Leon Powalski stared at his rival with an intent glint in his eyes, reclining back in his seat. If there was one thing the chameleon knew, it was that his rival didn't have the ability to plan ahead like he did. Whatever tactic the pheasant decided to use, Leon was always one, two, three steps ahead.
It was almost as though his rival knew that…he just didn't want to accept it.
The blue pheasant stared down at his ebony soldiers laid out is a disarrayed format around the chessboard. The ivory men surrounded his queen, towers, lone knight and three pawns, which was part of the once expansive troop that protected his king in vain. He was so easily outnumbered…
But like the great Falco Lombardi wanted to admit defeat so easily, especially to old Lizard Boy…
He extended his wing towards one of his pawns, moving it diagonally to knock out Powalski's own soldier. The chameleon, unlike his bird adversary, took virtually no time to swiftly slide his bishop across the board, knocking down Falco's queen in one swift motion.
"Check." Leon perched his head upon his palm with a smug grin on his muzzle.
Falco winced inside. If he heard the word "check" one more time, he'd flip over that damn board and forget he even wanted to play with that pest.
He moved his king one space to the right. He was safe…for now.
Ever since the beginning of the ongoing match, Falco couldn't help but wonder what got in him to have the desire to play chess with the chameleon. Was it because he knew this was a game Leon happened to be skilled at and simply wanted to beat him at his own game? Or was it because Leon told him he would win and he just wanted to prove him wrong?
Well, no matter what, Falco was determined. He wanted to see the baffled look on Powalski's face…he showed his own look of confusion far too many times in this match, anyhow.
It was Leon's move once again, which began with a green thumb and index finger pinched around the head of a bright knight going across an L-shaped trail, ending with the conquest of another square that once belonged to a dark, sturdy tower.
"Check again…" Leon tapped his fingers against the table.
"Damn it…" Falco growled under his breath, glaring at the board.
"Tell me, Lombardi," the chameleon stated. "How long do you plan on keeping this on for? We've been at it for nearly two hours at this point…"
"It's over when it's over, Leon!" Falco barked, banging his fist on the table. He then redirected his focus immediately back to the board. "Just lemme focus…"
"You focus and actually pay attention to things?" Leon chuckled. "Well, I suppose there's a first for everything, now is there?"
The pheasant squinted his eyes, slowly moving his head up from the focus and attention he gave to his men.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Well, face it, Lombardi. You have always been relatively haphazard in your actions, ranking yourself far above your own expertise without using your head to plan out possible outcomes and how you must react in certain situations. Or in simpler terms," he shrugged. "You're a very foolish bird."
Falco clenched his fists, bolting out of his chair. His lizard opponent remained indifferent, showing no sign of shock, or even emotion.
"The hell are ya tryin' to do, Leon?!" he spat. "Wanna start somethin' with me?!"
"Oh, and another thing," Leon remarked, unmoved. "You're very short-tempered with the patience of a four-year-old on a road trip. Surely you've gotten that before."
He paused in his rage, remembering the lack of patience that DID affect him and others when it shouldn't have been necessary…
"Falco!" the vulpine bellowed from his Arwing. "What the freaking hell do you think you're doing?! Get back here or you'll set off the security of their base!"
Sargasso Base was a well-guarded one, filled to the brim with ruffians and hard-core, heavily-armed military commandos that weren't the biggest fan of the "good guys"…especially considering the Star Fox team. And as one would imagine, the base had its security on all hours of the day.
The band of mercenaries had retrieved intel that day that the infamous Star Wolf team was temporarily residing in and running the base itself, and the objective for the Star Fox team was to take control of this base without destroying the stronghold, but instead ratting out and possibly eliminating the Star Wolf team if it was deemed necessary.
Falco Lombardi only heard the "eliminating the Star Wolf team" part out of the hour-long announcement sent by General Pepper that day, and the thought of hearing a chameleon's wail of mercy enthralled him.
His Arwing was far ahead of the rest, as he slowly made a full circle around the base's radius while the rest of the team was at least three hundred feet away from the mile-wide radius.
"C'mon, Star Wolf…" Falco whispered to himself, teeth bared in a smirk. "C'mon and play…"
"F-Falco…" Slippy Toad chuckled nervously. "C-Come back here, man…w-we need to t-take some time to…to find a better way to get in…i-if we even have to…"
Falco didn't listen, of course. He never entirely did. Instead, he noticed the front of the base, and the crevice of an entryway as its center…
"Falco…" Krystal warned sternly. "Slippy's right. We shouldn't do anything too rash…"
No response came from the pheasant, besides,
"Trust me, kids…" his focus was directed to that crevice… "I know what I'm doing…"
"Falco, I swear to God," Fox growled. "If you don't come back here right…NOW…"
The pheasant pressed onto the two buttons of the controller of his laser, slowly charging it. It was green now…but that was something he was actually willing to wait for…
Fox's eyes widened when he saw the light of the tip of Lombardi's ship go from green to blue…
…And once Falco saw this blue, he counted to three…
"Heheh…you…you aren't aiming t-that at…at the base…are ya?"
"Falco! Do not do this! Attacking the base is against orders, remember?"
"FALCO…" Fox roared, infuriated with the defiance of his wingman. "If you don't get your ass over here on the count of-!"
"Three." Falco let his thumbs off the buttons, as a bright-blue ball of ultra-hot radiation headed towards and soon went through the base at full speed. It wasn't before long until an alarm was set off and a band of three crimson aerial ships zoomed from the back of the base and headed straight for the mercenaries.
"So," Wolf O'Donnell bared his teeth and huffed, with his aim locked on his enemies. "Which one of you sons of bitches left a hole in the wall of my beautiful base?"
His wingman turned his attention to the annoying bird of the Star Fox team, slowly advancing towards him.
"I think I can take a guess…" he stated, as Falco already made a break around the base, reveling in the chase he longed for.
Oh sure, he enjoyed it then…but he didn't exactly like the general literally barking in his ears for disobeying orders. If it wasn't for his team, especially his captain, he could have REALLY had it from General Pepper.
If only he was more patient and less conceited…
"Oh, and let's not forget…" Leon said, gesturing at the piece he just moved. "It's still your go. I moved the knight. Check."
Falco snapped out of his little walk down the not-so-fond memory lane. All he did was glare at the chameleon and sat back down, moving his king to the right again; there was nothing more he could do at that point. He then sighed a little.
Like the obvious victory, never would Lombardi accept that Powalski was right…even though he knew it.
The match slowly continued on, with Falco continually having to move around the monarch one square in any which way just so it wouldn't be bashed by the opposition, which was giving his pawns a really rough time.
"Where'd ya get so good at this game, anyway?" Falco found himself asking, as Leon knocked over yet another black pawn…except he didn't call out check.
"Venom." Leon bluntly replied, mind locked onto focusing on his next actions. "I often played against Venomian officials to sharpen my mind, I suppose. Other officials would bet on who would win…and it was usually me who won…even at a young age."
"Really?" Falco moved his pawn up one square.
Leon immediately knocked it over with a pawn of his own.
"Yes." he nodded. "It was at the point where I was expected to win. It barely became betting after a while…but if I…"
Leon paused, making the pheasant look up. He wasn't even sure why he listened to that lizard, but he found himself intrigued.
"Uh…if you…" he hummed. "What?"
No response was given. Instead, Powalski's widened eyes were locked on the board, expression mute and blank.
"You…" Leon's voice uttered shakily. "DO realize it's your move, don't you?"
"Yeah, but what were ya gonna say? If ya…what?"
"Damn, don't make me impatient, too…"
Falco groaned, moving his last pawn two spaces towards the king. The chameleon's eyes widened at this move, but he said nothing; the pawn committed an act that wasn't expected.
"There. I made my move." Falco grumbled. "Now will ya tell me what you were gonna say?"
For the first time that entire match, Leon looked up from the board and stared intently at the blue irises of his blue rival. He then, still staring at him, knocked over his king with his index finger. The castle and pawn had his poor monarch cornered.
"If I lost…" Leon began. "Some officials weren't that content with it…"
The young chameleon waited for the mustached, uniformed chimp to make his move. Word spread that General Aubrien was "the greatest" at this game, with the intelligence of a god that had the ability to obliterate anyone's ability. Ever since Child Soldier #82498 took up the official's offer of a challenge, bets were placed. Half bid for the official to win. The other half bet on the young, thirteen-year-old chameleon.
During this match, the chamber was silent, but the air was very, very thick. Primates of all kinds circled around the two players, and the only sound uttered was the occasional cough or muffled sneeze.
No one would dare interrupt either competitor's concentration. Their hefty yet sparse pay-checks from the big head Andross himself depended on it.
Leon could feel the sweat run down his forehead. This man was good. DAMN good. He couldn't predict a single move of his, not one, and he felt as though the general knew that, drinking that fancy sangria of his while smoking a strong-smelling cigar, which hung limply around his fingers. It was his move now…but what should he do? Where should he go?
He tapped his fingers rapidly against the table, as the atmosphere filled with the overwhelming smell of tobacco.
"Outta moves, boy?" Aubrien chuckled. "Because it seems as though I got ya cornered…"
No. There was no way the boy would accept defeat THIS easily. He was taught to fight to the death if necessary; loss was no option for him. He knew that far too well…
But he felt someone breathe on his neck, another smacking on a wad of chewing gum…was it gum? Gum was never sold around here…was the man doing this to mess with his mind?! N-No…of course not…but where was that damn whirring coming from?! There wasn't a ceiling fan in here!
"Oh God…" Leon murmured desperately inside his mind. "Make it stop…p-please…"
Head pounding. Heart racing. Every bit of his body quivering. The noise. The people. The raw cigar smell…
He couldn't take this anymore…
Leon hastily moved his castle vertically across the board…only for Aubrien to move his queen two spaces away from his king.
"Check-mate, boy!" Aubrien laughed, smoke billowing from his nose like a dragon. "I win!"
The chameleon felt flushed, as the chamber suddenly went in an uproar of cheering and outrage. He immediately ran out of the chamber, tears welling up in his eyes.
This was it. He was a failure. He lost to an official, and miserably, at that. He hated himself. He was an idiot. A moron. So many people's fortunes relied on his victory…
This couldn't end up well for him later. That was for certain…
He suddenly broke out into a run across corridor after steel corridor of the base. If any gambling man found Child Soldier #82498 that night…
"HEY! YOU!" a gang rough-houser who witnessed the defeat unfold scampered towards the chameleon. Leon turned his head, but immediately turned back around and sprinted as fast as he could.
A few more members of the gang's posse joined the leader in a sprint towards Leon.
"WE LOST SIX MONTHS WORTH OF PAY BECAUSE OF YOU!" a ruffian shouted.
"COME BACK HERE, YA LITTLE BRAT!" another bellowed soon after.
Leon began to pant. He was never trained for this kind of running. Stealth, oh sure, but a supersonic chase scene? Never…
Soon enough, he lost his way, finding himself in between the gang and an unforgiving corner.
"N-No…" Leon choked, with the ruffians only giving him one foot of space at that point. He was petrified, no idea how to defend himself. Training wasn't enough. His stealth skills weren't enough. There was no way he could think ahead of his foes, as he felt each punch in the jaw and kick in the shin send a shockwave through his body faster than the speed of sound.
He was cursed. His descendants were cursed. His existence was cursed by these violent men because of his loss.
He couldn't fail ever again.
He just couldn't…not after that…
After what felt like forever, the gang members left the teenage soldier laying limp against the corner. The blood trickled down the side of his face like the sweat in that match. So much of his body felt bruised, broken. Never had he felt so scared, so torn, so…defeated.
Was this why he was alive? Just to succeed for the sake of other people? And THIS was what happened when he lost? He'd just lay here nearly dying…and…and…
The next thing Leon knew, a lupine embraced him, afterwards helping him up and patching up his wounds.
"You know you don't have to be perfect for anyone, Leon," Wolf wrapped Leon's left shoulder with gauze, giving him a serious look. "You know I'll fight for you, Leon. You're my best friend in this whole base... You won't have to win for anything…you know that…"
Leon stared at him, eyes glazing over. And the next thing he knew, he let his tears go on his best friend's shoulder.
If only he realized that there was no such thing as perfection…
"So…wait…" Falco gasped at the fallen king in disbelief. "Does that mean I…"
"Yes." Leon nodded, feeling a small tinge of pain in his left shoulder. Lucky for him not a single man in the bar in which they played this game cared if a vulture or a pest won such a petty board game. "It appears it's as though you won…unbelievably."
The pheasant reclined back in his seat, with a face of satisfaction.
"Ha! See?" Falco laughed. "Told ya I'd beatcha!"
"And you did." Leon shrugged with indifference. "Sorry for ever doubting you."
Falco and Leon then stared at each other once more. They played this match for a while…and come to think of it, they've been competing and what-not for quite some time. One wanted to prove he was better than anyone else, the other one wanted to show everyone that he was unbeatable. They both had different motives, obviously. They knew that since they were teenagers, when they were first at each other's throats.
One was conceited, wanting to prove he would always win.
The other was, dare he say it, scared of failure.
The two wanted to beat each other so terribly, even in a simple chess match like this one. Whenever one won a match, it was back to the lab again for the other one, waiting for the next battle with the rival to ensue…
"Well, Fox and the others are probably wonderin' where I am." Falco extended a wing towards Powalski. "Good game, Leon."
Leon took a moment to grasp onto the wing and shake it.
"Good game." he concurred, and on that note, Falco left, heading back to his mothership, possibly exclaiming how he beat that crazy lizard in a game of chess.
It may have been hard to realize, but Leon, nor Falco, could live without their bittersweet relationship. They didn't hate each other, oh no…they just had the same drive, and as they say, people with the same drive might get along the least.
And what would happen when their rivalry was over?
Leon looked at the wall to his right, smirking at the poorly welding job on the wall. He liked that poor welding job…but somehow liked the hole even better.
He then turned back to the board, noticing the ebony king right in between his white knight and bishop. He smiled a little to himself, knocking over the black king with his finger.
...Who said their rivalry ever had to end?
Ladies and gents, introducing the worst FFN updater alive. *claps* Thank you, thank you. Hold your applause. Thank you.
I haven't really been writing much lately, mostly because of a huge Writer's Block and school hasn't helped at all. I just really had to put SOMETHING out there just to show that I haven't forgotten about writing, and if you so happen to read "Defying the Rain", then I apologize for the lack of updates. You'll get one really, REALLY soon, I promise, and I'm sorry for neglecting it.
As for this one-shot, I've always found Falco and Leon's relationship funny to think about. Star Fox 64… Assault…enough said, really. It's the classic rivalry relationship any series needs between two characters, and these two don't entirely get that much of the spotlight as is…so…yep! This one-shot!
I hope you enjoyed it, and I will be writing more. Thank you for reading, and reviewing/critiquing is always appreciated! :)