An Evil of a Century

A/N: Little one-shot blurb, written pretty late just now ;D I actually got the idea from listening to the Franz Ferdinand remake of HBMS's "The World's Gone Mad" cos of one line that I thought was cool... (see title)

This takes place mid-Assault, obviously after the "Into the Storm" level. Some of the concepts and ideology may be pretty cliché, but the question we must ask ourselves now is, did that stop me? That said, uh… R/R or... OR ELSE. D :

- - - - -

"Those without strong wills can easily be turned to evil…"

Five minutes after departing Fichina's ethereal atmosphere, Fox finally cast a backwards glance. His mind could rest at ease for a while now; the climate control center had been salvaged from the Aparoid menace.

From space, the planet appeared as a milky white marble. It esteemed him to know that he and his team were its saviors.

"Wooow! It's gorgeous from up here," Slippy's fawning voice echoed Fox's thoughts. To some degree. "I'm so glad we chased away those dumb Aparoids."

"It is beautiful." Krystal echoed. "I think we have Fox to thank."

He reddened, though invisibly from outside the cockpit. Krystal was always pinning all the credit on him…

"Hey, don't forget whose wing our great hero was blasting away from." A third voice retaliated over the comm. It was a good-natured reply of course - at least Fox thought so, it was difficult to tell sometimes - and he knew that Falco respected him just as much as anyone else on the team.

"Peppy here. Good job, team. Report back to the Great Fox immediately. General Pepper wishes to speak with you."

Fox sighed. Peppy tended to sound like a broken record. He made it easy to believe there was always something to be done, always a resistance to be trampled, always a leader to talk with…

"One of these days he's going to say "Good job team, now come eat a decent meal and relax for a week" and none of us will understand what he wants us to do." Falco crowed, and Fox chuckled under his breath. But this comment came and went almost as quickly as it was spoken.

He glanced down at the buttons, the control gear, the steering mechanisms; everything he knew by heart.

Fox McCloud, a mercenary's boy, had spent his entire life around machinery. In fact, he was ready to admit that he felt more at home in the cockpit of an Arwing as he did at his actual designated "home" growing up. In the Arwing, his own father's pride, he knew he had at his hands the power to change the course of the future. He battled his recklessness with the knowledge that, if his own life were taken from him, it would mean thousands of others as well - thousands who had been counting on him to pull through.

The Arwing was the weapon of his will, the samurai's sword. But even then, it was still, as Peppy would joke lightheartedly, "a bunch of screws and bolts". It was a completely subjective machine, doing exactly as it was told without a thought to the cause it was operating for.

But these thoughts hadn't been the ones that had plagued him on Fichina. Granted, they were similar, but people and machines were different on one issue entirely: free will.

It was hard to believe how a bright, talented graduate of a prestigious flight academy could so easily discard a vast future with the rewarding Cornerian military. Fox knew at the same time, however, that though their ambitions had started off one and the same, he and Wolf had always been wired a little differently; Fox sought after the justice and glory of the name his father had left him, Wolf was after the thrill…

The thrills of his renegade, space-pirate life, of course, had been traded up for greater responsibilities in recent years. He knew of priorities, authorities, and strategy to the same, or greater, degree of Fox himself, but by different means than running errands for General Pepper.

"Whoo, hey Fox, check out that narrow gap up ahead! Think you can make it?" He managed to catch wind of Falco's Arwing shooting out in front of his own, performing all kinds of stunts and tricks to dodge the stray space rocks that lay randomly in his path. Like Wolf, Falco had also been in it for the thrill…

"Fox, no. Don't follow his example." Krystal was saying, in that lecturing-parent tone she got from time to time, to be met with an indignant scoff from Falco's end. "He's going to get himself killed someday,"

"Hey, life's too short. Live it up while you can, eh, Foxie?"

Fox watched as Falco swerved dangerously close to the large meteor below them, then narrowly slipped into a crevice in the surface. Fox actually felt his throat stiffen in alarm before Falco resurfaced seconds later, his cheer echoing through the comm..

Wolf and Falco never had been very different, had they? Hot-blooded thrill seekers weighed down with precious ego, they'd been in the academy. But Wolf found his cheap laughs in disturbing places, and Falco, a cutting edge, was mostly easygoing and generally aloft until somebody messed with him, and then he was nothing but persistent attitude.

"Preparing to dock, Peppy." Fox announced, his view of space now completely obscured by the Great Fox's mass.

What really unnerved him is that he couldn't imagine it turning out any other way; if anyone could ever get away with ravaging the galaxy, occasionally engaging in insult-flinging melees with Fox and his team, and raiding barren space mines, it was his old comrade, Wolf O'Donnell.

"Hey… Falco." He started, not knowing yet where he was going with it. "Isn't it strange… Old Wolf's in charge of his own sector, bossing people around like he's always wanted to…"

"Hey, yeah, that's right. So how come Fox doesn't get his own little corner of space, huh?" Falco exclaimed, delving facefirst into the wrong part of the sentence. "You could get a big floating base built in your honor, hire a bunch of slums to yell at those people passin by, and then one day Wolf would bust into your headquarters, firing weapons like NO tomorrow…"

Falco maintained this metaphor longer than Fox cared to listen.

Andross, a brilliant mind corrupted by delusions of revenge. Soldiers of Venom, upset over a tangled web of political imperfections. Wolf, living in the thrill of villainish luxuries that came from being a mercenary of the resistance. Andrew for glory, Pigma for greed. Leon was the only one Fox couldn't quite place; war and violence disinterested him, as did everything, but they seemed to be his primary reasons for even bothering to put forth any effort in this battle…

But even then, Fox concluded, Leon couldn't be evil. Then who - or what was?

Vengeance. Politics. Thrill. All were forms of corruption, and driving factors that caused people to do evil things.

But wasn't Team StarFox just as subjective to these evils as anybody else? And if so, why Wolf… why not Falco? Faced with the same opportunities, the same friends, similar motives…

He tried to clear his head for just a moment. He would be speaking with General Pepper soon, the oh so familiar routine briefing and debriefing. Falco would have his feet on the table, Peppy would soak up the information like a dormant sponge, Slippy would make frequent remarks and Krystal would infer things from the Aparoid behavior. Then they would work as a team, that was a given.

The will to love was just too great.