Chapter 3

"I already said my name, you know?"

"Uh, right. Sorry about that, guess I wasn't paying attention." Fox was walking beside the vixen as they headed up towards this thing called the Warpstone.

"So do you know anything about this Warpstone thing?" Krystal nodded her head as they walked along the pathway.

"Yes, the Warpstone can provide a means of transportation through, well, warping."

"Amazing, I wouldn't think that this planet would have tech like that. Where I come from, we usually require more setup."

Now the vixen's face had confusion on it rather than annoyance, "Tech? What's that?"

"Oh, right, sorry. It's a general term for technology, where I come from. I wouldn't have thought this place would have advancements like that. Are you from around here? I was told this world was inhabited entirely by dinosaurs." The vixen was silent for a moment, the walk was silent as Fox wondered what it was that he did wrong.

"No I'm not from…around here. I came here from another planet, there was a distress call so I came here to help." Her tone changed a little, it sounded sad. Before now she seemed neutral in the vulpine's company, but now her mood seemed to have shifted dramatically. Fox didn't know what to say here, it's not like he knew something would cheer her up.

"That's a kind-hearted thing to do, travelling from a different planet to help another." The compliment concerning her kind nature seemed to help her mood a little bit, not much but Fox was glad to help this stranger. "So this is the Warpstone? Let's see if he'll help us out." The two of them approached the Warpstone and before they even spoke, he spoke.

"Nobody brings me gifts any more."

Okay, that was a quick answer. "Oh! I know!" Fox's attention shifted back towards the blue vixen as she spoke up while they walked away. "Perhaps something in the Thorntail store will do. I remember my friend told me it's right over there, across the stream." Krystal pointed over at what resembled a cave that looked like it led into a large, crafted structure. Fox was a little skeptical, but thus far he had no real reason to distrust Krystal.

"Okay, what kind of currency does the store take?"


"Scarabs? You mean the bug things?" The vixen nodded her head in response. "Well, this planet just keeps surprising me I guess. Where can we find some? Under rocks?" Again the vixen nodded her head in response. There was a small circle of rocks near Fox's Arwing, they would start their search for scarabs there.

"Okay, so I'll try lifting this rock, it doesn't look too heavy. Just grab any that you see come out and we'll head to the store. Ready?" Krystal assumed a type of squatting position, prepared to pounce on any scarabs that might come bolting out from underneath the rock. Fox knelt down and gripped part of the rock, lifting it just a little so he could slide the rest of his hands underneath. He got both of his hands fully underneath the rock and lifted it a bit higher, shining light underneath the rock and he saw the scarabs run out from underneath.

Krystal pounced on some, picking them up and chasing after the few that got away from her initial pounce. "I got them all!" She shouted back as she got the last one that was a few feet away from Fox.

"Great, so how many do we have?" Krystal counted what was in her hands, dropping one as Fox knelt down to pick it up. "Counting the one in your hand, that makes ten." "Will that be enough to buy him something nice?" The vixen shrugged her shoulders, only one way they could find out.

"Here, let me see them. I can stow them in the pockets of my jacket." Fox put them away on an interior pocket to his jacket, the scarabs were smaller than anything he had seen before that shared the same name. The two foxes journeyed over towards the small cave and looked inside, there was a way for them to climb back out thanks to the way the rocks were formed. As they entered the store they were greeted by a strange, floating dinosaur.

"Welcome to my store, feel free to look around the many wares within these walls. I have food, special goods, and many maps. Oh, and that's the exit." It was like the dinosaur's greeting was automated, not missing a beat and not saying much of a hello.

"Uh, well okay. Thanks." Fox mumbled in response, not entirely knowing what he should say back.

"Now if you find something you like, then we can discuss a price. Now hurry and choose something, or get out." Well alright then, the dinosaur made everything rather clear without wasting any time. The two foxes walked towards the area that the dinosaur labeled as special goods and took a look around the room.

"Okay, so something that looks like it would be a nice gift, let's take a look around." Fox told Krystal and they began browsing what was in the small room. "A ball? This looks like some kind of children's toy. I don't think he'll like this." Fox looked over at Krystal, silently asking for her approval. She shook her head and she moved over to another table. "What about this? This thing looks nice and shiny." Fox inspected this thing that resembled a fruit, only it looked golden rather than the normal countenance of a fruit.

He turned around looking for the shopkeeper, as it appeared right in front of them with a poof of smoke. "That'll be 186 scarabs." Fox's eyes widened as he took in the price of the gift they wanted to buy. "We'll just keep looking." The shopkeeper groaned at his response as the two foxes walked away from the golden object.

"Well, I guess this thing is our last option. I hope we have enough scarabs for it." The shopkeeper floated up to them, listening in to what they said. "If this is what you like, you'll pay ten." Now a small smile came upon both of the foxes faces, they could afford this gift.

"Fine, we can do that. Here." Fox reached into his jacket and pulled out all of the scarabs and handed them over to the shopkeeper. Krystal lifted the rock-like object they had just purchased, feeling that it had a little bit of weight to it despite its somewhat small appearance.

"You got that? Want me to carry it?" Fox asked as they walked out of the store.

"I've got it, it isn't that heavy." The weight of the rock surprised her at first, but now she did have it under control as she carried it out of the store. After trekking back towards the Warpstone they held out the gift towards him, and his stone eyes had surprise in them.

"Ah, a little sweetie, mmmm." He reached out and pinched the small rock, then popped it right into his mouth. "I guess that answers what it was." Fox whispered to Krystal, hearing her laugh a little.

"Who dares bother the mighty Warpstone? A thousand years I've been left alone to rest, what do you want?"

Fox cleared his throat and stepped forward. "We were told that you could warp us to the ice mountain. That's all we need, can you do that?"

"Aye, I can. I can warp you to the mountain. In the future, if you require my help travelling around the planet, I can warp you to Krazoa Palace. It's a sacred place for the planet, but I can only send you there if you have a Krazoa spirit."

"Krazoa…palace…" Fox turned around as Krystal whispered.

"Something wrong?" The vixen looked back up at him, shaking her head.

"Okay, thanks Warpstone. We just need to go to the ice mountain now." The Warpstone held out his right hand to the foxes, beckoning them to step onto it. Fox stepped onto his hand, and Krystal followed him. As they stepped onto his hand, they both felt much lighter, and as their vision faded they could see the Warpstone close his hand. Fox felt a sudden rush of fear, not knowing what was happening around him as the last thing he saw before his vision faded was the giant stone hand closing on him.

It felt strange, like they were floating through space without any spacecraft, and their vision slowly returned as they saw a cave. Fox fell off of the shrine that Krystal was standing on. His face in a small bit of snow, as the cold shock quickly returned him to full consciousness.

"Whoa!" He jumped out of the small pile of snow and his back hit the wall behind him. He looked around, trying to figure out what happened to him.

"What's wrong? Are you alright?" The angelic voice snapped him out of his shock.

"I'm fine, I guess. Not used to warping like that, where I come from it's a little different. Guess I wasn't ready for it all. So we're here? At the ice mountain?" Krystal stepped off of the platform and stood next to him while he sat against the wall, she kicked some of that same snow at him.

"What do you think?"

Fox shivered a little bit, giving her a small glare. The two of them walked towards what looked to be the exit of the cave, and it certainly was. Krystal easily noticed the extreme change in temperature from Thorntail hollow, given her small supply of attire.

"Cold?" Fox asked her, despite knowing the answer to be obvious.

"I'll be fine, I've been around the planet a little and have been fine." Fox rolled his eyes a little bit as he laid down behind a small ridge, this way he could overlook the area ahead of them.

"What are those things out there?" Fox saw two bulky, bipedal dinosaur-looking things. With the exception that they seemed to have some kind of leather armor on, and carried weapons.

"Those are the Sharpclaw, the tribe that will be our enemy." Fox looked from the vixen back to the two dinosaurs in question.

"My enemy huh? They don't look so tough." Krystal rolled her eyes at what he said, noticing him reach for his blaster holstered on his leg.

"Is that a weapon?"

"What? This? Yeah this is my blaster, I'm gonna take these guys out so they won't be a threat to us."

"What? No not yet! We still don't know where the prince is!" Fox let out a hardly audible groan, his idea of shoot first and ask questions later had been debunked. Krystal wasn't wrong, for certain. The two of them saw a large ship coming into their vision, it had to be important due to the size of it. The lower hatch opened and something began to descend, looking familiar to them both.

"That must be the prince huh?" He looked over at Krystal and she nodded in return. As the prince landed, he wasn't greeted royally. One of the Sharpclaws hit him with its weapon, quickly scaring him into submission. The two of them chased him into a nearby cave, things didn't look too bright for the prince.

"It appears we have located the prince." Krystal was right, they stood up and eased their way over towards the cave, trying to avoid making noise outside the crunching of the snow beneath their feet. The two of them heard the shouting inside, and it sounded like the prince was being hurt even more.

"Okay, you wait here. I'll handle this."

"But there are two of them, you're outnumbered and they are quite strong. I'm going too."

"No, you stay here. You don't even have a weapon." Krystal's face had a look of annoyance on it, while Fox's was a bit smug. He signaled for her to cover the entrance as he stepped inside the cave.

'Whoa, these guys are a bit bigger up close.' He thought as he approached the two enemies, indeed they were a bit beefier than he thought.

"Hey scaleface! Pick on someone your own size." The two of them looked over at him questioning who he was and what he was doing here.

"I am Fox McCloud, lead pilot of the Starfox team. I've come to take the prince back to his…home?" Fox became distracted while the prince ran out of the cave, foiling Fox's rescue attempt. One of the Sharpclaw blindsided Fox, hitting him while he was distracted, slightly disabling him for a moment.

"Hey wait!"

Now the prince had taken off, leaving the cave and running down the hill in front of them. Krystal noticed this, yelling for the prince to stop. He only ran faster down the hill in front of them. After trying to hobble towards the prince, a Sharpclaw shoulder tackled Fox, knocking him off of his feet. The two of them hopped on the nearby jet bike machines and took off out of the cave, down the hill after the prince.

Krystal poked her head inside to ensure if it was safe, then stepped inside. "So, it appears you 'handled' it well." Fox gave her one more glare as he recovered, standing back up and looking around the cave.

"Pick a better time to try and be funny sweetheart." His look wasn't a playful one, it was a bit embarrassed as well as annoyed.

In the corner he saw what he was looking for. He took off his backpack, then his jacket and threw it at Krystal. It landed right across her face as she took it off and saw Fox putting on his backpack, her face confused as well as annoyed.

"What is this-"

"Shutup and put it on. Try not to get frostbite from the wind chill." Her face still confused, not knowing what frostbite or wind chill are. Fox ran towards the back of the cave and looked at it, another one of those jet bikes.

He laid on the mechanism and tried out the controls. 'Similar to the Cornerian models huh? This'll be a cinch.' He revved the throttle and moved forward a little, stopping beside Krystal.

"Aren't you listening? I said put that on so you don't get frostbite. There's another bike back there, get on and hurry up!" He nearly yelled at her as he took off, hardly catching a glimpse of her putting on his jacket and making her way towards the back. Fox headed down the hill, the one place that the prince could run that wasn't a clear dead end. He almost wished he had kept his jacket, with how cold the wind chill was making it. It was bearable while he had his jacket on, but he was hoping he wouldn't have to do anything in these colder regions, about now he was wishing that he had asked for Slippy to airdrop some warmer attire.

He bit the bullet and rushed down the hill, revving the bike to go as fast as it could since the Sharpclaws had a headstart on him. The turning was a bit different from the jet bikes he had seen before, but he quickly adapted. He would have to, an error at the speed he was going was guaranteed to be fatal. Before too much longer he could see the two Sharpclaw ahead of him. He grinned as he caught up to them, he had been in a situation similar to this a few times in the past. He eased up to the first one, unsure of whether or not they were aware of his presence.

He lightly nudged the back of the Sharpclaws jet bike, then gave the bike a little more power and turning a bit more sharply. This resulted in his presence quickly being known, as he spun the Sharpclaw out and crashing him into a large pile of snow by a tree. The impact being strong enough to shake the tree, dumping another sizable portion of snow on top of the Sharpclaw and his bike.

Krystal had nearly caught up to Fox, able to see his maneuver from a distance. She grinned at his excellent move he had pulled to disable the Sharpclaw. After jetting through an icy tunnel she caught up to him, the second Sharpclaw still a bit ahead of him. He turned his head over to see if it was indeed her, once he noticed that it was he re-focused on the task in front of him.

The Sharpclaw was a sizable distance in front of him, he hoped that the prince had gotten away or found a good hiding place. Fox revved the throttle more, boosting up to max speed. But it wasn't enough, they were reaching the end of the hill, it looked like. He wouldn't catch the Sharpclaw, and he knew Krystal couldn't since she was behind even him. He had to think fast, and he remembered his earlier plan.

As the Sharpclaw reached halfway down the final slope, he pulled out his blaster and blasted the back left turbine of the Sharpclaw's bike. This caused the Sharpclaw to spin out as well as lose all of his momentum as he spun out and began to slow down, off to the side of the pathway. Fox dodged the bike and its occupant, grinning as he looked back. His grin soon disappeared as he noticed that the bottom of the hill led to a drop off, into what looked like a near-frozen pond.

He yelled as the bike got away from him and he nearly flopped face-first into the cold pond. He surfaced, spitting out the frigid water and gasping for air.

Krystal dodged the newly spun-out Sharpclaw, losing a little momentum in the process. She looked ahead and also saw the drop off, unaware of what was below it. Her own bike got away from her as she looked below her, plummeting to the cold pond.

"Look out!" She yelled, as she saw Fox's head pop out from underneath the water. Fox quickly dove back underwater to avoid the impact.

Once again he surfaced, gasping for air and making sure his vision had returned entirely. He looked around for Krystal when he heard a small bubbling to his right. He looked over and shortly after did a soaked vixen emerge from the water, spitting excess water out of her mouth and right into his face. Her vision came to, and she was greeted by an annoyed, and soaking, look on Fox's face.

"Oh um… sorry, Fox." She tried smiling, to ease his annoyance. He swam towards the shore, where their new friend was awaiting them.

"Wow! That was cool!" The prince told them. Fox brushed himself off, trying to get the excess water off of his clothes, turning around and offering Krystal a hand to help her out of the cold pond. She gladly accepted it, the jacket was a bit large on her and was much heavier now that it was soaked.

"Thanks. So you're the prince? What's your name?"

"Tricky, prince Tricky." Fox grinned a little, and let out a small laugh.

"Nice name. Well then, Tricky, I'm here to escort you home. Do you know the way or are we gonna have to find a way out of here?" Tricky looked around at their surroundings as the two foxes tried to dry themselves.

"No, I've never been here before. I just had to trust my instincts to try and find a way out of there." Again, Fox laughed at the prince's comment. "Sounds like a sound strategy, well then let's go. We need to get you home." Fox turned over towards the soaking vixen behind him, and the soaked jacket.

"Here, give me the jacket. You're soaked and this won't help you now." Krystal turned towards Fox, a bit surprised by his care for her considering how he had behaved recently towards her. She handed it to him as he rang out all of the water. He put it in his backpack, later on he could dry it out.

"Okay, let's just head this way." Fox led the trio towards the one exit, and it led to a small pit of lava. "Well, that's a bit random out here in this snow land. But at least we aren't so cold." Fox felt pretty warm now, his clothes were dried off, his jacket in the backpack might even be dried off now. In the middle of the pit was a platform they could jump to, then another platform with a small set of rocks they could climb.

"Are both your feet dry? I don't want either of you to slip." As the descended the rocks to the first platform. The vixen and the dinosaur both checked their soles to ensure the safety. They were both dried off as they watched Fox leap across the first gap, and then the second, without a problem. Next was Krystal, who elegantly leapt across both platforms, landing lightly and gracefully on her feet.

"I'm gonna go look ahead, make sure Tricky doesn't fall." Krystal nodded to Fox again as he scaled the rocks. As he reached the top he was surprised, Tricky was already there.

"What in the? How'd you get up here?" The dinosaur simply shook his head.

"Sorry, family secret." Fox rolled his eyes and groaned.

"At least we won't have to carry you everywhere." Fox turned around to help Krystal up the rocks, still surprised at his own chivalry or politeness towards her considering the past events of the day.

"How did he?-"

"He said it's a family secret, at least we don't have to carry him all that much."

Fox grinned as they all headed down the pathway of snow. As they headed down into a new valley, they noticed a few Sharpclaw on the way there. As the approached them, Fox's hand quick to reach for his blaster, Tricky gave them away.

"Whoa! Sharpclaw!" he took off running away from Fox and Krystal.

"Tricky! Wait!" Fox facepalmed as the dinosaur ran off. He groaned and ran off to catch him, with Krystal in tow. A Sharpclaw noticed them and began to walk towards them, his weapon brandished. Fox reached for his blaster and pointed it at the Sharpclaw, flipping the safety off.

"Freeze!" He yelled at the dinosaur as its pace didn't slow.

"Well then." He cocked his head and pulled the trigger, sending a blast of energy through its Sharpclaw was knocked off his feet, but to Fox's surprise, the Sharpclaw got back up.

"Well, that's new."

Fox put two more shots into the sharpclaw's chest, this time the dinosaur stayed down. "These guys really are tough, like you said. I've hardly seen anyone take more than one well-placed shot from this model." Krystal looked at the weapon in Fox's hand.

"That's some weapon. I had something kind of like that, that could shoot heat blasts like that."

"Thanks, I'm sure we could have a nice conversation about that sometime. But now we have to save Tricky before he gets in trouble." The two of them ran down into a small, iced valley. Tricky ran from two more Sharpclaw, screaming for help. Fox charged up his blaster and took two quick shots, blasting both Sharpclaw through their heads, dropping right there.

"Tricky are you crazy?" Fox scolded the dinosaur when he approached him.

"Okay okay, I'm sorry. How about next time something like that happens, how about you just whistle and I'll stay with you, okay?" Fox nodded along as they searched for a way out of this valley. They saw a mammoth-like creature standing over by a ledge, looking a bit upset.

"Think you can talk to him? I'll try to find a way outta here. Maybe we can take that ledge over here." Krystal nodded to Fox's request and she made her way over to the large mammoth, which she deemed a Snowhorn.

"Are you hungry?" She asked the behemoth of an animal.

"However did you know, lass?" She just cocked her head back and forth, shrugged her shoulders.

"Female intuition I suppose. What would you like to eat?" "There should be a type of Alpine root nearby. They may have been buried underneath the snow, if you can get me one then I would be glad to help you in return." Krystal nodded with a smile as she looked around for any sign of this alpine root. She looked over at Fox, who was looking for some way out of here. Then she looked at Tricky, who was just wandering around. Krystal whistled, catching Tricky's attention, he looked over at where the sound came from as Krystal beckoned him to come over to her.

"Hey ummmmm…" The earthwalker actually didn't even know her name, introductions had been so minute that Krystal forgot to even tell the prince her name.

"My name is Krystal, I'm sorry for being rude earlier and not introducing myself."

"Oh it's okay Krystal. I mean we have been moving a lot and Fox over there doesn't seem too happy. Is he always so grumpy?"

"I wouldn't know, I met him a few hours ago. But he has seemed a little grumpy ever since we got here to ice mountain."

"Oh really? I thought you two knew each other and all. What do you need?"

"The Snowhorn over there told me that he would help us if we found him an alpine root. He suggested that perhaps that some could have been buried underneath all of this snow. Would you help me look through all of this snow to find one?"

"Oh boy! That sounds fun! Let's do it, we can go on our own adventure while Fox is over there doing his own thing." Krystal smiled and laughed at the child-prince's excitement at their small adventure ahead of them. They search around the rink of ice that surrounded a large tree, seeing a multitude of snow mounds. A few of them they had dug through to find nothing but more snow and eventually frozen ground.

'Hmmm, where would something like that be?' Krystal thought as she looked around, seeing a bit of a larger snow pile next to a tree. She pointed over to it as Tricky got closer to it and began to dig. She joined in, shoveling through all of the snow with her hands in hopes of finding what they were looking for. When she was most of the way through she felt something, and then as she moved more snow she saw something green. She dug around the green piece and felt something more solid, then reached a bit further into the snow.

She gripped something that was round and pulled out what she was looking for, an alpine root. "Is that it?" The prince walked up to her, curiosity in her eyes. "I would hope so, otherwise we would have dug through this cold snow for nothing." She smiled at the prince as she stood back up and walked over towards the Snowhorn.

"Ah! That's what I needed!" The Snowhorn used his trunk to quickly snatch the root from Krystal's lithe hands, letting out a loud belch and Krystal verbalized what she thought of the smell.

"I'll help you out now. Here, this should prove useful." The Snowhorn reached around behind him and then handed Krystal a bag of some sorts. "This will help you carry more scarabs. Perhaps it will come in handy." Krystal nodded in thanks to the Snowhorn and walked over towards Fox.

"Hey." She said to him, concerning her and Tricky's earlier conversation concerning him, she was unsure of how she should approach him.

"Hey, what's that?" He pointed at the newly acquired bag. "The Snowhorn gave it to me, he said we can carry scarabs in it. Maybe it can hold around 50? Better than putting them in the pocket of your jacket." Fox nodded in response as he stowed the bag in his backpack for the time.

"I think we can get up on this ledge here. I'll give you a boost, do you think you can help pull me up? I may be able to get up on my own, but just in case?" Krystal had an unsure look on her, then she nodded. "I'll um…make sure to not look up." Fox's face had a hint of red in it, now that he was verbally acknowledging Krystal's attire. He looked at her as her face too had a tint of red, not saying a word in return, just silently approaching the ledge above them.

Fox cupped his hands together as he crouched a bit to accommodate for the small but noticeable height difference between the two. She stepped into his hands as he lifted her up, making sure his eyes stayed focused on the ground below him, instead of what was being raised above him. As Krystal lifted herself off of his foot, did one of her sandals fall off.

"You dropped something." Fox tossed her sandal back up to her, with a grateful look on her face. He jumped up and got up to his elbows above the ledge, clambering as much as he could to pull himself above the ledge. Krystal rushed to his aid, grabbing one of his arms and pulling him up as much as she could. Fox hoisted his leg up above the ledge, finally getting everything else up as he climbed, showing Krystal a grateful look of his own.

"Are you guys done yet? Come on, I think we're almost home!" They looked over at Tricky, who had performed his little trick and was already halfway down the path. "That truly is some trick of his." Krystal said, winning a small laugh from Fox. They headed down the path and saw a small cave entrance, thinking that they perhaps found their way home. When they approached the cave there appeared to be a large Sharpclaw blocking their way.

Fox held out an arm, signaling for Krystal and tricky to stay back as he reached for his blaster. The Sharpclaw quickly held out a hand to signal Fox to stop, "25 scarabs and you can pass." Fox seized his grip on the gun and turned back to his team.

"Well, you heard him. I don't wanna kill him." Krystal and Tricky nodded as they all split up to find scarabs. They reunited in front of the Sharpclaw and offered him the payment.

"You can pass, but don't tell boss."

They all grinned at his obvious mischief as they passed through the cave. They traversed through the cave, avoiding the bats and came to something that resembled a sewer system, the smell wasn't the only thing that gave that idea. "Great, and we have to swim again. So much for my jacket being dry." Fox laughed a little as he jumped in, the water was a little warm to his displeasure. "Gross, I hate swimming in warm water." Krystal laughed a little as she dipped her foot in to see just how warm it was.

The three of them swam around the sewer system and weren't hesitant to hoist themselves out of the warm water. They trekked further down the cave, hoping they would have some kind of respite soon. At last they saw a light at the end of the tunnel they were in, and it grew larger the closer they came to it. They resurfaced from the cave to see something that was a pleasant sight as well as a familiar one, they were around the back end of Thorntail hollow.

"We're here, finally." Fox said with a bit of a sigh.

"That's my ma!" Tricky yelled, it appeared his hearing was much more acute than that of the foxes, they didn't hear anything besides the natural noises of the hollow. He jumped off the rather high ledge they were all standing on, bolting towards the sanctuary where they all left his mother.

"He looks happy. Guess I had better go see what's happening. Ladies first I suppose." Fox beckoned Krystal towards the ladder by the ledge and she began to descend without a word, the conduct between the two had been…interesting for the first day of their meeting.

As he descended the ladder, he heard that voice again, "Fox, were there Sharpclaw here before we left?" His feet hit the ground as he looked towards the hollow, now on level ground. There were a few Sharpclaw patrolling the hollow, and the denizens were looking a bit afraid of their uninvited guests.

He drew his gun from the holster and loaded it, "No there certainly were not, and there won't be any here if I have anything to say about it." He pointed the gun at the first Sharpclaw, only about 12 feet away. Sending a bolt right through its head, it dropped lifeless a second later. Fox dropped the remaining Sharpclaw as he and Krystal headed towards the sanctuary to find tricky and his mother.

The two of them found Tricky by the queen, a bit of concern on his face. "She's gonna be okay, isn't she Fox?" The queen's eyes were almost shut, she looked to be a little sick.

"Is there anything we can do for her?"

"We need to find white grubtubs. My mom gives them to me when I'm not feeling well, the last place we found them was down in that big well. But it's dark down there, you might need some way to light the place up." Fox thought for a moment, perhaps something in the store could help him. His headset had a small flashlight on it, but it was mainly made to illuminate a small space or a specific object. Sure it was a decent flashlight, but there was no telling how big it might be down there, the flashlight may not provide enough light.

"Okay, I'll go see if there's anything at that store that can help." Again he walked off, not even acknowledging the vixen's presence, leaving her expression to be a bit baffled.

"Hey, Fox!" He turned again, standing by the flower bed feeling a bit of dejavu.

"Do you mind if I tag along? I…wanna help too." Fox managed a small grin, she hadn't been the most help to his mission so far, but she had yet to really hinder him. Plus, her voice sounded really nice, and familiar oddly enough.

"Sure, let's go. We'll need some scarabs, so let's go collect some." The two of them went over to the rocks they searched earlier, hoping for a small repopulation of scarabs. With the new scarab bag they received, they filled it all the way to the top and were prepared to find what they were looking for. As they entered the store again they went to the same section, finding something that looked to be a type of lantern.

"Do you think this will work?" Fox asked Krystal's opinion on it, he hadn't really spoken to her much.

"This looks nice, perhaps we can find some fireflies to put in here. They provide a lot of light." The two of them called the shopkeeper over, and after a bit of haggling, stowed the lantern away in Fox's backpack. As they approached the gigantic well, they saw a small crawlspace, their only way in. Crawling through was a bit stressful, afraid that something might cave in on them. There was another tall ladder that they slid down, into a somewhat misty interior of the well.

"This mist is a bit thick, can you see okay?"

"Yeah, I'm fine." Fox's response was abrupt, it was apparent that he wanted to get out as fast as possible. They journeyed around, avoiding anything that looked hazardous to them.

"Look, a hole. Maybe deeper down we can find those things Tricky was talking about, grubtubs?" Krystal nodded, validating what Fox was saying.

"They are a type of food for the earthwalkers, this variation is more medicinal." Krystal's help was much appreciated now, Fox had entirely forgot to ask Tricky about the objective to his current task. They descended the ladder and it was clear that the lantern would quickly come in handy.

"The glass of this lantern should help illuminate more, if these fireflies aren't enough." Fox informed Krystal as he activated the flashlight on his headset.

"That really is something. That thing on your head." Fox grinned as he turned around and it illuminated her beautiful face.

"It's something my friend designed. Like it?" She nodded as he turned back around, hoping to find some fireflies.

"There! Those are the fireflies." Krystal pointed over towards these green orbs that floated around a small puddle. They both slowly approached the glowing orbs, then jumped and caught them, stowing them away in the lantern. "Wow, these really are bright now. I can save the battery life on my headset now." Fox said as he turned off the flashlight, thanks to the illumination provided by the fireflies.

"Look! There's one right there." Krystal pointed towards a small mushroom, it matched the small description from earlier and Krystal validated the mushroom. She plucked it from the ground and handed it to Fox, it was a bit soggy due to all of the moisture from the underground cave. "How many do you think we need?" "Three will probably work. They are very concentrated." Fox was glad to hear they wouldn't need many more, he was already ready to get out of here.

They walked down a small slope that led to a pitch dark area, until Fox pulled out the lantern, illuminating the room. "There's another one, it's good that we found one. The humidity down here is ridiculous." Krystal laughed a little as she squatted down to pluck the next mushroom. "So where do you think we can find the next one?" Krystal was surprised that he was asking her for help now, earlier he seemed indifferent to her. Now he was a bit more curious of what she was thinking.

"Maybe over here, up on this ledge perhaps? Since we yet to be up here." "Yeah, why not. I'll give you a boost and you can take a look." Fox held out his hands and helped Krystal to the top of the ledge as she looked around, her eyes widened and a smile quickly spread across her face as she pulled herself up above the ledge.

"I found one!" She plucked one and quickly ran back to the ledge to show Fox.

She moved quickly and the moisture of the cavern made her wish she hadn't. As she approached the ledge again she slipped on the edge of it and began to plummet towards the ground below the ledge, closing her eyes and bracing herself for the impact.

"Are you okay?"

She opened her eyes again and saw what she almost didn't suspect. Fox caught her before she hit the ground. "I'm fine. Thanks, Fox." He gently put her back down on her feet, making sure not to move too fast.

"Here, I'll put it in my backpack." He reached out his hand with a genuine smile as Krystal placed it in his hand. "Let's get out of here, I'm sick of this place already." The two of them headed back to the sanctuary and gave the queen the medicinal mushrooms. Her eyes opened back up as it appeared life surged through her once again.

"Thank you both! Thank you for saving my son and for saving me!"

Fox let out a sigh of relief, "Okay okay, enough of the thanks. Now I need some help from you. Can you just tell me what's going on?"

"This is all the work of General Scales. He leads the Sharpclaw tribe, and this time he has managed to defeat us."

"Right, so we've got an enemy to take care of, I thought as much. But what about the planet? Why is it breaking apart?"

"This planet is rich with a magic energy. The energy is so strong that it pushes the planet apart. To stop this, the ancient Krazoa created four spellstones to hold the magic energy. Once Scales removed the spellstones, the planet began to fall apart, simple as that."

"Right, so that's all a bit strange, but I think I've got it. So I just need to find these spellstone things and put them back?"

"See mom! I told you he was good! Starfox, yeah…" The queen smiled as she looked at her son. "My son will remain with you."

"WHAT?! Are you craz- I mean, sure. But it's gonna be dangerous out there, are you sure he's up to it?"

"Certainly, he knows the planet well, and he's sure to provide some kind of sidekick assistance."

"Right, well sure. Just remember to not get too out of line or anything, alright Tricky?" "Yeah yeah! Totally!" "Now then, Fox. We last sighted Scales in Darkice Mines. The gatekeeper is a silly fellow, but I know him. Go back to the Snowhorn wastes and find him."

"Great, and we just got back from there. We'll go tomorrow, it's getting late and I've had a tiring day." The queen nodded along as Fox left the sanctuary, Tricky stayed with his mom for the night. Fox left for his Arwing to fetch the blankets and sleeping mats that he had brought for the nighttime, resting his backpack on the small pallet he had made by the flower patch.

He lit a small fire next to his pallet, trying to ensure he dried off and stayed warm from the fire.

'Oh, that's right.' He thought as he stood up, leaving the small fire unattended for a moment. He walked back down to the sanctuary where Tricky and his mother were, they were sound asleep.

'That's weird. I could've sworn…' He exited the sanctuary and looked around the hollow, then found what he was looking for over by the waterfall.

She was laying down on the land next to the beginning of the stream, it appeared as though she was gazing at the stars.

"Hey, Krystal?" She looked up, seeming a bit surprised at his presence, nevertheless she sat up and met his gaze.

"I made a fire and I have some food over there by the flower bed, if you're hungry or cold." He offered the vixen a hand as she gladly accepted the help to her feet. The short walk over towards the small campsite was one of silence. Fox wanted to offer her aid, after all she had a long day too.

"Here, I have a few different things. They aren't the most delectable, but they have plenty of nutrients and they'll fill you up." Fox pulled out an assortment of the military-grade quick foods.

"That's a calorie mate."

"A calorie mate?"

"Yeah, it's packed with plenty of nutrients. I usually eat them for breakfast, especially if I'm running late. Here are a few other flavors." He pulled out two more boxes, one labeled to be a fruit flavor and another one that was plain. "I usually eat the fruit one, go ahead and try it." He pulled it out of the box and handed it to her with a smile on his face.

"Mmmm, this is nice." She bit into the fruit flavored one and had a happier look on her face.

"Yeah? I'm glad you like it…we've had a long day." This was the first time he acknowledged that he and Krystal were a unit. That he wasn't on this mission by himself, that he did indeed have a partner. She noticed, and a smile crept across her face.

"So uh, Krystal?"

The beauty of a vixen turned over to him with eager eyes, it looked as though he was nervously twiddling his thumbs.

"I'm uh…sorry about snapping at you earlier. And not treating you the best. I'm sorry about all of it."

"What do you mean?" She scooted a little closer and sat next to him on the pallet in front of the campfire.

"I mean, how I was yelling at you, and not talking to you. I mean you offered me help and I wasn't exactly treating you the way I should." Krystal opened her mouth to speak, but Fox did so first.

"It's just that this is kind of a job I didn't wanna take, since it was so out of my element. I guess I'm a little stressed and I was taking it out on you, so I'm sorry for it all."

"Fox, that's fine. I thought that perhaps you had a little bit on your shoulders. Hopefully you will be okay on this, I'll be going around the planet trying to do what I can to help."

"Actually…would you come with me?" Krystal's face held an expression of surprise, she was not expecting Fox to ask her for more help, even after his heartfelt apology.

"You want me to come with you? On this journey?"

"Yeah, if you want to. I mean I understand if you don't want to-"

"I would love to come with you and help." He looked up at the vixen, a genuine, angelic smile on her face.

"Thanks, Krystal. Here, I want to give you something." He reached over and grabbed his backpack, rifling through it trying to find something. "I found this shortly after I got here on this planet, and for some reason you reminded me of it. Plus you said you don't have a weapon, maybe this will work?" He pulled out the staff he found earlier in the day and handed it to her, her eyes widening as she nearly snatched it out of his hand.

"This is…my staff!"

"It's yours?"

"I dropped it a few days ago, when I was…investigating some things concerning the planet. And you found it?"

"Yeah, it was sticking out of the ground in the middle of that flower patch behind us." She sprang onto Fox with a light hug, that surprised him a little.

"Thank you, Fox."

"You're welcome, Krystal. I'm glad I could help you for once." She came off of him and yawned.

"You sound tired, why don't you go ahead and go to sleep? I'm gonna stay up for a bit."

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, I'll be fine. Just go on to sleep, I'll see you in the morning." He smiled at her as she moved over to the other side of the pallet and he stood up, she watched him move over to the stream and squat down a little. As he looked around this hollow, seeing the waterfall, stream, all the trees and looked up at the night sky, his looking around ended on the vixen who was trying to make herself comfortable on the makeshift pallet that he laid out for them.

Some of the words of one of his favorite songs flashed through his head as he looked at her,

(We'll just turn and walk away. How could we let it end like this? Just turn and walk away)

He shook his head before his mind could complete the verse, he laughed a little as he saw her finally drift off to sleep.

'Silent night' He thought to himself as he smiled at the journey that was ahead of him.

Holy cow this was a bit of a challenge. Updates may take longer than on my old story, but that's because I'm trying to have less chapters, but longer ones instead. That way perhaps it will feel like there is more meaningful content and not some boring, stock/just-because chapters. Hope everyone is enjoying so far, it's fun to right some action/adventure stuff. Little campfire talk scenes are always nice, aren't they?