Chapter 4: Scoria

            Scoria: the pleasure district of Beta Quadrant. It was the solitary planet of a lone star, in the middle of Human and Space Pirate territory. Its location made it an excellent military outpost, but over time the bases became cities where any number of illegal activities might be held. Although humans claimed it, Space Pirates were still to be found here and there, engaging in illicit trades, getting drunk at hidden bars and (of course) having great brawls in the alleys behind those bars.

            Ned and Ted had done something different. Using the credits gained from ID plates (Ted confessed he had done a bit of private collecting in Samus' wake) they had their smaller-than-average bodies modified by extensive surgery (the surgery being done by a shady Space Pirate Researcher who had found a goldmine in such highly illegal procedures). They now were humanoid in shape, their limbs replaces by bionics (Ted complained bitterly that humans had no natural defenses such as scythes and claws). It took them a few weeks to get accustomed to their new bodies.

They had human body suits developed for them (by the same shady Researcher, who cackled wickedly as Ned and Ted handed over their credits). In the end they resembled two very tall, barrel-chested humans. And, as humans go, Ned was Asian in appearance and Ted was African ("At least the skin looks nearly the same way"). Their faces were articulated with bionics and a revolutionary emotion-robotic interface that expressed their moods sufficiently.

Ned spent a month afterward creating an English voice simulator that was integrated into both of their bodysuits. Ted was confounded by the weird sounds emitted from his newly human mouth.

"Creating a full audio translator will take years, humans speak their English badly," Ned explained. But he taught Ted the basics, to understand the words they would need to comprehend in the future.

            Then, the humanoid Ned and Ted walked straight into the human city and set up shop, selling spirituous liquors. Their human clientele (Ted mentioned they smelt good enough to eat) did not notice a thing: the owners looked like humans, and all the customers wanted (after all) was drink and a place to sit down and talk. Ned was satisfied that business was progressing well for the first year. No one, not even the meager police force, cared who the two strange humans were or where they came from; if they brought wealth into Scoria, Scoria welcomed them.

            And then one day, disaster walked into Ned and Ted's bar, wearing a bright blue jumpsuit.

            Ned froze. He nudged Ted. Ted dropped the mug he was cleaning, which rolled across the counter and fell to the floor, shattering. In the wake of tinkling glass the bar fell silent and looked at the owners, then looked at Samus.

            She walked, the close-fitting jumpsuit flowing along her bodily curvature, and leaned against the polished fake wood of the bar. Several of the patrons put down their drinks, looked at their watches and, suddenly remembering a very important appointment snuck out the exit. But Samus wasn't interested in them.

            She was looking at Ned and Ted, who at the moment looked rather ill.

            "Er…" said Ned, thinking quickly, "Drink?"

            Her gaze was cool and blue as she looked up at him.


Her cool blue gaze shifted to Ted, who gulped.


            Ned gave a high, nervous giggle that was as false as his human façade.

            "No Space Pirates here. Drink?"

            She blinked slowly, batting her eyelashes at Ted.

            "Scoria Special, half strength."

            Ted was impressed. A full strength Scoria Special can kill a human fifty times over. He fumbled for another glass with his awkward human hands and ducked under the bar, opening a container that had a biohazard symbol.

            Ned served another customer and then glanced uneasily at Samus, wishing she would disappear.

            "Why?" she asked calmly, denying him escape with that word and her curious stare. Ned drew himself up, pushing back the acquired hair on his bionic homo-sapien skull. If he was about to die he might as well look dignified.

            "No profit being Space Pirates."

            Silence reigned between them for a few seconds. Ted was pouring a fizzing, foamy fluid into the glass, which Samus took, briefly touching his hand and making his exoskeleton crawl inside.

            "You are both smarter than Mother Brain," she stated, then turned with a flash of blonde hair and left the bar.

            Breath left Ned and Ted in a rush.

            "She complimented us, and we're alive!"

            Ted frowned.

            "She stole our glass. She didn't even pay for the drink!"

            Ned whacked his counterpart about the head.


Author's comments:

I hope more people will come to realize the comical side of the Metroid series. Hope you had as much fun reading as I did typing!