The figure floated silently in the container. His hide was not yet fully developed, giving him a pigmentation that was slightly pink, but still, he was a menacing figure. Thousands of small bubbles of air rose up through the luminescent gel. He was only semiconscious inside the giant bio-tank. Faint voices outside of the thick glass of the tank made their way to his ears. Lazily, he opened his eyes. A red glow was cast over the immediate area of his face. He looked left and right, his vision was blurred due to the consistency of the gel. Despite that he could still make out the twisted shapes of the laboratory. Machines and computers whirred about as dozens of small beings rushed around. Above his head, he viewed a screen that displayed his bio-readings. The information on the screen was too warped to decipher. He was too tired to read them anyways. He let his gaze slip downward and saw a meager, distorted figure eyeing him.
The small pirate nodded somewhere off to his left. He noticed the grating at the bottom of the tank open up, and the gel was slowly drained out. Minutes later, he was suspended mid-air by yards of tubing attached to the base of his skull, arms, legs, spine, stomach, and wing joints. His long, spiked tail swung carelessly back and forth, gently hitting the sides of the glass. He heard the sounds of the sedatives making their way down the tubes, and soon, he fell into unconsciousness.
The operating room was dark, although that didn't make much difference with his night vision. He tried to get up, but then realized that he was strapped down to a wide operating table. He lifted his reptillian head looked around the room.
All along the walls were robotic arms, each with different surgical tools. Some gave off a slight reflection, giving them an ominous look. Off in the distance he could hear a low droning sound. Soon, a small hovering droid appeared in front of him.
The droid had four main sections to it. The main part was triangularly shaped, with the back extending out into a fine point, and the front was well rounded with multiple lenses in the center. There were two disks extended on either sides of the droid, each one with emanating a faint blue glow. And right below the main segment, was a scorpion-like tail with a long needle attached.
It hovered over his head, and forced the needle into the small hole behind his head. Green light flowed from the droid to the insertion point in his head, and his vision had turned into what seemed like a black screen. Letters soon began to flash across the black void.
Bio-Subject: #3763 A.K.A. Ridley
Bio stats: 86 operational capacity
Initiating memory restoration procedure: Activating file #34.A-X3457
He was tossed into a confusing vortex of mindless noises and meaningless images. The pictures and noises filled his head, making him feel more stuffed, and more aware. Gradually each picture took on more meaning as his old memories, thoughts, and personality were poured into his new body. Every last fiber of his being was being reinserted, and was reforming the creature that was so very near perfection: Ridley. Yes, the most dangerous life-form in the universe, pride of the Space Pirates, and sworn enemy of the Galactic Federation was returning.
He forced his way through the darkness. Everything came back into view. His head broke through the straps of the table. He opened his mouth and let an incinerating flame escape, and utterly destroyed the small droid. His arm ripped through the straps and pulled the needle out of the back of his head. He broke through the rest of the chains, stood tall, and gave a long ear-piercing screech. He was back.
He lowered his head and calmly began to breath. That was the twenty-seventh med-droid he had destroyed. He had a habit of killing the first thing he saw after coming out of a medical procedure. Not that it mattered too much to him though.
"I see you have finished your memory restoration." Said a synthetic feminine voice. A screen appeared at the other end of the room. A wrinkled, spiked mass of pink with a single piercing eye was addressing him. "And you made a mess. After seven lives, one would think you would've learned by this point." It said, with a slight hint of amusement.
Ridley lowered his orange wings, put his thick, scaly right hand across his chest, and lowered his head. "Mother-Brain." He saluted. "I am grateful for you seeing fit to revive me."
"You are simply to great an asset to be discarded. Only very few have ever earned such significance." She commented. "As I am sure you are aware of, you are scheduled for augmentation. Lie down on the designated area so that we can begin the procedure."
A large panel of the floor lit up. Ridley glanced at the screen, and then walked toward the panel. As he settled onto the floor, pedestals rose up and contorted to whatever part of him it was holding up. He was pushed upward at about ten feet into the air. He let out a slow breath. The mechanical arms extended from their slots in the wall and began to work their way towards him. "I'd like to be permitted to make an inquiry." He requested.
"Permission granted." The Mother-Brain replied, sounding somewhat distracted at the task at hand.
"How long has it been since my last termination?"
The Mother-Brain's eye slightly changed color, and small sparks of electricity leaped from her spikes. "Precisely six months, two weeks, four days, twelve hours, and twenty-seven minutes. Will that be all?"
"No, what type of augmentation am I about to undertake?" he questioned, yet again.
"Biomechanical." She answered.
He thought to himself. It had been roughly six and a half months since he "died." The engineers were improving considerably in their cloning techniques. At first it used to take a year, now, they've cut that time in half. But still, the fact that they were improving meant that he was being killed so many times that it was beginning to become routine. His dying streak was becoming highly unacceptable to the respect and pride he commanded. His thoughts wondered to the one who was highly responsible for his deaths in the first place. But they were cut short due to the pain of having his spine being dissasembled by twenty robotic saws.
The exotic metals that were grafted onto him gave him a choked feeling. But, if memory served him, such discomforts should wear off in two weeks. He had gone through such a procedure before. He reached his arm out and flexed his hand. As he did so, his claws grew by twice their size. They could now slice through practically any metal now. His strength was easily increased by two-thirds. The casing around his skull was unusually itchy though. The Mother-Brain simply explained it as the artificial fibers bonding with his sensitive tissue. He would just have to wait it out.
His augmentations were not yet complete. The anti-grav shields still needed to be installed into his steel-framed wings. And, all of his weapon systems were not in place. The only weapons he did have was his tail, his claws, and his newly enhanced flame-breath.
He heard a door to his quarters open up. He turned around and saw a servant-droid with a large plate of food hovering toward him. He stared at the droid. "State your presence." He commanded.
A green glow illuminated the droids lenses as it spoke. "I have received orders that your ration intake is to be increased by a half, due to your heightened metabolism."
Ridley stared down at the plate. It was a platter of Grigrean eggs, Mynin chops, and an oversized glass of Synyl tea. All were very dense in nutrients, not to mention considered an extreme delicacy.
The droid placed the food on a table and Ridley waved it away and sat down. As he ate his food, his thoughts were turned to the one adversary who he had considered worthy.
The human clad in metal, the only one who had been able kill him, and on separate occasions at that. The lower, more superstitious, Pirates referred to it as the Hunter. He, however, had more knowledge of this being. It was, in fact, a female with unprecedented skill and strength. Only by fortune did he find out her name.
It was classified as a high-risk operation by many, but he simply saw it something as a milk-run. The operation included breaking into a high-security GF compound and obtaining a Metroid specimen. He recklessly barged in, and stole it, along with a data disc containing information on it. As an unforeseen bonus, the disc also explained how the Metroid was captured, along with the name of who captured it.
After that day, he knew the name of his maron: Samus Aran. Since then, he did all he could to track her down, so that he may dispose of her and regain some of his fallen dignity. Unfortunately, the human was extremely wily and was nearly impossible to locate. Perhaps on his next encounter he might be able to-
"Ridley, you know you're wasting your time over such matters."
Ridley jumped up, nearly knocking over the table. He looked wildly around his room. His motion sensors weren't indicating anything. Nothing came up on infared. Where did it come from? He checked the communicator in his room, and it wasn't on. "You mean you don't know?" The voice inquired. It was a female voice, and it sounded highly amused. It wasn't the Mother-Brain, but it did indeed sound familiar. Then it dawned on him. He then ran as quickly as he could down the cramped corridors of the Space-Pirate headquarters. He approached the security gates of the command room where four Space-Pirate commandos were standing guard. Even before he could show his security clearance, the guards were already beginning to open the doors at the sight of the fearsome space-dragon.
The metal doors slowly opened up and there she was.
"I take it that you figured it out then." Said the other space-dragon. "It seems that death didn't wipe away your curse of knowing me."
Ridley stared at her and replied "Karolyn, every time I manage to forget, I die and the nightmares return. It is the only thing I regret with reincarnation." At this they both laughed lightly. Ridley was suddenly at ill-ease, for it was rare for him to find humor in his defeats.
A communication screen was activated. It was the Mother-Brain who was being transmitted. "I believe that I have neglected to tell you about another feature in your modifications. I have installed a communications chip in your brain, it features a direct link to Karolyn that can be used at any time, and she can do likewise."
Ridley eyes widened slightly at this. He felt highly uncomfortable with the idea of having his thoughts being shared with someone else. The idea of complaining crossed his mind, but decided to hold his tongue, and instead made a separate inquiry. "What purpose does such a communication device hold?"
The image of the Mother-Brain quivered slightly. "Whenever you had been revived, you were immediately placed on guard duties. I have formulated that one with such skill would be more useful taking part in a more…aggressive role. I have decided to use you in a series of strikes against critical Galactic-Federation operations."
Ridley smiled inwardly at this new assignment. Even though guard duty was usually reserved for the strongest of the Mother-Brain's disciples, he had always found it to be quite dull. Of curse, he died every time it became interesting. This new field-oriented range of goals sounded much more compelling. "I am thankful for the objectives you have given me, but why is the com-link necessary?"
"As you are aware of, this is a more dangerous occupation; the chances of your fatalities are increased dramatically. Although your augmentations will serve you well, we cannot afford to have you…needlessly spent. That is why Karolyn will provide assistance in your endeavors. Two space-dragons are better than one. And, the link will serve you well, allowing you to constantly communicate in complete silence."
He realized the genius behind the Mother-Brain's actions. They would not have to talk to communicate. This could be utilized to produce devastating ambushes much easier. And, the extra support of a fellow space-dragon was no doubt a very distinct field-advantage. "Yes, I comprehend now." He said submissively.
The single eye of the Mother-Brain contracted "Good, because you have a mission tomorrow."
Ridley woke up early that day. He was at full operational capacity. The engineers were able to install the remainder of his equipment with lightning speed. The com-link went off in his head. "The Brain wants us in the briefing room ASAP."
That was about the only thing Ridley didn't like about Karolyn. She never took anything completely seriously. She had been doing that ever since he met her as a child.
"Confirmed." Ridley replied. The com-link was remarkably simple to use, all he had to do was to concentrate on talking and the rest was self-explanatory. He stood up and walked from his quarters to the briefing room.
The doors opened up to the relatively small room. He had to lower his head considerably to enter. Inside he saw Karolyn, ten commandos, and a Pirate tactician standing before a holographic projector.
The old Pirate nodded in approval once Ridley entered. He pressed a button on the projector, and a display of a brown, sparsely forested planet appeared. The Pirate whipped out a stick and pointed to the planet. "Yorena IV, located in the outskirts of the Pro-Eranus region. It is approximately 2,345.74 light years from our current position. Total flight time should be around twelve hours. The planet is relatively small, bearing almost no strategic value. Galactic-Federation seems to have found out otherwise though." The commandos all let out a snarl of disapproval at the mention of their enemy. The Pirate grinned and continued. "Four cycles ago, a GF probe scanned the planet and found high concentrations of Nalrynium. As some of you may know, that is an extremely resilient metal normally reserved for Guardian-class GF cruisers. If we are able to get a hold of the minerals, they would serve us another welcomed advantage in space-combat. Our Nalrynium stores for the Assailant cruisers are becoming alarmingly low, so this will be a decisive victory."
The Pirate pressed another button. The display zoomed in to show the GF compound on the planet. It was set next to a canyon, low to the ground, and quite compact. The only visible defenses were multiple turrets surrounding the base. "The compound is guarded by anti-air turrets located every five-hundred yards outward for mile. These turrets are able to fire high enough to into space to strike any approaching cruisers, and powerful enough to destroy them. They also have a fast enough recharge time to repel an assault by our Insectile fighters. Therefore, we must send in a small strike team to infiltrate, and disable the turrets. That is where you come in."
He pressed a button yet again. This time the display showed what seemed to be a generator. "This is the power source of the turrets. From what the long-range scanners can tell, it is covered with two meters of Nalrynium. Normally, we would just bombard the generator, but the Mother-brain wants to leave as much of the base in tact to save time and begin mining operations as soon as we can. You will approach the planet in a stealth-equipped drop ship about twenty miles from the base. From there you will basically get as close to the compound as possible without detection. The generator is located at the north of the compound. Your goal is to destroy it as fast as possible. I believe that Ridley's flame-breath should be sufficient to break the armor. As soon as the generator is destroyed, send us a communication, and then we will send in an invasion force of two Assailant cruisers and fifty Insectiles. The ships will be located half a light-year away from the planet. After we receive the communication, it should take ten minutes for reinforcements to arrive, and until then you will be on your own. Intelligence tells us that there is at least five-hundred GF troopers on duty." The pirate let out an irritated sigh and continued. "The Mother-Brain has also made it clear for you to kill the troopers with the least amount of damage to their combat suits as possible. She wishes to salvage them and use the technology for our own means." The pirate scanned the room over. A strike-team of two space-dragons and ten commandos seemed to be over-kill to him. But then again, you can never do over-kill with GF slime.
"Head to the hanger immediately and await further instruction." The Pirate ordered.
Ridley exited the room, followed by his team. "How do you size it up?" Karolyn asked. "Nothing more than thirty minutes." He replied.
The squad entered the hangar bay. All around were Pirates hurrying to make repairs, build more ships, or simply bickering amongst themselves. Dozens of ships from personal Insectiless to the mammoth Assailants lined the ceilings and walls. Ridley looked up and stared at the Pirate flagship, the Cerebrum Aggression. The ship was over a mile and a half long and one mile wide. Truly no other ship came close to its grandeur. But, they weren't to be privileged to fly in it. Instead, they were to be taking the Uprising Conflict.
The Uprising Conflict, along with the Marauding Supremacy were making their way to Pro-Eranus. Ridley and the rest of the team were already settled into their seats in the drop ship. He snatched a view of their pilot and was very surprised. He seemed very old, yet highly capable. His presence was a rare one because Space-Pirates rarely ever lived to such an age. They are in hostile territory so frequently that it was considered a miracle if one lived past forty.
The pirate gave a strange stare at Ridley, then walked toward the cock-pit and strapped in. The glare of the old Pirate gave him an unsettling feeling. His voice came over the intercom. "The ships will begin to slow down in approximately ten minutes. Once we reach light speed, the hangar bays will open and we'll use the momentum to make it toward the planet." Once the Pirate mentioned this, one of the commandos gave a slight screech of surprise. Ridley saw nothing wrong with this procedure. It was common to launch small ships at light-speed during infiltration operations. They were constructed well enough to take the force. "Once we reach our destination, I'll release the locks and drop you to the surface."
"No flying for twenty miles. I must say that will suck." Karolyn complained over the com-link. Ridley shook his head at her comment and didn't reply.
A mission clock and bio-readouts for his team appeared in the lower left corner of his vision. The pilot's raspy old voice came on over the intercom. "Okay, here we go."
No sooner did he finished talking did the hangar doors open up and the drop ship was thrown out into the spinning vortex of space.
End of part 1
Part 2: After the operation, Ridley discovers the terrible truth about the connection between him and the Space-Pirates