Ultraman, the Aparoid Invasion

Chapter 10

Natural Selection

In orbit around Corneria, the Orbital Gate Way was moving. In front of the large station, the ring-like construction started to pull apart, revealing six different segments. They pulled apart to form a complete circle from eachother several hundred meters in diameter. Once they were at the right distance from eachother, a bright emerald ring of energy was produced between them. Then, from three of the segments, three bright green laser beams were coming to meet eachother in the center. Once they did, there was a bright flash, and the ring was now a shimmering circle that looked like it was rippling, like a liquid. In front of it, the Great Fox, flanked on both sides by several dozen Cornerian cruisers, was awaiting the word from command to proceed. On board the Great Fox, the Star Fox team was ready. "Well, it's almost time." Peppy said, sitting in the command spot.

"Opening fleet-wide transmission." ROB said in his monotone voice. Moments later, General Pepper's voice was heard.

"Attention, fleet of Corneria. We at command have done all we can. We now entrust everything to you. Please, do your best…but try to come back alive." General Pepper signed off, and Fox McCloud turned to face Dan and Steven.

"Have you contacted your people yet?" he asked.

"We have sent them the coordinates of the Aparoid homeworld, and they told us that they will rendezvous with us once we arrive." Steven said. Fox nodded.

"Okay, is everyone ready? Star Fox, move out." The Great Fox started to move towards the Gate Way, while the fleet followed close behind.

Unknown part of space: In a star system in the other side of the galaxy, a green circle of rippling energy appeared. Coming from it, the Great Fox floated in, and was headed for the planet that was in front of it. It was a medium-sized planet that was dark-blue in color, with most of the contours unnoticeable in the darkness of space.

"Coordinates of Aparoid homeworld confirmed and stored in memory." ROB said.

"This is it?" Falco asked.

"It's lovely…I wasn't expecting that." Krystal said.

"I can't say much for its beauty, considering what's inhabiting it." Steven replied, his arms folded across his chest while Dan shared the same attitude.

"Wait, its size and mass are disproportionate." Peppy said.

"What? What does that mean?" Slippy asked.

"Are you saying…" Fox started. By now, the rest of the fleet warped in from behind the Great Fox while the ship neared the planet.

"Looks like it." Peppy said. "The planet is somewhat hollow in the center. It's probably where the Aparoids have made their nest."

"So, how do we get to the center, then?" Falco asked.

"Swing the ship around. Let's see if we can't find something like an entrance." Fox said. Circling around the planet, they eventually found what they were looking for, although not quite what they were expecting; looking like a gigantic wound on an otherwise flawless surface, a large Aparoid nest was seen taking up more than a third of the planet's surface. "I guess that's what we're looking for." Fox said.

"So, that's where they came from…" Steven said, his grip tightening. The rest of the fleet arrived next to the Great Fox as it floated stationary in space. The screen enhanced itself until it was a close-up of the Aparoids' base. There, the team was able to make out a large opening of some kind that went straight down into the planet. Peppy was the first to point this out.

"Look, that's probably where the Aparoids came from. Maybe we can use that to get to the interior of the planet."

"But after the Aparoids come out, it looks like a shield of some kind goes up." Slippy interjected.

"Is there any way to disable it?" Fox asked.

"Multiple shield generators in place, Displaying now." ROB said.

"If there's any indication in the past, there are probably hatchers around those generators." Fox mused. The screen turned to a cross-section of the Aparoids' home base with indications of the shield generators and Aparoid hatchers.

"Even if we could move forward, that's as far as we'd get. The Aparoids would be upon us in moments." Peppy said. "What about that back-up? I thought you guys said that as soon as we'd get here, help would be on the way." the hare asked, turning to Dan and Steven. Both vulpine and canine looked at eachother and nodded. Then, they pulled out their devices, and turned into their Ultra selves. Looking out of the main view-port, they threw their right arms out forward, a ball of light from each of them was sent flying until they connected, and formed the same signal that Sebun used on Titania.

"All we can do now is wait until they show up." Shodai said.

"Hopefully we won't have to wait for long, but we can't just sit here. We need to get going, now!" Fox said. The team headed for the hangar, while Shodai and Sebun teleported to outside of the ship. The fleet took up positions around the planet while the four arwings made planet-side. Steven was about to transform and head down as well, but something stopped him; he saw Dan holding back in the hangar, as if he was waiting for Steven to leave.

"You're not coming?" he asked. Dan shook his head.

"This is your assignment. I was sent as backup. I need to remain here when the Space Garrison show up, so I can lead them here." Dan said. "Everything now is up to you, and your friends. Remember what's at stake here, and do the Garrison proud." Steven nodded, and took out his Beta Capsule. With a great flash of light, Shodai was flying out of the hangar and towards the planet. Dan looked out, his gaze following Shodai until he became a speck so small, he could not be seen.

Aparoid homeworld: In the sky just above the nest, four arwings descended to the surface, while a red streak followed close. Shodai caught up to the Star Fox team, following on the same heading as them. "Where's Dan at?" Krystal asked.

"He had to remain topside. He said he had to be there when the main Garrison force showed up."

"Alright, here's what's going to happen. Slippy and Falco, you guys patrol the skies, and shoot down any drones that you come across. I want the clear of any bogies. Krystal, you're with me. We're going after the shields, and the hatchers."

"Got it." Falco said.

"Leave it to me." Slippy replied.

"Another mission together." Krystal said.

"Steven, I got something for you as well."

"And what may that be?" Shodai asked.

"I want you to create as much havoc as you possibly can."

"What?" the Ultra asked.

"We need the drones on the ground to be kept busy as well, and that's where you come in. You're a pretty hard target to miss, especially when you'll tearing everything apart with your bare hands." If he could, Shodai would be smiling broadly right now.

"Fox, it would be a genuine pleasure." he said, a smile evident in his voice. Fox returned it with a toothy grin of his own. The Aparoids' home base was massive, easily twice the size of Corneria City, as it was situated above the massive nest. And in the center just below the floating base was the entrance to the Queen's lair. Fox and Krystal landed next to the entrance leading to the nearest shield generator. However, several drones blocked their path. That is, until Shodai rained down his Spacium Ray and disintegrated them. Landing behind the two vulpines in his several-meter tall height, the red and silver alien warrior looked about him. Drones of all types were scuttling about, but seemed to ignore him for the most part. That is, until he decided to fire his deadly weapon at the spire in front of him, destroying it in a macabre of flames. Then, the Aparoids took notice, and acted. "I'm going to enjoy this…" he said, almost under his breath. He lunged at them, and crushed several under his immense weight. Some actually jumped up upon him, but Shodai swatted them away, knocking them to the ground, dead. Taking advantage of the situation, Krystal and Fox entered the structure that held the generators. Going down a narrow hallway, the pair rounded a corner, and saw several drones standing guard in front of a large room. Fox pulled a grenade from behind, and chucked it at the group. In seconds, the guards were turned to ash. The vulpine and vixen ran through the opening, and sure enough saw the twin generators and hatchers that were placed around it. The hatchers started to produce more drones, and the Aparoids took notice of their uninvited guests. Fox blasted at the ones closest to them, then fired upon the hatchers themselves. However, the drones were being produced more than Fox could blast away, and using a grenade this close could be deadly to both of them. However, he didn't have to make that choice. He heard the telltale sound of rounds being fired in rapid succession, and the said rounds tearing apart the Aparoids that were coming closer. He looked behind him, and saw Krystal armed with one of the machine guns from the armory. She looked at him, a knowing smile on her muzzle.

"What would you do without me?" she asked. Fox nodded, and threw the a couple grenades at the hatchers and generators while the pair beat a hasty retreat. The explosion that followed knocked them face-first into the ground, and what was left of the room was a blackened hole. "Don't you think that's overkill?" Krystal asked, coughing a bit.

"Can't be too careful with these things." Fox replied. Both picked themselves up, and headed for the next target.

Orbit around the Aparoids' homeworld: Peppy was right, in saying that the Aparoids would be upon them in moments after the team left for the surface. Immediately after the team touched down, the first swarm came in at an alarming speed. The cruisers were able to repel them for the most part, and the fighters were keeping the smaller drones busy in dogfights. Even Sebun got involved, blasting away at every drone that came near him or the fleet. The Great Fox, armed with particle guns of her own, blasted away at every group of drones that came in sight. Each blast was enough to wipe out a group of individuals. 'We won't be able to last much longer at this rate,' Peppy thought. While the fleet was holding its own for now, more and more drones flew up from the surface to replace their fallen. It would only be a matter of time before they would be overwhelmed by sheer numbers. "Fox, this is Peppy. Hurry up and get that shield down! We're taking on losses up here."

"Peppy, Fox. Have the Ultras arrived yet?"

"Not yet, Fox. They seem to be taking their sweet time."

"Just hold on. We'll have the shield down in time." Fox said. Heading for another part of the base with Krystal, he could see Shodai blasting away at a group of drones heading near him before sending a couple of shredding halos at some of the airborne units, slicing them to ribbons. 'At least someone is holding out,' Fox thought.

"Fox, up ahead!" Krystal shouted, pointing in front of them. He saw it too. Another entrance. Both vulpines ran inside, and saw several ramps leading upward. However, below one of the platforms, they saw a couple of hatchers. Fox did away with them with a couple of well-placed shots from his blaster, but not before several ball-like objects rolled forward, and then lunged at them, revealing spikes that were hidden within an armored shell. Fox dove out of the way of one, but it managed to nearly slice his calf open. Krystal did away with them with her machine gun, then turned to Fox who was bleeding heavily from his leg.

"Fox! Are you alright?" she asked. She looked at the wound, and saw that it was deep. She kept pressure on the wound, even though Fox objected.

"Krystal, we need to find the generators and destroy them!"

"I'm not going to leave you here and let you bleed to death!" she retorted. Fox was stunned a bit, and was even more surprised to see her pull out her staff. It extended, and she touched the round end to the wound. A soft, warm blue light wafted from it, and entered the wound, healing it in an instant. Soon, the pain was gone from his leg, and Fox was able to stand up again. He looked at Krystal, a puzzled look on his face. He forgot that she even had that staff when she joined the team in the first place. And yet, she's been carrying it around with her this whole time?

"How long have you had that with you?" he asked.

"For awhile." Krystal replied.

"And you never thought to pull it out until now?" he asked.

"The staff wasn't made for killing, remember?" Krystal retorted. This shut Fox up as both made their way up the ramps towards the generators. Finding two in each corner of the large room that they were in, bot them destroyed them, but not before dealing with the guards in the room. However, there was still one left. The problem, was the multiple walls that were in the room blocking the path. Weaving around them, they were able to locate the lone generator, surrounded by Aparoid hatchers. Several drones materialized from the hatchers, and turned their attention to the two vulpines. Krystal squeezed the trigger on her machine gun, but it clicked on empty, the clips have run dry. As the swarm advanced, she pulled out her staff again, and fired several fireballs at the Aparoids, turning each one into cinders upon contact. Then, she turned her sights on the hatchers themselves and fired, one shot destroying each, before finishing it with a running stab at the generator with the pointed end with her staff. She wrenched her weapon free from the generator, and Fox saw the construct literally fall apart where it stood. Krystal still had her staff extended as she walked out of the room while Fox followed closely, still in shock and awe by what he saw. Outside, it was total chaos. The drones didn't even notice the foxes walking out, so engrossed were they in their fight against the towering invader who struck again and again with his deadly rays. Shodai swept his Spacium Ray over the swarm of drones who were closing in, the bright blue/white light dealing death to the oncoming Aparoids. Some, looking like gigantic wheels with small heads and launchers on their sides, tried to ram him. Shodai saw this, and leapt into the air before they could touch him. He landed behind one of them. It was no taller than his waist, and he grabbed it with both hands before hefting it up, and throwing it back into the swarm, where it crushed several of the drones. The other was rolling right for him, but Shodai was ready for it. Steeling himself, he waited until it was mere meters from him before jumping to one side and giving it a kick to its side, making it wobble as it rolled on until it collapsed on its side, unable to get back up. In the air, Falco and Slippy were again outnumbered, but certainly not outclassed. The drones that fired at them tried to line them up in their sights, but the nimble craft would not hold still long enough to get a good bead. For every shot fired, two or three of the drones fell to the ground, dead. Things on the ground seemed to be going smoothly.

In orbit around the Aparoids' homeworld: The fleet was beginning to suffer. Having lost twenty percent of its total force, the ships were being pushed back. In the Great Fox, Peppy steered the ship so as the target the largest group out of the swarm. The Great Fox fired and fired, but the massive losses to the Aparoids didn't seem to make them mind. There was just too many. Already some were beginning to cling to the ship. 'We're gonna need a miracle, and fast!' Peppy thought. Outside, Sebun was feeling the brunt of the force as well. Having already killed innumerable drones, he lost count and was now just firing his Emelium Beam and Solar Wide Shot every which way, each one downing a mass of drones. Soon he was surrounded on all sides by drones. He saw himself as an Aparoid once more, and was prepared to fight to his last breath before they do away with him. Then, a bright blue beam of light swept around him, destroying the Aparoids in moments.

"I figured you'd be in over your head, Member Sebun." The Ultra recognized that authoritive-sounding voice. And sure enough, a new figure floated down from above, and was in front of him with his arms folded across his powerful chest. He looked almost exactly like Shodai, save for the several gleaming studs on his pectorals and arms.

"Commander Zoffy!" Sebun shouted. Indeed, the commander of the Space Garrison turned from his subordinate and to the Aparoid swarm. On the Great Fox, ROB took notice of the change in the situation.

"Alert, subject Steven, aka Shodai has arrived." Peppy saw this, and his mouth hung open.

"What? What's he doing back up here?" he asked aloud. However, the view magnified, and he saw that it wasn't exactly the aforementioned Ultra. "Wait a minute, what's going on here?" he asked. Zoffy turned to the Great Fox, and gave a slight nod. Then, he looked up.

"Everyone, ATTACK! Show them the pride of the Ultra race!" Just then, dozens upon dozens of shimmering red balls of light descended upon the swarm, each one taking on a humanoid form, looking like either Sebun, or Shodai, and some unrecognizable. It was then that Peppy realized.

"Looks like the cavalry is here." he said, a smile under his mustache. The Ultras attacked with unrelenting fury, ravaging the Aparoids' ranks with their weaponry. Rays of all colors were fired from them, creating a splendid light show inside the swarm. Caught off guard, the Aparoids tried to counter-attack, but it seemed hopeless. The Cornerian fleet needed a breather, and it looks like they got it as they watched the swarm get decimated from the inside. "ROB, patch me in through to Fox."

"Channel open." ROB replied.

"Fox, can you hear me, this is Peppy."

"Go ahead, Pep'." Fox replied.

"Steven's people just arrived. They're literally tearing the Aparoids a new one up here!" Fox felt relief wash over him.

"That's great, Peppy! How's the fleet doing?"

"We lost twenty percent of our total force, but otherwise we can still continue the fight."

"Alright, just don't do anything reckless."

"Reckless? Me? I think you forgot that your father and I invented the word reckless when we were younger." Peppy said, after signing off. He saw from the portside cameras that the Aparoids clinging to the Great Fox were starting to multiply. "Yep, invented the word indeed." He guided the ship towards the planet.

Surface of the Aparoid homeworld: Shodai just received word that his people have arrived in full force. His heart leaped at the news. Now with an entire army of Ultras backing them, there's no way that they couldn't win this day! Already the shield generators were all destroyed, and a couple of arwings waited for Fox and Krystal. Hopping in, they and Shodai floated above the airborne base, the large, gaping hole leading to the planet's interior looking like a doorway. "Be ready, for anything and everything! Strap in, buckle down and hit the planet!" However, before the arwings could make a move, Slippy stopped them.

"Hold on, Fox! Something's weird. Energy readings keep getting stronger!" Below, something strange was transpiring; coming from the rim of the opening, light-blue hexagonal shapes started to form, until they completely blocked the entrance like a shining sky-blue wall.

"You gotta be kidding!" Falco said, flying closer. He fired a couple shots, but the bolts did no damage at all. "What?!"

"What's going on?" Krystal asked. The four arwings and Ultra were floating just above the barrier.

"The energy's forming a shield! Laser fire's gonna be useless!"

"Let's see just how useless!" Shodai shouted. He fired his Spacium Ray at the barrier, but the ray, much like Falco's own laser bolts, failed to penetrate the shield. Shodai stopped firing as he stared at the barrier. He had come across times when his most potent weapon was rendered useless, but not quite like this.

"Dang it!" Fox cursed.

"Out of the way, everybody!" Peppy's voice sounded over their headsets.

"Peppy?!" Krystal asked, and sure enough, descending from the sky, the Great Fox was in a free fall, more than half the ship was covered in Aparoids who were striving to assimilate the vessel. It seemed the hull convulsed and writhed with a life of its own.

"Extreme impairment. Main hull will not survive much damage." ROB said as alarms went off in the command bridge. The compartment was flashing red.

"Who cares?! Divert all power to the main guns!" Peppy shouted. He took aim at the floating base. "FIRE!" the heavy particle guns fired at the base twice destroying it in a large explosion that threw debris at the Great Fox.

"Damage capacity exceeded." ROB warned.

"Too bad. We're goin' out in style!" Peppy said.

"Peppy, you can't die!" Fox said. At that point, Shodai flew towards the Great Fox, and fired his Spacium Ray at the hull, burning off the drones and scorching the assimilated hull with mini-explosions and showers of sparks.

"Save your energy, Steven! You'll need it!" Peppy said, making the Ultra stop.

"Peppy, we're not going to just let you die!" Krystal said.

"Back off, all of you!" Peppy shouted.

"Peppy, you mustn't…" Fox started.

"Yes, this is my duty. And now you must fulfill your duty as well, Fox." Peppy said.

"Peppy!" Krystal called.

"Don't do it, Peppy!" Slippy cried.

"What are you doing? Crazy old fool!" Falco shouted. Like a gigantic spearhead, the head of the Great Fox pierced the shield, shattering it like glass. The neck of the ship went in all the way, leaving the main body sticking out while the several pieces of the ship broke off and explosions rocked the great vessel. Inside the cockpit, panels shorted and consoles exploded all around Peppy and ROB.

"What are you fool doing?! That shield will be right back! Get out of here, now!" Inside his arwing, Fox shut his eyes tightly, then opened them as he tried to take control of the situation.

"Enough! Peppy's opened a road for us! So we have to go on, without him! So come on…COME ON!" Inside their own arwings, the team allowed themselves to grieve a little for the loss of their eldest member, the one who seemed like a father figure to them. Even Shodai was touched by the hare's self-sacrifice. "LET'S MOOOVE!" As the arwings and Ultra surged forward, Shodai looked back as the shield closed behind them.

"Sayonora, Peppy-sama. Arigato." he said before flying after the arwings. Behind them, a great flash of light and loud explosion sealed the fate of Peppy Hare and ROB 64. However, the group would have to grieve later as they made their way towards the planet interior. The long corridor leading to the center seemed to stretch on forever, until after what seemed like an eternity, a soft glow could be seen.

"Hey, what's that?" Falco asked. As the team flew forward, the glow increased until they could make out a shape in the center. Reaching it, the team saw the corridor opened to a large chamber that seemed to have a kind of reflective liquid on the bottom, while the walls were snow white with flecks of violet thrown in, and in the center, stood a figure. "That must be…" Falco began.

"The Queen." Krystal finished. Indeed, for before them was a figure that seemed to be covered in a shining white covering with yellow orbs along the ridges at the bottom, shrouding everything except the face, which looked like a pale white mask with four small violet eyes on top with an ebony jewel in the middle. While the team stared at the Aparoid Queen, Shodai felt his revulsion at her mount. It was a little bigger than he was, but she looked stationary. One solid blow, and self-destruct program or no, the whole fiendish race will die with her. However, before Shodai could make his move, a familiar voice stopped him.

"Fox…"

"Huh?" Fox replied.

"Fox, don't be a fool. Stop this nonsense." The vulpine recognized it.

"Pigma?!" he nearly shouted.

"You swine! But…you're supposed to be dead…" Falco said, his voice trailing off.

"Star Fox team, accept defeat…" a new voice said. Fox recognized it as one of the aides to General Pepper.

"Wh-what is…" Slippy started.

"Give in. This is not sacrifice…it is evolution." Peppy's voice said.

"Not Peppy, too?! Stop!" Krystal shouted.

"What the heck's going on here?!" Shodai shouted.

"Fox…" a new voice said that made Fox's soul freeze.

"Dad?!" he asked.

"That's enough. There's no need for you to be hurt anymore." Fox gasped when he heard this.

"Let us live as one." James McCloud's voice said.

"Fox, don't let it fool you! You now your father is…" Falco couldn't finish, but he didn't have to.

"I know! My father…my father would never tell me to give up!" Fox shouted. Slippy came to the realization.

"I think I get it! The queen is using information from all the things she's absorbed!"

"Fox, there's no need to fight anymore…" James' voice said.

"Let us live together…together…"

"Live as one…"

The voices continued their cacophony while Fox tried to sort the situation out. Finally, after finding his resolved, he knew what he had to do.

"Everyone, let's give the queen her present!" With that said, the arwings and Ultra flew around the Aparoid Queen while the armor around her shifted. Some of it opened to reveal gigantic wing-like appendages while others covered the main body still. The fight was on! From the wings, rings of purple energy were fired at the fighters while they evaded the attack. Shodai fired with his Spacium Ray, the attack not doing any noticeable damage on the Aparoid Queen's body.

"She's armored…" Shodai muttered. "Any way to pierce that?"

"Steven, look at the spots on her armor. They're colored differently!" Krystal said. Indeed, Shodai saw that on the edges of the armor, there were different-colored protrusions on the ends. He aimed for the yellow ones on the wings. The attack proved successful in that two of the wings were destroyed. Fox and Falco aimed at the ones covering the main body. The armor fell away, the Queen's defenses beginning to crumble. However, she was far from being beat. Coming from the queen herself, several brown-colored orbs floated around. The orbs took on a more definite shape, and a type of larvae was seen within that was growing rapidly. The Queen was using her own offspring as a weapon. The fighters evaded the bouncing eggs as best they could, but that made attacking the queen all the more difficult. However, Shodai fired his Spacium Ray, and the eggs were vaporized in an instant. Krystal and Slippy attacked the wings again, shattering three more while Fox and Falco attacked the main body again. However, the Queen's armor was starting to regenerate, replacing the damaged sections in moments.

"ENOUGH!" Shodai yelled. His form glowing white, he charged up his Spacium Ray to its fullest capacity. The team got out of his way as he fired it at the queen. The armor disintegrated, leaving an exposed Aparoid Queen before them, but it would last only a moment before the armor regenerated. In the center of the thorax was a violet jewel Fox fired a couple of Nova Bombs at this, shattering it.

"Take THIS!" he shouted as he fired the capsule that had the self-destruct program into the wound on the queen. There was a bright flash of light, and the only remains of the queen was the thorax. "Is it working?" Fox asked. Everyone froze in mid-air.

"I'm not sure, but…" Slippy said.

"…hm?" Krystal mused, sensing something. Just then, the chamber began to shake.

"Something's wrong, Fox." the vixen said.

"…All for us…Everything in the universe…Will be ours…" a new voice said.

"What?!" Fox asked.

"All for us…Everything in the universe exists for us…" the new voice continued while the chamber shook. The remains of the queen started to sink into the liquid. "Bow before us! Submit to us!"

"What?!" Falco asked.

"Is the self-destruct program working?!" Krystal asked.

"It should be working, but the Queen's suppressing it!" Slippy said, panic showing in his voice. "This is bad! If she escapes, she'll create an antibody!" Fox cursed.

"Fox!" Falco said.

"Fox!" replied Slippy.

"Fox!" Replied Krystal.

We have to destroy that thing, and execute that program!" Fox said. Shodai nodded at him. "This is it! The final battle!" The arwings and Ultra flew after the Aparoid Queen down into the pit. The floor that wad the thorax of the Queen shifted over to reveal four large pink orbs, almost like eyes. And directly beneath them were openings. From them came gigantic claws that looked like were the pincers found on a giant scorpion. They grasped for the arwings, but they evaded them. Shodai let fly his shredding halos, severing the claws from their perches. Fox took aim at one of the glowing orbs, his twin-laser making the orb close like an eye. And with it, the opening closed beneath it as well.

"That's it, Fox!" Krystal said. She followed his example, and aimed for the other orb. It did the same thing, and Slippy ad Falco did the same. Soon, all of the orbs were closed. Then, another opening appeared in the center of the queen's body. And out of it, came an armored, serpent-like body that looked part organic, and part metallic. On the massive, snake-like head was a mask with a single eye in the center that looked at each of them.

"What's that?! Looks disgusting!" Slippy said.

"I think it's trying to scare us with that ugly mug!" Falco replied. He fired at it, but the emerald bolts just bounced off of the 'face' of the Aparoid Queen. However, Shodai decided to take a more direct approach. He lunged forward, and threw a punch at the Queen's face. Even though he was just only two-thirds the Queen's size, the attack had enough force to make the head snap to the left, almost breaking the neck. However, it was able to knock the mask off, revealing the queen's face. "Atta boy, Steven!" Falco said. However, the Aparoid Queen looked at the Ultra, and opened her maw. Licking flames erupted from it, and threatened to consume the Warrior of Light. However, Shodai was able to bring up his Light Barrier and block the flames. Then, he flew next the Queen, and wrapped his left arm around the Queen's neck, just behind the head, holding her in place. He looked at Fox, and nodded.

"Got it!" Fox said as he fired at the Queen's face. The emerald bolts struck the Queen, throwing sparks while the Aparoid Queen shrieked metallically in pain. She knocked Shodai off of her, and the head withdrew back into the body. The orbs opened up again, and the claws reappeared. However, the team was ready for her this time. As they got closer to attack the orbs, one of them was able to grab Shodai by the neck when he was close enough. Giving a grunt in surprise, he grabbed at the appendage that held onto him stubbornly. Then, he grabbed at the stalk, and with a loud shout, he tore the claw from the stalk. He threw the useless appendage away and fired his Slash Ray at the orb, making it close. However, the others were not as fortunate. While the claws were more active now, the orbs had an attack of their own as well, shooting pink-colored orbs or energy at the arwings. The fighters were able to evade these, and shoot at the orbs themselves, the claws retreating back to their holes. Then, the central opening opened again, and the Queen's head popped out, sporting a new mask. That's when Krystal felt it.

"Fox, I can feel the Queen's mind. She's afraid of us!"

"Alright!" Slippy said, hearing the transmission. He surged his arwing forward, hoping to take the Queen out. However, the Aparoid Queen opened her maw again, and prepared to breath her flames once more. Slippy saw this, but knew he was too close to her to do anything. Then, a form got in between him and the Aparoid Queen, and Shodai's back was bathed in the searing flames. He groaned in pain as the fire burned him, and his warning light was starting to flash a steady red, but he wouldn't move, not until Slippy made it to safety. Once the amphibian did so, he got out of the Queen's way, and flew in front of her. "Thanks, Steven." Slippy said. Steven looked back, and nodded with a grunt. He turned his attention back towards the Aparoid Queen, who was preparing to fire another round off, but Shodai was able to bring his barrier up in time. Then, he struck at the Aparoid Queen, but she caught the arm in her gigantic mouth. Steven groaned in pain again, and tried to beat the head off of him, but to no avail. Then, several explosions bloomed atop the head as nova bombs exploded, making the queen shriek in surprise. She let Shodai go, and the Warrior of Light once more out the Queen in a strangle hold, keeping her in place for the Star Fox team to take her out. This time, the team unloaded all of the nova bombs that they had, not only destroying the mask, but destroying the head as well. The neck returned to the main body, and the body burst into flames, revealing the last incarnation of the Aparoid Queen, a central core with a single eye in the middle with antennae-like protrusions coming out of the four corners.

"Fox, now!" Krystal said.

"Here I come, you space hag!" Fox said. He fired upon the Queen with everything he had. Then, he let loose his very last nova bomb that he had in reserve. It exploded against the queen, and Shodai fired his Spacium Ray into the explosion for good measure. The Aparoid Queen gave a final scream, then disappeared in a bright light. "That's the end of the queen…" Fox said, his arwing hovering. A tremor shook his ship and he flinched somewhat. "Hey!"

"The program's working!" Slippy cried.

"I guess that's the end of the Aparoids!" Falco said.

"The destruction is spreading across the whole planet…." Krystal said.

"It's starting to destabilize!" Shodai finished.

"So the whole thing was just one big entity…" Fox said.

"It would seem like it." Shodai said. "She tried to bypass evolution by stealing souls, it would seem."

"However, you have to be born with one." Fox finished. Shodai nodded.

"That's the basics of evolution, the willingness to change." Fox looked around him. "All ships, escape at maximum velocity!" With that, the four arwings and one Ultra shot out of the center of the planet, evading the falling debris as they did so.

Outside the Aparoids' homeworld: The planet was spinning slowly when it started to glow. Then, it exploded into a bright flash of light. And from that light, five shapes flew from it until they were recognized as four arwings, and an Ultra. All around them, debris started to surround them, but they knew they were in no danger of being hit by anything. "Whew! I can't believe it, but I'm still breathing!" Slippy said. The arwings slowed to a listless hover with Shodai right beside them.

"And, I have a rather interesting report to fill out for my superiors." Shodai said, a hint of a smile in his voice. However, the only one who wasn't jovial was Krystal.

"But…so many casualties…Peppy…Wolf's team…so many noble sacrifices…." Just then, Slippy looked out of the canopy, and saw something that made him gasp in surprise.

"Slippy, what is it?!" Fox asked, dreading the fact that some of the Aparoids might have survived the destruction. However, it was just the opposite. Coming from the distance was a flashing red light.

"What's that?" Krystal asked.

"Could that be…no, it couldn't…" Falco said. And sure enough, it was; coming from the debris was an escape pod, flanked by two familiar figures.

"Hey, you're all okay! Hoo, that was hairy! I promise that I'm really gonna retire after this." Fox felt his heart leap into his throat when he recognized the voice.

"It's peppy! Ha ha ha!" Slippy cried for joy. Behind the escape pod, Sebun and Zoffy looked at eachother, and nodded. It was then that Shodai saw them.

"Commander!" he shouted. The others saw the two Ultras, and Peppy spoke again.

"You can thank those two for my being here. After the ship exploded, the escape pod got rattled around a bit, but these guys saved my tired, old hide from the fire." Shodai floated up to his superior, gave him a salute that Zoffy returned, and spoke.

"Sir, the situation here is under control. The Aparoids here have all been eliminated."

"I can see that." Zoffy said, amusement showing in his voice as he looked around at the floating debris. "Not exactly the way you handle a mission, but effective nonetheless. You have done well here today, Members Shodai."

"Oh no, sir. I can't take all of the credit." Shodai moved past his superior to reveal the Star Fox team. "It was them who found the Aparoids' homeworld, and found a way to defeat them. Without them, we wouldn't have been able to stop them."

"I see." Zoffy floated past his subordinate, and in front of the Star Fox team. The Warrior of Light towered over them as they took in his gigantic frame. "We are in your debt. Not just the Ultra race, but the countless civilizations and races who would have faced extinction had you not been able to do what you just did. For that, I thank you on thier behalf." Zoffy said, bowing slightly.

"Well, gee. It was nothing. All in a day's work, I guess." Slippy replied. Zoffy nodded, then turned to his subordinates.

"Sebun, return ton M78 for debriefing."

"Roger!" Sebun said and took off.

"What about me, sir?" Shodai asked.

"I want you to head to Lylat, and assess the situation there. Make sure that all of the Aparoids in this sector and in Lylat are destroyed." Zoffy said, nodding at his superior.

"Roger!" Shodai said with a salute. Zoffy nodded, and with a shout he was flying off in the same direction as Sebun. Shodai turned to the Star Fox team, and after shrinking his size, both he and the team made their way to the gateway.

"Hey, Fox, I was wondering something." Slippy said.

"Yeah?"

"Do you think that, since Peppy survived, that maybe Star Wolf is around as well?"

"It's possible. Anything is possible." Fox said. He smiled broadly at that. "Anything is possible."

Ultraman, the Aparoid Invasion

END