A/N: Greetings to all who have stumbled upon this story. If you have followed me from the Mass Effect section where I've spent the last year tinkering in, I thank you for your support in joining me in a new franchise, one that has held a special place in my heart for years.
Of course, some of you may be asking: Why Metroid?
Well, for starters, every single game I've ever played in the franchise has been a perfect game in my opinion, combining a haunting atmosphere with a compelling story. And when I say perfect games, I of course do not mean the travesty that was Other M, an installment that I have been fortunate enough to avoid. I am familiar with the story, but my headcanon is pretending like that game does not exist, so there won't be any references here that allude to it. Regardless, the Metroid series has been an inspiration for me and I've wanted to write for the franchise for a while now, and I thought that I should wet my feet by starting with a novelization of the manga.
The manga itself has resulted in a mixed reception among Metroid fans because it gets some things right, while others it gets very wrong. What I aim to do is offer my interpretation of the entire story, most notably through fixing the wretched dialogue and heavily altering a few scenes. My intent is to offer an expansion on the story by adding more detail while keeping its dark tone even throughout. Metroid is Nintendo's most "adult" franchise and I'll do my damnedest to see that it doesn't delve into anything corny or over-the-top.
I hope this manages to capture your interest in the way that the immense potential captured mine. I look forward to developing this further.
For now, enjoy the story.
Mankind's ambition to reach for the stars was an act bordering on insanity when the idea was first approached. Breaking free of the bonds of their home planet was considered insurmountable and the hidden dangers wracked the public with worry. But when the sea and the air had been summarily conquered, there was nothing to quench the nature of humanity to explore, except to travel beyond into the stars, and so it seemed that the next exodus was inevitable. When they finally accomplished that final hurdle with the colonization of Mars, humanity had passed a milestone that had been set eons before they could ever imagine. Now, they had become part of the galactic community.
Thus began the Golden Era of humanity. With the ability to transport themselves across the galaxy now at their fingertips, humans became an integral part of galactic society by assimilating their skills and knowledge into the established collective. The transition was not a smooth one as it was a period marked by conflict, but by Cosmic Year 2000, almost 3000 years after humanity first took its steps onto another celestial body, a tender peace had finally enveloped the galaxy and the assimilation had been completed in full.
To take advantage of the newfound lull in conflict, the myriad planets in the Milky Way vowed to stand together as one force, and they formed what would be called the Galactic Federation. The Federation would comprise representatives from each world, headed by a chairman, and all of the participating planets would merge their armies into one massive war machine with the intent to utilize it as a force for peace. It would be zealously regulated so that no one species could claim the most power, and the established system appeared to be working. As long as the democracy was firmly set in stone, the army remained stable.
The introduction of the Federation also gave a boost to the other species that never had the manpower to defend their own planets before to suddenly find themselves host to a force willing to die to protect their civil liberties. The peace of mind was a good thing for the galaxy. Fringe attacks on colony worlds were not uncommon, but the formation of the Federation gave more protection to the outlying planets, now able to spread their resources over a wider margin. Many of the colonies were not settled to spread the seeds of population, however, but to harvest valuable resources. Helium, methane, gold, cobalt, all were consumed heavily by the Federation and its subsidies. A giant machine, constantly devouring.
But, there was one mineral that was more precious to the Federation out of all the available resources the galaxy could offer. Every single ship that possessed a hyperdrive in the galaxy, a fair ratio to be sure, all required this mineral to function. Afloraltite was the mineral that made this development possible. Without it, the supply lines would run short and simple hops around the galaxy could turn into years without the mineral to function. All hyperdrives possessed an ignition module that was the catalyst in a hyperjump and afloraltite was required to ignite the initial stages of a jump, thus starting the delicate process. In relativistic terms, however, hyperjumping was akin to forcefully ripping a hole in space in time powered by such a violent shock that sent the craft into faster than light velocities. But afloraltite made it all possible, no matter how dangerous of a substance it was, for it was the only material that could do such a thing.
And there were many that were willing to kill for it.
Star Colony K-2L
Cosmic Year 2058
The bulky transport shuddered as all of its weight fell upon its landing gear. The metal buckled and groaned but the shock absorbers merely bounced the craft along. Dust scattered along the landing pad and several mechanics quickly ran forward to attach fuel hoses to the undercarriage, automatically getting out of the way of the docking ramp.
The metal surface hit the ground with a clunk and a group of five men slowly trudged out. One was wearing a cap and he waved it in front of his face, sending the cool air of K-2L towards him.
The colony world of K-2L was a lush paradise. The settlement formed near the afloraltite mines was sparse and hobbled together, but the surrounding forests were a brilliant green and were capped off by rocky mountains in the distance. The sky was a deep blue and a few clouds dotted the pristine surface. Good weather for flying.
The captain of the freighter put his cap back on and smiled as he saw the crew chief walking towards him. He stuck out a calloused hand and was rewarded with a firm shake. "Chief Aran," he grinned, "it's good to see you again."
The chief was a tall, strapping man of about thirty. He had tussled, sandy brown hair, and a day's worth of stubble on his face. Sweat beaded on the man's brow but the fire in his eyes projected a youthful energy.
"Likewise, Michael," Rodney Aran said. "How was the trip coming in?"
"Boring as shit," the captain drawled. "Ran out of vids to watch during the last two days of the voyage so I had jack-all to do in the meantime."
"That's rough," Rodney chuckled. "But I think my wife has a few extra copies of some old classics she picked up during our last leave. I'll see if I can ship them over to you before you depart."
"You're a good man, chief," Michael breathed out.
"Think nothing of it. You did a good job out there. Now go inside the bunker and get yourself a hot meal. We've got the game on and everything."
Michael's eyes sparkled at the prospect of some decent food. "Live or recorded?"
"You think we're that well off that we can get a live recording out here in the Rim? It's recorded, but I hear we're kicking ass over there."
"Might as well catch it. I want to at least stay on top of things when my boy wants to discuss sports with me. The damn kid knows more about the game than I do at this point."
Rodney laughed and went back to his clipboard as Michael joined his crew inside the building at the end of the landing pad. He jotted down a few notes as he began to walk the perimeter of the vessel. It was the only ship on the pad at the moment and Rodney could take the time to meander a bit in his inspection, purposefully keeping his gait slow.
Being one of the few crew chiefs on an important colony world such as K-2L was stressful work, but Rodney Aran had more determination than most men. He believed in a good, honest day's work, and apparently the Federation thought so too. He was being well compensated for this job, and in ten years' time, if he wasn't going to be reassigned, he could be able to retire and live a modest life on a populated world. K-2L had charm, but it did get lonely from time to time.
Rodney surmised that his attitude would have been much worse if his wife had not agreed to join him on the colony. It was perhaps her guiding hand, and his new kid, that was providing him the direction in life whereas others could find none. At the very least, her physical presence was very cathartic, and he knew that he would have to be hard pressed to find another woman as determined as her.
"Rod!" a voice called, coincidentally rousing him from his thoughts.
He turned to see a woman in a utilitarian dress walk across the landing pad towards him. Her hair was a solid brown and tied up in a ponytail, apart from two locks that fell over the sides of her forehead.
Virginia Aran was certainly a beautiful woman, perhaps the prettiest on the planet – in Rodney's biased opinion - and he definitely noticed some of the mechanics stealing glances at her as she hustled underneath the transport. Oh well, he could kick their asses later. Not in front of the wife, though.
"Virginia!" he exclaimed as he pulled her in for a hug, while still holding onto his clipboard. "What brings you over here? Is something wrong?"
"Not in the slightest," Virginia shook her head, her ponytail bobbing in unison. "I just thought that since you've been spending a few nights out here, you could use a decent meal once in a while." She held her hands out and Rodney could see a sandwich and some fruit through the clear plastic wrap.
"Lunch?" Rodney's eyes widened. "Oh, Virginia, you really didn't need to do that."
"I did it anyway. It's only a half mile walk to your workplace, Rod, so it's not like it was quite a trek. I'm almost certain that you haven't been eating healthily in weeks. You haven't been home in a while, Rod. Even Samus has noticed."
"Samus…" Rodney sighed, closing his eyes shut in regret. "Ah, that kid doesn't deserve a dad like me."
"I sincerely hope you're joking, Rod!" Virginia arched an eyebrow.
"Only a little!" Rodney said defensively. "But...it's just that I've been so busy with these shipments that I'm..." He breathed out in frustration. "…I only want her to understand that I'm doing this so that we can have a better life…so that Samus has a future, Virginia."
"She does have a future," Virginia assured. "But you need to stay healthy so that you will have a shot of being in her future, Rodney."
Rodney laughed and gently took the lunch bag from Virginia. She only used his full name when she was being very serious. Guess this was one of those times when it qualified.
"I guess I can't argue with that," he smirked towards his wife. "I could never win in an argument against you anyw-"
A crackle of static cut him off, causing Rodney to reach for his radio. "Yeah? What is it?" he barked into the transmitter in a gruff tone. Virginia could not make out the static-filled reply but whatever it was, it made Rodney pause a beat and perform a double take.
"You sure? Damn." Rodney was now starting to look a bit more agitated. "All right, have them land over on pad four. I'll be sure to greet them personally."
"Come on!" a small voice moaned. "Give that back!"
If anyone from a civilized planet happened to catch sight of the ordeal at the moment, they might have questioned the kind of parenting that let young children run amok around a mining colony. They could turn up their nose and move on forward, arrogantly confident that their snide assumption somehow made the situation all the more better. But it was not like their words were going to change things here.
Of course, Samus Aran was not like most children. Colony kids did not have the luxury of being stuck in a stuffy school all day, or even rooted to the spot in front of a vidscreen, watching mindless programs for hours until they became a vegetable. Children became bored easily and sometimes letting them off the leash was a good way to satiate their natural curiosity. Besides, the parents around here encouraged physical activity anyway.
It was fortuitous that K-2L possessed such a temperate climate that allowed humans to tromp around outside comfortably. It was also fortunate that the woods near the landing pad were a source of exploration to these children. With the right amount of imagination, it became their portal for an alternate reality, making it the ultimate playground.
At least until an outside force wandered by and subsequently dissolved the illusion.
For that was what happened when young Samus was walking down her favorite path. She had been tossing her small pack up and down to herself, laughing while she did it. She was tall for her age, almost four feet, but her tousled, dirty blond hair was short, almost as short as a boy's. As she played with her pack, she had given it an exuberant throw and it had landed several feet away from her. That was when one of the planet's native rabbilis decided to run ahead, pick up the pack, and scurry up the tree as if its intent was to taunt the young girl.
Now Samus had been standing in the same spot for almost ten minutes, fruitlessly leaping up into the air at the tree branch feet above her head. She was so fixated on retrieving her pack from the fuzzy creature that she didn't notice the ground rumbling beneath her. She ignored it and continued in her pointless quest to take back what was rightfully hers. It would all be for naught; the rabbilis wasn't budging.
She was about to call it quits with one of the words that daddy liked to say when he was angry, but before she could accomplish even that, the crashing of the brush nearby caused her to turn her head.
"Samus!" her friend Ramon cried as he stumbled through a bush, his sister Eliza behind him. "There you are! What are you doing here?"
Ramon was a pudgy little boy, two years older than Samus, but Eliza had been luckier with the genetic draw with a slightly skinnier form. She was Samus' age, three years old, and perhaps the closest friend that she knew on the planet.
"Stupid rabbilis took my pack," Samus pouted as she pointed at the offending creature above. "I had a snack in there too."
"Aw, that sucks," Eliza frowned, but her features quickly lit up. "But listen! A new ship just came in five minutes ago! Didn't you feel the ground rumbling?"
"So?" Samus said as she kicked the dirt, sending up dust. "Ships are always coming in. I'm bored of seeing ships, Eliza."
"But this one's different!" Ramon waved his hands wildly. "It's looks weirder than any ship I've ever seen! I even heard some of the adults call it a 'Chozo' ship. I've never heard of a 'Chozo' but it sounds pretty neat!"
Torn, Samus glanced between the rabbilis and the direction of the landing pad. She briefly considered staying and seeing if she could overcome the obstacle of retrieving her pack before her natural curiosity suddenly kicked in and she smiled widely, her deep blue eyes filled with hunger.
After all, it was rare that strangers came to this planet. Why not take a look?
"I'll race you guys there!" she said slyly as she quickly took off down the path, leaving her friends behind. Dumbfounded, they quickly regained their composure and launched themselves into pursuit but it was a useless endeavor. No one could catch her!
The sleek features of the Chozo craft certainly clashed with the bulbous freighter as it proudly sat next to it on the landing pad. The occupants of the craft were not all that similar to the humans, either.
Quickly disembarking after their landing, two hooded figures now stood before a growing crowd, the atmosphere getting more and tense by the second. Their black robes wrapped around their bodies and obscured their features, but their hands peeked out of the sleeves, revealing long, slender fingers like talons, their nails clawed.
The taller one stood closest to the humans, while the shorter and stockier one remained closer to the ship. The mysterious aura surrounding the figures certainly had an effect on the workers, who seemed to be teetering on the verge of retreating entirely.
One of the humans scratched his head at something the taller figure said and frowned. "I'm sorry, what? You want our afloraltite? You know you don't have to come here to procure it, right? I know that the capital has-"
"It is not wise in our case to go through the regular channels," the taller figure interrupted. Its voice was deep and gravelly but it had a hidden timbre of youthfulness to it. "We are only looking to borrow some of the mineral. At the moment, we have no other places to procure it, not for the substantial quantity we require."
Unconvinced, the human crossed his arms. "Borrowing implies that the afloraltite will be returned, you guys. Unless if you plan on using it as a temporary paperweight, then you are probably planning to consume it at some point in time which would render it useless to us. Besides, this really isn't a situation that I should be handling. My boss is on his way now and- oh, here he is."
"What's the problem here?" Rodney said as he quickly slid through the crowd, making his way to the front. He glanced at the two Chozo without any hint of surprise and turned back to his subordinate, still waiting for an answer.
"Chief," the man swallowed, "these two wish to…procure a large quantity of afloraltite. I didn't know if…"
"I'll take it from here, Simon," Rodney gritted as he now stepped up to meet the taller of the Chozo. He eyed the hooded figure for a long moment before he chose to respond. "Are any of you familiar with the Galactic Pact?"
"Which part?" the Chozo said, its features unreadable.
"Concerning the allocation of resources, specifically afloraltite."
The hood dipped in a nod. "That all afloraltite mined on colony worlds is specifically reserved for the vehicles manning the trade routes. Yes, we are aware of the Pact."
"So, I think you can understand our stance when it comes to doling out our reserves to anyone but our client, which in this case happens to be the Federation. Besides, why would the Chozo be desperate for afloraltite?"
"We'd like to think of it as an investment. One that could potentially influence the fate of the galaxy if-"
The noises of children suddenly became louder as three small shapes burst into view. The leader, Samus, glanced behind her and laughed as she confirmed that she was ahead of her friends. She was going to beat them to the landing pad and nothing was going to stop her!
The second-long glance behind her was just enough for her to not fully watch where she was going. As soon as she turned her head back around, Samus only saw flowing black robes before she bounced off with a grunt, knocking herself to the ground.
That hurt, but Samus did not cry. She was tougher than most kids but she suddenly forgot how to speak at all when the shorter of the two hooded figures, the one she had just run into, turned around and looked at her, its hood finally dislodged. Samus felt her face heat up in surprise and she gasped at the face. It was something she had never seen before and her initial reaction was to freeze up in shock.
The Chozo resembled a large bird, very similar to an owl in facial structure. It had a large, squat beak, its face sagged, ruffled with feathers, and its eyes glowed a warm gold. After Samus had gotten over the initial shock, she found the alien to have a rather kindly face and it suddenly was not so scary anymore.
Rodney, having witnessed the whole thing, stepped forward in alarm. "Samus? What are you doing here? You know you're not supposed to be around the landing pad!"
But the Chozo crouched down towards Samus and extended an arm from its endless sleeves. The robe parted a bit and Samus could see that the Chozo's other hand was wrapped around a thick walking stick. Cautiously, Samus took the offered hand and the Chozo helped her back to her feet. The alien's hand was warm, dry, and felt like velvet.
"Are you hurt, little one?" the Chozo asked. It had a very calm, soothing voice, and Samus could tell from its tone that it was old. Quite old.
"N-No…" Samus stammered, still rather embarrassed. She could still see her father's anguished face in the background, but her natural interest in the Chozo kept her rooted to her current spot.
"Ah," the Chozo nodded, noting Samus' stiff posture. "This must be your first time meeting a Chozo, is it not?"
Samus nodded dumbly, still a little shaken up to the point where she could not form complete sentences.
The Chozo stroked the feathers on its chin thoughtfully, which reminded Samus of a beard. Its beak stretched out in a smile. "There's no need to be afraid, little one. We mean you no harm." Its eye twinkled at her. "That was a nasty tumble you took back there. Are you sure you're not hurt?"
Samus shook her head emphatically. "Nu-uh! That…that was nothing. I've been hurt much worse than that before!" She hated it when people were constantly hovering over her for her safety and her indignation was steadily replacing her nervousness.
"I see," the Chozo nodded, ignoring Rodney's sigh behind him. "You must be exceptionally brave for such a young lady. You may call me 'Old Bird.' Do you want to tell me your name?"
"Sure!" Samus beamed. "I'm…I'm Samus."
"Samus. That's a nice name." The Chozo seemed to look off into space at this moment, as if pondering events far greater in importance than the moment in the present.
"It's my name!" Samus reiterated strongly, which brought the Chozo back down. "Do you want to be my friend, Old Bird?"
"I don't see why not," Old Bird kindly replied. "After all, you are a friendly young lady, Samus."
"Good!" Samus grinned and she suddenly took Old Bird's hand in her two small ones. "Because I need some help. Can you come with me?"
Based on the fact that she was tugging at the Chozo insistently, Old Bird conceded that he did not have much of a choice. "Very well," he theatrically allowed and let Samus lead the way into the woods.
"Wait, Samus!" Rodney cried.
"Old Bird?!" the Chozo's companion also yelled out helplessly.
The child did not listen, but Old Bird turned back before they descended the ramp off of the pad. He was too kind to tear himself from Samus' grip and his expression was one of acceptance. "I do apologize, Gray Voice," he called. "I'm afraid that I'll be busy for a while. You may continue the negotiations without me."
"Without…? B-But wait!" But it was too late, the forest swallowed the two up and the taller Chozo was left remaining with Rodney on the pad. The human swore and scratched at his head irritably while Gray Voice pulled back his hood. He was thinner than Old Bird, his beak was sharper, and his expression was graver.
As the child's father continued to bemoan his luck, Gray Voice found himself somewhat intrigued by the behavior of the young girl. She was a quicker study than he had anticipated but this would only serve to delay him, his curiosity vanishing. And any more delays could not be afforded in this case. He hoped Old Bird would return soon.
"There he is!" Samus pointed up at the tree branch. Old Bird followed the gestures of the girl and spotted the rabbilis atop the branch, currently gnawing at a tiny knapsack. The furry creature's long ears perked slightly and his bushy tail began to waggle. The rabbilis ran his claws through his thick, white fur and his dark eyes watched Samus' every move.
"I see," Old Bird mused as he glanced up at the rodent. "So, a rabbilis stole your pack, did it?"
"Yes! Can you get him down for me?"
Old Bird chuckled politely. "My dear, my days of climbing trees have been over for quite some time."
"No!" Samus shook her head impatiently. "I mean, aren't you able to fly up there and get it for me?"
"I'm afraid not," Old Bird sighed. "Though we are an avian species, we lost the need for our wings a long time ago."
Samus sat on the ground, enthralled. "I'm sorry…I didn't know. What happened to them?"
"We deliberately bred the trait out of ourselves. Our power of flight was instrumental when we were a warring species but as we matured, we had to find some way to control our misguided impulses. Therefore, we believed that by deliberately grounding ourselves would make us more humble in spirit."
Samus brushed aside a few weeds and looked up at the rabbilis in the tree again. "So I guess we're both stuck down here. I'll probably never get my things back."
"Perhaps not," Old Bird said as he rapped his walking stick down on the ground. "But there are other ways besides force towards achieving your goal. Rabbilis are extraordinarily perceptive creatures and they are very insightful when it comes to problems. Perhaps you are underestimating its intelligence, Samus."
"I don't see how this will help me," Samus pouted.
"Try not to think of the creature as just a pest," Old Bird encouraged. "Instead, try to think of it as something more intelligent and on the same cognitive level as you. Maybe the poor thing is simply scared by your actions and refuses to come down because he thinks that you're angry with him."
"So how can I show him that I mean him no harm?"
"Why not give him a name? Call him by whatever you wish and he will respond. Now, what do you think a good name would be for this little fellow?"
"A name…" Samus wondered and shut her eyes in concentration. Her tiny brow furrowed and she delved deep into her mind, searching through her favorite stories for a name that stuck out to her, something that would be worthy to dub such an elusive and annoying, but also smart creature.
"How about…Pyonchi?" Samus offered, smiling as the name from a movie she liked jutted out to her, seemingly blazing in bright letters as a sign of its importance.
"Pyonchi…" Old Bird tested the name on his tongue before he nodded. "That is a fine name for a fine creature. Go on, Samus. See if he responds!"
Samus slapped the top of her legs gently and smiled at the rabbilis high above. "Come here, Pyonchi! Don't be afraid! I just want to play, that's all!"
The rabbilis squeaked once and tilted its head. Samus broadened her smile and spread her arms, further reinforcing her kind intentions. The furry creature took the pack gently in his teeth and sped on down the trunk and dropped it at Samus' feet.
"Thanks!" Samus whispered, completely beside herself. "Good boy, Pyonchi!"
Pyonchi chittered and then hopped up in the air, straight towards Samus. Instinctively, she held her arms out and caught the rabbilis. The creature was the size of a small cat but he did not weigh that much to Samus. Pyonchi burrowed his head in the crook of Samus neck, nuzzling her and began to emit a quiet purr. An astonished Samus stroked the back of the rodent's neck, finding the white fur to be quite soft to the touch.
"Marvelous work," Old Bird said in admiration. "From both you and Pyonchi. You have a way with living creatures, Samus."
"You helped too, Old Bird!" Samus beamed. "It was easy. I guess Pyonchi wanted a friend as well!"
"I guess so," Old Bird nodded as he shuffled to his feet. "I'm afraid I must head back to discussing matters with your father, Samus. It was wonderful meeting you but we have a very important job to do."
"You're leaving already?" Samus asked, crestfallen. "But we've just started to become good friends."
Old Bird chuckled. "Just because that we've only started to become friends does not mean that we're going to stop being friends, Samus. But I have a feeling that we will meet again before you know it."
Samus smiled and set Pyonchi down to the ground, where he began to playfully climb up her leg. "I would like to happen, Old Bird. Please…come back soon!"
The aged Chozo gave her a solemn nod. "As soon as I can, little one." His legs seemingly heavier than usual, he turned around and followed the trail out of the woods.
He did not look back, because he was afraid that he might stay longer if he did.
Gray Voice was waiting at the foot of the ship, well away from the colonists and Old Bird knew that the negotiations had broken down, purely by the younger Chozo's withered stance. It was not like his presence would have helped matters much. From the first sentence out of the crew chief's mouth, it was apparent that their visit to K-2L had gone just as well as the last few excursions to the other afloraltite mines across the galaxy: pointless.
"No luck?" Old Bird asked as he took his place in the copilot chair.
"Same as last time," Gray Voice muttered as he adjusted his seat at the helm. "They were politer than the last few colonists as they repeatedly voiced their respect for us but they refused to lend us the quantity of afloraltite that we need. They were even unwilling to part with a handful of the mineral."
"Well, the humans did have a point," Old Bird conceded. "And the fact that they are so devoted to the Federation's wishes at allocating all of their resources for the trade routes means that they are quite serious about their work. I might just have to drop their chairman a good word at their services for how professionally they handled the matter."
"That still doesn't change the fact that we still do not have enough energy to initiate the plan," the younger Chozo scowled. "Afloraltite is the only substance out there that can awaken Metroid and we have made no headway into its development in months."
The colony tower had cleared the ship for departure by now and Gray Voice flicked all the necessary switches without so much as hesitating. Behind him, Old Bird shuffled in his seat, his gold eyes deep in thought.
"We might need to consider alternate options if Metroid will not work out. The more time we waste, the more time the X parasite multiplies. If we wait too long, it will overwhelm the entire galaxy."
"There is no other way," Gray Voice sighed. "Metroid is our only hope. We need to activate it before the Federation learns about this pandemic."
Old Bird leaned back and sighed while he gazed at the transparent canopy above them. The colony planet steadily shrank behind them, casting them into more and more darkness, with only the light of the stars piercing the blackness beyond. "No other way, Gray Voice? I sincerely hope that you're wrong. There's always another way."
The small Chozo ship sailed through space, making its way to the appropriate jump point at a certain distance beyond the majority of K-2L's gravity. Unequipped with sophisticated sensors, it was blind to the danger that lurked in the shadows, a great sweeping form that glided through the void.
The ship was massive, easily a kilometer long, flanked by several squadrons of fighters. Spires protruded from the undercarriage of the ship like claws and its long design made it appear as if it possessed wings.
The crustacean-like plantigrade creatures that resided inside the battleship worked dutifully at their stations. The nature of their exoskeletons made them vaguely similar to arthropods in a sense. Their eyes blazed a dull orange, their spines were rigid and frilled, and their "hands" were merely claws, although they had the ability to project balls of plasma from them, a result of their body physiology.
These creatures had an official name, but their engrained nature of pillaging and warmongering combined with their penchant for constantly renaming themselves on whatever conquered worlds they possessed always made the biologists of the galaxy grimace in frustration. In truth, it was much easier to call them "Space Pirates" as the term encompassed the entire class of species they fell under. They were an incredibly varied race and many colonies had reported seeing noticeably different types of the same general alien and so the colloquial term, until they could be properly researched, became an official term rather than a lazy nickname.
The language of the Pirates was a guttural mix of clicking and screeching, but the crafty aliens occasionally fit themselves with tiny translators that wrapped seamlessly around their neck, instantly converting their foreign speech into a language that most of the civilized galaxy could understand. It also made intimidation much easier, so it was a much simpler affair to bark out orders to spread fear throughout their captives.
Fear. It was what Ridley lived off of. Every day he basked in it. From the screams of his prey to the quiet shaking his own subordinates, Ridley specifically perched himself high above the bridge of the battleship so that the workers typing at their consoles below could be aware of his presence. They needed the extra motivation anyway, and Ridley could feel the terror radiating off of them. It felt good.
The leader of the Space Pirates looked nothing like the bipedal aliens that performed his bidding, strangely. A gigantic winged beast, the general embodied the shape of a skeletal dragon, for there was nary an ounce of fat on his enormous body. His legs were muscular, the cords bulging. His arms were slender and rigid. His tail was ridged and the tip deadly sharp. His head was long and thin, very much like one of the ancient species that had roamed the human planet eons before, with a long, thin mouth containing nothing but sharp teeth.
Ridley tracked the movement of the Chozo ship with his head, carefully watching it until it blipped forward into a hyperjump. He tapped his talons on his perch and stared back at the planet slowly filling the bridge with its glow.
"Chozo…" he growled to himself, the sound a cacophony of nails on a rough surface. "Why would they come to this planet?" He peered down at the two rows of technicians before barking out, "Navigation, report!"
"M- My lord," a Pirate stammered. "We've tracked the ship's origin and pinpointed it to a Federation mining colony in the northern hemisphere."
"A Federation colony does not warrant the attention of the Chozo unless they have something worthwhile," the enormous dragon said. "What is the resource in question that they are mining?"
"A high energy surge is being detected from the colony. Sir, it appears to be afloraltite."
"Ahhh!" Ridley sighed. "Perfect! Those sneaky birds thought they might be able to scrounge up some of those minerals, did they?" He spread his wings and beat them once, rushing the air around inside the cramped bridge. "This is something that could be useful to us, and it's been too long since we've seen any real action. Communications, jam their transmissions! I don't want any signals escaping from the surface!"
"Sir," one of the Pirates protested, "if we attack the colony, we will gain the attention of the Federation and they will send their fleet after us. Perhaps we should pass-"
The officer never got to finish his sentence because Ridley swooped down from his perch and opened his jaw wide. The hapless Pirate was picked up in the row of teeth and never had a chance to cry out because Ridley clamped his jaw down hard and bit the alien in half. The rest of the command crew sat in a daze as Ridley spat the two halves onto the deck, letting the blood ooze all over the floor. His face stained, Ridley drew himself up taller and reveled in the sight of his terrified lieutenants.
"We are going down to that planet," he growled, "and we are burning it to the ground!"
Michael pushed the transmit button for the third time, now starting to become annoyed. He sat on the bridge of the freighter and the look shared by his copilot said the same thing.
"Tower, this is Beatrix III, awaiting permission to taxi." No answer. Michael sighed and tapped his fingers on the console, staring at the screen while waiting for a reply. "Tower, read that you copy, over?"
"This is ridiculous," Michael's copilot, John, groaned. "I can see the frigging control tower from the bridge and we still haven't gotten a response! What, did they go to the bathroom or something?"
"You got me," Michael shrugged before he tried the comm again. "Tower…what the hell, guys? It ain't the weekend yet. Does anyone copy?" He supposed that he had the right to be a little terse with this delay. It wasn't like he was going to get a demerit for letting his attitude slip through.
A clomping of boots on the deck caused Michael to spin his chair around just in time to see Rodney rush up onto the bridge, a worried look on his face.
"Guys," Rodney said, "what are you doing? We've given you your clearance fifteen minutes ago. Why haven't you taken off yet?"
"What?" Michael blinked. "We've been trying to obtain clearance from the tower for the last fifteen minutes, chief. We thought your comms were busted or some crap like that."
"No, they're working fine. Any chance it's your end that's faulty?"
"Readouts look fine," John motioned towards the screen, as if inviting Rodney to come over and take a look. "Well, the radio readouts, anyway. We've been having problems with our infrared and electron sensors but I don't think that's related to our communication troubles. Sunspot activity today, maybe?"
"Wasn't forecasted," Rodney said grimly as he leaned over John's shoulder. "What was that you were saying about your sensor issues?"
"Just slight bugs, nothing more," John scratched at his face. "It's been contrasting the intensities of the energy sources on the planet. On the map, you can see here that the power facility, the site of the most thermal activity, is a little bit brighter than normal, but the surrounding area is a little bit darker than normal. It's probably a calibration error, sir, and we'll get it checked when we're in dry dock…"
Rodney's hand shot forward so fast that John barely noticed the switch he depressed until the klaxons began to wail. Immediately, the chief was shutting down the craft's power and began barking orders to everyone on the bridge. "Sound the general alarm! Begin an emergency transmission! Cut all power to the area and contact all personnel!"
"Chief!" Michael stood up, aghast. "What the hell is it?"
"The Space Pirates are coming, Michael," Rodney said, already looking weary. "Their targeting beams are locked on the colony which has been causing the infrared fluctuations. They're coming for the afloraltite."
"Lord Almighty," Michael gasped as he clutched his armrest.
"Exactly," Rodney nodded. "We need to abandon ship right away, before the Pirates-"
A distant explosion cut through the rest of Rodney's sentence and the entire ship lurched as a shockwave from the blast bowled through it, knocking everyone off their feet. As Rodney got to his feet, he could already hear screaming.
Samus broke off a piece of her food bar and tossed it to Pyonchi, who easily caught it in the air. The little girl was enthralled with the rabbilis and in no time had bonded with the creature. The sunlight streamed down into the clearing where the two were playing and Samus laughed as Pyonchi began to climb up her leg, seeking more food.
"Pyonchi," Samus giggled. "That tickles…"
She broke off her laughter as a muted sound thumped the ground, seemingly miles away. Nervous, Samus held Pyonchi close and looked in the direction of the noise. The clearing was on a slight slope and from here Samus had a view of the entire colony.
Tiny black shapes appeared to be buzzing around the landing pad, but she couldn't make out what those shapes were. Sharp cracks echoed over the trees, distantly reminding Samus of gunfire. She prickled, already beginning to inch back when she saw a mushroom cloud rise gently above the treeline, a puff of smoke wafting into the air. It looked like it was coming from the power station, actually.
Before she could react, the shockwave and noise bowled her over like a blade of grass. The noise was deafening and Samus could only hear ringing in her ears. Leaves flew at her like razors and Pyonchi squealed. Samus clutched the rabbilis to her chest and screamed as the wind tore at her body, slashing her with its deadly intent.
High above, Ridley circled the detonation site from which the power plant had existed mere moments before. He tucked his wings and hurled straight through the smoke only to come out the other side to view the destructions his minions were causing. Fighters flew through the air, cutting the humans' air support to ribbons. Bombers decimated the ground, obliterating any signs of life. And Ridley was completely enveloped in it all.
With the power plant gone, all outbound communications were now permanently cut. It would be disarray for the colony from here on out. No help could come for them in time. At least, not until his forces had cleaned house.
Ridley swooped low over the trees, opening his mouth to let loose a pillar of fire from his gut, scorching the tips of the branches. He beat his wings once and crested a hill, surprising an anti-air encampment on the summit. With a grin, Ridley spat flame and roasted the equipment to a cinder. The screams of pain from the burning human was music to Ridley's ears and he cherished being able to throw himself into wholesale slaughter once more.
Down below, Ridley could see several Pirates rush into the lone human freighter on the ground to remove several crates of afloraltite, stowing it on board a shuttle of their own. Ridley nodded and steered himself away from the area. Afloraltite was an incredibly combustible material and even a single spark could ignite it, producing a fireball the size of a small city from the amount of raw minerals stowed in those crates. The looting had begun.
A few member of the colonial militia had escaped the barracks, where Ridley's men were laying waste to the majority of the colony's forces. The Space Pirates hurled themselves into the melee, tearing the humans apart with their plasma cannons and bare claws. The stench of ozone and blood filled the air, as well as the cries of the dying. The escaping humans halted in their tracks as Ridley cornered them, and he chuckled while he fried the pathetic humans to ashes with his flames.
Ridley roared in victory and beat his wings, sending up spirals of dirt and grit before he gently landed himself on the ground. His troops certainly were enjoying themselves. Death and destruction were on the stand and Ridley himself was the conductor. He swiped his long tail and bisected a human who had traversed too close to him. The dragon only felt a tiny vibration from the simple act but the human must have been enveloped in so much pain because he was still alive as his top half twitched on the floor of the landing pad, even as his guts were sliding out. Ridley stomped a foot on the human's head to silence his wails and shook the brains off of his limb. Disgusting creatures, humans.
From where he was sitting, Ridley could observe that the Pirates robbing the freighter had finished, the transport already gaining altitude toward the battleship. A squadron of fighters flanked the transport, intent on protecting the potentially dangerous cargo. Ridley's eyes narrowed. Good. We have what we came for.
The dragon's sensitive ears picked up a slight sound of shuffling and Ridley tilted his head and saw a tiny object emerge from the billowing dust. The object sniffled and suddenly Samus was revealed to him, holding a furry creature in her arms.
"A human child…" Ridley softly growled, baring his teeth.
Samus clutched Pyonchi tighter, her face streaked with dirt, trails of tears marking the only clean spots. Her clothing was ripped, her hair was ragged, and her knees shook with fright at the demonic monster in front of her.
But she did not run. Even as Ridley leered at her, with the sounds of death echoing around the flat plain, Samus did not flee. This confused Ridley immensely. He snorted, trying to evoke a reaction out of the child, but she only backed up a half-step, teetering on paralytic fright or acceptance of her upcoming fate. Either way, she wouldn't be a satisfactory kill to him and she wasn't an immediate danger. He turned his head back toward the battle, ignoring Samus. Leave, you foolish human. There is no place for you, especially here.
"W-W-Who…a-are you?" Samus squeaked, looking up at Ridley.
"Go away," Ridley replied gruffly. "You aren't worth my time, human."
But Samus did not comply, choosing instead to take a step forward. "I…I…I don't think you're scary at all," she said, mustering her courage.
"You should," Ridley growled, fractionally turning his head back in Samus' direction. "I am not here to help you."
"I'm…I'm Samus…" the child quivered, trying very hard not to cry. "Y-You d-d-don't have to do this. What's y-your name?"
Now the dragon rotated his body ninety degrees, spreading his wings out so that he enveloped the sun, his tail doing a macabre dance behind him. "You may call me Ridley," he announced dramatically, finally fed up with the child. "For it will be the last thing you will remember before you die!"
Samus did not even know she was screaming as Ridley opened his jaw wide, exposing teeth as sharp as knives, revealing a throat lit by flame. He reared up on his hind legs, about to jettison a boiling payload, when a sharp report echoed around them and Ridley jolted, wincing as tiny spurts of blood burst from his body.
"What?!" the dragon roared as he turned in the direction of this new source of discomfort.
"Mama!" Samus cried out as Virginia Aran stepped forward on the pad, aiming a smoking pistol at the winged demon.
"Samus, run!" Virginia yelled in horror as she squeezed the trigger of the pistol, the gun rapidly kicking back in her hands.
Ridley threw up an arm to protect his face, feeling only tiny pricks as the bullets barely entered his body. Red blood dripped to the ground and the dragon made a savage noise. Wounds collected on the battlefield were worth more if the one who dealt them was properly disposed of. Action had to be taken now!
"Annoying human!" Ridley screamed as a bullet hit close to his eye, splashing hot blood down his face. He lowered himself and inhaled, feeling a burst of warmth surge upward from his gut. "BURN!"
Virginia Aran could not have outrun the fireball even if she tried. Knowing that she had done her duty to protect her child, she stood and let the heat envelop her. The last thing she remembered was the smell of smoke and a light flutter of warmth at her face. She calmly wondered if her daughter was fine before there was a loud clap and a burst of light erupted in her face.
In an explosion filled with smoke and flame, Virginia disappeared. When the dust settled all that was left was a crater on the ground, the laughter of Ridley, and the crying of a girl for her dead mother.
Ridley turned his head frantically, trying to track down the source of the child's wails, but the sounds of battle were too close that it was interfering with his hearing. Besides, the child was nowhere in sight. Samus had disappeared into the woods.
Still gaining altitude, the Pirate ship weaved between the columns of smoke, making for a safe destination away from the crossfire. An inferno raged below, consuming the colony and decimating it to rubble. The raid was entering its final legs: the cleanup, or the period when all resistance had been quelled and all attention was on destroying every last building in sight.
As the Pirates reveled in their destructive streak below, all was quiet above the clouds in the battleship. The stolen afloraltite was tucked away in the lower holds, safe and secure from an outside break-in. A pair of Pirate guards flanked the enormous doors, rather bored with the mundane task when they rather would have been on the planet, participating in all the killing. Some Pirates occasionally went stir-crazy if they had not killed anyone in a period of time and the anticipation knowing that their comrades were doing just that was mentally driving them insane.
This proved to be a good enough distraction for the guards to not initially notice the clattering noise made when Rodney Aran kicked his way out of an afloraltite crate, sticking to the shadows in the bowels of the hold. In his hands, he clutched a welding laser, the only weapon he had time to grab before he stowed himself in one of the crates. As a weapon, it was remarkably inferior, but it was all he had at the moment.
By this stage, it was obvious to Rodney that the Federation was not going to get to K-2L in time to stop the Pirates. They had completed their mission of raiding the afloraltite shipment and would most likely make a retreat within the hour. Rodney knew that while he was still breathing, he couldn't let these bastards leave with any afloraltite at all. He had to do something, but what?
At that point in time, two Pirates walked by the tiny crack in the crates, momentarily silhouetting Rodney into darkness. One of them casually looked down the tiny aisle and glimpsed Rodney's scared face staring back. Performing a double take, the Pirate yelled out in alarm and jumped back, its claws extended, ready to unleash a plasma blast.
"Human in the cargo hold!" it yowled as his companion joined him. "I'll kill him right now!"
"No, wait!" the other Pirate screamed, startling the first one. "Don't fire, you imbecile!"
"Why not? He doesn't even have a weapon, you fool. All he has is a puny welding laser."
"And he's pointing it at the afloraltite!" the second Pirate cried out.
Indeed Rodney was, for he had positioned himself that the muzzle of the laser was touching the side of the crate. At this distance, all he had to do was hold down the trigger for a split second before the heat could provide the catalytic reaction. And the Pirates knew this just as well as he did.
"Never thought I'd see the day," Rodney panted. "Two Pirate assholes who can actually think. The galaxy definitely has a sense of humor."
Rodney's thumb quickly moved up and flipped the safety off, ensuring that the laser was ready to be fired. This only served to agitate the Space Pirates more.
"What are you doing, human?! If you fire that laser, you'll die with us too!"
"I know," Rodney gritted as sweat dripped down his face. "But one human for two hundred of your buddies? Those sound like good odds to me." He managed a humorless smile. "Sorry, Virginia."
Silently gloating at the horrified expressions of the Pirates, Rodney clenched his finger on the laser's trigger and was rewarded with a beautiful burst of light.
"I love you, Samus!"
The bright puff of orange at the sky was noticeable from the ground, especially to Ridley, who had just given up on searching for Samus seconds ago. He squinted in the sunlight, trying to determine exactly what was on fire in the atmosphere when the fireball expanded rapidly in moments. A sphere of flame rushed out from the center of the Space Pirate battleship, a void of hell racing out to feed its glowing mouth.
Ridley stayed where he was, dumbfounded that his ship had just exploded, when the afloraltite reaction caught up to him. He dug his claws into the ground, desperate to escape the rapidly approaching wall of fire, but it was too late.
Ridley opened his mouth to scream a curse but the explosion sucked him in, casting him into the broiling blaze. The dragon felt his skin begin to slough off his body before he mercifully blacked out.
The planet no longer looked like a paradise. Smoke quietly trudged from the shambles of the colony and small fires wilted under the blustering of the wind. All of the nearby trees had been scoured of leaves and everything took on a brown and black color. The place was a wasteland now.
Old Bird and Grey Voice cautiously trudged around the charred landing pad, their footprints leaving imprints in the ash. The held the front of their robes over their beaks to protect them from the smoke and their eyes began to tear up from all of the particulates in the air.
"I never imagined it would be this bad," Gray Voice whispered in astonishment. "It looks like the Pirates set off a bomb here."
"They might as well have," Old Bird replied grimly. "This was the result of an afloraltite explosion. Whether on purpose or by accident is a moot point at the moment. Everything is…gone, now." The Chozo took in a big breath and let out an equally big sigh. "This is terrible."
"And the Federation still haven't sent in a response force yet," Gray Voice muttered in disgust as he scanned the sky. "And they'll soon realize that they will be too late when they find out that no survivors have been left standing."
"If the afloraltite hadn't ignited," Old Bird wilted, "we could have saved some people. These humans didn't deserve this. It's sheer cruelty what the Pirates have done to them."
"They are an inherently cruel race. They are savages that threaten the entire galaxy. The X are a fleeting memory compared to them!"
"The X have yet to reach the terminus of their development, while the Pirates have already reached that step," Old Bird said. "A major threat presents itself in plain view while a greater one lurks in the shadows. We can only hope that the Space Pirates will be dealt with in due time so as not to delay our work any further." The wizened Chozo sighed and gestured to his taller companion. "Come, Gray Voice. Let us leave this forsaken planet and-"
The scratching sound on a stone surface caused both of the Chozo to whirl towards the noise. Old Bird squinted and desperately tried to spot the origin, but found that he didn't have to look very far. In the distance, the sun silhouetted a tiny figure, one holding a small, furry creature. The figure took a pained step forward and its tiny voice choked out sobs intermittently.
"I…I don't believe it…" Old Bird gasped before he suddenly broke out at a run, throwing his walking stick to the side. Gray Voice blinked and followed, barely able to keep up with his mentor.
Completely exhausted, the figure fell to her knees and the rodent she clutched to her chest chirped in alarm. Struggling to see past the glare, she saw two blurry shapes hurry towards her, seemingly gliding over the rubble to make their way to her.
"Ma…ma?" Samus croaked before she finally keeled over in a faint.
A/N: Hopefully this first chapter should give you an idea of what I'm planning to do with this. I hope the altered and additional dialogue fits in well with the established universe.
In any case, read and review so that you can let me know what's what in this story. I appreciate all constructive feedback.
It's going to be a pleasure residing here.