"A criminal. They're hunting me as a criminal. I destroyed their research station and their precious Metroid breeding operation. And the X parasites; can't forget that. Whatever they saw in those things, they treasured them dearly. And now I'm being hunted for destroying them. Hunted as a criminal."

Samus Aran dwelled on these ruminations repeatedly as she stared into space, the steady hum of the engine and the beeps of the machinery and computers providing the only sound. The ships engine rumbled her seat, and the all-to-familiar sensation of having an "ass massage", as she called it, coursed through her body. She sat comfortably in the seat wearing a deep blue halter with matching shorts, as her ship's computer, Adam, took the helm of the ship.

She had just finished an operation near SR388, an untamed, backwater planet that was once home to the infamous predatory Metroids, parasites that obtained subsistence through extracting their prey's life energy. The objective was to investigate the destruction of a research station owned by the Galactic Federation's Biologic Space Laboratories division. A malicious parasitic species known as X, which had the ability to mimic their victims using DNA replication, had infested the station, and Samus was instructed to curb their outbreak.

However, a change of plans had occurred, and the Federation's interested shifted to capturing the X rather than exterminating them. In addition to this pestilence, the Federation was cloning and breeding Metroids inside the station. Samus, whose life had been devoted to eradicating the Metroid population on their orders, was baffled by their change of heart toward the creatures. But what repulsed Samus the most was the fact that the Federation wanted to capture a plague and use it for their own benefit. Acting on her sense of morality, she and Adam disregarded the Federation's orders and activated the self-destruct explosives on board the station. The resulting explosion destroyed the station, as well as the planet it orbited. With the worst over, she headed back to Federation HQ to receive her punishment.

It turned out to be a disaster. As soon as she landed, she was immediately jailed, and court-martialed the next day. For her crimes, she was sentenced to death. An unforgettable chill ran through her that day. She knew her punishment would be harsh, but death was just too much for her to bear. In a mix of fear and indignation, she fought her way out of the courthouse, retrieved her ship, and escaped into deep space. Now the Federation had issued a death warrant, with the Minister of Defense's signature on it. Now she was alone, doomed to wander deep space.

It had been a week since she'd escaped, and she began to realize how lonely she was. Her career as a bounty hunter for the Federation was the only thing she had to live for. She had no relatives; her only known family had died when she was three years old. Her foster parent, a Chozo named Old Bird, had also passed on, along with the rest of the Chozo race. She only had a handful of contacts in the bounty hunting community, all of which were either deceased or missing in action. She had no friends or acquaintances. She had nowhere to go, nowhere to hide, nowhere to seek refuge. Her ship was just a lone speck of dust on the dark, dusky backdrop of space.

She had always been a loner and an introvert, and was never ashamed of it. In fact, she often took solace in being alone. It was quiet, it was calm, it was soothing, and she could do what she wished without fear of judgment or reprimands. Her only distraction in her blissful nirvana of solitude was her bounty hunting, and the salary she received was all she needed to make end's meet. She was overall content with her life. She was a strong, capable warrior, that could accomplish what most humans could only dream of doing.

And yet, a secret longing plagued her. She saw it every time a couple walked hand-in-hand on the street in some Earth city. They would sway their arms and laugh, with bright and happy smiles caressing their faces. She saw it every time a couple sat at a park bench under the full moon back on Earth. The man would place her arm around the woman's shoulders, and the woman would lean over and kiss him. A sickening feeling stuck her and burned her heart every time she witnessed these acts of affectionate display. At first, she thought she was disgusted, watching them ooze their affection over each other, but she later realized that the burning tumult in her bosom was jealousy.

Seeing couples embrace under the pale moonlight reminded her so much of her mother and father. She would remember Rod and Virginia Aran's luminous faces, and recall with great clarity how they hugged her and kissed her and provided her with a seemingly boundless sense of security. Then she would imagine the grisly silhouette of Ridley swooping down and burning her mother to cinders with his breath, and then the enormous explosion that took her father, feeling a deep longing as these visions played. Old Bird, her foster parent, had been a caring guardian to her, while simultaneously training her as a Chozo warrior, but he was gone now, and the rest of the Chozo as well. The longing burned its strongest when she reached this point.

She craved companionship. The secret desire was etched into her heart. She knew what she wanted, but she feared that she could never attain it. Humans and sentient beings only liked and cared for sociable people. They revered and idolized the person who had charisma and who had many loyal and steadfast friends. They only accepted the person who could converse with confidence and finesse as one of their own.

Samus hardly ever talked, often because she could rarely hold a casual conversation. Socializing frustrated her, which was part of the reason why she felt more at ease by herself. She limited her communication skills to negotiating with employers and deterring the occasional pervert who loved to glimpse at her voluptuous body, with slim legs, long, blonde hair and shining blue eyes. She was shy, in the technical sense of the word. In the eyes of the populace, she appeared cold and distant. But she knew that they didn't understand. No one did.

Her deep thoughts undulated throughout her mind. An expression of mixed sadness and meditation appeared on her face. Maybe there's someone out there who understands me, she thought. Even though I have strength and beauty, and had success, I still have a void to fill. Would meeting another soul, similar to mine, close it? Perhaps…maybe…I hope…

"Lady, you look worried", Adam piped through the speakers. "Would you like to share what's on your mind?"

Shaken out of her trance for a moment, Samus merely muttered, "No, I wouldn't. And even if I did, you wouldn't understand."

Unconvinced, Adam replied, "Lady, I was once a Federation military official; there are not many things that I do not understand." In a confident tone, he added, "You want to be with someone, don't you? Perhaps a lover?"

Surprised, Samus spluttered, "Yes. How did you know?"

"I've always seen that face when soldiers miss their loved ones."

"Wow, you really don't miss much, do you Adam?"

"I don't. But let me know if there's anything I can do to help you."

Samus chuckled at Adam's response and commented, "That's interesting; my commanding officer acting fatherly toward me. And a mechanized one, no less."

With just a slight pinch of anger, Adam replied, "Firstly, Lady, I'm not your CO anymore. Secondly, I may be just a computer AI, but I still have organic components, and I retain my human memories and feelings. How do you think I went along with your plan to destroy the BSL Station?"

Samus felt Adam's words jab at her. She was not merely annoyed by the fact that he had responded so viciously, but by the notion that he had a point. "Look," She stated. "I'm just saying it's a little silly to have a computer giving me advice. It just sounds so pathetic to be consoled by a machine."

"Well, it better not be, Lady!" Adam barked. "I suppose under normal circumstances it would be strange, but I am not just some random construct. I was once your best friend; I know you well. Frankly, I'm disappointed that you would say something like that to me."

Samus couldn't help but feel a pinch of guilt upon hearing this. His words had struck home, and she felt that he was absolutely right. She felt ashamed to have talked to him in such a manner. "You're right. I apologize…"

There was a brief silence between the two, until Adam replied, "Do not dwell on it, Lady. I merely…" Before Adam could complete his sentence, multiple pings began to screech from the ship's navigation interface.

Immediately, Samus inquired, "Are we coming up on a planet?"

"It appears so, Lady," Adam responded. "I will determine its identity immediately."

"Good," Samus responded. It had been two weeks since she last resupplied, and her food stores were diminishing with each passing day. She could not flee from the Federation on an empty stomach, and she hoped she could find suitable rations on some backwater world beyond Federation territory. She could probably find some animal or herb that was edible, and prepare it for her culinary pleasure. It would be better than just having the various shades of freeze-dried slop that she kept on board the ship.

"Identity confirmed, Lady," Adam announced. "The planet is Mothri, a dense tropic world with no attractions beyond wildlife. It's a remote planet, where the Federation has no military presence."

"Music to my ears," Samus replied. A planet where the Federation had no interest suited her needs to the letter. And with its jungle ecosystem, there would be plenty of critters to eat while she thought about what course of action to take from then on. Her enthusiasm would be cut short however, by a grave announcement from Adam.

"Oh, no…" Adam mumbled. " Don't look now, but we have a warp signature coming in right behind us."

Samus felt her heart freeze. They followed us, she thought. She slowly glanced over to the sensor readouts on her left, and sure enough, and object was closing in behind her ship. Her heart was thumping wildly now.

"I thought you said the Federation didn't have any presence here!" Samus snapped.

"They don't! And calm down, please!" Adam exclaimed. "It appears that I was a bit of an alarmist when I said 'don't look now'. I now have a positive readout of the ship, and it doesn't match any Federation vessel that I've seen."

Samus's heart rate slowly settled down at hearing these words, but she wasn't sure she could be optimistic yet. "Really?" Samus inquired, hoping that the ship didn't belong to another bounty hunter seeking her corpse.

"Yes," Adam responded. "It is some model of ship called the 'Myrmidon-class', and it is named Hushed Avenger. This was all the information I could acquire from initial identification, Lady."

"Show me," Samus ordered. Adam pulled the data he had collected onto a monitor on Samus's right. A wire-frame model of the ship appeared on the screen. The Hushed Avenger looked nothing like Samus had ever seen. The ship's surface was smooth and sleek, with a pair of wings extending from the top of it, heading down back toward the stern. It vaguely reminded Samus of a beetle or cockroach. Its single engine was well pronounced at the aft of the craft, and it seemed as though it had no glaring limitation in terms of speed. However, the ship was a decent-sized transport, roughly one and a half times the size of Samus's own vessel, so she doubted that it was capable of matching a fighter's speed.

Samus felt a rapid vibration as the mysterious ship passed her. She could catch a clearer glimpse of its fuselage. It had a bright chrome finish to the hull plating. It wasn't uncommon among starships, but the sleek plating gave the chrome a sense of surreal beauty. She heard a cracking sound on the communication lines as the Avenger pulled into view.

"Federation vessel, this is the Hushed Avenger," a soothingly calm male voice announced. "You are in restricted airspace. Turn away or you will be escorted to the planet's surface."

Federation vessel? Samus thought. He must have been looking at the ship's ID tags. There are still Federation codes on them, so that the Feds would recognize me as a friendly. And what does he mean, I'm going to be escorted to the planet's surface? Who does he think he is, some kind of cop?

"Federation vessel," the voice beckoned again, this time slightly more irritated. "Turn immediately, or we will use deadly for-"

The transmission suddenly stopped, and Adam spoke, " I hate to interrupt your amusing conversation, Lady Samus, but we've got two new warp signatures coming in."

Samus felt her heart sink into her stomach. She may have been followed after all.

Two more visitors? She thought to herself. Slowly, she turned her head to view the sensor readouts. As clear as day, the two approaching harbingers were behind her, almost exactly at the point where the Avenger had appeared. This was turning into a catastrophe. Federation ships had appeared, most likely spotting her, and a mysterious entity called the Hushed Avenger was threatening her with deadly force…