Fanfic Friday – “All Aircraft Report”

10 Aug

Falco sat in the holding cell, feathered elbows on robotic knees, trying to steel himself for the next five minutes.

This was a tactic he’d learned long ago, in the dreadful calm before battle. He told himself, Get through the next five minutes. Anything after that doesn’t matter. Just survive for five minutes. It had seen him through countless raids, missions, and jobs. The way he saw it, if you only had five minutes to live, you better make ’em count.

But no dogfight, no matter how harrowing, had prepared him for this. In the seconds before a fight, when his radar screen was flashing with bogeys and his heart was pumping wild, he would crack a joke and relieve the tension. Then the chaos could begin, and somehow, he’d scrape through unscathed. But sitting alone now under the harsh halogen, no pithy quips were coming to mind, no adrenaline coursed through him. He felt dead, and more uncertain about the next five minutes than he ever had in his life.

That made Falco Lombardi afraid, and he hated it.

He imagined the door whooshing open and a smug Fox standing before him, arms crossed and sneering in that judgmental way of his. He pictured the lazy flick of Fox’s hand, and his laugh as the guards dragged him away. There were no shortcuts, no secret paths, no way to wriggle his way out of this one. He’d done terrible things. How could they ever forgive him?

Falco’s jaw set. They could take their forgiveness and shove it.

His brooding was interrupted by the sound of metal boots clanking along the passage toward his cell. He sat upright and glared at the door until it opened.

Fox McCloud didn’t enter. He stood at the doorway awkwardly instead. Falco saw that his arms weren’t imperiously crossed; they hung limply at his sides. There was no hint of smugness on his face – in fact, Falco noticed with a shock, he looked almost sad, as if he were being forced to do something very unpleasant. It took him a long time to meet Falco’s eyes.

“Hey, Falco.”

“Fox,” he replied, trying to keep his voice casual, as if they’d bumped into each other in the hallway. “Nice jacket. That standard issue these days?”

Fox smiled weakly. “Yeah,” he said, and then his expression became serious. “Listen, Falco, Pepper said to –”

Falco interrupted him with a raised hand. “Save it, pal. I know you’re here for the court martial. I don’t have anything to say to you, or that ol’ geezer Pepper. I did what I did, all right? I know it was wrong, you think I don’t? You think I don’t got regrets? Well, I DO!”

Falco didn’t know when he’d stood up, or when he’d crossed the room, or when his finger had shot up to point accusingly at Fox’s nose. He saw it now as if it were happening to someone else, and lowered his hand in disbelief. When he looked up at Fox, his eyes were shining. “Fox… I’m sorry, I –”

Now Fox’s smile was broad and genuine. “Easy, buddy. Easy. I’m not here to throw the book at you. I came to tell ya something.”

Falco gaped as Fox took an envelope out from his pocket, and offered it to him. His voice was solemn. “We’ve had reports from Corneria. It’s bad, buddy. Really bad. They need help. They need our help.”

What? What was Fox talking about? ‘Our’ help? “But…the gang…the raids…I thought –”

“Come on, Falco! So you ran with some bad kids for a while, stole a little fuel. Jeez, did you really think they’d put you away for that? You’re way too good a pilot to waste on one of these cells. And if we need anything right now, it’s good pilots.”

Fox grinned and extended a hand. Falco was too flabbergasted to move. Fox leaned forward and grabbed his feathered fingers, shaking them enthusiastically, watching Falco come to life.

“Welcome to Star Fox, buddy. I’ve got a present for you.”

**

They stood side by side looking out the viewport into the massive hangar bay, where countless ships were docked and repaired. Fox’s voice was masking a deep excitement as he said, “They’ve been a long time in development; I never thought they’d be ready. But they’re finally here!”

They felt a slight vibration in their chests as a fighter craft lowered into view, twenty feet out, its thrusters blindingly bright in their eyes. “The Arwing II,” Fox intoned reverentially, and looked over at his friend.

Falco Lombardi was a different bird than when Fox had seen him last. He looked thinner, leaner, harder. But behind his darkened eyes, Fox could see a glimmer of the old bravado bubbling to the surface. Falco smirked, and when prompted by Fox’s raised eyebrows, said, “Not bad, I guess.”

They laughed together, and Falco clapped his captain on the shoulder and shouted, “Time for a little payback!”

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One Response to “Fanfic Friday – “All Aircraft Report””

  1. Jim CEO August 12, 2012 at 11:26 pm #

    Awesome. Dad.

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