Author Note: Yes, folks. This is the last chapter! Thanks for the patience with my writer's block/lack of time, and I truly hope you enjoyed this story.
When a lot of people think of Fox McCloud, they think of this unstoppable mercenary that, with a mere spoon, can mow through a whole army if he felt like it. But while that may be true, if not also exaggerated, I was also as Cornerian as the average person from my planet, which meant I was as human as the average person from Earth. Because of that, there are many times when I lose hope.
As I write this, I could remember vividly how I felt that day… or night. I felt hopeless as I was surrounded by many soldiers with enough fire power to leave us dead without a discernable corpse. And in the center of the squad was Dahlia herself, with Claudia to her left.
Hopeless. Completely hopeless. I wish I was exaggerating, but I wasn't. In my years of experience as a mercenary, I've been through many a situation. I've been strapped down to tables and hooked up to electrodes. I've had weighted placed upon my chest, threatening to crush. I've been surrounded by security drones that were infected by a technorganic, insectoid race. You name something outrageous, seemingly inescapable scenario, and I can tell you how I escaped it.
However, I couldn't see a way out of this one. I ran every scenario in my head. But nothing seemed even remotely close to happening.
Dahlia smiled at her daughter.
"My dear, why would we give up when we had you in our hands the whole time?" she mockingly mused as she lifted her hands, revealing the fetus that Ness coughed up. "Did you really think things were going to be so easy?"
"Actually, yeah," Kerri quipped. Dahlia merely laughed.
"Well you thought wrong. This whole time we were playing you. The monsters you faced, they were mere distractions." Her smile became a little bit more sadistic, if that was even more possible. "But you should be glad. You did those monsters a favor by killing them."
"How so?" Samus asked, her voice echoing slightly under the helmet.
"Did you ever wonder why you found very few people before you found us?"
I blinked. I then felt my stomach churn.
"No…" Samus whispered in a tone audible to only herself and I. I dropped the gun that was in my hand.
"The people of Silent Hill seemed like a good bunch, don't they?" Dahlia continued. "But what's on the surface can hide what's underneath. So many rotten people lived in this town. Good people in public, but in private, they were as rotten as they come. Adulterers, murderers, rapists, people filled with contempt for one another. So we did what we had to save this town, so we sacrificed many children in the hospital that one night. That included you, too, Kerri. You even screamed the loudest!" Kerri shuddered in her place, struggling to hold back tears. I slightly hiccupped as Dahlia went on. "And just like that, I turned them into the monsters they are."
"Does that mean my parents also?" Kerri asked in despair.
"I'll tell you the truth. They were amongst the first to die at your so-called family's hands." That put Kerri over the edge.
"You heartless bitch!" the young ghost yelled as she rushed forward towards Dahlia. "I'LL KILL YOU!" Before she could take three steps, I felt a sharp numbing pain between my shoulder and my chest. I fell to one need, clenching my jaw as I put a hand over what was now a bloody bullet wound. Kerri stopped and turned towards me.
"You can try to. But how much do you love your father?" After a few seconds I felt cold arms around me and heard sobbing.
"Che, you shouldn't be worrying about me," I scolded. Nonetheless, I wrapped an arm around her as she cried. I held her close, focusing on her so I could keep my mind of the fact that I may have slaughtered thousands of innocent people.
"You all should feel honored that you all lasted this long, and with such a colorful cast, too. Two lonely galactic soldiers who just can't hold back their desire for bestiality, an orphan who lost her caring parents, another orphan who never had caring parents, and two biggest traitors in a useless clone and a Benedict of a daughter who betrayed her own mother after-"
"After you locked me inside of our home and burned it down!" Alessa yelled.
"Of course," Dahlia said with a laugh. "But I digress. For your admittedly annoying fortitude, I will give you one gift." She then cocked her, thoughtfully tilting her head to the side. "Two gifts, actually."
She turned towards Claudia. "Gift number one. You get to witness the rebirth of the Supreme Ruler!" She handed Claudia the fetus, who accepted it with a nod. As she held it in her hands, she took a deep breath before bring her hands towards her mouth. She then swallowed the fetus.
Nothing happened at first. Then I heard her stomach churn as she dropped to one knee. Dahlia and the rest of her personal army backed away, leaving a huge radius for Claudia and us. I immediately came to my feet as Claudia started to grow in size. I wanted to run. I knew all of us wanted to just run away and regroup, and live to fight another day. Unfortunately, we didn't have that option. We only had two options: nothing, and like it. And since we didn't like the last option, there was absolutely nothing we could do.
Claudia's became larger and larger, and her hair became black. Her skin was even paler than before and her height went from being measured in feet to being measured in stories. Her eyes became completely white. Not glowing, just white. And black wings sprouted from her back. She was no longer clothed as she flapped her new set of wings and hovered above the ground. She actually looked majestic. But I knew better.
"So this is what the devil looks like," I said. I then turned towards Dahlia. "So this is your gift? Your gift sucks!"
"I'm sure you'll love gift number two," she yelled back from the distance. "To give you a sporting chance at escaping, I will only have one of you slaughtered at God's hand." She scratched her chin. "And I choose…" She then pointed straight at me. "YOU!"
"What?!" Kerri yelled out.
"Take me instead!" Samus pleaded, stepping in front of me. "You can't kill him. Please, just -"
I placed a hand on her steal shoulder. She looked over it, her eyes piercing through her visor.
"Go…" I whispered.
"If you don't go, all six of us will be killed. And I'm not letting anyone die in my place. Go." She turned around and removed her helmet. She clenched eyes before opening them again, revealing the first tears of despair I've ever seen gracing her face. She pulled me close and gave me a final kiss. This one was long, long enough for me to savor it. I clenched my eyes shut, trapping tears. I wasn't going to give them the satisfaction of seeing me cry.
"Love between a woman and her pet," Dahlia cooed mockingly. "But you are such a bad parent, Fox, abandoning your family for the quick relief of death. How selfish of you." This brought a snort from Alessa.
"I must have forgotten when you were such a textbook example of a good parent that you're in position to judge," the burnt teen spat. "Unlike you, who locked me up into house and burnt it down while I was still in it, this man is still 100 times the parent you will ever be."
"Let it go," I said glumly. I sighed as I looked up at Dahlia. "Let's get this over with."
I looked out of the window of the Arwing as we floated over the noticeable fog that engulfed an area of the town of Silent Hill.
"That's where Fox is, huh?" I said with a slight frown. I then brought my hand up to my head, groaning slightly. "I can feel the evil from here."
"You okay, Zelda?" Falco asked from the front seat.
"I can manage. Just fly close. I'll give you the signal." As I said this, I touched both sides of the cockpit, chanting the spell in a low murmer. I felt the craft's movements as it descended, making slight adjustments. I kept on murmuring the spell, with my thoughts focused on Fox and Samus. Especially Samus.
I won't let you die!
My hands that to glow, and I started to feel the magic infuse itself into the Arwing. I smiled.
Immediately, two beams of light were fired. They weren't of the normal green or blue variety: this one was pure white. I watched them charge straight forward into fog. Nothing happened at first. I waited a few moments, with each moment passing like an agonizing hour. Just before I gave up hope, I started to see the fog dissipate gradually. In about fifteen minutes, the fog was completely done. I laughed and clapped my hands.
"Yeeeees!!" I yelled out, smiling. From the reflection on the glass, I saw smile grace Falco's face. He reached for a button.
"Slippy," he said. "We're done here. Try to contact Fox now."
I looked down at the ground, keeping a stone-like façade. But the fact of the matter was I was panicking underneath. I was going to die. Not "most likely to die", not "could die". I was going to die. Sighing, I looked the Devil in her eyes.
"I'm a fair woman, Fox!" Dahlia yelled out. "So before you die, I must ask, do have any last words?"
"Fox, can you read me?" I heard a voice ask over my headset. I couldn't believe at first.
"It's me, Slippy. I'm communicating from Great Fox. If you can hear me, say something."
"Well, Fox, do you?"
And just like that, I felt a twinge in my heart. I knew what that twinge was. It was hope.
I startled to chuckle. The chuckle then evolved into a riotous maniacal laugh. As I did so, I felt the stares of my family on me. I wondered if they thought I snapped. It went on like this for about a minute before my face became deathly serious.
"One word," I whispered as my eyes started to glow. I then took a deep breath. "LANDMASTER!!!!"
My eyes widened to the size of saucers as I heard those words. I then saw sensor on the panel, indicating a Wi-Fi launch. I pressed a key on the console and a screen popped-up, showing one of the Landmaster tanks being digitized. I smiled. I pressed another button on the console.
"Falco," I said over the intercom. "Expect some fireworks."
I felt it. I felt the tank form around me. I started to rise from the ground as the seat formed around me. I was no longer staring at the mob through my own eyes. I was now looking through a monitor, smile plastered on my face. I could see the looks on their face. It was the same look I've seen on countless crooks and masterminds, face to face, or on the movie screen. It was the one when they thought they had everything under control and everything seemed to go their way, only to find out that the one thing that could possibly go wrong did go wrong. The only thing I regretted about that moment was that they couldn't see the look on my face. The one that would have said… "Yes, that just happened".
They stood there, frozen from shock. I scanned the monitor before turning the turret towards the left and letting loose a blast from the cannon towards a third of Dahlia's cult. By the time green-white light faded, all that was left was a very faint vapor. Right afterwards, a blue blast took out another third. I didn't even look to see who it was. My family was free, and Samus was pissed. Not a good combo for them.
I saw Dahlia back up before she turned to run. However, she was immediate shot at the knee. Alessa appeared on the screen, Colt. 45 in one hand, knife in the other. I put the Landmaster in gear, letting Alessa attend to her business. I decided to wreak more havoc as I let loose short pulses of burning light with near-reckless abandon, as the base starting going up in flames, I started to feel that familiar feeling in my gut. This was too easy.
I started to realize why when I felt a vibration as something struck the tank. I pressed a key on the console, which brought up the 360 cockpit view as well as the radar. I then saw her. The Devil itself.
As Alessa stood over her mother's now mutilated corpse, he heard the sound flapping wings. She, along with the rest of the motley crew, stared up at the summoned demon. Standing twenty feet away from Alessa was Samus, who pressed a few buttons on her cannon, increasing the weapon's power. Ness released his mental hold on a soldier's neck, letting him plummet to the ground as the young psychic's attention turn towards the demon that was hovering teen feet above the ground.
DFX-10 stood there, his eyes transfixed on the new enemy. Just a few feet away was Kerri, mirroring DFX's actions. From his seat in the tank, Fox swallowed a lump in his throat. He knew this was it.
The beast flew upward, which prompted Samus to fire a blast at its wings. The creature dodged to her right, before returning the favor by breathing out a huge fireball. Samus shrunk into her infamous Morph Ball form and rolled out of the way as the projected hit the vacated area with meteor-like impact.
During this whole action, Ness floated behind the creature.
"PK Fire!" he yelled out as he shot a small ember from his hands. The ember travelled through the air towards the demon, as it did, it erupted into a huge fireball of its own. The creature flinched from the blow. But it merely growled in anger as it took a swipe at Ness with its hand. The young telekinetic descended quickly, narrowly escaping the attack.
The demon then felt a sharp pain in the back of her shoulder. She turned around in the air to see DFX holding a pistol in his hand.
Fox, using this moment of distraction to his advantage fired shots from the tank's cannon. The Demon, as Fox referred to it in his mind, was able to weave through the shots before descending on the armored vehicle. Before Fox could roll away, the Landmaster was within the Demon's grasp. As he was raised into the air, Fox pulled back on a lever, triggering the G-Diffuser. However, the Demon's grip was strong and she flew straight into the air.
"You're not going to like this," she yelled out as ascended into the sky. However, before she could go any further, one of her wings were suddenly frozen. She looked on her shoulder to see Kerri sitting there, a smile on her face.
"Hi, I'm Kerri."
From the ground, Samus fired a rocket from her arm cannon, aimed directly at the wing. The rocket exploded on impact, shattering the wing. As the Demon, Fox pulled the lever again, this time freeing himself from the Demon's grasp. As he landed, the Demon fell to the ground. Ten yards away, Samus's cannon started to glow.
"We've been here long enough!" Samus yelled before bring her weapon forward. "This isn't going to be some long battle that goes back and forth. We're ending this crap, now!" Her whole suit started to glow. "ZERO LASER!" She shot a large beam at the Demon, engulfing her in the blast.
Ness, still floating in the air, raised his hands. As he did so, the sky opened up, revealing a starry night.
"PK STARSTORM!" he screamed as meteors started to fall from the sky.
Fox, after landing, turn his tank around.
"Computer, divert all power to weapons."
"Weapons at 500%."
As I fired the blast, I saw it combine with both Samus's and Ness's attack. I didn't get to see the aftermath. All I saw was one large white light, and then darkness.
When I woke up, I found myself in a white room, lying on top of a matching bed. I turned towards my right to see a heart monitor. I brought my eyes downward, following the cords to find it attached to my body. I sat up from the bed, pulling the monitor's cords off of me. I didn't know where I was. I didn't hear anything that would spark alarm, nor did I smell anything. I took one inhale and realized where I was. I was in the one place I dreaded the most: the infirmary. And for once, I was happy.
My head jerked to the left as I saw a tall figure walk into the room. He had a beard and a bandana wrapped around his head, and wore something similar to a Black Ops uniform.
"I see you're awake," he said. "Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Snake, a new Smasher here, as well Master Hand's new operative." I nodded at him. "I was one of the two people who tracked you down. The other one was Pit. The angel."
"I see," I said. "Where's Samus and Ness?"
"They are in other wings, getting monitored. They are okay."
"That's good," I said with a smile. "How were you guys able to rescue us?"
"It took us some time. The whole town of silent hill was surrounded by this thick fog. That fog was like an EMP and radar jammer all rolled into one. We couldn't find you via the signal from your headset because all of our electronic systems were compromised. And whenever we flew in a drone, it would burn the casing and completely shut down the device. We couldn't get to you until Zelda casted her spell. And even then, we had to wait until the fireworks died down." Snake smiled slightly. "You three know how to leave a place in disarray. I could have used your services when FOXHOUND turned togue."
"Is that an offer?" I asked jokingly. "Well, what happened with the other three?"
"DFX-10 is busy trying to find a new name and Alessa…." He paused for a few seconds. I started to get a bad feeling in my gut. I never liked that feeling. Whenever I got that feeling, that meant something was wrong. "Alessa is in the garden, mourning."
"Mourning? For what?"
Snake went silent as he brought his eyes downward. "Kerri…. Kerri apparently faded away."
"When I met your parents, I found out that they are ghosts. Well, except for your mother. She's somewhere between ghost and alive. But the point is they have been that way since this place came about. And quite frankly, if they weren't ghost before Silent Hill, they probably won't be afterwards."
I remembered when Samus told me that. And yet it never occurred to me that it would also apply to Kerri. My bottom lip started to quiver.
"Snake, please leave the room."
He looked up at me and nodded in understanding before going through with my wish. He walked towards the door and opened it. Before he exited, he looked at me one more time.
"I'm sorry," he said. I nodded before he left the room.
As soon as he was out of sight, I broke down, shoving my face into my hands. I loved Kerri. She was my daughter. And during the few down times we had after I met her, I always thought of bringing her with us so we can be one whole family. But I guess Silent Hill couldn't go away without making me pay in some way, shape, or form. A part of me inside my head laughed bitterly as the flow of tears increased, pointing out how I tried to sacrifice myself for the rest of them, but it was Kerri who became the lamb. What made it worse? I couldn't even say goodbye.
Two Years Later….
It took us a while. We all mourned for months. But eventually we were able to pull ourselves together.
When it was deemed safe, all of the Smashers put together a party, celebrating our well being. It was a rather festive affair, and I got to meet all of the new Smashers, including my new roommate R.O.B., who reminded me of R.O.B. from Great Fox.
During the past two years, all five of us went through sessions with Dr. Mario. It was something that Samus and I needed especially. While we had no scruples killing pirates, terrorists, murderers, and the like, it took us some time to get over the fact that we took so many innocent lives. We were so supposed to be above that. It took Dr. Mario months to get into our heads that we didn't kill them intentionally and considering the circumstances, we probably did them a favor.
Alessa was able to go under a new procedure that allowed her to look normal again. It really did a number for her, as she started a relationship with Luigi.
Samus and I later wedded, with Falco and Zelda as the best man and maid of honor, respectively, and Ness as the ring bearer. DFX-10, who now goes by Derek, was present, as well as most of the Smashers. After the event, we took a break from the Bounty Hunter/Mercenary business to focus on family life, but we were eventually right back at it. It didn't put a strain on us, plus it paid the bills. I guess that's one of the perks of marrying someone who shares your line of work.
Alessa eventually became a Smasher herself, and already won a few tournaments. Derek joined Star Fox team, making the fifth Arwing active again.
But despite all the good news, I still couldn't completely get over Kerri. It came to a point where, every week, I took a drive through the city to clear my head. It helped kept me from breaking down at random times, but I had a feeling that it couldn't keep on going on.
Then I was on what would be my last drive to clear my head. Along the way, I grew hungry, so I stopped at a Burger King. I fed on a Double Whopper and looked out the window I was next to. Just across the street was Nintendo Memorial Hospital. I sighed as the sight sparked another memory of Kerri.
"I chose the right place to eat," I mumbled sarcastically.
"Excuse me," I heard a voice said. I looked up at the source of the voice. It was brunette nurse, about 5'3", dressed in blue scrubs. "I'm sorry to interrupt you, but I must ask, are you… Fox McCloud?" I looked left and right, making sure no one heard that. I wasn't in the mood to get mobbed by some fans. Once I confirmed that I was safe, I turned back to the woman and nodded. "Great. Allow me to introduce myself. I'm Lisa Granger. I'm a nurse at the pediatric ward of Nintendo General. I just want to know if you could do me a huge favor."
"Depends," I answered. "What is that favor?"
"If it is not a bother, I would like you to meet someone. She's a little girl. A very smart girl at that. She enjoys watching you fight in the tournaments, and it would really help brighten her day."
"I see. What is her illness?"
"It's not an illness, per se." Her eyes became downcast. "She's going through some issues. She lost her parents."
"Oh." I couldn't help but a feel a certain pain my heart. I had a soft spot for children who lost their parents. But then again, I was a child who lost his parents, so it would be normal for me to have that soft spot, right? After a few moments of contemplation, I nodded. "Okay, let's see her."
After a short walk across the street, followed by a somewhat longer elevator ride, I was behind Lisa, who stopped in front of the doors. She then looked at me.
"Go in, she doesn't," Lisa said with a chuckle. I gave a slight smile before walking in.
And there she was, a girl playing with a Rubik's Cube, seemingly having most of the sides done. She stopped and looked up at me, a little startled. I myself was startled, for she was a splitting image of…. No, it couldn't be.
"Irrek m'I, ih," she said. I raised an eyebrow. She blushed. "Sorry." She stood up and walked over to me, her hand outstretched. "Hi, I'm Kerri." I took her hand, smiling as I did so, and shook it.
"I'm Fox McCloud," I said. "Pleased to meet you."