Chapter 20: Wings of Freedom

Minutes passed and the two found themselves on the roof of the citadel. "How are we going to take out a dragon‽ We don't have access to any aircraft!" Fox cried in frustration.

The citadel shook below them and they both stumbled. "I don't know Fox, but staying down there would have gotten us killed even faster!" Krystal yelled.

Fox knew Krystal was right. There was no way they could have done anything against Todasengel. The citadel shook once more and began to lean to one side. Fox moved closer to Krystal and his eyes widened as a massive shadow was cast over them. Todasengel had become the visage of Anachronos. He hovered over them, stirring up gusts of wind with every flap of his wings. "Tremble mortals, before the herald of your death!" He cried.

The building began to crumble and the two foxes were tossed onto the roof of a nearby building. "We have to get off the rooftops immediately!" Fox yelled.

Krystal jumped to the ground and rolled to soften the impact. Fox followed suit and took off sprinting after her. Overhead Todasengel circled like a buzzard over carrion. "You cannot hide from me Fox McCloud! Neither you or your Nylean mate are safe!" He screamed.

Krystal turned down into an alleyway and pressed her back up against a wall. She waited a few seconds for Fox to catch up and pulled him to the wall as well. "What the hell are we going to do‽ It'd be one story if we had the Great Fox and the Arwings but we have no way of fighting him on his own turf!" Fox said in frustration.

"Trust me, we will have a way soon enough. I managed to contact my younger self telling her we needed the aid of Star Fox." Krystal said with a grin.

Fox quickly pressed a series of buttons on his gauntlet. "Mayday, Mayday, This is Fox McCloud of the Star Fox team. Only my wing mate Krystal and I are alive and fighting, we request immediate aid." The vulpine said.

Krystal raised her eyebrow, "Did you just send a distress signal?"

"Damn right I did. If the Great Fox is anywhere near Cerinia, ROB is bound to pick that up." Fox said confidently.

The two foxes heard Todasengel roar from above and followed his descent. The dragon landed on a building around a hundred meters away and began to taunt them. "For the only hope of the Cerinian race, you're certainly an underwhelming pair. I'm surprised my future self couldn't exterminate you while you all sat in the Nexus of Time!"

Todasengel began to walk across the rooftops. Fox and Krystal stayed where they were in order to avoid attracting attention to themselves. The gargantuan dragon stopped and roared once more. "You cannot run forever. All things must come to an end. The only things that are eternal in this life are death and time. Face me like the warriors you are and meet your fate!" Todasengel screamed.

"Let's do this Krys, go down swinging." Fox said with a smile.

"Are you insane‽ He'll tear us to pieces!" Krystal yelped.

"If we're going to die, we're going to die fighting to stop a murderer." Fox said.

Krystal suddenly realized why Fox was so calm about everything and willingly followed her husband out into the open.

Fox and Krystal walked side by side towards the golden dragon perched on top of a large building. "So Cerinia's vaunted saviors finally approach! Do you really think you can stop what I've set in motion‽ Do you understand that nothing short of a miracle will save this pathetic rock and all its former inhabitants? I am the incarnation of Anachronos and where is Nylea or The Wildspeaker, they are nowhere. They ignored the pleas and prayers of their most devout and let them perish without a second glance! Anachronos has heard my prayers and has bestowed this power upon me!" Todasengel cried.

"You think that you've earned the respect of Anachronos? You really are demented. Your vision of the Deity of Time is greatly skewed. If anyone here should be spouting off at the mouth about being bestowed the honor of Anachronos's blessing it would be me. I was told to take you down." Fox said with a sneer.

Todasengel roared to the sky and flew towards Fox and Krystal. He landed mere feet in front of them and his eyes were fixated on Fox. "You dare think that an outsider like yourself was charged with a mission from a Cerinian deity?" Todasengel scoffed.

"I don't dare to think it, I dare to know it." Fox said, pulling the Key of Destiny from his pocket.

Todasengel saw the artifact and took a step back. "How could you be in possession of a Key of Destiny‽ They were lost with Cerinia when it was destroyed in your timeline! You are a mere outsider; you shouldn't be able to wield Anachronos's sacred power!"

"You know Tod, for someone who is supposed to know about what I've got up my sleeves, you know nothing. Didn't the other Todasengel tell you anything about what we were like, or did you kill him too quickly because he said he was more powerful? You will answer for the atrocities you have committed on your own people! Your misconception of the will of your deity has cost the lives of all of his followers and all life on this planet!" Fox shouted.

"No! I will hear no more of your pathetic lies and excuses! That artifact you hold cannot be a true Key of Destiny! I know for a fact that they were annihilated when Cerinia fell to the Great Rift! You know nothing of Anachronos's will, or his true power! You have dared to stand against me and now you shall pay the ultimate price! Now die!" Todasengel screamed.

The massive dragon raised his talons back and slashed down at Fox and Krystal.

Twenty Minutes ago…

"INCOMING TRANSMISSION!" ROB chimed.

"Who's it from?" Peppy asked.

"Fox McCloud." ROB answered.

Peppy looked at James and James was already walking off the bridge. James moved quickly to the crew quarters and began to bang on the door to Fox's room. "Fox open this damn door immediately!" James shouted.

The door slid open and Fox stood in the doorway confused. "What's going on Dad? You seem pretty pissed off." Fox said.

"You tell me. Why did ROB just pick up a transmission from you?" James asked.

The look of confusion on Fox's face grew larger. "How the hell would I have sent a transmission when I don't have a communicator of any kind on my person?" Fox said.

James opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by Peppy on the ship's PA system, "James, Fox, get up to the bridge immediately! You need to hear this!" Peppy shouted.

The two foxes quickly sprinted to the bridge. When they got into the door, Peppy said, "Play it ROB."

"Playing transmission." ROB said.

The members of Star Fox all sat with jaws dropped when they heard the message.

'Mayday, Mayday, This is Fox McCloud of the Star Fox team. Only my wing mate Krystal and I are alive and fighting, we request immediate aid.'

"ROB, trace that transmission and set a course for it immediately!" James ordered.

"What do you think that meant?" Peppy asked.

"It meant that there are some things in this world aren't by chance. Little Krystal back on Corneria must have been contacted by her future self who was fighting on Cerinia. The older Krystal must have known that we wouldn't say 'no' to helping an entire planet." James said.

"How do you know that they're from the future?" Fox asked.

"That one was actually the easier problem. There is only one McCloud family in Lylat, and that's ours. For another to parade himself around as a McCloud, they'd get more attention than they really ever thought possible." James said with a grin.

"Location confirmed. Course set for Cerinia. ETA fifteen minutes." ROB said.

"Peppy, go set up a pair of Arwings. I've gotta show Fox how to operate the main battery on the Great Fox." James ordered.

Peppy nodded and quickly set off to prep their ships. James beckoned Fox over to the main console in the bridge. "Now, I know you've done some training drills with the weapons on a battle cruiser. Trust me when I say that these weapons are nothing like a battle cruiser. Dreadnaught class weapons are meant to take things down quickly and efficiently. Once you fire a barrage from the forward battery, you'll have to wait ten seconds before you can fire another. Should you need to fire more rapidly, tell ROB to take over. As far as targeting, let ROB handle that too. You just give the order to fire and ROB will do the rest." James said.

"I think I can handle that." Fox said confidently.

"I'm counting on the fact that you can handle it. Who knows, you might save your life with it." James said, patting Fox on the shoulder.

James headed towards the door and turned around before leaving, "If either Peppy or I call for some support, be ready on that gun. Never give up, trust your instincts."

He left his young son in charge of a massive flying fortress and all of the weaponry attached yet felt completely fine as if it were nothing. If there was one thing the McCloud family was good at, it was operating large weapons and being leaders. James made his way down to the hangar and saw Peppy loading a few Nova Bombs into his reserves. "Going a bit overboard don't you think?" James said with a laugh.

"I plan on blowing whatever is down on that planet to hell and back should I have to. I'd advise you to do the same." Peppy said.

James loaded his standard payload of Nova Bombs and before he closed the port off, he loaded one more for good luck. James looked up and shouted, "ROB, Whats our ETA?"

"Five minutes until we breach Cerinia's atmosphere." ROB replied in his normal, monotone voice.

Three minutes had passed and Peppy continued to prepare his ship for anything. Extra shields should he need them, he didn't know what to expect so he was packing for everything. "Peppy, you might want to get into your ship." James said as he climbed into the cockpit of his Arwing.

Peppy climbed into his ship and initiated the startup procedure. James did the same and opened a line to the Great Fox and attempted to establish a link with the source of the distress signal. "Peppy, Dad, you guys ready to go?" Fox asked.

"All lights are green down here." Peppy said.

"Same here." James added.

The Great Fox began to descend into the upper atmosphere of Cerinia. "Launch all ships!" Fox ordered.

James and Peppy both prepared for the jarring ejection they were about to receive. The ships cleared the Great Fox and each pilot barrel rolled to open the wings. "We're close to the source of the distress signal. We should be able to see it real soon." James said.

Peppy was scanning below them and suddenly something caught his eye. "James, look out on your port side. Do you see what I'm seeing?" The hare asked.

"That would most definitely be a dragon. Fox, have ROB target that thing now! It's attacking something!" James cried.

Meanwhile…

"Now Die!" Todasengel cried.

Krystal prepared to roll out of the way of the dragon's claws but Fox was unmoved. A streak of red entered her vision and she knew why Fox was unafraid. "Clever Fox." She thought.

The lasers impacted Todasengel's hand and obliterated it. The dragon's cries filled the air as he turned to face what it was that harmed him. Fox motioned for Krystal to run to cover. The blue vixen started running and Fox was close behind. "Glad you sent word to your former self about all this." The vulpine said with a grin.

"I'm just glad the message was passed on to the right people." Krystal said humbly.

A massive shadow was cast over the city as Todasengel took to the skies flying straight towards the Great Fox. "Lesser beings dare intrude into my domain? You shall feel my wrath!" The dragon roared.

"James, you've pissed it off!" Peppy shouted.

"Well aware of that one Pep, now how about you shoot this winged lizard and drop him?" James said, activating the boosters to get away from the dragon.

Todasengel felt his flesh burning. He knew that if he was struck in the wings he would be grounded. "Insolent pests! You will not destroy all that I have worked for!" The dragon screamed.

He swiped his talons at the back of James's ship and made contact, crippling one of his wings and obliterated the rear engine. The ship was ablaze and James knew he had no time to lose. Without hesitation he ejected from the doomed ship and was hurled into the air. Todasengel saw a chance to quickly remove one of his final obstacles and flew straight at the airborne vulpine with mouth open wide. James quickly unfastened his harness and saw what was about to transpire.

Without hesitation James drew his combat knife and prepared to fight the beast without his Arwing. Todasengel attempted to catch James in his mouth but found his maw empty immediately after clamping down. Suddenly a small sharp pain radiated from his back. "Cling to your pathetic life mortal! You have no chance against me as you are!" Todasengel screamed.

The dragon rolled through the air trying to shake James off of his back but was to no avail. Peppy flew parallel to the beast being cautious of its frantic movements. He attempted to open up a communications channel to James. "You need to get off that dragon! He's going to slam you into something to get you off!" Peppy shouted.

On James's end, he heard half of the message, but it was more than enough to realize he was headed towards his demise. Todasengel leveled out for a moment and James waved for Peppy to get closer and drop down. "Do you have any last words pest?" Todasengel scoffed.

"I don't do last words, but I hope you enjoy the feeling of torn wings!" James said, pulling his knife from the dragon and leaping towards his wings.

James caught Todasengel's wing membrane and the blade tore it in two. James began to fall and Todasengel spiraled out of control. James landed on Peppy's wing and managed to stabilize himself. "Peppy, get to the ground and pick those two up!" James ordered.

The hare quickly maneuvered the ship and landed next to Fox and Krystal. "Get on now! We need other ships if we plan on killing this thing!" James shouted.

"No, get me above him and I'll end this." Fox said sternly.

"You can't be serious kid; a simple combat knife couldn't do anything. What do you plan on killing it with?" James asked.

Fox pulled out the key and grasped it tightly. "Get me above him before he gets back up!" Fox shouted.

Peppy did as Fox said and took off again. The ship was difficult to balance due to the excess weight on the wings, but Peppy had no problem keeping it from leaning too far in one direction. Below them was a massive pile of rubble where Todasengel landed. A massive claw reached out from the pile and slowly the dragon began to clear itself of the debris. "You will not see victory this day!" Todasengel screamed.

The dragon bellowed a strange roar and a shadowy substance escaped its maw. "What the hell is that?" Peppy asked.

The shadowy material touched the wing of the ship and it instantaneously corroded into nothing more than dust. James and Krystal lost their footing and plummeted to the ground below. "Dad, Krystal, no!" Fox cried, reaching for his falling family.

Fox immediately became filled with rage. Not again, no longer would what he held closest to his heart be ripped away. No longer would he simply be fighting to stop a madman and save an entire race. Now he really would lose everything should he fail to kill this monster. This was the ultimatum Fox had been dealt, and he saw no other way to respond other than charging the beast head on.

"Do you see now? You have no hope of defeating me!" Todasengel mocked.

"Peppy, dive him now!" Fox cried.

"Fox, if I do that we both die!" Peppy shouted.

"Do it now!" Fox screamed.

Peppy put the ship into a nose dive directly at Todasengel. Fox moved to the nose of the vehicle and prepared to jump. "When I give the order, pull up!" Fox said.

Todasengel watched as the small vessel began to hurtle towards him. A malicious grin overtook his face and he began to rear back to release more of the corrosive substance. The ship was now close enough to be destroyed if Todasengel released his roar. "Charging me head on? A sound strategy Fox, but not good enough. The dragon thought.

"Now!" Fox cried.

Todasengel released the corrosive blast and Fox leapt from the front of the Arwing. Time slowed to a standstill. Fox was flying through the air and was prepared to end this battle once and for all. Todasengel's vision of Fox was obscured by the cloud of corrosion and opened Fox's window of opportunity. The vulpine plummeted onto the dragon's head and stabbed the Key of Destiny into the beast's skull.

Todasengel roared in pain and thrashed around for mere second before he began to fall to the ground. Fox activated the key and he felt as if he were floating. The world around him suddenly went white and then he lost consciousness.

Time stood still for Fox, he was no longer among the world of the living, nor was he among the world of the dead. He was simply suspended in time. The weary vulpine opened his eyes and saw three beings standing before him. A green wolf, a golden dragon, and a blue vixen all gazed down at Fox. "Keyholder, you have destroyed the greatest threat to the Cerinian people and the known universe, you are in our debt." The blue fox spoke.

"Nylea I presume?" Fox asked.

"Yes, the dragon you already know is Anachronos, and the green wolf is Garrus. We have been watching you since you first used the key, and set all of this in motion." Nylea said.

"Why wouldn't you just kill Todasengel yourselves?" Fox asked.

"We would not dare interfere in the lives of the mortals directly. It would have broken our code." Garrus answered.

"So now that the entire Cerinian race is extinct, what do we have to do now?" Fox inquired.

"You must make those decisions. We will merely help create a new timeline to what you specify." Anachronos said.

"You're giving me the power to rewrite history as I see fit? Why not set things the way you see fit?" Fox said, becoming more confused as the deities continued to speak.

"We cannot directly interfere with the lives of the mortals, you however are not one of us. As of right now, you have a favor from the three of us and can use it however you wish and we cannot refuse." Nylea spoke.

"Then listen closely. I want you to rewrite history to have the same path as the timeline I came from originally. Change things so that a majority of the Cerinian people were able to evacuate to the Lylat system, among those people I expect you to include Kuraio, Aurelia, Gideon, Liliana, and Krystal. When Cerinia is destroyed, it will be due to a war between Todasengel and his most devout followers and a man named Andross. The destruction of the planet will destroy them both and Andross will rise one more time before he is finally defeated. The Cerinian population will take refuge on Sauria. They will live in peace with the Saurian tribes. In terms of my adventures on Sauria, they will happen in a very similar manner, except there will be Cerinians there as well as dinosaurs. The rest should be exactly as it happened in my original timeline up until the point when Krystal and Marcus were murdered, that should not happen under any circumstances. Destroy any trace of the Key of Destiny in relation to my life and the life of the Lylat System. And, lastly Dash Bowman will not take up his grandfather's work; we lost a lot of good people to that madman as well." Fox said.

"That is certainly a lot to take in. What about your parents? Do you wish for them to be alive in your new timeline?" Anachronos asked.

"I've had to deal with the death of a parent three times already; I would rather not have to go through it a fourth. Let them rest in peace." Fox said.

"We shall do what we can. When you awaken, you will be just as you were when your journey started. You have fought hard and deserve to take your rest. Rest easy hero, for a new day shall dawn and you will be called again." Garrus said.

The triumvirate of deities all turned towards each other and began channeling a spell. Around Fox, visions of everything that he had been through in this adventure flashed before his eyes. He had traveled through time just to save the woman he loved but it was much more than that. It was a realization that no matter how much you wish the past could be altered, some things just need to happen or else it changes who you are. He had been given a wondrous opportunity to shape the timeline the way he saw fit, but creating a timeline that is seemingly perfect is bound to be riddled with imperfection. Fox's vision slowly began to fade to black and everything around him became dark.

Fox shot straight up in bed panicked. He looked around the room and everything seemed to be in order until he looked to the other side of the bed. He noticed Krystal was gone. Fox threw the covers off and ran downstairs sprinting towards the door. He saw Krystal get into their car and a sense of panic overwhelmed him. The car started without an issue and Krystal waved to him as she drove off to the hospital for her appointment. Fox sighed deeply and looked to the sky with a smile on his face. "Thank you, you had me worried there for a moment." Fox thought.

A trio of voices infiltrated his mind, "You set everything up the way you wanted it to, you should be thanking yourself. Congratulations on your newborn son Fox McCloud." The Deities said.

Fox was confused, Marcus hadn't been born yet, nor was he due for three weeks. An hour or so passed and Fox was sitting on his couch watching the news when communicator rang. His wrist gauntlet displayed 'Corneria City Hospital.' "This is Fox McCloud, whats going on?" Fox asked.

"Mr. McCloud, my name is Dr. Aurelia Solunar, you need to come to the hospital. Your wife has just gone into labor." Aurelia said.

"I'm on my way!" Fox said, hanging up the phone.

Fox ran out of his house and across the street to his friends Falco and Katt Lombardi. He knocked on the door rapidly and stood there waiting for an answer. Falco opened up the door with a quizzical expression on his face. "Fox? Whats going on?" He asked with concern.

"Guys, Krys just went into labor, can you take me to the hospital?"

"Let's go!" Katt said, pushing Falco out the door.

The three drove off to the hospital immediately. On the way, Falco decided to turn on the radio and Krystal's favorite song came on. Fox couldn't help but smile when the chorus rang out and he mumbled to himself, "You can reach the goals that you have set from now on every day."

A/n: My followers, fans, and passersby, this is the end of The Keyholder. I figured that I would draw everything back to where it all began for the end. I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I've enjoyed writing this. If you would want to see another story from me send me a message and if enough people demand it, it shall be. For now, however, I will be focusing more on writing my original novel and getting that finished within the year hopefully. Thank you all for reading!

~The Twin Phoenixes