Hey everybody! All three of you who read this! Sorry its been a while, but I just started working the nightshift from 10-7,so its a bit of an adjustment. Oh, and one of my friends had a hard time with some prior text, so let me clear that up:

The Phazonians are a wholly telepathic race, but I use the regular text with them now simply for simplicitys sake. Even when they are talking to other races, its all in the head.

Other then that, please tell me what you like, what you dont like, and hell, if you have an idea for a situation or idea that you would like to see in the story, tell me and I'll see if I can work it in!

And for the record, several people have asked me if this is going to be a Samus/Ridley Romance. I honestly cannot say. I like the idea behind the pairing, but I doubt I can write well eoungh to do it justice. So most likely I will leave it at a solid friendship, but if enough people cry out for it, I'll give it a whirl.

Final note: READ ANGSETH (SP Kat?) ITS AWESOME!!

Lets Roll.

--

Chapter Six

Why does this always happen? She griped, an almost reflexive movement spring-boarding her to the left and back to her feet, the bullets that the mini-guns fired off tearing into the wall behind her. It never fails. There's always a large, angry creature in my way before I can leave. Sweat ran down her body, the high heat generated by the machine causing the local tempature to sky-rocket.

Her right arm snapped up while still in mid-flip, almost as though it had a mind of its own. Three quick bursts of yellow energy splashed across the machines front, only a few thin scorch marks for the effort. Tch, its either heavily armored or shielded, neither of which these pistols can get through.

The two six-barreled guns sizzle filled the air as the machine continued to track her position, her long legs eating up the ground as she sprinted around the dome, just barely keeping ahead of the blue-white death. Bits of wall and vaporized metal clouded behind her as she ran on, her right arm continuing to fire, a thoughtless action that had been ingrained into her very core after so many years of combat.

Shot after shot splashed against the armored hide, scuffing and blacking, but nothing more. The four limbs clicked on the steel plates as it trudged after her, the turret top constantly revolving as the guns tracked her down.

Again and again Samus fired, only to be rewarded with nothing. Not even thinking, her body reacted, stopping and ducking under the line of fire, the mini-guns bullets shredding the wall overhead, plaster and melted metal flying everywhere, covering her back and tangling her hair. From the crouch she leapt forward, staying low and fast.

In a second she covered the space separating them, the four legs trying to scuttle back in time, the guns unable to track that close to itself. It was too slow, Samus easily overtaking it and leaping into the air, flipping once, extending her right leg to its maximum and slamming the heel into the top.

A large dent appeared in the metal, and her foot almost instantly exploded in pain, the shock of impact racing up her limb and screaming along the nerves. However, long years had taught her the difference between a broken pain, and a sore pain. Its still ok, but note to self: Don't hit unknown metal with foot. Still, had to test if I could damage it in any way. Didn't want to have to sacrifice the pistol, but looks like I have no choice.

Landing on her left, she spun again in place, whipping herself under the machine, her personal pistol charged up and ready. Still carrying the momentum from the spin, the pistol was wedged into the articulation joint, a weaker, less armored part from her observation.

The tiny energy cell overloaded only a second after Samus had tumbled beneath the second pair of legs, the charge glowing a bright yellow before discharging, the blast blowing a six foot crater in the floor, a cloud of vaporized metal hiding the damage. Ice blue eyes searched the slowly spreading cloud, only to widen in horror as four missiles screeched out of the cloud, the small warheads already locked on.

Leaving behind tunnels in the smoke cloud, the four missiles twisted in the air, coming from four different angles and trajectories, leaving her only one option.

Run like hell.

Tucking and rolling back, she pushed off with her hands and thrust up with her hips, throwing herself into the air and landing easily on her feet, three of the missiles slamming into where she had been, exploding and throwing up small fireballs before her.

The fourth one made it through, still heading right for her thin body. Her arms wrapped around her core and lashed out, twisting her body out of its path, and away. Her hands slapped the hard metal, stinging like crazy, but moving the lithe form out of danger. A simple side roll and she was on her feet again, the old pistol now in her right hand again as the missile detonated behind her.

It was aimed and primed before her feet had even finished touching the ground. For a moment, silence held all in its icy grasp, but soon enough the slick snick on the razor edged legs on metal rang in the air. It dragged itself forward on three legs, the fourth rear one sparking and sizzling as it hung on only by a few shreds of metal and wire.

A ruby red light grew in the black line that encircled its rectangular head. It ran the length of its track before stopping at the damaged leg, where another dot grew in the vizor, staring directly at her. Is it...scanning me? She wondered, only to jerk in surprise as the fourth leg collapsed to the ground with a resounding clang, the remaining legs spreading out to evenly distribute the weight.

It guns once more began to whine as they spun in place, its red dots Or eyes She thought absently, locked onto her. Ah, damn it. Running her map of the room over and over in her head, an idea struck her. Her head snapped up and around to look directly at the massive viewscreen, a slow grin growing upon her full lips. That might work.

Glancing at the mech, Samus charged it again, the mini-guns still spinning up. Seeing her charge, it raced forward as well, it guns firing hundreds of energy bullets at her. Staying between the two horizontal pillars, she once more jumped upon it, landing lightly atop its head. Crouching in place, her long, muscular legs bent, the powerful tendons and fibers bunching before uncurling, launching her high into the air.

The jump shot her like an archaic cannonball, almost twenty feet up and over. A single flip mid-flight brought her arms just within reach of the screens top, fingertips digging in as the machine tried to rear back in order to bear on her. The fourth legs absence forced the mech into a tri-pod shape, its front leg straining as it bore through the metal fatigue.

Sweat covered her body as the heat from the screen combined with the mechs, one drop running into her left eye, making it feel as though ants were covering the surface, biting and stinging constantly. Blinking furiously to clear it away, she hauled herself over the edge only a second before a low click reached her ears.

The missiles! She realized, knowing that only seconds remained before they impacted. Glancing down between her thighs at the single supporting steel encased cable line, she straightened jean clad legs, shoved her back against the wall, and brought the old pistol to bear on the cable.

One.

Two.

Three.

Click.

Click click click.

Ah sonofabitch.

Three shots rang out before the pistol's energy cell ran dry, the sharp click of the trigger on dry metal a sure sign of her end. Before she thought about it, before she tried to plan, Samus acted.

Sliding rapidly to just above the cable, only a bare three inches of steel and various cables held it up. Bracing again, she shoved, back and arms against the screen, legs pushing, pushing. Creaking and groaning, her slim hundred-forty pound body shoved for all its worth, the cable broke at last, the metallic snap a herald to the destruction of the mech.

Three resounding explosions rattled their way through her, and shattering glass sprayed over the edge, flames licking over the entire front. Her empty stomach traveled up her throat as gravity vanished, the long, low groan of the toppling screen as it raced down for the mech filling her ears.

Pain ripped into her back with a explosion that completely defeaned her, her mind blanking out as she was tossed like a rag doll into the air, her equilibrium gone from the sudden blast of air pressure. The wall stopped her cold, the impact rattling her very bones, only to weather a second impact from the floor. Groaning as she twisted herself upright she banished the pain back into the corner of her mind, not noticing the blood that splattered the ground behind her.

Blue-white bullets tore into the screen, the missile ports opening for a second volley, and the three legs back-pedaled furiously as it tried to escape the eight tons of metal, wire and tubing. It was far too slow however, and with an all-mighty crunch, the mech was buried once more under a pile of rubble.

As the dust settled, pistol out and trained, Samus carefully approached the mound, limping slightly from a pulled tendon. Once again silence fell upon the dome, the sharp smell of burnt ozone and melted plastic wafted around her, a few pieces of metal clanking as it settled down. At last the lone visible leg stopped twitching, the final sparks fading away as they died on the duracrete floor.

Dismissing the mech at last, she quickly made her way back to the double-doors that had begun the entire fight. The gaping hole left by the bomb was still smoldering, the edges glowing cherry-red from the fires heat, small wisps of smoke curling up and away from it. Silently entering the main control room, she carefully cleared it, the empty pistol now only a deterrent to any possible attackers.

The room was a bare-bones corridor, made for function and survival, nothing more. Cables and wires ran across the walls and ceilings, a few even tangled on the floor as they inevitably led her right to the only room past the doors. The low hum of static filled screens greeted her, the chaotic mess of black and white pixels making her eyes water from looking at it for too long.

A single chair faced the screens, a keyboard laid across it for easy access. Hundreds of wires ran from the back of the terminal to a series of data banks, each one about six feet tall and two feet across, wireless routers soundlessly beeping. Quickly seating herself into the only chair, she almost instantly bolted upright as pain shot from her back.

Air hissed out between her teeth as she gently probed her back, only to jerk away as the pain flared up again. Shutting off one of the screens and using the slight reflection to check her back she saw the damage. At least a dozen tiny wounds pockmarked the once flawless skin of her back, shrapnel wounds from the missile's exploding against the viewscreen to her back.

Hanging her head, blond hair falling around as it escaped from its destroyed pony-tail, Samus leaned forward in the chair and began punching in the codes Cassie had given her, fingers hitting the keys just a bit harder then needed. I hate this place, I hate this place I hate this place. The mantra continued in her mind as her fingers entered the last sequence, a faint pop sounding as one of the data banks slid free from its cradle.

Grabbing it and taking off for the stairs, she paused by the mechs leg. For a moment she studied the metal, a calm, peaceful look on her face.

Then she kicked it.

Hard.

A large dent collapsed in the metal, and her toes screamed at her. Oh shut up you damn toes!

...

...Im talking to my toes.

Im still doing it.

Yeah, I need some therapy.

Moving on from her rather disturbing admission that she had been talking to her toes, Samus didn't waste a second before taking off for the stairwell, taking them two at a time, eager to finish up the annoying task that had been set on her shoulders.

Soon enough the doorway was in sight again, the still bickering voices of the two AI's drifting out.

"No no, you have to thrust it in, like this!"

"Oh, that's gooood..."

"Thanks, your pretty tight yourself, best form I've seen in a long time."

"Aww, your just saying that cause my tongue was better then yours."

"True, but I won in the end."

"Hey, that little trick you did with tour teeth and lips was impressive, but I-"

"Whatis going on in here!?"

Both AI's whipped around like caught school-children doing something that they weren't supposed to. Two thin rapiers were gripped in their hands, full padding covering most of their bodies. "Lady! Your alright!"

A rather stunned silence met that statement.

"Ok, let me rephrase that question. What the hell is going on in here?" Almost quivering with anger she stomped up to the 'H-pad and tightly gripped the edges, short blunt fingernails scratching thin lines in the steel. "Are you telling me," She growled out, voice low and filled with barely restrained rage. "That the whole time that I have been fighting for my life against some kind of armored crab-tank, that you two have been up here practicing fencing?!"

Both had backed up to the very edge of the pad, quick side-long glances at the other passing information at high speed. Cassie finally stepped forward, her long blue hair put up in a tight bun. "Um, actually, we also had a bubble-gum blowing contest."

Adam's jaw could have hit the floor, he was so stunned. He made to grab her arm and tear her anew one, but Samus's lean arms shot through his holographic body and latched onto the far edges, putting her face directly before Cassie. "You what?"

"Uh, well you see we were-"

Adam's hand locked around her mouth in a grip so tight that it could have broken her jaw, had she been real. "Exnay on the ubble-bay." He hissed into her ear. Looking up at Samus, he saw the same tired humor burn its way through her anger. "Your lucky." He texted to Cassie, not wanting Samus to hear this. "Samus gets annoyed at times like this, but anger like that is a fleeting thing, easily swept aside by her own self-control. I've only seen her ever truly angry against either Dark or Ridley. Its...scary. She's scary when facing them."

Flopping onto the backwards chair, Samus kept her back towards the two AI's, not wanting the dozens of wounds to be aggravated further.

Of course, she had forgotten that Adam could see her wounds, the Vira armor now missing. "Lady! Your hurt!" Like an enraged father seeing his daughter come home with a knife wound, he tore into the sub-systems of the tower, rapidly finding what little they had in the way of medical supplies. "Get that data file into the defense systems, and then head to the garage."

Cassie was a little put-out by the sudden one-eighty that had just been pulled. "Wait a second! What the hell just happened here? She comes in with the fires of Hades burning, cools off almost instantly, and then you fly off the handle at a few wounds! Are you two always like this?!"

Both exchanged a long look, a slow grin spreading across their faces. "Yes." They replied simultaneously.

--

Squelch.

"Ow."

Clink.

Squelch.

"Ow."

Clink.

Squelch.

"Ow."

Clink.

"...If I had a stomach, I think I would be puking right now." Squelch.

"Ow. Yeah, but then you'd have all those nasty human problems as well. Hunger, tiredness, morning breath, need to use the bathroom-" Squelch. "Ow. And the big one of, ya know, dying. You AI's have it better then you think."

Blood ran down her back in thin rivulets, leaking from the small wounds for a few seconds before the robotic arms gently placed a cotton swab on her back.

Squelch. Snapping her head around to glare at Adam's concentrating face, she ground out "Could you please be more careful?" The four articulated arms paused in their labors, almost seeming sorry before resuming the new programming that Adam had written into their codes.

Squelch. "God damn it."

"Now now Aran, its not that bad. They've got all but the last three out. Just hang on and we'll get a bit of biofoam(1) into those wounds." He paused, watching as his charge twitched with every twist and tug on her skin. "Your very lucky that missile was going through that screen. If it hadn't, these shrapnel would have gone clean through your body like a plasma blade through a foot-an-a-half of steel." Staring at the scorched wall, black charred remnants of a small battle fought there, Samus didn't reply for a moment.

"Im not that lucky. If they had, I wouldn't-" Squelch. "Be here in your oh so tender mercies."

Crossing his arms as he weathered her quips, Adam prepared to retort, only to be interrupted by Cassie. "What, you'd rather be dead?"

"...Ok, new rule: You two are not allowed to discuss the same subject, ever. I can barely win an argument with-" Squelch. "-Adam here. Two AI's? I'm screwed."

"Well," Cassie spoke up again, grinning at Adam. "I do like messin' with people, sooo..."

Squelch.

"I fuckin' hate this planet."

--

After finally dressing the last of her wounds and tugging back on the now ragged shirt, Aran and her two companions once more entered the sixth floor. For the final time Adam and Cassie took their places on the pad as Samus shoved the data file into the mainframe, followed almost immediately by Cassie's gasp. Lines of code rushed up her body for a brief moment before subsiding back to the normal speed once more.

"Ok," She breathed out, an almost giddy glow suffusing her face. "I've got the codes. Now all we have to do is broadcast the signal and the satellites will open fire."

"Excellent. Now Lady, upload Cassie to the armor and lets get out of here." He vanished again as Samus lay her hand onto the pad, his body dissolving into a whirlwind of sparkling motes. A tingle ran up her arm as his data downloaded into the cybernetic implant in the base of her neck, a warm rush akin to warm honey being spilled over her mind.

"Still lots of room in here I see." He quipped, settling in for what seemed to be a long haul. "Now, lets get Cassie uploaded to a 'port and finally finish this battle."

Shaking her head to remove the strange feeling of another presence in her head, she didnt see the rapidly blinking lights of the core as Cassie compressed herself into a single matrix. She did see Cassie look slowly around, taking in the last glimpses of what was essentially her body.

"Do it." She calmly said, only to vanish like Adam and take up residence in the implant. "Ok, Im good. Wow...there really is a lot of room in here. Hmm...ok, we can put the couch there, the desk over there, and-"

"Are you planning on redecorating my mind?"

"Yep."

"No drapes. I hate those things."

"Rugs?"

"One."

"A bed?"

"Ha! You wish."

"Damn it."

"Can we please focus?"

"Aww..."

"Fine." At last having everything needed to accomplish their mission, all three moved upward to what remained of the tower. Once again emerging back into the ground floor, Samus was startled to see light shafting down through holes in the ceiling. "Guys. The ships gone."

"What? Is it destroyed?" Adam asked, hating the lack of sensors that practically blinded him. "Can you see anything?"

"Quiet." Crouching down behind walls corner, she peered out onto the empty plain between the nearest buildings and the tower. It was then that she realized that the light was not from the moon, but from the crystal.

Almost three hundred feet tall and almost a hundred wide, the jagged blue-white crystal was buried in the earth, chunks of duracrete tossed aside from the crater that had been gouged out from the tip slamming into the ground at high speed. But it was what was bubbling out of the massive monstrosity that brought the cold grip of well remembered fear and pain to once more lock around her heart.

"Phazon."

--

Light-years away on the former Pirate world of Marran, it was almost impossible to see the original crust beneath the thick layer of hardened Phazon, the massive crystals now almost completely drained of their muta-genic cargo. The Warlord's easy gait carried him up the corrugated stairwell, Phazon dripping from the railing and underside of the stairwell and crystalizing in long lines that now hung from almost every overhang and raised area. As the

hard webbing peeled aside at his approach, the Warlord looked out on the massive developed regions of the fairly advanced technology that these, Pirates, had created.

Hundreds of Shinia worked to restore the few damaged areas from the attack, molding the Phazon to hold up and strengthen the buildings. The atmosphere had already begun to churn as the gas's began to intermix, the Phazon slowly expunging the deadly nitrogen-oxygen mixture, and would replace it with the sweet scent of clean Phazon.

His Nota stood at the top of the winding stairwell, twin pistols magnetically attached to his hips, a single long dagger hanging horizontally across the back of his waist. The grey armor that all military wore was thicker across the chest, back, and head, two reinforced shoulder plates carrying a single green line across their entirety.

The shields that protected every one of the Ven'Dra, the top warriors of his fleet, were among the best around, and when combined with the armor allowed for the protection from both heat and high-gravity environments. Much more advanced then the armor worn by the Gru'Mar, or the basic grunts, it paled only in comparison to the armor worn by the Warlord, or that of the mechanized Vox, the Four-limbed.

Both stood silent as they watched the Shinia carried out their menial tasks, melting out a massive depression into the crust and pooling pure liquid Phazon into the bowl. Atop their platform they watched as their ranks were replenished.

Corpses were piled high below them, a mountain of torn flesh and green blood, hundreds of already mutated scavengers eating away at the rotten muscle and bone. A few Shinia absently waved a few away as they gabbed whatever limb of closest corpse, dragging it to the pools edge, and throwing it in like garbage. The Phazon absorbed the bodies without a splash, the corpse vanishing into the soup. On the far side however, something new was taking place.

Out of the muck, hands erupted from the surface, pale blue veins clearly visible beneath the taunt skin. One after another pulled themself from the pool, Phazon dripping off of their bodies and armor, blank white eyes staring lifelessly ahead. The Pirates skin almost instantly began to harden once removed from the liquid, forming a hard, chitinous carapace, their bodies already moving faster as the Phazon somehow brought a semblance of life back to the soulless husks.

"How many Corrupted?" The Warlord asked, watching as the Shinia shoved the new troops into large phazite containers. Once each of the fifty-ton boxes were full, a transport broke off from the chaotic order of the streaming ships and descended. Six legs unfolded from beneath the troop carrier, four engines rumbling as the legs latched onto its edges, only to screech to an even higher octane as it hauled the now weighted container.

"Only a few hundred, most escaped before the crystals could land. Ridleys tactics allowed most of the population to escape, but we were able to discover that this was a new colony, therefore only roughly five thousand Pirates had initially taken home here."

Nodding in satisfaction, he crossed his powerfully muscled arms, the heavy double-headed war-hammer strapped to his back clanked softly against his thick armor. A single large-bored pistol gleamed at his hip as he turned away from the scene, Nota's much thinner frame still easily keeping pace with the taller Phazonian's strides.

"The logs left behind indicated that while this was to be a colony, it was also meant to house a significant military presence. Turrets, vehicles, weapons, and even research on multiple subjects have been found. The Xentra are currently working on decoding the work, but it is slow going. These Pirates seem to be a very careful species, as almost every single log entry, even those found in the homes, are encoded."

"Hrm." He ground out, the other's rapidly removing themselves from his path. "What deadline are we looking at? How much time until this planet is fully integrated and all Corrupted are ready for combat?"

"Only two more days Warlord, and the Corrupted will be ready for combat. Memory implantation and basic operations will be infused, weapons issued. We also-"

"Warlord!" The mental shout carried across the Command link, filled with a heat and light of discovery and joy, a drastic contrast between the usual feeling of coldness and analytical mindset. "There's something you need to see! Quickly!"

With that the link faded once more into the background, a tired glance at Nota all the exclamation that the Warlord would allow himself. "We had best go see what has Maxo so excited. Any bets on what it might be?"

"Fifty maki says its another bogus energy reading that he thinks will be the herald of a new age."

"Hm. I'm going with another attempt to assassinate me."

"Ooo, the dangerous route. Feeling lucky are we?"

"Nota, you know as well as I do that he covets the name of Warlord. The question is, when will he try again."

"Not in the middle of a war I hope."

"War?" Laughter bubbled out through the link again, the easy camaraderie between the old friends palpable. "This is no war, these Pirates were easily crushed beneath only a fraction of our fleet, and this conglomeration of worlds, this Federation? They are only just ahead of the Pirates in technology. We have the advantage of greater numbers, better technology, easy re-supplyment, and the power to use the enemies own corpses against them. This 'war,' will be over in a month."

Their conversation turned away from the war itself and onto simpler, lighter subjects, those of the new symbols that Nota wished for identifying the commanders. The once black-steel, single story bunker now looked as though a spider had thrown its webs across its roof, thick layers of Phazon webbing parting before the two warriors.

A dozen of the scientific Xentra were racing about, decoding or working on integrating their instruments with the Pirate's mish-mash of hybridized tech.

Maxo raced up to them, his words flowing together into one stream of information, far too fast for either of the fighters to comprehend it. "MyLordthereadingsareastounding!TheresiduePhazonemmitionsare-"

"Maxo! Repeat that, slower this time." Summoning forth a seat from the floor, they both sat back, waiting for Maxo's breathing to slow.

His three nostrils widened and narrowed rhythmically as he slowly took in the mixture of gases. "Apologies Warlord, but the readings are simply amazing! As you know this galaxy was seeded with Phazon from ourself, correct?" Before either could reply, he forged ahead. "Well, it seems that these Pirates found the Phazon and attempted to cultivate it for their own use. Well, the Phazon readings that they left over on their archives have yielded an amazing result!"

He paused for a long moment, apparently trying to dramatize his discovery. Their annoyed glares hurried him on. "Yes, well, anyway. About four months ago on the Chozo world of Tallon IV, the seed that we sent to that world was destroyed and broken down to its most basic level. However, it seems that it willfully attempted to pull its destroyer along with it, only to fail. What it did do," His blue-white eyes bored into theirs, desperately trying to get across to them the magnitude of this action. "Was achieve full-sentience."

"What?!" Both Nota and the Warlord roared out, several of those nearby winching from the volume. "How is that possible?" Warlord raged, his mind already furiously trying to work out how it happened.

"We all know that Phazon is highly mutagenic to those not born from its glory, but this was different. It almost seemed as though it tore off a piece of the killer's mind and body in the final attack."

Tired of the run-around, the Warlord stood up again, the chair splashing down into nothing. "All of this means what, exactly?"

"We can use this creature, this incredible source for power."

"We can resurrect the Prime, the Worm, or as its more commonly called:

The Dark Hunter."