Well, let's get the ball rolling. This is my first attempt at a fanfic on this site, so be gentle. The story is mostly from Krystal's perspective, but sometimes from Fox's as well. I think I got all the ratings and content and whatnot right, but if you don't agree then let me know. I've actually got the next chapter or two done already. I might put another up tonight, or I might wait a day or two.

This chapter takes place just after Krystal joins the crew on the Great Fox. In fact, the prologue details her first night aboard and her despair at being the last of her kind. After the next chapter or two the story jumps ahead to after the events of Starfox: Assault, so don't be confused when it happens. This story is going to deal with the relationship between Fox and Krystal, but there will also be action. It will either offend or please everyone!

So…uh…go ahead and see what you think. I'll try and respond to comments, but I'm notorious for not paying attention to this sort of thing, so please be patient. Oh, and I had quite a time trying to get the document right in the document manager. Nothing makes you feel like a moron like struggling with something that's so easy to solve...


Prologue:

Krystal sat still, legs crossed and eyes closed, and emptied her mind. It wasn't easy by any stretch of the imagination. She felt strange in her new quarters, surrounded by cold metal and lifeless space. She had grown used to Sauria during her brief time there and the emptiness of space was now unfamiliar to her.

Not that the "void" was completely empty. Fox, Falco, Peppy, and Slippy were all present aboard the Great Fox. They stuck out against the emptiness, four blips of thought that she could use to anchor herself.

And she badly needed to be anchored. Leaving her home planet had been…painful. She was in all likelihood the only surviving member of her species, and felt very alone. One day those feelings would become less raw, but for now they were unbearable. She had been caught up in the episode on Sauria, the distress signal and her subsequent imprisonment, and so had managed to shut away her grief for a while.

Now there was nothing to distract her. Krystal had always been proud of her meditative techniques, but even they failed her. She decided that there were no shortcuts when it came to dealing with grief. The only thing left to her was to lay on her bed (far too soft after Sauria) and cry, so she did.

Four little spots of consciousness, of rational and reasonable thought patterns. It was all she had, and it didn't seem like much.


Three weeks passed as Krystal became acquainted with the Great Fox and its crew. They didn't know how to treat her at first, evidently convinced that she was an unlettered barbarian woman. She couldn't honestly say that she blamed them. First impressions were important and arriving in a seashell bikini would not engender confidence in her sophistication.

It was hardly her fault that her flight suite had caught fire on arrival ("Fire resistant my fuzzy backside!" she remembered grumbling), or that a society composed of dinosaurs had little use for clothing. Fortunately a stop at an inhabited planet was not too far out of the way and the crew graciously chipped in and bought her several outfits that were less revealing.

After a quick stop at Corneria, during which Krystal was completely overwhelmed by alien culture, they headed back out into space to aid the cleanup efforts currently underway.

"Cleanup effort" was a nice way to say "let's see what pieces we have left after a gigantic war that we came within inches of losing." There were still pockets of soldiers loyal to Andross that couldn't accept that the war was over, and someone had to protect the multitude of repair vessels needed to get the system's collective infrastructure back on its feet. The military or space force or whatever Fox's people called their armed forces certainly wasn't up to the job, so any ship capable of discharging a weapon was drafted into the effort.

The crew settled into life as underpaid bodyguards rather well, or so Krystal thought. The only snag was Falco, who chaffed at the idea of anything so passive. His antics were a constant annoyance, but occasionally made her laugh. She once walked into the dining area to find him bitterly throwing darts at a picture of an enemy spacecraft with a curly moustache and a monocle drawn on it.

Apart from the ego of the group being a little damaged, life was good. Krystal had insisted on learning to pilot an R-wing and was developing her skills at an agonizingly slow pace. Fox had assured her that she was learning quickly, and her telepathy told her that he was being honest, but she suspected him of misleading her all the same. No matter how hard she trained Fox and Falco could still run rings around her.

Getting to know the crew was more difficult than she had anticipated. While her own kind were open with their thoughts and feelings, secrecy was extremely common in this new culture. People were so adept at hiding their true intentions that it could almost balk her telepathic skills.

She had to do things the hard way, but that was rewarding in its own way. Slippy was kind, if a little odd, while Falco obviously filled the role of the team's "bad boy". Peppy was Fox's surrogate father and behaved as such.

Fox was…well, something entirely unique. She liked spending time around him and told herself that it was out of gratitude and not a growing affection that was entirely inappropriate. They were, after all, two different species.

Regardless of how she felt about any one member, team Starfox was becoming her new family and she had no choice but to accept them. The alternative was to go back to being alone. She didn't think she could bear that.

"Babysitting is boring," Falco grumbled as he reclined in his deck chair. Krystal was currently the only member of the team on duty, but Falco had nothing else to do and was trying his best to brighten her day with a little company. Or so he claimed.

"That may be, but the effort to restore the Lylat system to its original strength is almost as important as the war waged to defend it. After all, it wouldn't do to let the next conflict wipe us out because we didn't bother to rebuild."

Falco smiled slyly. "You said 'we' again," he teased.

Krystal thought about the correct phrase, then said "Sue me." Falco chuckled and went back to looking out the viewport and sighing heavily. The bridge's intercom beeped and Krystal punched the transmission through. "What is it Slippy?"

"I'm picking up some strange anomalies in the engines" the toad said. "I need to pop the hatch on one of the reactors to take a look. That means the ship will go dark for a few minutes while I'm tinkering with it. You might want to let our friends know."

"Copy that," Krystal said, then opened a communications channel to the repair vessels currently entrusted to the Great Fox's protection. "Attention all units, this is the Great Fox transmitting a code…uh, yellow technical signal. Please stand by while mechanical problems are addressed."

Falco cocked an eyebrow. "You said the wrong color."

"Blue!" Krystal hastily amended. "This is a code BLUE technical signal! Our reactors are in absolutely no danger of exploding. Please don't panic."

"Very professional" Falco laughed. "Are you okay? You look tired."

"I didn't sleep well," she said. "Bad dreams I think. I couldn't remember them when I woke up." She tried to smile and pass off her weariness as a passing thing, but the truth was that she hadn't had a good night's rest in three days.

Falco saw right through her. "You're a little too shaken for just one bad night." He took an awkward breath and said "You know, I've never made any secret of what I did before going to flight school. I was working with some really bad people. I used to have nightmares about it from time to time. It helps to think about it by the light of day."

"We're in space," Krystal pointed out. "Day is whenever we want it to be."

"You know what I mean. Write it down when you wake up so you'll remember and read it later. It might help."

Krystal smiled and almost thanked him, but the intercom interrupted her. "I think we have a problem," Slippy said. "Someone's been messing with the cooling systems. There's no way everything could be this out of whack by accident."

"You saying one of us is responsible?" Falco asked. "If so, then who? Nobody spends much time in the engine rooms. Heck, even you rarely go down there Slip."

"Exactly right," Slippy said. "I can verify for a fact that it wasn't any of us. All of our whereabouts were accounted for when I detected the irregularity. That means it was someone else. We have a stowaway. I've sealed off every maintenance corridor on the ship since all others are monitored remotely. Get everyone together, because whoever it is knows what he's doing."