Summary: Kyla is a troublemaking fox girl at the orphanage she grew up in. She has never known any parents, nor does she ever want to. But after an attempt to rob someone of their cash, everything goes wrong. Kyla is hauled into the headmistress's office after she is caught, but instead of being punished as she expects, she is informed that she has a father!
Fox McCloud does not know how to take the fact that he now has a teenage daughter. Naturally, he brings Kyla to live with him and his crew on the Great Fox and to perhaps eventually make her into a member of Team Starfox. But she is rebellious and disrespectful, wanting nothing to do with him.
When Team Starfox goes missing, will Kyla take it upon herself and the friends to search out the man whom she believes to have abandoned her, and attempt to rescue him?
In a room located on the third floor and near the back of the Zoness Central Lylatian Orphanage, faint clicking noises could be heard from the direction of the door, or, more specifically, the door lock.
On the other side of the door, a teenage fox girl stood with her ear cocked close to the door lock. She was listening intently to the sound of the lock pick that she was turning gently in the keyhole beneath the knob. The keyhole and the wooden door were prime examples that the orphanage was practically ancient, built back in the time before keycards and number pad locks or automatically sliding metal doors. It was these old types of locks that the fox girl was a master at picking.
"Kyla, how's it coming?" came a velvet smooth voice with a Zonessian accent from around a nearby corner of the hall.
"It's comin'," the fox hissed in her own rough accent, a mixture of many other accents from around the Lylat System that she had picked up from the other foreign kids in the orphanage. "Now shut up so I can hear what I'm doin', Oska. You just keep your eyes peeled for anyone comin'."
"Telling me to shut up when she's the one doing all the talking?" the voice -it was deep, male- grumbled quietly.
The fox, Kyla, smiled at the remark. Suddenly, her ears pricked forward at the sound of a double click from the lock she was picking. "Hahar!" the fox laughed quietly. "I'm in, Oska."
"Alright. Hurry up already, before she comes back from lunch," Oska urged.
Kyla needed no second bidding. She pocketed her lock pick, then gently turned the brass doorknob. The door swung open silently; Kyla had already oiled the hinges with a small flask of vegetable oil that she always carried with her along with her lock picks.
The black fox tiptoed silently on bare feet across the threadbare carpet to the big wooden desk right across the room from the door. She walked around to the back of the desk and pushed the old rolling chair out of the way. The wheels squeaked a bit as she moved it behind her, but Kyla was not worried about the sound. It was too minute for anyone else to hear. She began opening the large drawers and pawing through them, rifling through boring looking papers so that she could feel the bottoms of the drawers for any switches to a secret compartment.
The fox had gotten information from a good source that this particular desk did indeed have secret compartment. It was supposed to contain the meager lifesavings of the owner of the room.
On the third drawer that she tried -a ridiculously big one at the bottom of the desk- Kyla find that the inside was not as big as the outside suggested. She hauled out the stack of files that was inside and set it on top of the desk. She felt around in the bottom, but could not find any kind of catch., so she decided that it must be one of the oldest and best concealed mechanisms for a secret compartment. She reached to the back and pressed down on the wood. When it did nothing, she raised her hand, then slammed her fist down on it. The front of the bottom of the drawer popped up in response.
Kyla grinned wolfishly as she reached in and pulled out a pile of credits. She rifled through them a bit, counting them quickly. This was great! There were a little over fifty credits in her hand. She and Oska would be able to half it and take twenty-five each, plenty of spending money in the poor town of Laasken that was home to the orphanage.
The fox's left ear instinctively swiveled around at the sound of wooden floorboards creaking from somewhere close to her. Her head snapped up and her emerald green eyes widened at the sight of an old mouse woman standing on the other side of the rolling chair with a small can of Pepper Spray pointed at Kyla's head. The fox girl held up her hands, the money still in one of them.
Kyla noticed the bathroom door behind the woman standing wide open and realized that that must have been where the old mouse had been all that time. Out of the corner of her eye, Kyla also saw a half-eaten sandwich lying on the desk surface and cursed herself for not having noticed it before. That would explain why the mouse was not at lunch. It also would explain why, when Oska and Kyla had arrived at their rendezvous point a little ways away from the door, they had never seen her exit her room. Because they had arrived late, the two had assumed that the mouse woman had already left to go eat in the cafeteria. How stupid!
Kyla's keen eyes caught the almost imperceptible movement of the woman's finger begin to press down on the activation button of the Pepper Spray.
The fox reacted instantly and dove over the desk. She heard the sound of the spray hissing out of the can as she hit the floor in a roll. Kyla jumped up and staggered dizzily and a little winded into the wall just outside of the door. She glanced back and saw the mouse talking swiftly on a central communicator that was sitting on the desk. Kyla cursed her ill luck softly. This entire thing was not going right. The mouse was not going to give chase as Kyla had hoped. Instead, she was wasting no time in calling in the cavalry, which would cut down on Kyla's lead considerably.
A giant of a black panther appeared from around the corner at the sound of Kyla's crash. "Jig's up, mate," Kyla gasped to him. "It's time we weren't here!" She tossed the wad of credits to Oska. "She hasn't seen you yet. Get it to a safe place."
The panther winked a purple eye at Kyla. "Right. Time for the fun. See you soon if they catch you."
The fox grinned roguishly back at him. "An' in a few days if they don't," she replied. Kyla was not worried too much about getting caught. What she was worried about was Oska. She completely trusted the panther to hide the money in a good place, but she did not trust him to not turn himself in as her accomplice if she were caught. He could be annoyingly noble-minded at times. The way things were going, Kyla hoped that her best friend would just be selfish for once.
Oska's eyes flicked toward the door to see if the mouse woman had noticed him. Seeing that she had not, he disappeared around the corner as Kyla took off in the opposite direction from which the panther had been standing guard earlier. The fox's path took her to a dark, windowless back hallway that had long ago been used as a storage place before it was forgotten completely. She did a swift turn to the left to enter the hallway, then remembered the piles of cardboard boxes and crates that had been left there and began dodging them as best she could. She had to peer through the dim light cast by the flickering halogen bulbs overhead to see any obstacles in her path, but the fox was nimble on her feet and was able to maintain at least a steady speed.
Suddenly, Kyla's heartbeat quickened as she caught the sound of a pair of swiftly moving feet from some distance behind her. She immediately knew that it was a cheetah who was named Blaze for his incredible speed. He was used by the officials of the facility to chase down any criminals in the orphanage that attempted to run away from their punishments. In the past, he had had to chase Kyla many times after her numerous misdemeanors and had even managed to catch the clever fox on a few accounts. It was he that the mouse woman had called, and he must have been really close at the time to have been able to catch up with Kyla so quickly.
Kyla came to a stretch of the hallway that she knew to be clear of boxes and leveled herself out in a flat run, hoping to gain more of a lead over her swift pursuer, who she guessed would most likely still be moving cautiously to avoid colliding with any boxes in the darkness. Kyla's hopes were rewarded when she heard the sound of Blaze's feet grow a bit fainter behind her.
She was making for a secret place that she knew to lead off of that hallway somewhere ahead of her, but she had to make it there before Blaze caught up to her. If he were too close behind, Kyla would not be able to hide without him seeing where she went. Thus, he would find the only hiding place that she had in the area, making his discovery of it something that she could not afford.
Without warning, Kyla's feet became entangled in a broken crate that she had not seen in a darker area of the hall and she fell with a heavy crash. Pain seared through her left leg as a bit of the broken wood cut a long gash in her calf. Kyla jumped up without stopping to examine her wound and continued on, knowing that Blaze was gaining on her every second that she was not moving. Kyla had a lot of respect for the cheetah that had managed to catch one of the fastest and cleverest creatures in the orphanage a few times, but she hoped that Blaze would meet the same fate that she had on the unintended trap.
When Kyla did not hear the sound of the cheetah running into the crate behind her, she knew that she had lost. She was almost to the secret hiding place, but Blaze was far too close behind her. Her breaths were coming in ragged gasps and the pain in her leg had slowed her down considerably. However, Kyla would not give up that easily. She decided to resort to one last ditch effort at escape.
Blaze ran steadily down the hallway, his long legs pounding the old, colorless carpet like pistons. He would normally have run a lot faster than he was running then, but his naturally long strides were hampered by the need to do so much dodging around a bunch of boxes and some large piles of crates that he found to be strewn throughout the hallway. He reflected that when he had to chase her, Kyla often led him through places like this where she had the advantage in knowing where the things to dodge were positioned.
Blaze had not been caught by the trap that Kyla had become acquainted to earlier because he had been warned by the sound of her crash, and had dodged around it easily. He had noticed that the sound of his prey had gotten louder and became sure that he was gaining on the swift fox again. This was confirmed by the telltale smell of blood around the area of the broken crate that told him that his quarry was injured and unable to run fast any longer.
A sudden silence up ahead caused the cheetah to prick his small round ears forward in surprise. Had she fallen again? He did not slow his pace, but it did not seem like the cunning fox to make the same mistake twice. However, Blaze had no time to ponder this because, as he passed a large pile of boxes on his right in a particularly dark area of the hallway, something rammed into him like a thunderbolt.
Blaze slammed into the wall opposite the boxes and coughed as the wind was driven from his body. He had no time to regain his breath as punches began rocketing into his sides and chest; all he could do was begin punching back in response. He could not see her because of her black coat, but Blaze had no doubt that his fierce opponent was Kyla. He would have known if it was really her equally dark-colored friend Oska that had ambushed him -perhaps to allow Kyla to get away- by his height and considerable strength.
"Kyla!" Blaze gasped between slugs. "I do not want to fight you. Please, just come back weeth me quietly so zat neither of us weel get hurt," he pleaded in a heavy Fortunan accent.
"I can't this time," Kyla replied, her voice laced with pain from her injured leg. "I've done a much worse crime than I've ever done before an' if they catch me now, they'll probably throw me in the Hole like they've been threatin' to do for so long." Blaze understood the fear in Kyla's voice at the mention of the Hole. Many in the orphanage knew that Kyla hated dark, tight places, and dark and tight was exactly what the Hole was.
Blaze was having difficulty in seeing Kyla to land a blow on her and she was taking advantage of it; hitting him in one place, then dodging away before he got a lock on her position to come at him from a different angle. But Blaze saw his chance when he caught sight of the glint of the fox's white fangs reflecting a flickering light that was coming from some distance away. He took his opportunity and used the sight of her fangs to pinpoint the location of her head, then brought his right hook smashing into Kyla's temple. She was out cold before she hit the floor.
Blaze watched the fox's prone form for a moment, his fists still raised to be ready if she was going to get back up again. When she did not, the cheetah slumped against the wall, gasping for air against the pain in his ribs and chest. He shook his head at the fox lying on the floor. "Oh Kyla. Methinks zat you are far to wild and fierce to be trapped in zees place." Once he had regained his breath, the cheetah tossed Kyla over his shoulder as if she weighed nothing and began carrying her back down the hall in the direction from which the two had come.
When Kyla came around, her head was pounding like a trip hammer, her leg was throbbing, and her lip was stinging. She ran her tongue over the place where her lip hurt and found a fresh scab growing over it. She concluded that one of her fangs must have cut her lip when Blaze had hit her head. Finding no other new damage, Kyla opened her eyes.
The darkness of the room that Kyla found was a welcome difference from the harsh white lights that she had expected. However, it was this difference in the light that told her that she was not at the Nurse's Station where she should have been. Curious as to why this was, she sat up from her reclining position on a couch to take stock of her surroundings.
The first thing she saw was Blaze sitting in an armchair against the wall next to the door, illumined by the soft golden light of a floor lamp standing next to his chair. He watched her intently with his golden eyes, his black-tipped tail twitching in anticipation as he waited to see if she was going to try making any moves to escape. Guessing at what he was thinking, Kyla shook her head at him. Judging by the throbbing pain in her leg, she was in no condition to run away at the moment.
Once he was certain that Kyla meant that shake of her head, Blaze turned to a desk set close to the wall on his left. "She ees awake," he announced.
Something stirred in the darkness, then another lamp came on, throwing light over a very old giraffe woman sitting behind the desk. She was dressed in a severe green jacket and wore no make up, a very plain woman. But there was one stunning thing about her that could not be seen so well through her plainness, and that was her well-known incredibly cold and merciless heart.
This was the woman who ran the Zoness Central Lylatian Orphanage. No one knew her real name and even the older matrons could not remember what it had been. Everyone who did not work for her, and even some who did, merely referred to her as 'the Witch'.
Kyla completely loathed this woman. She hated the way that the Witch ran things, the way she took most of the funding that the Cornerian government sent for the good of the orphanage and used it for herself, the punishments she meted out for some of the smallest and least punishable things, the way she kicked children if they got in her way when she was walking down a hall… The list of reason went on. Because of all of these things, Kyla often went out of her way to hassle the Witch in whatever way that she could.
The Witch watched Kyla from cold brown eyes for a moment. The room was small, so Kyla was already close enough to her to see by the rumpled look of her clothes and the puffiness of her eyelids that the woman had been sleeping in her chair. This made Kyla wonder what time it was. But judging from the lack of light streaming in through the open window behind the giraffe's chair, it was sometime in the middle of the night.
Finally, the giraffe spoke. "Come here," she commanded, biting off her words in that irritating way that annoyed Kyla to no end.
Unwilling to show that her leg was hurting her, Kyla swung off of the couch and strode jauntily across the room. Once she was in front of the giraffe, she lounged rudely against the desk and pretended to be bored with the Witch's presence by twisting one of her long locks of black hair around her finger. Just being around the Witch brought back horrible memories, one of which being the time that she had ordered that all of Kyla's hair be shaved off as a punishment for a harmful prank that the young fox girl had played on the giraffe when she was eleven. It was because of this woman that Kyla had developed a fierce hatred for any kind of authority.
"Why am I not at Nurse's place?" Kyla asked casually before the Witch started interrogating her. "That's obviously where I need to be."
The giraffe looked at her icily. "Because, Miss Kyla, the last time we sent you to the Nurse's office after you were injured during your escape from your punishment, you drugged the nurse and disappeared for a week." Kyla snickered at the memory.
Ignoring Kyla's amusement, the Witch busied herself with straightening a pile of papers that was sitting on her desk. "Where is the money, Miss Kyla?"
This was the question that Kyla had been expecting. She thought it comical that for once she was able to answer honestly. She spread her arms disarmingly. "I have no idea."
However, the broad grin that had spread across Kyla's muzzle when she said this convinced the Witch otherwise. "Tell me where it is."
Kyla blinked. For the first time ever, this command had not been followed up by the threat of some kind of terrible and occasionally painful punishment that usually came with it. "Y'can't force it outta me. I really don't know where it is."
"Then who does?" The Witch had obviously guessed by Kyla's statement that she had had an accomplice who did know where the cash was hidden. But because Kyla had turned up with several accomplices before, the Witch could not immediately pin it on Oska. That was a relief for Kyla, and the reason why she had done it that way in the past.
"No one, I guess," Kyla replied, feigning innocence. "I dropped it…" -she thought swiftly- "when I tripped over a broken crate when I was running."
The Witch looked at Blaze. The cheetah sighed. He did not like the Witch either, but she paid him to work for her while he had to remain at the orphanage. "She deed fall over a crate," he said to confirm Kyla's story. However, Kyla knew that Blaze knew that she was far more cunning than that. He would be certain that she would never have kept the money on her in the first place. He would not say this though. His job was to catch Kyla, not help with the interrogation.
The Witch reached over and pressed a button on the large, outdated comm.-link sitting on her desk. "Yes, ma'am?" a female voice asked from the speaker.
"Send a fast runner in here," the giraffe commanded.
"Blaze is not here. W-"
"I know that! Blaze is with me!" the Witch snapped, cutting the other person off impatiently.
"I was going to say, would you like me to send Regina?" the person on the other end continued, undaunted.
"Yes. She will do." The Witch cut off the transmission.
Almost instantly afterwards, a Great Dane girl walked through the door. "Yes, ma'am?" she asked of the Witch, standing at attention. Kyla leered at her in open loathing for anyone who sucked up to the Witch. The Great Dane ignored her.
The Witch barked out her orders in proper military fashion. "Go down the hall next to Missus Inch's room until you find another one that turns off of it. Should be full of old boxes and junk stored there. Find a broken crate somewhere close to the middle of the hallway and search around it for a bunch of credits. There should be around fifty there. Report back to me whether they are there or are not. Quick as you like!" It was apparent to Kyla that Blaze had already filled the Witch in on the details of the chase.
The Great Dane spun on her heel and dashed through the door without closing it. Blaze reached over from his seat and pushed the door shut to cut off the draft that crept through the orphanage at night. The Witch turned back to Kyla. "We shall see if your story proves to be true, Miss Kyla."
Kyla had her answer to this ready. She shrugged. "Somebody mighta picked it up by now if they went to investigate all the ruckus me an' Blaze stirred up."
The Witch 'harrumphed' at this. "I doubt that."
"But then how can you prove that I didn't have the money when I tripped over the crate?" Kyla asked, a devilish glint in her green eyes.
The Witch had no answer for this, so she changed the subject. "While we wait for Regina to get back, I have some important news for you."
Kyla picked at a sliver of wood on the desk, not particularly interested. She figured that what the Witch had to say was most likely whatever unusual punishment she had managed to think up for the unfortunate fox. At this thought, Kyla shot a glare at Blaze for having brought her back to this torturer. He only shrugged, not knowing really what she was giving him the look for.
The Witch opened one of her desk drawers and drew out two thick, green folders, then handed them to Kyla. She smirked, an expression that did not at all suit her. "We have found your father," she stated bluntly.
Kyla's eyes widened in shock. "What?" she yelped. Blaze was on his feet in surprise as well. Kyla had been at the orphanage the longest of everyone there, having been dropped off by her mother practically the day she was born. The mother had not shown herself, so Kyla had never even had a last name. Many had come to think that she had been born out of thin air.
"You will be even more surprised when you see who it is," the Witch hinted as she indicated the files in Kyla's hands.
Kyla looked down and saw that the tab on one of the folders had 'Kyla' printed on it in the Witch's neat hand writing. The other tab had -printed on it from a computer- the two words that changed Kyla's life from that night on: 'Fox McCloud'.