Author's note: I apologize for the excessively long delay in this chapter's release. I sort of lost interest in this story after I realized that the outline I had wouldn't work very well.
I recently replayed Metroid Prime 1 and 2, and remembered this story, and particularly this chapter, which I had abandoned. I've revised my outline, and hope to update this regularly now. Prepare for some twists!
Tallon IV surface:
Davin looked... well, peaceful was kind of a cliche when describing a sleeping person.
But, it did fit. He didn't look angry, like when they were in battle or on a job that had gone wrong.
He didn't look serious, like he did when he was ready to make a difficult sniper shot or concentrating on flying.
Malysa wished he at least looked happy, like he had most of the time they lived with the Chozo hermit Kirow.
She wished they had never left the kind old avian. But, she supposed, it was unavoidable. Her brother had chosen the path of the Warrior, naturally, and had been trained as such, but her own training had been interrupted by the Space Pirate invasion which had driven the Ortrys from the planet. They had found out later that the Pirates were totally unaware of the hermit's presence, and had come to the world to strip-mine it.
When they came back a few weeks later, the entire planet was under Pirate control, and there was no trace of the hermit to be found. Davin thought the old Chozo was probably dead by now, but Malysa refused to give up hope. She and her brother had been searching for another colony ever since, but had been unsuccessful.
So, to support themselves, they had taken up bounty hunting, finding the skills Kirow taught them were most useful in that particular profession.
Malysa brushed a lock of hair off Davin's forehead. Just for a moment, a hint of a smile quirked at one corner of his mouth.
She squeezed his hand, and, checking the monitor one more time, she went to check on the prisoner. She intended to get some questions answered before her brother woke up.
Samus first noticed the cuffs when she attempted to hold her aching head after it drove her awake. When she tested her bonds, she received an electric shock. Stun cuffs. Escapable, if you had an extremely high tolerance for pain. Which she did. She took stock of her surroundings. She seemed to be in the cargo hold of a small vessel. Probably the Ortrys' ship. My ship, the Hunter reminded herself.
The fight aboard the Ortrys' ship started coming back to her. First the man in the Chozo powersuit had fought her, then, when she seemed to be winning, the girl from the transmission had jumped her with some kind of electromagnetic pulse weapon. Then, the girl had overloaded her suit's systems with a power cable. An amateur tactic, that only an amateur should have succumbed to.
If I continue to be this foolish, I deserve whatever's coming to me, Samus thought harshly.
She heard footsteps, then beeping as someone unlocked the door to the room she was in. Samus quickly leaned back against the wall again, coming as close to her original position as she could remember. Closing her eyes just enough to appear still unconscious, she tensed her muscles in preparation.
As the girl walked in, Samus noticed one of her hands was partially hidden behind a fold of the baggy coverall she was wearing.
The Hunter waited for just the right moment to strike, planning to sweep her legs out and trip the girl. Just before she acted, though, the girl revealed that her obscured hand held a pistol, which she pointed with practiced steadiness directly between Samus' eyes.
"According to the camera, you've been awake for a while now, so you can quit the whole pretending-to-be-asleep-so-you-can-jump-up-and-kill-me thing. Because no matter how good you are, you can't possibly jump me before this thing puts a hole in your head." The girl tightened her grip on the gun.
"You're pretty arrogant, you know that?" Samus said.
"Whatever. Look, bounty hunter, I'm not planning to kill you so long as you don't try to kill us again. But, to ensure your cooperation, I'm afraid I'm going to put a restraint collar on you."
"I'm sure that won't be necessary, little girl. I don't want to kill you either, so long as you don't try to kill me." The Hunter had used restraint collars on prisoners herself, and had no desire to have one put on her. The collars were effective because once you put one on someone, the collar would slowly choke them if the handler's vital signs dipped below healthy norms, or if the prisoner got too far away.
"Don't call me little girl. If you have to call me something, call me Malysa."
"Fine. Now, what do you want?"
Malysa stretched her neck and yawned. The gun did not waver a millimeter. "You're going to help me fix my ship."
"You mean my ship. It belongs to me."
"Who has the gun, and who's in stun cuffs? Another smart remark out of you, and I'll increase the charge." The girl popped a couple of the knuckles of her free hand. "Now, I suppose I should tell you that we're on the surface of the planet, near Magmoor Caverns, to be exact."
"Where's my other ship?"
Malysa sighed. "In the hanger of a Fed warship by now."
"What?!" The Hunter didn't usually show much emotion, but this was shocking. What was the Federation doing at Tallon IV?
"A while after I knocked you out and got Davin stabilized, this gigantic Federation cruiser showed up and spit out half a dozen dropships and two wings of fighters. So, I turned on the cloaking device and-"
"Wait, you had a cloaking device and didn't use it when you fought me?"
The girl actually seemed embarrassed, which was surprising. "Um, I kind of... borrowed yours."
Samus was mildly amused. "Continue."
"Well, you shot up our ship pretty good, so I scrounged some parts from your ship. While I was in there, I noticed the cloaking device and sensor maskers were compatible with our systems, so I took them, too. But, this ship isn't entirely Federation technology anymore. The shield generators, the hyperdrive engines, and the blaster cannons are stolen Space Pirate prototypes that we've modified, and you fried a few of those good with your ion cannon."
Samus smirked. Malysa frowned at her, but continued.
"Anyway, I was about to transfer some more parts from your ship over when the Feds showed up, and since you so kindly disabled our 'drive, I had to disengage and head for the planet. I don't think they got us on their sensors, but don't be surprised if we run into a few squads of Marines down here. The Feddies are pretty pissed at us right now."
"What else did you steal from the Federation besides this ship?"
"An experimental hyperdrive reactor that uses only a sixteenth as much fuel as conventional reactors. Apparently, it was quite expensive to develop, and we stole the only working prototype." Malysa sat down on a crate and rested her gun on her leg, still pointing at Samus.
"How did you two get something like that from the Federation? You seem pretty amateur to me. And I thought you said your reactor was Pirate tech."
Malysa scowled at her, but otherwise ignored the remark. "It is. The guy we stole the Fed reactor for said he'd refit our ship for free if we could get it to him. But, enough about us. You," she pointed the gun at Samus again, "are going to help me find enough parts down here to fix the hyperdrive. I noticed quite a few Pirate installations down here, and there's bound to be at least one ship with a 'drive in it. Unless, of course, you blew them all up, miss fearsome bounty hunter."
"Not all of them." The Hunter said with just the barest hint of a smile.
"Right," the girl said nonchalantly. She reached into the crate she was sitting on and pulled out a restraint collar. Keeping her pistol aimed at Samus' face, she leaned forward and clipped the thin metal strip into place around Samus' neck. She slipped the accompanying wristband onto her own arm and tapped it twice.
"There. Now I can count on no further funny business from you. I can also trigger it remotely, so there's no use jumping me when I unlock your cuffs." The girl stood up. "I'll be right back. Don't go anywhere," she said with a sneer.
Samus felt the collar tighten slightly for every few meters Malysa drew away. She hoped the girl at least gave her back her powersuit. Magmoor Caverns was death to anyone without proper protection. Plus, her suit would automatically deactivate the collar.
Tallon IV orbit:
"Found something, sir."
Captain Tyraj Kolos turned to look at what PFC Arnak was holding in his gloved hand. It was a piece of collection tape containing three hairs, roughly eight centimeters long, color blue.
"Send them to Medical and have them run a DNA test. If it matches the Ortry girl, notify me immediately."
"Yes, sir." Arnak left.
Kolos was elated. If he managed to catch the notoriously slippery Ortrys, it would mean a promotion for sure. He might even make Commodore. The next step after that was Admiral, then Fleet Admiral, and then possibly even Sector Admiral!
Kolos returned his attention to examining the captured vessel. It was sparsely furnished, and as far as Captain Kolos could tell, not decorated.
It matched the description of one of the known vessels of the Hunter, Samus Aran, and there had been reports of Aran in this area recently.
But, if the hairs that Arnak had found belonged to Malysa Ortry, then what was the girl doing on Aran's ship? Had Samus managed to capture the Ortrys? But, there was no evidence so far of the brother, Davin.
Further examination revealed that several components from the ship's shield generator and weapon systems were missing, and apparently, this ship had once possessed an illegal cloaking device, plus a wide array of sensor maskers, most of which were also prohibited under Federation law. Most were missing.
Kolos' nose started to itch. Looking around to make sure nobody could see him, he opened the faceplate of his helmet and scratched at it with a gloved hand. He closed the faceplate and resumed his inspection of the vessel.
What had happened here? The ship was found adrift in space, the security systems disabled, some by force, and the crewman at sensors thought he had detected, just for a second, another ship in close proximity to this one. Kolos had personally reviewed the sensor logs, but there was insufficient data to determine anything conclusive. It could have been a ship that cloaked as soon as they came out of hyperspace, but then again it could have been a minor glitch in the sensors. It could have been anything!
Kolos shook his head. He decided to leave the rest of the ship inspection to his crew and went back to the bridge.
Tallon IV surface:
Davin's mouth was dry. It felt like someone had stuffed a bag of cotton balls in his mouth, and tossed in some clothing desiccates just for the fun of it. Regen sleep tended to do that to you.
He was suddenly rewarded by a cool mouthful of water, provided by a straw. He sucked greedily at it until he discovered that the container was now empty.
Davin tried opening his eyes. The first thing he saw was that he was in his bunk, and that the lighting had been dimmed. The second thing he saw was his sister's familiar face, set in a worried expression.
"Hey, Davin. How are you?"
He tried to sit up and instantly regretted it. "Well, I feel like somebody just tried to use my head as a sledgehammer, but other than that, okay. Got any more water?"
He tried to sit up again, slowly this time, and Malysa handed him another cup of water.
With a jolt he remembered the events prior to his becoming unconscious. "Where's our friend, the bounty hunter? Did he capture us?"
Malysa got a self-satisfied smirk on her face, an expression he found at once endearing and annoying. "She is currently restrained in the cargo hold, since you never got around to finishing this ship's prisoner cages."
Davin briefly considered expressing surprise that Aran was a woman, but then he realized his little sister had succeeded where he had failed. "Way to go, banshee. How'd you do it?"
"Jabbed her with a power cable, then pulled off her helmet and pumped her full of sedatives."
He grinned as he put down the now-empty cup. "Lacks finesse, but I suppose it got the job done."
She mock-glared at him. "I didn't see you do any better." Her face got abruptly serious. "But she almost killed you, you know. You've got some pretty serious head injuries, so no moving around until I say so."
"Yes, Doctor. Anything else?"
"Just get plenty of rest. I'm going out to find parts for the hyperdrive with our new friend." She started to stand up, but he caught her arm.
"Say what now? I don't think I heard you right. It seemed like you said that you were going outside into a hostile, radiation-soaked planet with the woman who tried to kill us a few hours ago."
Malysa heaved an exasperated sigh. "I put a restraint collar on her, plus she promised not to kill me." He started to speak, but she interrupted him. "I don't like it either, but she's been all over the surface and probably has detailed maps of the places we'll need to go. Plus, she's packing a considerable amount of firepower in that suit of hers."
"My suit's got quite a punch, too. I want you to wear it when you're out there." Davin shifted in his bed, attempting to find a position that didn't make his head throb. He had to give up. "I guess I can do your job for once."
He was referring to the fact that Malysa usually stayed behind in whatever ship they had, remotely hacked into the security system or accessed maps of whatever building or compound they were breaking into, and just generally provided whatever support he needed. Mostly a safe, and as his sister put it, boring-as-hell job.
"Just as long as it doesn't go like the Beowulf job." she said. He sighed in agreement. That one hadn't ended well.
Malysa rose and tapped a few buttons on the medical monitor she'd hooked into his bunk. "You call as soon as you're awake again. You should be fine by then."
Davin nodded as he yawned and slipped back into regenerative sleep.
Samus snapped the last piece of her powersuit into place before she picked up her helmet, holding it under one arm.
The girl was dressed in her brother's Chozo powersuit, and as an interesting detail, Samus had noted that the suit adjusted itself to fit the smaller girl.
Malysa met her eyes briefly before donning her own helmet and snapping it into place. Samus heard the familiar click and whine as the suit pressurized itself, making the wearer almost completely cut off from the outside environment.
The Hunter put her helmet on and activated the comlink, adjusting the frequency until the two suits were locked onto each other. Their communications wouldn't be readable by anyone other than themselves, and wouldn't be externally audible, in case stealth was required.
"Ready?" Samus wondered if hyperdrive parts were all the girl was really after on the planet.
The girl tapped her forearm, where the control device for the restraint collar still was. A silent reminder to the bounty hunter as to who was really in charge.
Samus didn't bother to repress her angry sigh as they stepped out of the ship and into the hellish caverns of Magmoor.