled Wolf affectionately before he froze for a split second and settled into the more natural body language he usually held in public.

"C'mon," Wolf smiled slightly. "Let's just get out of here."

Wolf sat up with a start, turning to face the sound of four padded feet rapidly approaching their camp on Titania. He relaxed when he saw SunWind's razor-wolf form approaching, a small desert-boar clamped between his jaws.

"Hope he didn't give you too much trouble," Wolf said, pulling out a knife to start cleaning the fresh meat before they cooked it.

It was placed in Wolf's hands and SunWind flowed back into Maru to sit next to him before he answered.

"Not at all. He tastes good too."

"Well, they are some of the best eating you'll find around here," Wolf chuckled, cleaning out the carcass, noticing that most of the damage was its broken neck. "Pretty comfortable hunting like that, aren't you?"

"Yeah," he nodded and settled next to Wolf by their small fire. "First sixteen years and the last ten years I've gotten plenty of practice. But mostly it's a natural form. I know it sounds strange to someone who doesn't shift naturally, but most who can are born understanding all of their forms."

"Makes sense, I suppose," Wolf mused. "If you aren't born like it, you'd at least learn it pretty fast. After all, if you didn't, you'd be in pretty big trouble," he chuckled.

"Yeah, you would be," he nodded and leaned close as Wolf skewered the small boar in parts and put them over the fire to roast.

"Y'mind talking a bit?" Wolf asked him. "About the past?"

"If you want to," he looked up a bit in surprise, given they were both mostly trying to leave it behind.

"I was just wondering, about your old packmates," Wolf said, cooking their dinner as he spoke. "If you don't want to talk about it, it's no problem."

"I don't mind, they were good guys." SunWind smiled faintly in old, fond memories. "Anything you were wondering about?"

"Well...." Wolf thought about it, trying to put his finger on just what he was asking about. Eventually he gave up, leaning up against SunWind lightly. "I'm not sure," he admitted. "I guess I'm just curious what they were like... about all I know is that one of 'em was a guy, and the two of you were sleeping together," he pointed out.

"That was Modo," he nuzzled Wolf gently. "The other was Vinnie. For a while we had a Sis too, a human named Charlie. She was pretty amazing, but not in the same way as Obi-Wan.

"Modo ... he had his triggers, but he was the calm one of us. A big gray Maru with more heart than most. He lost his arm to Karbunckle, but he never lost what was important. He was the one who kept me on an even keel when I started to loose it for whatever reason. It was probably for the best he outlived Vinnie, even if it was only for three weeks.

"Vinnie ... Vincent Van Wham ... his family were Maru nobles of a sort. A bloodline that made their fortune in Loup Maru hides. I'm still not sure why I didn't kill him the first time I saw him, other than I probably was so badly beaten I couldn't stand up. I still don't know what he saw in me that made him want to help me, but by the time I was in any kind of shape to escape, the three of us were too close to try to kill each other over things we'd all lost."

"So he knew what you are?" Wolf asked him gently.

"Not from me," he shook his head sharply. "If he guessed, he kept quiet about it. Both of them did."

"Maybe he was just a good guy then, even if his family was a pack of assholes," Wolf murmured, giving him a gentle nuzzle. "I'm sorry you lost them."

"I'll always miss them, but I don't think could ever relax as much as I have with you with them." SunWind sighed. "I couldn't even use my real name. Modo might have accepted it, but I don't think Vinnie could have handled my species or that I prefer males."

"Your part of the galaxy really managed to screw itself up, as far as handling different people well, didn't it?" Wolf sighed, hugging him lightly.

"Yeah, but it's still home." He leaned into the contact and rested his head on Wolf's shoulder. "Even if it doesn't exist anymore. Obi-Wan says there is hope for the Loup Maru, though, if I go with him to the Republic. They have enough skill at genetic engineering and cloning to create a viable breeding population from just me."

"Now that would be something," Wolf murmured. "Only cloning experiments that have happened around here have been pretty well disastrous."

"Yeah, but it's really tempting. He's not exaggerating; he's met the children of a Wolf and a Panther, and one of that breed that had children with a Parrot. As hard as it is to believe, he has met them, and they're Jedi. To be able to end our existence in peace would be ... incredible."

"Hey, if they've got them there, then they've probably worked out the problems," Wolf pointed out. "Biggest problem over here was that both the cloning projects were based off the work of a lunatic. That second project should never have happened. So... anything you want to ask me about?"

"What happened with your first packmate?" He asked softly. "The other guy you've been with."

"Training accident," Wolf said. "He wasn't that good a pilot, but he was part of the same wing as Fox, Falco, and me. He wasn't bad, just not as good as any of the three of us. We were out on a practice run, and something went wrong with his fighter. At the speeds we were flying ... well, it was over fast." Wolf said, closing his eyes for a moment. "It was ultimately chalked up to pilot error, since he didn't punch out after things started going wrong."

"I'm sorry," SunWind murmured, not sure what else to say. It was the kind of death that happened with organized militaries; groups that trained that way, but it wasn't anything he really understood. It wasn't a death he really understood either.

"Wish you could've met him," Wolf said softly. "He was a Hell of a guy. Not near as good in bed as you, but a Hell of a guy," he chuckled slightly.

"Sounds like he must have been." He smiled and nuzzled him. "Dinner smells ready." He offered a distraction from both their pasts filled with pain.

"Yeah, it probably is," Wolf nodded, the distraction welcome as he pulled the meat off onto field plates for the both of them.

"So how long is the next leg of the flight?" SunWind kept up the small talk between the happy sounds of a good meal freshly caught and shared with the pack.

"Well, that depends on whether or not we want to take the warp zone over to Sector Z," Wolf said between bites. "If we don't, we'll resupply at Bolse Station in about a day and a half and be on our way. If we do, we'll stop by one of my old supply caches on Venom in about a day and take off for the rest of the trip. A bit riskier, but saves us twelve hours."

"Riskier in what way?" SunWind was paying sharp attention now.

"First point, Venom's not exactly a safe place to spend the night," Wolf explained. "Second, the warp zone's not the most stable path. It involves going through a wormhole, and there are supposed to be things inside it that don't take too kindly to company. If I was doing it on my own, I wouldn't be worried about it. But with you along... well, you ought to at least know what we'd be in for."

"So far, it doesn't sound half as bad as a normal day a few months ago." He sort of chuckled.

"We can go that way then," Wolf grinned. "Also means we won't have to deal with convincing Bolse security that I'm just there to resupply. Base was designed by Andross, and controlled by his forces during the war, I think they're still convinced I'm trying to take it back when I go there."

"All the better," he nodded and relaxed against his packmate. "We get in enough trouble without security not wanting us there to start with."

"Right," Wolf chuckled. "Those punks on Fortuna were more than enough trouble for this trip. So; we've got some time before we need to get flying again, and I'm not really wound down enough to sleep. Any old war stories you feel up to telling? Ones that went well," he added quickly. "Somethin' where you made the Fish think twice about coming back."

SunWind chuckled and pulled up memories of the first few years on Earth. "Oh, there were plenty for a while."

"Okay SunWind; we're about to hit the warp zone," Wolf warned him. They'd spent most of the morning carefully flying through the debris and space-wreckage of 'Sector Y,' looking for the entrance point. They'd finally found it, a strange, mechanical gate that had clearly been put there recently. "You strapped in?"

"Yes," he nodded and wrapped his tail around Wolf's leg in a reassuring hug. "I'm ready."

"Okay," Wolf nodded. He keyed up a few signals in the transceiver, and crossed his fingers. "Let's hope Andross' old access codes still work ... the old Ape realized this was a perfect back-door into Venom, so he built the gate. Then the Frog hacked it, they went through, and still kicked his ass."

A moment passed, then the heavy metal gate opened, revealing a psychedelic swirl of rainbow colors on the other side that seemed to pull the Wolfen into it.

"Here we go!" Wolf said, punching the boost and taking the ship through into the portal....

And that was the precise moment that the universe stopped making sense to SunWind's senses.

Up and down didn't seem to exist anymore, for all that he knew, logically, they hadn't turned over. His few points of reference seemed to be spinning, and he could see that there were masses of dark objects approaching.

"I'll take care of these bogeys; you just try to keep from throwing up," Wolf told him, knowing that he'd wanted to his first time in here.

But the Loup Maru felt more presences since the last time he'd been in a city on Mars. There were minds everywhere; aware, sentient ... and friendly.

He drew a small breath, closed his eyes and reached out to one nearby.


"~Hello,~" another mind replied, not one of the approaching figures, which were clearly hostile, and being treated as such by Wolf, but something else that seemed to be 'behind' the day-glow colors of the wormhole. "~This is rather unexpected; we hadn't thought there were any more in this system who could speak with us.~"

"~I'm not local.~" He tried to explain. "~What is going on?~" He asked curiously, a question that encompassed the wormhole itself, the hostiles and the ones he was talking to.

"~We are a race that is little known by the people of Lylat,~" another voice answered. "~We live in another dimension that this wormhole is near.~"

"~Sadly, the parasites come with the territory,~" a third voice chipped in. "~Though your friend is doing an admirable job of dealing with them. Please warn him to be careful about explosives; we're not sure how the wormholes in this system would react to another large one inside one of them, after that Andross character's experiment with the gravity bomb.~"

"Wolf, try to avoid explosives. The gravity bomb destabilized things." SunWind relayed. "~Thank you. Do you have a physical form, like I do?~"

"Right," Wolf nodded, not questioning how SunWind knew as he took his finger away from the trigger for his bombs, returning to his blasters.

"~We do, though they cannot enter your dimension,~" the first voice explained. "~We can enter the so-called 'black hole,' but not any father than that.~"

"~Makes it hard to talk with folks,~" SunWind nodded mentally. "~How did you learn about Lylat?~"

"~The Krazoa were old friends of ours,~" the first voice told him. "~More recently, a James McCloud joined us after the gravity bomb went off. He was caught in our dimension, though he's managed to speak to his son a time or two since.~"

SunWind felt his breath catch in his throat. "~If he's of our dimension, he should be able to return, somehow.~" He thought more than said, his mind whirling at the implications on a dozen levels.

"~Unfortunately, no,~" the voice explained. "~Not for lack of trying, but he seems to be of our dimension now. He has joined us in the black hole, appeared to his son across the thin barriers in our temple on Venom, but he was at the heart of the gravity bomb's distortion. He was changed by it.~"

"~I think understand.~" He swallowed a bit. "~It should still be welcome news to Fox. Can James come here?~"

"~Not at the moment. He has been trying to find a way through the barriers on Venom, since he was nearly successful there once. It is very tiring for him, and he is resting. But he does send his best wishes to Fox and Fara.~"

"~When he is rested, we can bring the Great Fox here. A friend of ours is teaching him how to talk like this.~" SunWind suggested. "~A lot has happened since James was trapped.~"

"~It will be some time, but he will look forward to it. Fox comes through these areas very seldom; they tend to be dangerous.~"

"~I think he will come for a chance to visit his father for a few hours.~" SunWind smiled faintly. "~Are there dangers beyond the parasites?~"

"~Only the difficulty of navigating this region of space,~" the second voice said easily. "~It takes a skilled pilot, and an excellent ship.~"

"~That he has to spare,~" SunWind chuckled.

"~He does,~" the voice seemed to smile. "~I believe you'll be ready to leave shortly; you may want to come through in a few months of your time again, to check on things.~"

"~I will as best I can.~" SunWind promised the only way he knew how; he'd do his best, but he made no real promises outside his pack. He still had too much integrity for that, even if it had been years since it had come up.

"~That is all we can ask, little one,~" one of the voices agreed.

"Entering real-space again," Wolf warned him, just before the end of the swirling wormhole seemed to erupt into the blackness and stars he was far more familiar with, the Wolfen flying out of the warp-zone and into an entirely different part of space.

"That was interesting." SunWind murmured as he shook his head to clear it after more intense mind-to-mind talking than he could ever remember.

"What happened?" Wolf asked him, bringing the ship about and angling it towards a small, sickly-green world ahead of them.

"There is a sentient race in there I spent the trip talking to, James McCloud is alive, but stuck in that dimension thanks to the gravity bomb, the bogies are called parasites and when James recovers enough from his last attempt to enter this dimension, I agreed to try to get his son to visit him."

"I'm starting to think you had a more interesting time in the back seat than I had in the front one," Wolf chuckled after a moment to digest all of it. "Guess the space-whale reports were true then, even if most people thought Fox and the others were hallucinating because of the black hole. Hell, I think even he thought he was seeing things."

"Being a telepath can help telling the difference," he chuckled. "You get good at telling the difference between conversations in your head that's only you, and those others are involved in pretty quick."

"Yeah, I imagine you would," Wolf chuckled. "Well, you can tell 'em about it when we get back. At least the locals seem to be friendly, even if their neighbors aren't. Next stop, Venom?"

"Yap." SunWind nodded agreeably.

The Wolfen touched down in the middle of a large clearing in the middle of the EarthWalker village, a small landing pad set up for vehicles like that one. The cockpit opened, Wolf and SunWind both stretching gratefully after a long, generally uncomfortable week-long flight with the autopilot handling the course and the two of them just waiting and praying for the time when they could stop somewhere and move again.

"Fox!" Somebody with a young voice said cheerfully, a small green and yellow triceratops about the size of a dog rushing out of a cave, coming up short and skidding to a stop about ten paces from the Wolfen.

"You're not Fox," he observed.

"No, I'm not," Wolf admitted easily, climbing out. "Easy to tell who handles most of the missions here, isn't it?" He asked SunWind quietly.

"Yeah," he nodded and landed with a light thump on the ground. "But it's a nice world to me." He added with a deep breath of the unpolluted air you only get on a world that doesn't have anything bigger than villages yet.

"Point," Wolf nodded. "I'm Wolf O'Donnell; this is SunWind. We were asked to come help with the RedEyes who got loose?"

"Oh. You'll have to talk to Mom and big brother then," the young EarthWalker said, turning to trot off back into one of the caves. "Come on!"

"Well, we should probably follow him, meet the Queen," Wolf shrugged slightly, starting off after the little triceratops with SunWind only a step behind, the Loup Maru fascinated by all the smells and sensations of this wild world.

The two walked into the cave, not having to duck at all to fit through it. Towards the back, they saw two larger dinosaurs, both yellow with red markings, the larger of them easily as tall as SunWind's Lumari form.

"You are the ones sent to deal with the Red Eyes?" She asked in heavily accented Lylatian.

"Yes, Ma'am." Wolf nodded to her. "I am Wolf O'Donnell; this is SunWind."

"Good," she nodded. "The RedEyes are in the jungles past Cape Claw. Do you know the way?"

"We do, Ma'am," he nodded. "Is there anything you can tell us about them?"

"Only that we would rather they were captured alive, but if they cannot be, it cannot be helped," she said, shaking her head. "The RedEyes are only marginally better than animals. Normal means of reasoning with them are ineffective; the tribe was only subdued by violence, long ago."

"We understand, Ma'am." SunWind bowed slightly to her. "Where should be bring those we capture?"

"Leave them restrained; our people and the HighTops will return them to the Walled City," she explained. "Do you have material to restrain them with?"

"We've got high-yield steel cable," Wolf nodded. "We'll try to capture some of them. Any idea how many there are?"

"Eight that escaped. They may have scattered, or even killed some of their own number, but more likely they are hiding in the forest and hunting."

"Are there likely to still be identifiable remains if any died?" SunWind asked seriously, already well into the mindset of hunting until he had eight RedEyes accounted for.

"Bones, but I would be surprised if the bodies would last long beyond that," the Queen explained, recognizing the attitude. "The jungle is very efficient about cleaning up messes. When you get closer to Cape Claw, you should confer with the HighTops there; they can give you more accurate information than I have."

"I understand," SunWind nodded. "Thank you."

"We should get going then," Wolf said, nodding his head politely to the ruling EarthWalker. "Thank you, your Majesty. We'll collect our gear and get walking."

"I await your successful return," she said, inclining her head towards him before they turned to leave.

"Well, looks like we've got a hike ahead of us," Wolf said as they returned to the Wolfen. "Let's hope that the local wildlife isn't too vicious, especially not those sand-lizards."

"There is no where closer to the cape to land?." SunWind asked as he shook himself out into Lumari.

"It's marsh and sand between here and there," Wolf said, shaking his head. "That, or there's not enough room, like through the gate," he said, indicating the gate that led into narrow passages. "It shouldn't be too long a hike though; according to the map there are shortcuts through some of the mountains in between, but the Wolfen doesn't take kindly to touching down on marsh land, and while it can land on sand, there are supposed to be acid-spitters that actually live there, and I'd rather see them coming than set down on a nest of 'em and lose the fuel lines."

Agreed," SunWind nodded and took the bulk of their burden due to his greater size and strength, leaving Wolf with a single backpack and his blaster rifle. "How many days hike?"

"Should be two days to the Cape, then we'll be into the forest not long afterwards," Wolf explained. "Good news is, we don't have to fuck around with all the hoops Fox said he had to jump through, since we're not looking for the Temples. Apparently the security around here tends to involve finding idols and putting them on altars to activate things."

"Magic," SunWind chuckled, understanding very well what it was likely about.

"Yeah, but it irritates the Hell out of me when I have to screw around with it without a choice," Wolf chuckled, the two of them walking into a small maze of low stone walls. "Hey, how good are you at climbing walls like these?"

"Good," he nodded. "Or I can just jump them."

"Let's just get on top, then go along that way as much as we can," Wolf said after a moment's thought. "You get on top, and help me up?"

SunWind nodded and reached up to grab the top of the wall before making the leap up, then leaned down with one hand on the wall top to pull Wolf up.

From the top, they could easily see a path through, with just a few jumps to make in between.

"Well, here we go," Wolf grinned, the two of them taking off on the clearer, easier path along the tops of the walls.

"You are enjoying yourself," Wolf chuckled a few hours later when they made camp beneath the distant sun setting over Sauria.

"It's been ages since I've known anywhere this wild." SunWind's Maru form grinned over at him as their freshly-caught dinner cooked on the fire. "I love this place."

"Don't blame you, though I'm a little too fond of indoor plumbing to give it up completely," Wolf chuckled. "It's pretty nice when it's not falling apart."

"That must have been pretty freaky." SunWind shook his head.

"Yeah, it probably was," Wolf mused, turning the long, snake-like lizard they'd caught over the fire. "Fixed it though," he added, looking up at the tall trees surrounding them. "Now there was a Hell of a job. Still, taking down eight of those RedEye critters isn't gonna be easy. From what I remember, Fox said he just tried to stay away from 'em. It's actually the official recommendation," he chuckled.

"When doesn't the official recommendation end up being 'avoid anything that isn't harmless'?" He chuckled. "Still, we're both decent hunters and we have the gear to deal with them."

"Yeah, but they usually don't phrase it as 'start running, don't stop'," Wolf chuckled. "And yeah, we are, and we do. Frankly, if them and these spitter-things are the worst we have to deal with," he said, indicating their roasting dinner, "we'll be in pretty good shape."

"Considering the natives, it probably will be, unless the weather does something." SunWind nodded, then perked up, shifting to face his large, round ears towards one spot in the jungle as he sought to track a sound.

"Something wrong?" Wolf asked, quietly, carefully pulling his blaster out of its holster.

"I heard something," he answered, his voice low as he searched with mind and senses for what had caught his attention.

Then Wolf heard it; something moving in the low brush off to the side.

"Come out here," he said, shifting to his knees. The response was clear; whatever it was had heard them, probably understood them, and was starting to dart away rapidly.

SunWind dropped into Luprani and bolted after it, his mind searching for the target as much as his ears and nose.

He spotted it soon, a small, bipedal Saurian, mottled red and yellow, running almost as fast as he was.

He felt something prick his shoulder, a sharp pain that quickly passed as he felt something start to slow him down. He didn't even think, his form flowed into the most toxin-resistant and fast-healing one he had as he made an irritated lunge for his prey.

"Gaaah!" The thing screamed as he caught it, his Lumari form crushing it to the ground. "Help! Get it off me!"

Suddenly, three more of them were leaping out of the trees, armed with stone-tipped spears and running towards SunWind.

"You attacked me." SunWind snarled back, his long, powerful tail lashing this way and that to keep the spear-wielders off him. "Why?"

"We not attack!" The small creature said quickly. "We just looking, see who you are! You started chasing me!"

"You ran," he growled more evenly and moved to let the creature up, the others backing away cautiously. "We're hunting the RedEyes that escaped."

"We not RedEyes!" The small creature said in exasperation. "We LightFoot tribe!"

"I didn't know until I saw you." SunWind pointed out and shook off the rest of the mild poison's effects. "If you hadn't run, we could have just said hello. Now that we are talking, care to join us for dinner?"

"RedEyes much bigger, don't hide from anybody," the LightFoot pointed out, as though it should have been obvious. "If you just hunting RedEyes, we leave you be. Didn't know why you came."

"All right," SunWind dropped back into Lumari and padded back towards camp. When he got there, he found Wolf dangling another one of the small creatures from his hand.

"Seems the natives are restless; you have any trouble with them?" Wolf asked SunWind, dropping the other one and letting him scurry off.

"They're from the LightFoot tribe. They were curious why we were here." SunWind explained after shifting back to Maru and stretching out. "Hit me with a light paralytic, but I think it's worn off."

"Want me to check you out quick?" Wolf offered. "You explain things to them?"

"Yeah." He nodded to both questions and sat down by the fire. "I think they were mostly insulted that I thought they could possibly be a threat, much less the RedEyes we're hunting."

"They were probably glad you thought they were a threat until you caught them," Wolf chuckled, sitting next to SunWind and pulling out his scanner. "Though they are a little small for RedEyes."

"I'm not so sure," he chuckled. "Having a Lumari tackle you with a flying leap can be unsettling."

"That's when you caught them," Wolf smirked, checking the scan. "You should be okay. So, dinner?"

"Sounds really good." SunWind nodded as they began to relax again.

"Well, this should be the HighTop village we're coming up on," Wolf said as they came out into the clearing of Cape Claw. "Now where...."

Before he finished his thought, a massive head on a long, long neck rose up out of the water, a mass of sea-plants caught between its jaws as it munched away.

"Merciful Haloeth." The Lumari's jaw dropped, something akin to fear dancing across his mind as he subconsciously debated between just running, dropping into Luprani and trying to hide or falling to his knees as he had the one time he had encountered Haloeth.

The massive creature looked down at them both, noticing them as it ate.

"Remember, they're supposed to be friendly," Wolf murmured, as much to himself as to SunWind. It didn't help particularly much, not when a 'friendly' nudge could probably reduce you to a red smudge on the grass.

"What could possibly hunt that?" SunWind trembled slightly before he managed to gather his wits. "Hello!" He called out to the giant, determined not to be the one that started any issues.

"Very little," it answered after swallowing its mouthful of food. "And hello to you too, little ones! You are the ones hired by the EarthWalkers to take care of our little escapees?"

"Yes," SunWind nodded, his voice raised to reach the head quite some ways above them. "They said you may know more about where they are now."

"We do," the HighTop nodded, climbing up onto dry ground, towering far, far above SunWind's Lumari form. "Climb up on top of my back, and I'll show you," he added, putting his tail on the ground for them to climb.

"Yes, sir." SunWind nodded and quickly made the significant distance from where the tail touched the ground, nearly as tall as he was even at its tip, and onto the enormous creature's back so far above, helping Wolf along the way.

When they had finished climbing the massive sauropod, it took a few careful steps closer to the forest, still taller than it was.

"From what I've seen," he said, "they seem to be two or three day's journey into the jungle, for you. It's not too hard to figure out where; most of the local wildlife flees when they travel through, and the quiet spaces are rather obvious, at least from up here."

"They tend to be on ground level too." SunWind nodded.

"From what I can see, you should start hiking that way," he said, indicating the north-northwest direction with his long, snaking neck and head. "You should find their current camp within a few days; they may be nearer the Walled City, if they decide to try and free more of their comrades, but there's no way to tell where they will be."

"Thank you," SunWind nodded even as he calculated the odds of various options. "Are they intelligent enough to succeed?"

"They did escape themselves," the HighTop pointed out. "Even with the guards, they may have the sheer strength to accomplish it, especially if the SharpClaws are helping them again. However, there aren't any signs that they are, so I would say they don't have very good odds of succeeding."

"Good," he nodded.

"Do you need to know anything more?" He asked, craning his long neck around to face the two on his back.

"Not that I can think of," SunWind answered. "If there is anything you think would he helpful, it would be welcome."

"Just a warning to be careful. The RedEyes aren't very intelligent, but they are cunning, and very, very strong. Not much threat to us, but if they weren't dangerous, they wouldn't have been imprisoned."

"Understood," Wolf nodded. "Thank you for your help."

"Don't mention it," he chuckled, lowering his head to the ground. "Climb on down, and good luck."

"Thank you." SunWind said as they worked their way forward and then down the long neck to the ground and began their trek into the jungle.

"I think we're coming up on one of them," Wolf whispered to SunWind as he pulled out his blaster rifle three days later. "We want to try for a capture first?"

"Yeah, might as well see how hard it is." He nodded and shed the heavy pack he'd been carrying and unsheathed his claws, stretching them in anticipation.

"Okay, let's try the tranqs," Wolf nodded, switching the rifle over to its alternate fire mode and pulling a large dart loaded with the strongest tranquilizer they could find, loading it into the barrel and starting to quietly, carefully creep forward towards the sound of the massive beast feeding on its prey. As they move through the trees, they saw the large green saurian, its beady eyes glinting red in the light that shone through the trees on its twenty-feet of muscle, scales, and claws.

Wolf took careful aim, making sure that he moved slowly enough the creature didn't spot them, trying to keep downwind from it.

He was absently aware of SunWind moving separate of him, ready to attack the creature twice his height should it not work, or work too slowly.

All things considered, he was sure that he'd need to help at least.

Wolf wasn't sure about the internal anatomy of the RedEyes, but he was pretty sure he could get close to a major artery. He settled on a point he thought was near one on its leg, and pulled the trigger. The gun fired, the dart flying through the air and sinking into the RedEye's thigh. The creature roared as it felt the wound, whirling about towards Wolf.

SunWind lunged immediately, aiming his full weight and strength to one leg to take it out from under the RedEye, hoping to trip it and send it tumbling.

The lizard fell, crashing to the ground hard and making the ground shake as Wolf loaded a second dart, firing it but missing as the RedEye twisted around to attack SunWind, snapping at him with dagger-like teeth. The Loup Maru was faster though, especially coming from the ground with the RedEye in such an awkward position.

SunWind leapt back, then up and onto the RedEye's ribs, hoping to knock its wind out. His massive form slammed into it, but it rolled over on top of him, trying to crush his Lumari body beneath its even larger one.

But it was getting weaker; the tranquilizers were working, albeit slowly.

One powerful kick, though it took almost everything he had, sent the RedEye flying a few feet up and into the trees nearby.

The Lizard regained its balance, though it was moving sluggishly. It roared at him, the force of the powerful blast almost enough to knock Wolf and SunWind off their feet... but then it collapsed, the tranquilizers overcoming its resistance.

"Let's hope none of the others were within earshot of that," Wolf muttered, shaking himself out and taking a deep breath. "Are you okay?"

"If they are, capture isn't going to be an option." He shook himself out and pulled out a length of cable to bind their catch. "Five minutes and I'll be fine, it's just some bruising. Lumari heals fast."

"All right," Wolf nodded. "Let me finish tying him up, you work on healing. We'll capture the next one if we can, but don't hold back once the fighting starts."

"If we have enough tranqs for the rest, then it's just a matter of playing dodge until it drops." SunWind sort of chuckled. "It's a game I'm good at. You just do your best to keep out of the physical fight."

"Too bad I'm not a better sniper, and we don't have more clear space between us and our targets," Wolf chuckled slightly. "And we should, especially if I manage not to miss... eight more darts like that one, so we've got an extra yet."

"We can probably retrieve the one that missed." SunWind pointed out with a long stretch upwards. "I think we can set traps too, snare a couple if we need to."

"Yeah, we can get the dart back, but...." Wolf grunted as he climbed up and pulled it out, the tip slightly bent and half the chemical missing. "It's not going to do us too much good like this. Snares might work, though I think I'd rather kill one than try to dig a twenty-foot pit for it. Let's just try and use the rest of the darts first."

"We'd probably only need a fifteen-foot pit given their weak arms, but point taken." He nodded. "How are they going to know we got one?"

"They're not entirely as low-tech as they looked," Wolf chuckled, pulling out his communicator. "They've got a transceiver; I'll send them the word, then we can either wait, or keep hunting."

"Probably best to stay, make sure it doesn't get loose." SunWind nodded to the immobile beast. "I'd rather not have it come track us down."

"Yeah, I can think of better things to do than be fighting one of these things when he wakes up, breaks loose and comes for us," Wolf nodded, sending word back to the EarthWalkers to come pick up the first RedEye.

"Shit!" Wolf swore, ducking down as the third RedEye swung SunWind just above his head to hit the tree behind him with a solid thump and grunt of pain. He fumbled with the blaster rifle, his fur and fingers damp with rich green blood from his partner, as he removed the second tranq dart and switched it back to its primary fire mode.

Green blood stained the long, powerful muzzle of the tyrannosaurus as it hurled SunWind around by the arm. It was between teeth and SunWind had a strong grip on its face with his other, so it wasn't about to come out, but if Wolf didn't do something fast it wouldn't much matter. No matter how tough the Loup Maru was, a few more hits like the last one would cripple him if it didn't kill him outright.

The only advantage was that SunWind's sharp claws, fangs and hindclaws were doing enough damage that the RedEye was focusing on him and not the Wolf with the blaster nearby.

"~Fucking hurry.~" SunWind's voice roared between his ears, even though he was sure he wasn't shouting. Still, the agony and desperation in it was impossible to miss.

"Won't do us any good if I hit you instead," Wolf muttered, tossing the rifle off to the side. He didn't have space and time enough to aim so that he wouldn't do that. He reached into his vest, grabbing his blaster pistol and pulling it out and up. His eye shifted to lock onto the sight as he brought it up, and he pulled the trigger the instant it passed over the RedEye's namesake.

A red blast of superheated gasses flew through the air, then into the T-Rex's eye, boiling the organ as the energy passed on down its nerves. The RedEye roared loudly, dropping SunWind as Wolf kept firing shots into its skull as fast as he could while he moved to try and retrieve his packmate.

In the back of his mind, he was beyond stunned when SunWind giant Lumari form staggered to its feet, his good arm and tail cradling the injured arm. Still he wasn't about to question small miracles that his packmate was conscious and moving under his own power.

Finally, the RedEye collapsed, groaning as the heated plasma finally boiled enough of its head that it died.

Wolf stowed his blaster and hurried over to SunWind.

"Is there anything I can do?" He asked him, his concern clear.

"Bandage it, painkillers." He gratefully sank down to sit on the ground as he tried to staunch the blood flow with his hand and tail. "It'll be days in healing if we can keep a stable camp."

"We'll just have to make one then," Wolf said firmly, pulling out his medkit and the bandages inside of it, putting them onto the wound and helping to stop the blood flow. "You're lucky... another couple inches and he'd have hit some major arteries."

"Lucky and good," he sighed as a painkiller hypo was pressed against his neck. "Soon as I realized he'd hit, I moved to minimize the damage. Still hurts like hell, but it'll heal."

"Thank the gods for that," Wolf murmured, kissing SunWind's bloody cheek lightly, reaching to pick up his pack. "We're going to have to redistribute things; there's no way you're carrying all you did before, even just to a new camp."

"With the bandage, I can." He didn't really object when Wolf began to pull a few things from the larger back to put in his own. "My tail's strong enough, even if my shoulder isn't."

"Not everything," Wolf said firmly. "I'll just move the heavier things over and then -"

He was interrupted by a massive foot crashing down on the blaster rifle behind him, crushing it. Both of them half-spun around to stare up into the eyes of a second RedEye, answering the roar of the fallen one.

"Holy fuck!" Wolf swore, getting to his feet and grabbing his pistol out of his pocket, firing a couple shots to distract the RedEye as SunWind got up.

"Run." SunWind shouted at him, already moving away from the monster.

Wolf didn't need to be told twice. He was following SunWind in a moment, the RedEye's jaws snapping shut just inches from his tail. He fired another shot, wildly, this one clearly hitting something that irritated the beast as it roared in pain.

"Explosives - next time, I'm bringing the explosives!" Wolf panted as he ran, trying to keep up with his packmate and well ahead of the pounding footsteps he heard behind them.

"Or shoot with the Wolfen." SunWind suggested as he weaved and twisted, seeking a path somewhere they could go and the RedEye couldn't.

"It won't fit through the canopy," Wolf muttered, the two of them rounding a corner - and then skidding to a stop as they ran into a second RedEye.

"What is this?!?" Wolf groaned, already taking off after SunWind as both the beasts started chasing them.

"Our funerals if we don't find cover." SunWind growled as an errant tree branch snapped against his wounded arm. He made three more steps and felt the earth give way under his not-so-insignificant weight.

"What the - whoa!" Wolf shouted, falling through the expanding sinkhole, leaving the RedEyes above as he landed next to SunWind, hard, wincing as he felt his tailbone hit the stone floor. He didn't need to ask to know his packmate had taken another injury in the landing; the fact the SunWind didn't move for a solid thirty seconds was more than enough to warn him the Loup Maru was hurting bad.

"Please tell me they can't come down." SunWind whispered, his voice cracking despite the painkillers in his system.

"Not without killing themselves along with us," Wolf reassured him. "Your arm again, or something else?"

"~Ribs, leg broken.~" He extended his mind to Wolf, his voice no longer steady enough to speak in anything but the most basic Haloeth lupine. "~Landed bad. Give me a few minutes, try to find a way out.~"

"You can be still for a few minutes with me here," Wolf said firmly, earning a fractional nod from the giant head still resting at an odd angle on the stone floor. "You need another hit of the painkiller before I set your leg?"

There was a long pause, SunWind debating with himself about the practicality of it as he very slowly untwisted his abused body to the sounds of frustrated RedEyes above them. "Yeah." He managed, the pain winning out. It had been a long time since he'd hurt this bad.

The agreement worried Wolf more than a refusal would have. He gave SunWind the next injection, putting this one closer to his broken leg before starting to inspect it, looking for the break and just how bad it really was. Despite the calf being at a severely wrong angle for the digitigrade limb, it was a fairly clean break. The main difficulty was going to be trying to move the half-ton Lumari form with one forelimb and one hind limb out of commission.

"I'm ready." SunWind closed his dark brown eyes and focused on not reacting to the fresh rush of pain that was about to come.

"Okay," Wolf nodded, setting the bone into place as quickly as he could, trying to get it over with. The sickening crunch of bone and tearing of muscle was horrible to hear, but they both knew from experience that it was for the best. The longer it went unset, the worse it would be to straighten. Something that could come down to hours with the rate the Loup Maru's Lumari form could heal. SunWind would be down for a while, but injuries that would have been fatal to nearly anyone would only keep him off his feet for a couple weeks, if that.

"Thanks," he managed to pant, the tension in his body slowly draining away.

"Don't mention it," Wolf chuckled slightly. "When you're able to change form again, I'll be able to carry you back towards the EarthWalker village. At least we captured two and killed a third before this happened, right?"

"Yeah," he sighed and considered his condition. "I could shift now, but it would be better to wait a few days for my arm. Could lose it if I change too soon. Only this form regenerates."

"Then you're not doing it," Wolf told him simply. "We can always live on nutrient tabs until then if we have to, and that's if I can't find any other way out or any more food."

"At least we're safe from the big predators." SunWind looked over at Wolf, his rich brown eyes unfocusing. "Might as well call in the kill. Maybe they'll even pick us up."

"If they can get down here," Wolf nodded. "Is it safe for you to sleep like this?" He asked, not sure how much was shock, and how much was something he really needed.

"Yeah," he focused on Wolf, understanding the concern. "Healing is two-thirds sleep and one third food. I'll be fine, I just shouldn't move for a few days."

"All right," Wolf nodded, laying down next to SunWind's good arm and pressing close. "I'll check the caves out later, but for now, I'm staying here with you."

"Okay," he nuzzled his packmate lightly and drifted into the healing trance he'd rarely been able to use when he needed it.

Wolf turned over with a sigh, nuzzling SunWind lightly. The good news was that the RedEyes above seemed to be getting bored with watching them. The bad news was that they were passing the time by proving why the two of them had been so close when they'd attacked.

Just his luck. Not only trapped by a mated pair, but trapped by one that was horny. He wasn't bothering to look up at what various noises meant; he really, really wasn't all that interested in how reptiles had sex.

"I'm going to take a look around the cave, see if I can find any water for us," he told SunWind softly, fairly sure that he was aware, kissing his cheek and standing up to explore their surroundings.

"Good," he murmured. "I'll stay here, if you don't mind." He almost managed the joking tone he was going for.

"Well, I had been planning on asking you to climb up and ask the neighbors to quiet down, but on second thought, you're probably right," Wolf joked, kissing him lightly before heading off.

They had almost nothing left for gear; what he'd gotten over into his pack, and that was it. His rifle was ruined, probably a fair amount of the remaining gear too... still they had enough to survive on. SunWind was his biggest concern. Nutrient tabs would be enough for him, probably for both of them, until they could get going. But SunWind would need more food, real food, to fuel his regenerative abilities, at least if he understood what he'd said.

If the Loup Maru needed to eat enough to fuel that half-ton form for long, that would be a lot of meat that he couldn't hunt himself.

Though before that, they needed clean water. Fortunately, it was a cave. Wolf lifted his head and sniffed, catching a whiff of fresh, moist air and following it. He hoped to find another exit, or at least a place where rainwater would gather.

He had to move carefully, there was very little natural light and his field light only illuminated so much. As he progressed, he began to see more, light coming from ahead of him as he walked down a very slight slope. He could also hear water, and followed both sight and sound, bypassing a few branching paths in the caves in favor of the light.

There was an opening in the cave that led out to a canyon. To judge by the rock build-up near the entrance, there used to be an underground water source passing through the cave. But then why was it dry now ... and where was the water he could hear?

Looking outside the cave, he found both answers. Water flowed from a large fissure near the cave exit, other rivers pouring into one of the tributaries of Cape Claw about fifty feet below. If the fissure was this close, then there had to be access, probably through one of the side-caves he'd bypassed.

Backtracking, Wolf found what he was looking for. Water bubbled up from a crack in the rock floor nearby, flowing out to the fissure in the canyon wall. To judge by the sharp drop in the rock on the other side of it, something big had happened that had caused the fault, and spring, to shift.

To think; a few years earlier, and they would've ended up in the middle of a river. Wolf shivered at the thought, but pulled out his canteen, filling it up and carried it back to SunWind.

"Well, good news is I found water and a way out," he said cheerfully.

"Good," he lifted his head up and accepted the cold, clean water gratefully. How hard a trip will it be?"

"Fifty feet straight down to a river, but that should lead us straight back to Cape Claw if we follow it and hunt along the way," Wolf explained. "From there, we can get back to the Wolfen and resupply."

"Easy enough for you to get up and down with a few kills?" He asked hopefully. "It will make things go faster if I can eat well."

"Yeah, it looks like it," Wolf nodded. "Probably pick off critters with my blaster when they go to drink, then go bring them up."

"That would be safest," he nodded and relaxed back down. "I'll be happy when I can move enough to sleep on soft earth in the sun." He moved his tail up to caress Wolf's cheek. "Good news is that I can feel the healing start. I'll be able to walk before my arm is healed, probably two or three days. It was a pretty clean break."

"Yeah, and something I'm qualified to help fix," Wolf nodded, rubbing his powerful chest lightly. "At least you didn't land on your ass," he chuckled a bit. "Busted tail-bone's a bit beyond me. Want me to get some more water, wash the blood off?" He offered.

"That would be good." He nodded. "Is the emergency blanket in your pack?"

"Yeah, it is," Wolf nodded, opening his pack and pulling out the thin, but warm, blanket, laying it out next to SunWind. "Probably won't hold all of you, but it'll help. Come on, let's get you on top of it, and off that stone floor."

SunWind nodded and moved himself with Wolf's help, but it was slow going when you had to avoid putting pressure on one leg, one arm and quite a few ribs.

"Much better," he rumbled softly and relaxed a bit more as the chill stopped seeping into his body.

"I'll be back with some water to help clean you up in a minute," Wolf said as he rummaged in his pack for the folding cooking pot. It held a lot more water than the canteen, and the Lumari form was big enough to need every drop. He filled it and quickly returned, pulling out a sponge and dipping it into the water, starting to wipe the blood off.

"Your arm's doing a lot better," he observed, mentally calculating how much it had improved since he'd bound it as he cleaned it up. By the time the green blood was all washed off, it had sunk in that the limb was whole again.

"Good," SunWind nodded, though he made a point of not looking.

"Okay... a lot better is more than I thought," Wolf murmured as he examined it a little closer. "Looks like it's in almost perfect shape again."

"Hu?" SunWind looked over now, then moved his fingers experimentally. "How ...."

"I have no clue," Wolf admitted. "Maybe he didn't shred it as badly as it looked."

"Maybe," he murmured, then very cautiously moved his broken leg. "Or I seriously under-calculated what this form is capable of. Leg is whole too."

"Okay, that is a little freaky," Wolf chuckled. "Think you can move around well enough?"

"I should be able to. Both limbs are whole and despite the aches, my ribs probably are too." He nodded, quite familiar with phantom pain and what expecting pain can create. With a flow of muscle that reduced his half ton form into a sixty pound Luprani and rolled to his feet, then into Maru and stood up, cautious of his limbs for weakness.

"Well, even if you're not ready to run too much, it'll be a lot easier to move you when you can shift," Wolf observed.

"True," he nodded and took a few careful steps, testing his body out. "Though it's not that I can't shift, it's that shifting could kill me if I'm hurt badly enough. Injuries that can kill a Maru will barely slow a Lumari down."

"Which is close enough to not being able to shift," Wolf pointed out. "Want to rest a bit yet, before we get going, or try to find our way out and back out of here?"

"I'd rather get out of this cave," SunWind decided. "We can stop later if I need to."

"Let's get moving then," Wolf nodded, packing up his gear and getting ready to lead SunWind out.

The two RedEye mates were eating a few days later, tearing into the flesh of a young HighTop that had wandered away from CapeClaw and into their hunting territory. The forest was quiet, most living things well away from the two hungry predators. Their muzzles were stained with the blood of their prey; this hunt had gone much better than the last one, with the small creatures that had killed the other RedEye. They hadn't found where they went after leaving the cave, and they didn't particularly care anymore either. If they returned, they would be killed.

Then they heard something new to them; something like a great beast crashing through the branches and leaves of the lower canopy. They looked up, searching for the source of the sound, not sure if it was prey or a fellow predator.

As the Wolfen tore out of the cover of the trees, its heavy blasters ripping through the two RedEyes, their final question was answered.

It was definitely a predator.

"Think our old friends just bit the dust," Wolf told SunWind with a grim tone of satisfaction.

"So did a HighTop child." The Loup Maru added quietly. For all this was mostly his suggestion, it wasn't the kind of hunting he liked. He'd bowed to Wolf's insistence that these two needed to die out of affection for the other male, but the rest would be taken by tranq from the air.

"We got back as fast as we could," Wolf pointed out softly. "You ready to use the spare rifle for the rest of them?"

"I know, and they knew the RedEyes were around," he nodded seriously. "At least we caught them while they can still probably identify the body. And yes, I'm ready to play sniper again."

"Just remember, we've only got one, maybe two shots each for the remaining three."

"I know," he reached forward to scritch Wolf's jaw. "I'm a good shot. Just hold us steady and out of reach."

"That I can do," Wolf smirked, locking the sensors on the next large life sign, filtering out the plant life. It wasn't easy, but they could manage it. "Next target located ... by the way, sorry I didn't believe you before about this working."

"Apology accepted," SunWind smiled and shifted back to kneel on the seat to take a calculated shot when both the RedEye they were hunting and the Wolfen were still.

Wolf moved the fighter into position, flying it slowly so they wouldn't alert their prey any more than they had to. Before long, they had found the sixth RedEye, and were lined up for a clear shot.

"Take 'im down," he told SunWind.

With the speed of someone used to having no setup time, SunWind squeezed off a perfect shot, nailing the RedEye in the jugular.

The beast roared, turning towards them, but the Wolfen was well out of reach. All they had to do was wait for it to fall.

"For the report? Whoever the bright boy was that said the undergrowth was too thick to fly through needs to have his head examined," Wolf said as they dropped down to bind their target and find the next one.

"Or a fighter worth the title." SunWind chuckled.

"Oh, it is good to be home," SunWind stretched with a pleasurable groan as he and Wolf stepped into their apartment after almost a month away.

"You said it," Wolf slid his arms around his packmate from behind and nuzzled him affectionately. "I'm glad you were out there with me." He added with a murmur.

"Me too," he slid his tail up and around Wolf's powerful chest. "Even when I thought I was going to die there."

"Wasn't going to happen," Wolf said firmly, moving close to hug him and kiss his muzzle lightly. "Not going to lose a third packmate, not this soon at any rate."

"Thanks," he murmured, then noticed the blinking light by the phone. "Wonder who noticed we were gone."

"Maybe somebody from the club?" Wolf suggested. "Maybe that Mouse I met you with," he chuckled slightly, heading over and hitting the playback button.

"Maybe," he nodded.

"Hello, SunWind." Obi-Wan's even, smooth voice reached out from the machine. "We got back from a mission to Titania and I have an apartment now. I wish to invite you and Wolf to visit for dinner sometime. Between our missions, I believe we will have much to catch up on."

"Well, he's got that much right." SunWind chuckled.

"Yeah," Wolf chuckled slightly, a hint of nerves in the sound. "So, you want to look for a time that's good, I'll see if they've transferred our pay and order dinner?"

"Sounds good," he nodded and picked up the phone to dial the number that Obi-Wan had left.

A short conversation later, and they had a lunch date arranged for the next day.

"Hey, root beer and hot beef?" Wolf called to him from the other room.

"Sounds great." SunWind grinned and went into the room to hung Wolf close to him. "So just how long is this paycheck likely to last?"

"Mmm ... depends on how we handle it," Wolf admitted. "Probably a couple months though, if we keep it reasonable."

"A month of work, two months off. Not a bad take." He nuzzled him affectionately.

"Not until it's been two and a half months since your last job," Wolf chuckled. "And I'll admit, I usually go through it a bit faster than that; general rule of thumb, don't turn down work when it's offered. It might not be offered again for a long time."

"Still not bad," he pointed out. "It's a lot more time off than a regular job."

"Not denyin' that," Wolf grinned, pressing back into his packmate's hug. "Mmm ... dinner's ordered, so we just have to behave until the nice delivery boy gets the food here so we don't freak him out," he chuckled.

"Sounds like a plan," he murmured and kissed him, long and lingering.

"Woah. If he's got this whole place to himself, then that was one hell of a mission on Titania," Wolf observed as he and SunWind drove out to the country farmhouse Obi-Wan had given them directions to.

"I don't think so, and he rents it." SunWind chuckled softly from the passenger side. "He's not planning on staying forever."

"True," Wolf chuckled, pulling the car into the driveway. "Still, nice place. Lots of space. Drive me crazy living out here probably, but nice."

"That space and all the growing things are what he wanted," he murmured and drew a deep breath after opening the window a bit. "It's very invigorating for folks like us to be around this much wildlife and green growing things."

"I'll take your word for it," Wolf chuckled as he climbed out of the car. "Me... the country's nice and all, but I prefer living in the city. Too quiet out here after a while."

"Welcome," Obi-Wan, dressed in jeans and a dark green collared flannel shirt, waved at them from the door of his side of the duplex.

"Good to see you again," SunWind waved back and went up to greet his friend with a strong handshake. "You picked out a nice place."

"Thank you," the Jedi nodded. "You are welcome to visit any time. There is even a fish pond out back."

"Y'know, I have to admit," Wolf chuckled. "A place like this and 'the newest member of Star Fox' are not the two things I'd imagine together. It is very nice though."

"I am not typical of the team." Obi-Wan chuckled and motioned the pair inside where the smells of a meat-heavy meal were evident, as was the scent of a canine.

"Krystal!" SunWind grinned as he recognized the mind behind the scent. "I was hoping to see you soon."

"Glad to see you... too," Krystal said, trailing off as she noticed Wolf standing behind SunWind. "Your new roommate?" She guessed, managing to keep from showing her reaction too strongly on the outside, though it was clear she wasn't particularly thrilled to see him.

"Yes," he nodded. "The three of us have important things to talk about. I think Fox will like some of the news too."

"Wolf O'Donnell?" Obi-Wan placed the reactions with the character.

"That's me," Wolf admitted, rubbing his back of his neck a little nervously. He hadn't expected Krystal to be here. At least she didn't seem to have too big a beef with him; she wasn't trying to slug him like most of the team would.

"You're still welcome here. SunWind wouldn't be with you if you were that bad a guy." Obi-Wan said quietly.

"Well, why don't we sit down before we start talking about it?" Krystal suggested.

"Sounds good," SunWind nodded and gently tugged Wolf towards the casual dinning room table while Obi-Wan returned to the kitchen to finish making lunch.

"I won't mention this to Fox," Krystal promised Wolf as they sat down. "He's still a little sore about everything...."

"And you've heard it often enough you could say it by heart?" Wolf guessed. "Yeah... can't say I blame him for being pissed either. Even if it was just me working for Andross, that'd be bad enough."

"That kind of leads into why Wolf hasn't let go of getting ahold of Fox." SunWind began, nudging Wolf slightly.

"Go ahead," Krystal nodded slightly. "Though it had better be a good explanation."

"I think it is," Wolf said firmly. "Short version ... Fara died."

Krystal leaned back, clearly surprised by the news.

"I ... think the longer version's in order," she said after a moment.

"A few years ago, after Fara broke up with Fox but before you were around, she went into the hospital for advanced cancer," Wolf explained. "She wanted to try and talk to Fox, apologize to him, before it was too late. I've been trying to get a hold of him since then."

"Even after she died?" Krystal asked him.

"She wanted to apologize," Wolf nodded, trying to keep his emotions under tight rein. He wasn't sure if SunWind's hand on his shoulder was helping or not, but he took some comfort from it. "Even if she couldn't do it, I owed it to her to do it in her place. I know Fox probably doesn't want to hear it, but he at least deserves to know... and she deserved to be able to tell him."

"I thought you might be able to get Fox to listen. To the story, even if not from Wolf directly." SunWind looked at her seriously as food was brought to the table. "It was ugly all the way around, but it will at least bring closure to Fara and Wolf, and it might help him too."

"It's not going to be easy to convince him, but I can try," Krystal nodded, taking a deep breath. "It does explain why you've been trying to get to him."

"As much as I could without qualifying for a harassment suit," Wolf chuckled weakly.

"You really did love her, didn't you?" Krystal asked him.

"Yeah," Wolf said with a quiet nod. "I did. I wish I hadn't hurt Fox in the process, and so did she in the end, but I did love her."

"We found something else Fox probably will want to hear, even if he doesn't trust the source much." SunWind shifted things to a better topic. "We took the warp zone on the way to Sauria for our last mission and I found out that James McCloud is still alive. He's stuck in that dimension, but he is alive and he'll be able to talk to Fox in there."

"That news he will want to hear, and I'll probably tell him it came from you, SunWind," Krystal said seriously. "The Space Whales are real then?"

"Very real. They are creatures of another dimension, but they are familiar with Lylat and can contact those of us who are telepaths." He nodded. "They're quite curious too. A warning though, while James did manage to contact Fox on Venom, he hasn't managed to keep up on things. He still thinks that Fox is with Fara."

"From what Fox said, the contact on Venom was just guiding him out of the temple Andross was in ... and he was at the time," Krystal murmured. "Thanks for the head's up; I'll be sure to let him know."

"They also said that James is exhausted by his efforts to enter this dimension on Venom. It will be a couple months of our time before he'll be ready to talk, but if Fox comes threw then, you should be able to talk."

"That will probably be about the time I'm ready to head back to Cerinia, so it'll be good timing," she nodded.

"You've decided to go?" SunWind perked up. "Good."

"It'll also be when I'm done modifying the Great Fox to take the trip a little faster." Obi-Wan added as he sat down and the roasted bird was passed around. "It'll still be several months, but not the full two years."

"I still need to work out some of the staff's secrets, but it'll work out," Krystal nodded as she took some food and passed it around. "You know... there is one way we can be sure that Wolf gets the chance to speak with Fox. He won't like it, but it'd work."

"Oh?" Wolf perked up a bit. "What do you have in mind?"

"Well... I'd been planning on inviting SunWind to come along anyways, honestly," Krystal explained. "If the two of you come, we'll have a few months worth of time for Fox to get used to the idea of talking to you."

"What if he just refuses to come along?" Wolf pointed out.

"Do you really think Fox would do that? Even if it was just because he didn't want to leave me alone with you," the blue-furred Vixen said.

"Point," Wolf admitted.

"Besides, we'd be taking his ship." Obi-Wan pointed out. "He'd be stuck on world with no Great Fox for the better part of a year, if not longer."

"Is anyone else coming along likely to be a problem?" SunWind asked them all.

"Slippy and Peppy aren't... they might want to be, but they wouldn't do anything," Krystal said.

"If they tried, they wouldn't manage it either," Wolf said easily, confident that, if push came to shove, he could take both of them. "Falco might be trouble though."

"He's a hot-head, but he's only really angry about you working for Andross, and he even kind of understands that," Krystal said, shaking her head. "He won't tell Fox, but I'm pretty sure he saw what was coming with Fara when they had to ship out and leave her behind."

"Yeah, I didn't even know she'd dated him at all until they came back." Wolf sighed with a shake of his head. "I really wish I'd known before it was too late."

"Too late to change it now," Krystal pointed out. "So, how did your latest mission go?"

"Pretty well," SunWind grinned as they began to eat. "A group of RedEyes got loose, so we had to catch them. Even managed to get most of them alive."

"Now that's a very good trick," Krystal grinned. "Usually, only reason you can take them alive is because it's so hard to kill them."

"Not when you're hunting from a Wolfen." SunWind chuckled. "Or have a Loup Maru to provide a distraction. They are nasty critters though."

"And have enough tranquilizers to drop a Katinan water buffalo in under a minute," Wolf chuckled. "We had a bit of a tight spot, but handled it pretty well. So, what about you guys?" He asked, the group trailing off into comparisons between their missions and the highlights of each.

Fox rolled his head, cracking his neck as he got back from a 'boy's night' with Falco and the others. Krystal's hovercar was already there. He closed the door to their apartment behind him, pulling off his vest.

"I'm home!" He called out, not sure which of the rooms she was in just yet.

"I was beginning to think Falco had seduced you." Her light, laughing voice drifted out from their bedroom. "Have fun?"

"Please, Katt would kill him, and you'd kill me," Fox chuckled, working his boots off before he headed towards the room. "And yes, we did. How'd lunch... well, I guess I don't have to ask if it left you in a good mood or not," he rumbled from the bedroom door to take in his girlfriend relaxed on their large bed, her fluffy blue and white fur highlighted by a deep blue negligee that covered a good deal less than her tail that was strategically draped between her legs and across her breasts.

"Yes, it was quite pleasant." She smiled and extended a hand towards him. "Care to join me?"

"Gladly," he rumbled, pulling his shirt off and climbing up into bed with her. He wrapped his leanly muscled arms around her, kissing her deeply and found her as willing as she looked.

Her hands ran down his sides, ruffling his thick red and white fur while her tail pressed up against his groin. "Some days I miss you too much." She murmured as their mouths parted and she shifted her arms up and spread her legs a bit, her sensually dressed body on best display for his eyes and hands.

"Mmm ... I'll always come back to you," he promised her, his hands exploring her front and sides skillfully as he kissed her neck. "I miss you too though ... makes nights like this even better."

"Yes, it does," she whimpered softly in desire, instinctively pressing into his touch.

Fox stripped his pants and briefs off quickly, rolling on top of his mate and kissing her with a deep, burning passion as she wrapped her legs around his and rubbed her sex against his. He knew this mood, and relished in it.

He reached down with one hand to lightly finger the slick fur and flesh between her legs, heightening the scent of her arousal around them.

"Please," Krystal whimpered and thrust her hips up even as she spread her knees wide, encouraging him to sink into her body and sate the empty feeling there.

He rubbed his cock against her slick lips for a moment, then shifted down, pressing up into her with a low groan of pleasure as he filled her tight sex. He stilled for a moment, allowing both their shivers of anticipation to pass. No matter how many times they did this, it always felt incredible and he wanted it to last as long as possible.

He moaned deeply when she squeezed down around his shaft and began to rock her hips.

"Mate me, lover." Krystal whispered into his mouth and reached down to squeeze his hard ass, pressing down to drive him deeper into her body.

He responded by thrusting into the rocking of her hips, quickly finding a rhythm that they both enjoyed. He shifted his thrusts, rubbing against the front of her inner walls, his pelvis rubbing against her clit. He relished in the whimpers as she held him tightly, her body clinging to him in every way.

They both let out a small yelp as his knot began to swell and made each thrust require a bit more strength to continue.

"Tie me," she cried out as her body arched up and clamped down around him.

He pulled back, almost all the way out of her, and then thrust forward, hard, forcing his knot past the tight ring of muscle at her entrance. He kissed her hungrily, squeezing his eyes shut as he groaned into her mouth, the hyper-sensitive flesh at the base of his knot pulling at her entrance as he started making short, rapid thrusts that rubbed his tip against her g-spot, his balls twitching as pleasure burned in his loins.

"Oh yes." Krystal welcomed the incredible tightness and squeezed down hard around him, encouraging his orgasm to flood her body.

Fox let out a high pitched yip as his body spasmed, his balls pouring their contents into his lover's body. His cock throbbed and twitched inside of her with each spurt of thick, hot cum, his powerful body shaking lightly.

"So sweet," Krystal murmured, rubbing his back and nuzzling him as they came down slowly.

"You're incredible," he rumbled, nuzzling her neck, licking the pale fur of her throat affectionately.

"So are you," she gave his cock another squeeze and nuzzled him in return. "You know that I've been studying my staff again?"

"Mmm ... yeah," he nodded, rubbing her sides lightly and snuggling against her.

"I'll be ready to go back to Cerinia soon," she murmured. "To unlock the rest of its powers."

"We're going to be coming back, right?" He asked her.

"That is my plan," she smiled and nuzzled him reassuringly. "I do need the Great Fox and crew, after all."

"Just checking," he smiled, kissing her gently. "Going to be a long trip."

"Not as long as last time," she chuckled. "Obi-Wan is driving Slippy crazy making modifications to the Great Fox. He says it'll only be a few months each way."

"Probably driving him crazier not explaining the mods," Fox chuckled. "Mmm ... so ... anything besides upgrading the ship and figuring out what else the staff can do before we get going?"

"Not really, but there are a few things to do on the way." She smiled warmly. "I planned to invite SunWind and his packmate along. Not only has he helped with the staff, but he also met the space whales ... and your father ... coming back from Sauria."

"What?" Fox asked, stopping in mid-nuzzle to look up at Krystal. "...You're serious, aren't you?"

"Yes, and so was he." She nodded and drew him up for a tender kiss. "The gravity bomb didn't kill him, it shoved him into the dimension that the warp zone passes through. He can't come here any more, but in the warp zone, he can talk to us."

"That's what he told me," Fox murmured, kissing Krystal softly, pressing against her as he thought about it. "Damn... ten years I've been thinking it was just wishful thinking and the black hole playing tricks with my head, but there's no reason SunWind would run into the same thing...."

"And I can tell you he was not lying and not hallucinating." She nodded serious. "He had quite a conversation with the space whales."

"Damn it," Fox whispered, pressing his cheek against her chest softly. "Ten years... we could've been trying to find a way to get him back... could've at least talked to him...."

"The past is over, Fox," she gently stroked the fur of his face. "Now we know. At least now we know he'll be able to meet his grand-pups when they come."

"Yeah," Fox murmured softly, closing his eyes and wrapping his arms tightly around Krystal. "Wish it worked that way with Mom too...."

"I'm sure she knows, wherever she is." She nuzzled him.

Sliding Time 2: Mission Parameters

NC-17 for F/M and M/M sex
Het Level is LowHet Smut Level is Low
Slash Level is Slash Smut Level is Low
Femslash Level is None
Herm Level is None

165 KB, Story is Complete, Series is Finished
Written January 25, 2006 by Rauhnee Ranshanka and Karl Wolfemann

Setting: Biker Mice from Mars, Star Fox, Star Wars Episode 1, World of Darkness (generic)

Primary Races: Avian, Feline, Fox, Human, Loup Maru, Mice, Wolf

Contents: Furry. Het (M/F). Slash (M/M). Alternate Universe

Pairings: Obi-Wan/Qui-Gon (in abstansia), SunWind/Wolf O'Donnell, Falco/Katt, Fox McCloud/Krystal

Notes: Many thanks to Annie Booker for going over this monster for spelling and such. She was a great help and any issues that remain are my fault.

Setting: Star Fox (Post-Adventures, Pre-Assault)
Main Characters: Obi-Wan Kenobi (Star Wars), Throttle (BMFM), Fox McCloud, Krystal, Falco, Wolf O'Donnell (Star Fox).

Fandom notes: Biker Mice from Mars (post series +20 years and merged with World of Darkness)
Star Fox (Post-Adventures, Pre-Assault)

Blurb: Obi-Wan joins Star Fox, SunWind has joins Wolf to begin a new pack of their own. The question soon becomes one of crossed loyalties and how much hatred truly exists between the two team leaders.

Disclaimer: All things taken directly from the sources listed under 'Fandoms' belong to the owners of those shows. No harm is intended and we're definitely not making any money. Now, the things we created are ours, and if you see 'Non-FanFic' up there, it's probably all ours.

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