Okay… this is a story I've had bouncing around in my head for awhile now. I haven't
written fan fiction since I was in middle school but here I am at it again! As you know,
any character or place that you might recognize is copyrighted Nintendo and their
lawyers will come beat me with burlap sacks full of bricks if I don't give them credit.
Also, I'm using American English to refer to objects in the story (i.e., violin, subway,
etc.) but if you want to imagine them using strange, alien things with strange, alien names
be my guest.

So…. yeah. Hope you enjoy.



First Things First

Chapter 1

At age seventeen, Peppy Hare could not be distinguished from the rest of the sun baked
workers that hunched in the wheat fields, their gloved hands working diligently at pulling
irrigation hoses out of the soil, covering them in insulated tape, and gently prodding them
back down into the ground.

All things considered, Peppy had to admit that life wasn't so bad below the equator; his
fur had shed during the past few months into a cool summer coat and sweat rolled down
the sides of his face, buffering the heat of the sun. Wild birds sang and screeched and in
the distance he could hear the daily train taking supplies to town, which in turn would be
brought here to the farm, most likely by him. School was over. After this chore was
finished, his violin would be waiting in the house. Peppy finished a length of tape and
reached into his bag for another, taking advantage of the pause to rest for a moment,
closing his eyes and letting the heat soak through him. But the best thing of all, he could
not help thinking, was that the mail was due to come in just a few hours.

His heart beat a little faster at the thought of it. But for now, he reminded himself, there
was only sun, and wheat, and the irrigation hoses.

The sun was just beginning to sink towards the mountains on the west when he and the
farmhands began to reach the end of the field. Peppy cut the insulation tape as he
reached the end of the hose and stood up, straightening his back with a series of
satisfying pops. He gazed into the woods in front of him, the trees waving softly in the
wind. Very pretty, he thought.

"Finished, son?" Peppy turned and saw one of the farmhands, an old and grizzled boar
wearing a floppy straw hat, wiping his hands and squinting at the young hare.

"Yup," Peppy answered. "Is there anything else to do out here or can we go back?" His
stomach growled as if to chide him for asking.

The boar shook his head. "I'm gonna fix this here leak real quick, but it's a one-man job.
You go on ahead back."

Peppy stepped forward. "You sure? I could do it if you-"

The boar held up his hand. "You go back. I want you rested up so's maybe we can all
listen to some of your fiddle playin' a little later."

Peppy smiled, nodded, and began to walk back to the house. It's called a violin, genius,
he thought despite himself. The word "redneck" floated through his mind but he
suppressed it guiltily. He sighed. It didn't matter. If he got what he hoped was coming
in the mail tonight, he wouldn't be dealing with the hired help any more.


* * *


"You look flushed," his mother said.

Peppy grinned. "It's hot out there." He took the water she handed him and took a long
drink, his feet planted on the kitchen floor and his free arm dangling by his side; around
him a few women were busily preparing food and washing dishes. His mother reached
her hand out to him lovingly, but recoiled when her fingers touched damp, clammy fur.

"You'd best take a shower before we sit down to dinner," she said, wiping her hand off.

"Do we have any breadsticks left," Peppy asked, ignoring her.

"No. You ate the last of 'em this morning."

"Is that so…" Peppy began to survey the kitchen when his mother flipped a towel at him.

"Get your smelly behind in the shower, young man!" She rolled her eyes. "Dinner'll be
ready soon. You don't need to be eatin'."

"Okay, okay. No, wait. Has the mail come yet?" His mother sighed in frustration and
Peppy sheepishly realized how closely he was pushing it. She was wonderful when she
was in a good mood, but running a farm was not a stress free job, and she had a tendency
to let it get to her. He decided to back down. "I'm sorry. I'll shower."

"Good." Peppy walked out of the kitchen and was about to turn the corner when he
heard her voice.

"Yes, mail came in about twenty minutes ago. You can check AFTER you shower."

Peppy's stomach did a flip. "Yes, ma!" he cried, breaking into a run as he reached the
wide and sunny central living room that, with its open roof in the center, doubled as a
porch. He made his way past the numerous hired hands and relatives that reclined and
played games in the lazy evening warmth, and headed for the loading dock at the side of
the house. There, among bushels of vegetables ready for shipping, he found the worker
on duty.

"Need the mail," he said, a little out of breath.

The worker raised an eyebrow. "Yer ma usually passes it out AFTER dinner," he said.
Peppy inwardly cringed. It was a good thing a different person worked loading dock duty
every day; otherwise someone would have long since caught on to him.

"I'm just taking it in to her now," Peppy said pleasantly. "Dinner's about to go on the
table." He grinned perhaps a little too suspiciously, but the worker didn't notice.
Instead, he jerked his head towards the pile of envelopes and magazines that lay on a
shelf next to some peach cartons. Peppy took it and ran.

He continued to run until he reached the dining hall, where he deposited the stack of mail
and began to feverishly look through it. Should be here today, he thought. Should be
here, should be here, should be - he stopped. There, between a tractor catalogue and a
postcard from Titania, was an envelope addressed to him. The return address read:

Cornerian Defense Academy
Corneria City, Central Province, Corneria

Peppy began to tremble. It was a very large envelope.

And then he was off again. He jogged up the three flights of stairs to the main hall on the
top floor of the house, where he and his family lived. An uncle and two cousins on the
bottom floor looked up curiously as they saw him race by above on the balcony
overlooking the living room. Peppy took a running leap onto his bed and tore open the
envelope, forgetting to shut the door.

Accepted. Good. He had expected that when he saw the size of the envelope and even
then, despite his excitement, it hadn't been a surprise; his school records were more than
qualified and the teacher recommendations had been glowing. What would really decide
whether he went would be the scholarship. Knowing full well his father's feelings on
leaving the family business, Peppy had put himself down on the application as
unsupported and applied for every form of financial aid in the catalogue. Although
government-run schools, such as military academies, never made students pay for their
own education, Peppy knew that even the fee for transportation and room and board was
beyond his reach. He searched through the papers impatiently.

"Peppy." The young hare looked up, startled, and saw three heads poking through the
door. He relaxed and smiled at his younger siblings. Max, his thirteen year old voice
cracking, said, "What're you doing? We heard you runnin' through the hall like there
was a fire or something." Jonathan, age twelve, and Myra, age seven both stared at him
eagerly.

Peppy casually covered the papers. "Nothin'. Just like bein' in my room, that's all." His
southern accent was as thick as theirs, and indeed as thick as the rest of the people living
on the farm. He hated it.

Jonathan slyly crept up to the bed. "You've never liked it in here so much before."

"Maybe you just never noticed, smart guy."

"Maybe you're just-" With a flourish, Max whipped his arm out and grabbed one of the
papers. "HIDING SOMETHING FROM US!"

"MAX!" Peppy gasped in fear and lunged for the paper. "For god's sake, keep it down,
wouldja!?" Max read the paper.

"Dear Mr. Hare, we are delighted to inform you… blah blah… whoa! Wow! Check it
out, guys! Peppy's gonna go to Corneria City and be a SOLDIER!" Jonathan's jaw
dropped and Myra gasped.

"Is - is it true?" she asked. "You're really going? When? I can't believe ma and pa are
letting you do this!"

Peppy continued to look through the papers until he found the financial information.
After skimming it, he broke into a grin and pumped his fist in the air. "Yes, I'm really
going. And our parents-" Now that he was going to live up north, he decided, he would
stop using "ma" and "pa" like a hick - "don't know yet. And I'M gonna be the one to tell
them, ya hear?" He glared at the three of them.

Max nodded. "Fair enough. But why in the world do you wanna be a soldier? This is
new."

"I'm not going to be a soldier," Peppy said simply. The three stared at him and, after a
few moments, he realized it was necessary to explain. "See, the academy doesn't just
train pilots. They also have a foreign relations major there. What I REALLY wanna do
is train to become an ambassador or something. Concentrate in linguistics. Travel
around the galaxy. Meet interesting people and all that jazz." His voice grew softer.
"Get myself off this farm, mainly." He came back to himself. "But you guys, listen. It's
REALLY important for you to not breath a word of this to our parents, okay? The
semester doesn't start until winter and I can't let them find out until I'm packed and
walking out the door. If they find out before I tell them come January, there's no way
they'll let me go. They might even call the school and cancel my acceptance or
something. Besides, I get scared just thinking about how dad'll react to me wanting to
leave. This… this is really important to me, guys."

Jonathan bit his lip while Max looked down and Myra pouted a bit. "We're gonna miss
you somethin' fierce," she said.

"I'm gonna miss you, too," Peppy said, fondly rubbing her head. The three sat in
awkward silence for a bit. Outside Peppy's window a truck pulled up to the docking bay
and workers began loading vegetables.

Peppy suddenly brightened. "Hey, wanna see a neat trick?" The three snapped back to
life and nodded eagerly. "Okay. Tell me what you think of this." Peppy cleared his
throat, took a breath, and said, "The name's Pollux Hare. It's great to meet you." He put
on a vaudeville grin and Max, Myra and Jonathan gasped. Every trace of his southern
accent was gone.

"You… you don't sound like a southerner no more!" Jonathan began to laugh
incredulously. "Damn, Peppy! It's like it's not even you!"

Peppy grinned giddily. "So it's good? It's believable? You'd think I was from the
north?"

Myra nodded quickly. "Peppy, I'm havin' trouble believing you're from the south right
now."

"That's a relief," Peppy said, letting himself slip back into the comfort of his accent. "I
was afraid people'd be able to tell I was faking. This way I figure maybe I won't make
too bad of a first impression when I meet everyone else up there."

"So you're getting rid of the nickname, too?"

Peppy shrugged. "Yeah. Same reason."

Myra was about to speak when the dinner bell rang and there was a rustle of activity
throughout the house. The four of them arose and began to file out of the room. As they
started down the hall, Peppy said, "remember, guys. Not. A. Word."


* * *


An hour later, the meal was eaten and the family and workers chatted with one another
around the table as Jonathan and one of his cousins passed out the mail. Peppy talked
with those around him as cheerfully as ever before, although inside he was churning with
conflicting emotions. His elation at being assured a spot in the academy was tempered
by his fear at the inevitability of telling his parents; the sight of his tall, stern father when
he had returned home from the merchants' deposit in town had made him tremble
slightly. Tobias Hare seldom smiled.

So naturally, when Peppy felt his hand land on his shoulder and his voice booming his
name behind him, he jumped and nearly spilled the juice he was drinking down the front
of his shirt. "Y-yes sir?" he stammered, suddenly sure that he had found out, that it was
all over.

But when he looked up into his father's face, the hare's eyes were kind. "Pollux, why
don't you play the fiddle for us all? You know we all love to hear you play."

Peppy relaxed visibly and smiled. "Sure thing. Lemme go up and get it." Violin, he
thought.

When he returned with the instrument a few minutes later, the room quieted noticeably
and more than a few people halted their conversations to watch him tune the strings and
put rosin on the bow. His father leaned back in his chair and his mother smiled a bit.
Peppy looked once around the room to see if everyone was ready and the last of the noise
stopped; modestly, he put the bow to the strings and began to play.

The piece was a reel he had picked up during an outing a few years ago to Evanshire
Province, and it was one of his favorites. Tobias smiled despite himself. Peppy's mother
closed her eyes and glowed with pride. As the music washed over them, the workers
began to nod their heads and clap softly to the rhythm while his family members moved
in their chairs and gazed at him. Jonathan and Max grinned. Myra fought the urge to get
up and dance along with the other children because she was seven now and therefore a
grown-up. Peppy was unaware of their reactions.

As he ended the song and tucked the violin under his arm, the room erupted into applause
and he blushed. Tobias gave him a good-natured slap on the back.

"Very nice, son. Thank you." Peppy smiled, happy at his father's approval.

Myra fidgeted in her seat, her hands pinned beneath her legs to keep her from jumping
up. Suddenly she wondered something and turned to Jonathan. He had begun playing
rock-paper-scissors with a cousin. She turned to Max, only to discover that he was on his
way to the kitchen with his empty plate. It wouldn't hurt to ask Peppy, she decided, even
though she had promised to not say a word. If she just asked him very quickly no one
else would hear. As her big brother started out of the room to put the violin away she
jumped out of her chair and ran after him.

"Peppy!" she cried, unaware of the volume of her voice. As Peppy turned Myra blurted
out, "Peppy, are you gonna bring your fiddle to Corneria City? Are you gonna play it for
everyone in the city?"

Peppy's eyes registered panic and Myra immediately realized her folly. The room went
strangely quiet again and Tobias peered at his daughter, confused.

"Myra, honey? What are you talking about? Peppy's not going to Corneria City. Who
told you that?"

Myra was a terrible liar. "N…no one, pa. I… I thought he was goin' for some reason. I
don't know why. I think maybe I had a dream that he was goin'." She laughed nervously
and Tobias looked up at Peppy, who shrugged, sweating. Tobias frowned.

"Hey, why's our Peppy goin' up north!?" one of the workers called from the other end of
the room.

"Peppy," Tobias said, getting out of his chair and walking towards the two menacingly.
"Is there something you're not telling me?"

Peppy shook his head rapidly, the fear on his face all too apparent. "No, no! I swear, pa,
I have no idea what she's talking about!" But he knew it was too late; there would be no
convincing him now. His heart sank and he felt sick.

Tobias continued to advance on him, his face becoming more and more stern. "Now,
you listen here, boy," he said. "We do NOT keep secrets from each other here if we
know what's good for us. Especially secrets involving leaving home. Now, I will ask
you this once. Why," and at this point his face was inches from Peppy's, "are you going
to Corneria City?"

Peppy stared at his father, feeling as if he'd been hypnotized. The room was silent. Myra
was close to crying. Peppy cycled through several possible lies, eliminating each one
systematically, knowing that his fear had given him away. After several moments, he
drooped his head miserably.

"I… I got accepted into the StarForce Academy. I want to get a degree in foreign
relations and become an ambassador."

Afterwards there was more silence until Tobias said, "What? What in the world are you
talking about?"

Peppy, trembling now, looked up and repeated himself.

His father stared at him, utterly perplexed. "What…? I… How long have you wanted to
do this, son? Did this just come from the blue? I don't understand."

Peppy took a deep breath, feeling countless pairs of eyes boring into him. "I've wanted
to do this for a long time. It's been… well, it's been my dream. I want to be able to
travel. To different planets." His father was silent and Peppy suddenly found strength.
"I'm going to major in linguistics - I'm going to learn different languages. I'm going to
try to become a Cornerian ambassador and represent the planet to alien races and-"

"Pollux," his father said, "This is out of the question."

Peppy stopped short, his mouth hanging open impotently.

"You've known for years now that you're the one who's going to take over this farm
after I'm gone. Your mother and I have known it ever since you were born. Life has a
plan, Pollux; you can't suddenly develop a whim and decide you're going to go off and
chase it-"

"But what about Max?" Peppy interrupted. "What about Jonathan? Or Myra? All three
of them would be great at running the farm!"

"You're the oldest," Tobias said simply.

"What!?" Peppy felt outraged. "Don't you think that's a little unfair? To not even
consider them? To just dump it all on me because-"

"Pollux," Tobias said, and Peppy felt himself go cold all over. "YOU are my oldest
child. YOU are the one I plan on training to head this farm. YOU are the one that I have
relied on all these years. And I can assure you that things are NOT going to suddenly
change because you want to go skipping after some fantasy. End of story. Now you
STOP this nonsense." He turned away.

No one in the room moved until Peppy quietly said, "I can't do that."

Tobias's eyes widened in disbelief and he turned back again slowly. "Care to repeat
that?"

Peppy was momentarily shocked at the words that had just come from his mouth, but
decided that he couldn't take them back. He tried to stop shaking as he looked at his
father and said, "I am going to the academy. My expenses are already paid. I'm leaving
in January."

Tobias shook his head and Peppy mentally readied another argument until his father
spoke. "No," he said. "If you go to that academy, you're leaving now. And you are not
coming back."

Peppy felt dizzy for a moment and the world tilted crazily to the left, then to the right,
and finally fixed itself. He thought he heard his mother gasp. Myra burst into tears. The
eyes still stared. I have just been kicked out of my house, he found himself thinking. In
some insane way, it made him want to laugh. Not knowing what else to do, Peppy slowly
started to leave the room.

"If you walk out that door," Tobias said, "I want you gone by morning."

Peppy paused and took one last look around the room. Despair filled him for a moment,
then faded into numbness. He looked at Max and Jonathan, then Myra and his mother,
and finally at Tobias. He nodded. "I'll be gone," he said quietly. "I love you, pa. I'll
make you proud." With that, he turned and left, not hearing his mother's sobs and
protests, or his father's shaky assurances that it was all right, that he'd be back, that it
was just a phase.

The next morning Max, Jonathan and Myra each found a note waiting for them at the
foot of their beds. They looked away when they saw their parents rush downstairs from
Peppy's room and stare, wild with worry, out the window at the road beyond. "He'll be
back," Tobias said, over and over again.