In January 2011, I went through this entire story and wrote down twenty or so (handwritten) pages of things to fix. I spent a great deal of time then and over that summer (late January-May disappeared into the void of art school) going through this story and trying to fix those things, enlistingCraft Lefty to do a once-over near the end of the process.

Then medical problems happened. Then I left for college. Rigorous coursework, essay-intensive classes, and a novel-writing class second semester basically killed Jaslazul.

Thanks to Crafty Lefty for reading through this whole thing and offering some suggestions along the way last summer. Also thanks to Chimerical Knave for reminding periodically that fan fiction still exists, and indirectly to Serpent P and Nitch who made me realize "Oh yeah, I had that thing that I never posted..."

Anyway, here it is. I suggest that you reread from the beginning, as there have been some minor plot changes. Every chapter has been tightly scrutinized, and especially the first chapters have changed significantly. It's not perfect, but better than what I had before, I think.

There's a ton of stuff that I still wish I could change, but the fact is, I would have to completely redo the story, or write a different story, to fix all of the issues I have with it. And I don't want to make that kind of commitment-this is an old story, and I would rather write new things than dwell on things I made in the past. But I didn't want what I did last year to go to waste. I decided that I would not go into another heavy editing process, and instead only touch up on the 2011 edits, and here's the product of it.

These are mostly presented as-is, though there is the very slight possibility that I will decide to edit a little again in the future. I encourage you to inform me if any obvious inconsistencies have made it through the revisions, though in general, for the reasons listed above I actually do not encourage much constructive criticism, if you're doing it with hopes of benefiting me.

Included is Chapter 14 as I wrote a year ago. I don't know if I will finish this story- as I said, I would generally rather write new things, and this story is already finished my head, with only the task of writing it left. However, that is a lot of effort, and this is an old story with a lot of problems.

I hope you enjoy the new version. It was admittedly a bit frustrating to edit, but it was well worth it, because I learned quite a bit from the process, and most importantly, it was lots of fun.

Chapter 14

Day Five, part two

Wolf didn't know how long he stood there, rereading the message. Keep calm, he told himself. Relax. Don't lose control. Pup knows how to take care of himself; he's probably fine. He was so focused that he didn't notice Leon's appearance until he spoke.

"Of all the times to go take a piss."

Wolf couldn't think of a comeback. He took a deep breath, still staring at the screen. "Please tell me he was wearing a vest."

"Of course he was wearing a damn vest." When Wolf looked up, Leon was still grim. "And the shooter knew it too."

Wolf swore. "It wasn't in the head, was it?"

"Would've been if the hare hadn't raised the alarm."

He felt tension fleeing his body. "And the weapon?"

"Ballistic."

"Damn. Toxins?"

"None. Whoever did it was either a cocky idiot or just a plain idiot."

Wolf jogged towards the stairs, and Leon trailed after him. "I hope you're not planning to talk to him," Leon said. "They're about to ship him out, and even if they aren't, I doubt anyone will want to see you."

Wolf growled at him, and the chameleon shrugged. "Just the truth. I bet some people are thinking we're the ones who did it. If I were them, I'd keep us as far away as I could."

They'd reach the stairs, and now they clambered upwards. There were less people here, but he still had to shove past an elderly raccoon. In Wolf's absence, he'd forgotten how cold and impersonal Leon was. "Then what do you propose I do?"

Leon shrugged. "They haven't found the sniper yet."

"Better hope they get there first." Wolf snarled and clenched his paws. "I'll tear her throat out if I catch her."

"Calm it down, stud." The last word had just the right inflection to make it mocking, but not annoying. "Mind telling me who shot him?"

They'd reached the ground level now, and the field entrance was only a short walk from their current location. "What makes you think I know?"

"I know all the scum in Corneria and none of them are stupid enough to shoot Fox. And unless you're a real misogynist..."

If Leon finished, Wolf didn't hear; he broke into a run as the entrance to the field came into view, snapping at people to make way as he shoved his way through the bystanders. Leon jogged behind him, and Wolf thought the chameleon said something about not wanting to attract any attention, but he didn't care. A path eventually cleared from him in the bottleneck of the entrance—but he knew it was only because nobody wanted to be too close to Wolf O'Donnell.

The entrance was guarded. Soldiers dressed in full, forbidding armor spanned the arch that led into the stadium's field, and they eyed him warily as he approached.

"Let me in," he said, almost panting.

One the soldiers, a weasel, shook his head. "Nobody goes in."

"Don't you know who I am?"

"We know exactly who you are." It was then that Wolf noticed how all their paws were at their weapons. "You're lucky we don't arrest you now, scum."

"You're an idiot. I'm..." His confidence wavered. What was he supposed to say, I'm Fox's boyfriend? He became aware of Leon's slick skin in contact with his fur, as if to say, leave it. "Fine," he said to both the chameleon and the guards. "I'll go."

The crowd stared at them as they left. Someone yelled an insult, but Wolf pretended he hadn't heard it. He'd lost count of how many times that had happened when Leon said to him, "Let's find lover-boy and get out of here."

"What're we doing about Fox?"

"There's nothing we can do this second," Leon hissed. "If he's going to die, there's nothing you do can stop it. Let's get somewhere where we can think."

Leon acting the leader made Wolf feel off-balance. "Okay. Do you know where Panther is?"

The chameleon glanced at his communicator. "Just follow me."

Wolf jogged to keep up with him. It took about five minutes of jogging, down the stairs and back into the complex, before the chameleon stopped outside a locked room. At his knock, the door slid open.

Panther was inside. "I managed to reserve this room for our purposes," he said, gesturing to a large display in the farthest corner, currently showing the Corneria Public News. "You missed the broadcast."

"Then start it over," Leon said.

"I'm working on it." Panther fumbled with the controls. It took a few minutes before he was able to get the beginning of the show on the screen, which showed reporters quibbling in the studio, giving blurbs of information that Wolf had already heard. About two minutes it, it cut to an on-site video.

It didn't surprise him that they didn't show the body—and Wolf winced when he caught himself thinking of Fox as just that. All they showed was the doctor, an old otter, staring at the camera.

"The patient was shot by a ballistic rifle in the upper arm. The force of the bullet was enough to fracture the shaft of his right humerus. We will be taking him in for observation overnight." He opened his mouth as if he were going to say more, but the sound from his end stopped channeling.

When the reporter started speaking again, Panther paused the video. "That's all we that can get from that."

"Okay." Wolf leaned against the wall, not trusting his legs. He hadn't expected to learn everything about Fox's condition, but he'd hoped for at least some idea. At least it seemed like he wasn't going to die. "Can anyone who saw it tell me what the hell happened?"

"Peppy saw the assassin first." Panther's smooth voice mocked Wolf's agitation. "He alerted Fox, who ducked behind the podium."

"He tried to cover what wasn't shielded by the vest," Leon said. "Saved his head, but not his arms. Bullet penetrated the podium and hit him."

"Dammit," Wolf said. He punched the wall, but all it did was hurt his fist. "The hell are we supposed to do now?"

Panther chuckled, and Wolf growled at him. "What?"

"Nothing. Why don't you call one of Star Fox?"

Wolf sighed. "The only one whose number I have is Fox."

"And?"

"Are you stupid? I don't know what his condition is, and I'm sure as hell not going to interrupt the doctors."

The chuckle turned into a laugh.

Wolf snarled. "You think this is funny?"

"Pardon. I know how serious this is, but I can't resist finding your reactions a bit entertaining."

"Ignore him," Leon said. "You know, we could always strike at Zenith on our own."

"Gee, how are we going to get over there? We sure as hell don't have time to fly there on anything we can afford."

Leon frowned. "I guess we need Pepper's support for that, too. Hell, we'll need transports to get back to our hotels, even. And you had to stay in the fancy-ass place, half an hour from where we're at."

"Quit your bitching." Wolf highlighted Fox's name on his communicator. "If I don't hear anything in the next ten minutes or so, I'm sending him a message."

"Fine. I'm going to go call a transport. Panther," Leon said, gesturing towards the other. "You come too."

"Very well."

The two of them clambered out the room, leaving Wolf alone. He paced the room, trying to keep himself calm, but he couldn't stop thinking about Fox, and those thoughts made his pulse race. By the timer on his communicator, six minutes had elapsed when he got the message, from a number he didn't recognize.

This is peppy. I'm at the hospital. Call me at this number when given chance.

He dialed immediately, and only when the hare's ghostly visage appeared before him did he consider that he had no idea what to say. He said the first thing that came to mind: "How is he?"

"He's fine. Lost a lot of blood, so we're letting him have his rest right now. Wolf... it wasn't your team, was it?"

"Look at me." He pointed at his muzzle. "Does I look like I was involved?

"Well, maybe you weren't, but—"

"Answer my question. How is he?"

Peppy's ears flicked in annoyance. "He's doing well. Will probably be perfectly fine by tomorrow, or even later tonight."

"I want to visit. What hospital?"

Peppy blinked at him, and his head turned, as if he were looking around the room. "I'm not allowed to tell you, and I don't think we could arrange a visit if I did."

Wolf laughed. "When has that ever stopped me? Just tell me where he is."

"Let me know how you plan on getting past all the guards without getting yourself or your teammates arrested."

"Guards?" He wasn't surprised. "How many?"

"More than I could count. You won't be getting in unless they let you."

"Great." Wolf knew the chances of that happening were zero. "When he wakes up, have him call me."

"I don't think I'll have to tell him, but I'll make sure he does." He paused, as if gathering his thoughts. "Do you have an idea who would have done this?"

It came out simply and freely, because it was obvious: "It was Zenith."

Peppy looked like he was going to laugh. "How are you so certain?"

"I'm positive it was them."

The hare frowned. "No mercenary group is going to gun down Fox McCloud to try to save themselves from a threat that might not even exist. There's more scum than Zenith out there, you know."

Wolf growled, remembering Leon's comment from earlier. "You need to contact Pepper for me. Get us permission to go for Zenith. We have to take them out."

"Wolf... with all that's going on, I can't guarantee that I'll even be able to talk to him."

"You have to." Wolf tried to sound dominating, but it came out as pathetic. "We have to leave tomorrow. Don't you understand? They are the ones who owned Sargasso. They are the ones who told me they'd kill me unless I took out Fox. They are the ones who are in perfect position to take advantage of this mess the Aparoids caused and do whatever the hell they want with the rest of the system, especially if Fox and I are out of the way. We have to get rid of them, now."

Peppy shook his head. "That's… it's impossible. We can't do it."

"That's exactly what they want. We need ships, too."

"You're being unrealistic."

Wolf growled. "Do you think I have some hidden agenda? You think I don't care about Fox?"

The hare looked uneasy. "I'm not making any judgments. I can see this is hard for you, but..." The hare looked at something in his room, and jealousy overwhelmed Wolf, because it had to be Fox he was watching. "I just... I need some time to think, and maybe discuss things with Fox."

Wolf's ears perked. The door to the room opened; Panther and Leon stepped into the room with him. He motioned for them to be silent. "Do it now," he said. "I've got to get back to the hotel, but I want to know tonight what we're doing tomorrow."

"I'll stay in touch," the hare said. "If I don't call with news, call sometime tonight anyway."

Wolf nodded and ended the call.

"Didn't know you were on good terms with the man," Panther said.

"Me either," Wolf muttered. He recounted the conversation as best he could, omitting minor details to make himself sound less desperate. When he finished, Panther grunted.

"So now we play the waiting game."

"I feel so goddam useless," Wolf said. "And so fucking dumb."

"Just relax," Leon said. "Transports will be here soon, so we should be heading out."

"A good idea." Panther grinned. "I, for one, have a date tonight."

Wolf gritted his teeth and looked only at Leon. "I would've had a date if my boyfriend hadn't been shot."

"Knowing him," Leon said, cocking an eye at Panther, "he probably just has a date with his paw."

Panther huffed. "That's completely outrageous."

"Can it." Though the words were harsh, Leon's voice remained eerily calm. "Why don't you go ahead out? I'm going with Wolf for the night."

"Very well. I'll see you two soon."

When he'd exited and the door had closed, Wolf said, unable to keep the venom from his voice, "Sometimes I wonder why we hired him."

"It's no fault of his. I think it's a mental deformity, how he can't understand how close gets to having a muzzle full of fist."

Wolf crossed his arms. "So to what do I owe the pleasure of this sleepover?"

Leon's mouth pursed together, as if in annoyance. "I have three reasons. One," he said, extending a finger, "is your fancy hotel. Two: if Panther does bring back a bitch, I don't want to have to listen to their mewls all night. Three: it would be a shame for you to commit suicide. I'd rather do the honors myself."

Wolf laughed. "Thanks. I'll keep that in mind."

"Left side," Leon said as Wolf opened the door to his room.

"Dammit."

"That your new favorite word?"

Wolf sighed. "It's been a rough day."

Leon whistled when they stepped inside. "Nice."

"Nice," Wolf said, sitting himself in one of the armchairs near the door, "and free. And you still had to take my side of the bed."

"At least I'll still sleep in the same bed as you."

Wolf grinned. "I keep telling him I won't touch his ass. It's not much to look at, anyway."

Leon settled into one of the other chairs nearby. "I don't think he understands," he said. "Anyway, a man lacks the blood to power both his brain and penis to optimum function simultaneously."

"How would you know? You've never used either."

"Shut it.

Wolf's comm buzzed to life. He brought it up to his eyes, and his heart beat faster when he read the words Incoming call request from Fox McCloud.