The black void that consumed Samus was slowly fading away. As the veil lifted, her eyelids fluttered open, slowly carrying her to the conscious world. Her eyes were treated to a gray blur that focused as her eyelids opened. The blur materialized into a metal floor, shimmering in fluorescent light. She could hear footsteps nearby, and a distant intercom mumbling what she perceived to be gibberish. She felt the cold touch of metal against the arch of her spine, as her halter still covered her upper back. Still, the chill touch helped her to focus

Where am I? Samus thought to herself. This isn't my ship. How did I get here? After a brief moment, Samus remembered what happened. Wait, I crashed on the planet's surface. I lost consciousness as soon as I touched down. And the Avenger…ah! Could this be the Avenger's home base?

Samus lifted her head from the floor, and noticed a dark figure approaching her. Her eyes, out of fear, focused in an instant. Her eyes beheld a tall, lean figure in a black leather jacket. His black hair was slicked back, and he bore a small goatee. His turquoise-blue eyes were narrowed, throwing a piercing gaze at Samus, and his thin lips were twisted into a scowl.

"Ah, you're awake, you fucking bitch" He uttered with a sharp jab of contempt, his hateful eyes focused intently on Samus

Samus felt her blood rise to a boil. Whenever she heard the word "bitch", she felt an irrepressible need to hit one who spewed it in the face. She suddenly blurted, "What did you just call me?" She lunged forward as she said it, but her forward jerk was held back. Something was pinning her wrists and ankles to the wall. She glanced sideways, and found her wrists bound by sturdy metal clamps. They didn't even allow her to rotate the joints, and they cut off nearly all circulation. With the realization that she was restrained and helpless, Samus had no choice but to calm down and keep her anger in check.

"I said you're a filthy bitch, you Federation whore!" the man snarled. "And since you can't even move, much less attack me, you better do what I say! I have the authority to shoot you in your fucking face if I so please!"

Samus stared squarely at the man, filling her body with as much calm as she could muster. She surmised that this man was the leader of the group, or at least a high-ranking official, and that she was brought here for interrogation. It hardly surprised her, but she wondered why the Avenger's pilot didn't relay what happened to the rest of the faction, or that they hadn't detected the action in the atmosphere. Maybe they saw her ID tags and threw her in this cell because of their Federation designation. They did oppose the Federation for some reason, after all. Or maybe the Avenger was shot down as well.

It was then she noticed the other two men leaning against the grey walls of the room. One was a man of slender build who observed the scene with indifference, and the other was a much more stoutly built and muscular man who witnessed the happenings with a grave expression.

"Now listen and listen good, bitch!" the leader yelled again, demanding her undivided attention. "I want to know what you're doing here, and what kind of shit you plan on stirring here! Now spill it, bitch!"

Samus felt her concentration break slightly. The word "bitch" echoed across her mind. He knew that the word irritated her, and he was using it to rile her up. Samus said nothing, and did nothing, except breathe deeply through her nose. The Chozo had taught her much about controlling her emotions, and although she occasionally slipped, she could keep her emotions suppressed should she be resolved to do so. And this man was not going to break her resolve.

"I don't know what you're talking about," She replied calmly, keeping her composure firmly within her grasp. "I have no current ties to the Federation, and I do not plan on 'stirring any shit'."

The man's scowl tightened, and his narrowed further until they were but slits. Slowly he advanced towards Samus, clenching his right fist. Seeing this, Samus knew what was coming. In a brief and forceful motion, the man punched her with all his might in her stomach. Recoiling from the pain, Samus tilted her head toward the floor, softly groaning in pain as she did so. A second punch followed, and Samus felt nothing but the resounding and powerful agony that twisted her abdomen. She coughed vigorously, tasting the salty blood before it ejected from her mouth and onto the floor.

"Don't give me that bullshit!" The man barked. "We've seen your ship's ID tags, and we know that you're with the Federation! Tell me what you're doing here, or else I'll beat the shit out of you!"

Samus, slowly lifting her head to face the man, replied bitterly, "I told you, I have no ties to the Federation." After coughing some more, Samus weakly added, " I'm a fugitive, being tracked by the Feds for…destruction of property."

The man screamed at the top of his lungs, "If you think I'm going to believe that pile of steaming bullshit, you got another thing coming!" He clenched his fist again, and Samus braced herself for the hard impact of his hard and resolute knuckles.

"Sir, if I may, I think that what she says is true," one of the men in the back said. Samus looked toward them, and saw that the stronger man was standing upright, no longer leaning against the wall. He added, "The sensors showed that one of the Incubi was directly on her six before they malfunctioned."

"Shut up, Duprey! You're out of line!" The man yelled back. "If I recall quite clearly, Teras's orders were to capture the ship and detain its pilot! And if I also recall, the ship and the Incubus on her tail sped toward the Avenger's position, so shut it!"

A malfunction? Samus thought to herself. "That explains a lot." She then focused on this "Teras" character. Apparently the man before her held the reins in this interrogation, but this Teras person seemed to be of a higher status than him. Good thing, Samus thought. Or else this enraged psycho would've run this faction to the ground.

The man turned to face her again. He strode toward her with his fist clenched once more. He was going to punch her again. Samus resumed bracing herself for the blow. She would be fine; the first hit was always the most excruciating. Samus knew this better than anyone. The man pulled his fist quickly toward his waist, coiling it back to strike. Samus's gaze remained on him, never faltering. A part of her wanted to close her eyes, out of pure instinct more than anything else, but this was a game of psychological warfare, and Samus was determined not to show weakness, else her oppressor might exploit it.

He was about to assail Samus, when a voice rang out from the beyond the door. "Teal! What's going on?" Samus then heard a fusillade of knocks from the door. "Teal, open up!" it demanded again. Samus recognized the voice immeadiately; it belonged to the Avenger's pilot. The voice that contained a taciturn serenity was now strained.

The man stopped, all traces of anger seeming to leave his face, and in its stead surprise and joy occupied. He turned around and walked toward the door. He pressed a switch on the wall, and the blue energy field on the door fell. The rectangular door slid back to reveal the source of the voice: a tall lean man dressed in a brown, nylon trench coat that gave a regal air.

"Teras, sir!" The man exclaimed to the newly arrived visitor. "You're awake!" The other two men shot up from the wall in an instant. Eyes wide with curiosity, they saw Teras at the threshold, and he smiled at them like an old friend would.

"Chief! Welcome back!" Duprey hollered.

"Good to see you alive and kicking, sir!" the thinner man greeted.

Following their ecstatic welcomes were a brief exchange of handshakes. Teras accepted each one thoughtfully and gratefully, but then drove his comrades away. "Now, I'd like to see the prisoner," He announced.

Samus scrutinized the man that was stepping through the portal. His appearance was pleasant enough. He had a slim build, his sculpted chest only concealed by a white polyester shirt under his unzipped trench coat. His dark brown hair fell in a mat across his forehead, and his grey eyes gave him a watchful, iron gaze.

So this is Teras, Samus thought to herself. He certainly looks nicer than this Teal douche bag. Still, Samus was wary. She knew that looks were deceiving, and she was certain that Teras could hurt her just as well as Teal could. He certainly had the muscles to do so. Samus felt it best to simply do what he asked, so that she could be freed without incident. She was in no mood to make any more enemies.

Teras waltzed into the room, his boots giving a soft plop as he approached. He glanced at Samus, then down at the floor beneath her feet, where the blood she regurgitated still lay. He let out a sigh and remarked, "Teal, remind me never to let you do an interrogation again."

The man who had questioned her, Teal, gave a surprised look and replied, "But, Teras! This woman was with the Incubus that attacked you! Your ship is a smoldering pile of junk because of her! You were unconscious in the infirmary for eight hours because of her!"

Teras turned towards Teal, and with the utmost seriousness, stated, "My ship is a pile of junk because of the Incubi that tried to kill both of us. If the sensors didn't malfunction before the battle, you would've known that."

Teal paused for a minute, with an awestruck look materializing on his face, processing this new information. After that moment passed, he stubbornly declared, "Sir! Your orders were to detain her ship! I followed proper protocol in bringing her to the brig!"

"That's right. I did order you to detain the ship, and you did follow proper protocol in bringing her here. However, causing internal bleeding is hardly acceptable. We're not supposed to get physical with our detainees until about two hours of questioning. From what I understand, as I have only woken up about eight minutes ago, is that it has been only five minutes since the questioning started."

"Sir! I am the executive officer of this base! I have a responsibility to take command when you are absent from duty!"

"Did you quote that from the handbook?" Teras asked rhetorically. Teal seemed to fume silently. "Anyway, " Teras continued. "Being the ever-devout XO you are, you should have known better. Now as the commanding officer, I command you to go to your quarters. We'll discuss this later."

Teal, still silently fuming, reluctantly obliged. He hastily stepped out the door, with Teras's gaze falling on him. After he left, Teras groaned and mumbled something that sounded like, "What am I gonna do with him?" Teras turned his gaze toward the other two observers, who had reassumed their positions on the wall.

"Duprey, Ursan, you two should leave as well, " He said. At his orders, the two men simply shrugged and left the room. Teras flipped the switch on the wall, closing the door behind them.

"Now", he uttered. "Let's do this properly."

Teras walked lithely up to Samus, hoping to resume interrogation. He moved up to Samus, confidently looking her in the eyes. Samus returned the gesture, slightly relieved at the discussion between him and Teal. She knew that she wasn't going to hurt her physically, a fact that comforted her. Still, all other possibilities, such as being locked in a fowl-smelling dungeon, were up to him.

"I trust you had a pleasant time with Teal," He commented facetiously.

Samus's answer was a blunt and terse, "No." Being yelled at and coughing up blood was not her idea of a good time. What she wanted was to be out of her bonds, but since she couldn't be set free until this man saw fit to do so, she knew she had to play along with him.

"Not the talkative type, are you?" Teras inquired.

Samus just stared at him. He was true in saying that she wasn't talkative, but she didn't feel particularly gregarious in her current situation.

"I didn't think so," Teras chuckled. "Anyway, you're an intriguing one, miss." He moved closer to Samus, making her tense up out of instinct. "Your ship clearly has a Federation designation, and yet the Incubus shot you down without a second thought. I'm curious; why would the Federation try to kill you?"

Samus sighed, showing no hint of weakness in her expression, and holding her eyes firm with his. "I'll tell you what I told Teal," She uttered. "I'm a criminal, wanted for the destruction of their property."

Teras's eyebrows perked up at her reply. "Really?" He piped. Samus just nodded her head. It was a vague explanation, but it was true. And it was plausible, given the circumstances. It was a win-win situation, as far was she was concerned. However, there was always the chance that Teras would not accept that explanation, as Teal didn't. But Teras was of an entirely different disposition that Teal, so perhaps that chance was reduced.

"And I suppose your ship was stolen from them, then?" He asked.

"No," Samus answered. "It was given to me. I used to work for them."

Teras plainly shrugged. "Well, what sort of property are we talking about?" Teras inquired. "Was the property important? Was it of significant value to the Federation?"

"Yes it was," Samus responded. "It was an orbital research station. They were mass-producing valuable bio-weapons there."

Teras's eyebrows perked again. "Bio-weapons, you say?" He asked.

Samus shook her head vertically.

"Well, can you get more specific? Like what they were planning to do with these bio-weapons? What these bio-weapons are? Anything like that?"

Samus thought about it for a minute. Should I give the specifics? she pondered. Well, I don't see any reason not to. I'm already neck-deep in trouble with the Federation, and I need to feed this guy answers in order to win my freedom, so I might as well. Whether he believes me or not is a separate issue.

"Well?" Teras prodded. "Are you going to talk?"

She finally answered, "Well, all I'm going to say is that they were parasites that kill you by sucking the life out of you." She then smiled and added, "And there's more. They also wanted to capture another type of parasite from the planet that the station was orbiting. A type that could mimic its prey by using its DNA."

Teras smiled slyly at Samus, clearly processing this information. "Well, that's interesting. I've never heard of anything like that, " He remarked. "And why did you destroy this station?"

Samus plainly answered, "I felt the creatures were dangerous, so I had the station self-destruct."

Teras imbibed her answer like a sponge, but there seemed to be some doubt in his expression. "Are you sure that you are telling me the truth?" he questioned.

"I'm sure," Samus replied. "I don't really have much of a choice, do I?"

Teras laughed again, and said, "No, you don't." He then stepped back from Samus, and held his hand to his chin and thought. "Well, the Federation nearly killed you, so I know that you aren't our enemy, but I'm not sure I can completely trust you either," He stated. He removed his hand from his chin, and looked right into Samus's eyes. "So here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to let you go free, but on a leash. I'll let you stay inside the base, and use all the facilities, but you are not to go onto the grounds or to leave the base without permission. I will impose these conditions for as long as I see necessary. I trust that this will be acceptable."

This deal was music to Samus's ears. Sure, she couldn't leave without their consent, but she felt that she didn't need to. The whole point of coming here was to escape from the Federation, and a man who happened to be the leader of a militant anti-Federation group offering her a place to stay was more than what she could've ever hoped for. The only thing she had to put up with, as far as she knew, was that beastly Teal, and Teras could chastise him should he step out of line. Samus eagerly answered, "Yes, that will be perfectly acceptable." She could barely contain her smile.

Teras smiled back. "Good," He replied. "Now I will let you go, and promptly show you to your quarters, Miss…Miss…I don't believe I know your name."

"My name?" Samus asked.

Teras nodded his head, patiently expecting a reply.

Samus sighed, and answered, "You may believe or disbelieve me if you wish, but my name is Samus. Samus Aran."

A look of incredulity permeated Teras's face. "Oh, really?" Teras mumbled. "Well that's interesting." He then smiled. "But, you know, you're not the only girl I've met who said she was Samus Aran."

Samus merely stared, and remarked, "I told you; you can believe or disbelieve me all you like. But that is my name and I will hold fast to it."

Teras's doubt slowly left his face, although Samus wasn't certain if the doubt was gone from his mind. "Well then, Miss Aran, I, Teras Galli, welcome you the Scion mercenary outpost, Mothri sector."

"Thank you," Samus answered. But after she said it, she began to ponder about a detail in Teras's greeting. Scion mercenary base? She ruminated. So this whole group is a mercenary outfit? Why would they hold a grudge against the Federation? This doesn't make any sense…

"Now, Miss Aran, if that's your real name," Teras interjected, disrupting her thoughts. "I suppose I should release you, but I'll be shadowing you to make sure you don't kill my men. Or women, for that matter."

Samus smiled affably. "Don't worry, I won't," she responded. "I may be many things, but I'm certainly not careless."

Teras cringed at those words, as though Samus had struck some deep, dark corner of his heart. He threw a dark, melancholy glare toward Samus's direction, his iron eyes magnifying it to a withering stare.

Samus's grin faded completely, and she looked into Teras's eyes, taking the full effect of his Gorgon-like look. "What?" She asked. "Did I say something wrong?" Samus was concerned about what effect her statement might have had. He was going to let her go, but she worried that her sentence may have made him change his mind.

Teras shook his head and replied, "No, it's nothing."

He reached inside his pocket and pulled out a small, handheld laser pointer, of a type often used for keys. He went over to the bonds, and shone the pointer on each one, freeing Samus's wrists and ankles with a staccato of clanks. She fell softly onto the floor, bending her knees as she landed, and falling on her hands and knees. She slowly stood herself up, and met Teras's gaze. The melancholy was mostly gone from them, but there was still a hint of grim regret within the steel iris.

He went over to the door and opened it, then gestured for her to walk through like a gentleman. She obliged, and passed through the portal, with Teras emerging behind her.

"Now, I'm going to take you to my office, so that I can assign you a bunk for the night. However, if you want to stay in the bunk, I need you to formally join Scion, or else I'll have to throw you in the brig. Sorry, but that's the way I roll."

Samus was in no position to argue. She would do whatever it meant to stay, even join the mercenaries. As far as she was concerned, she had no other options. This was the only place she could go; the Federation would not take her in, not after what she had done. She acknowledged his demand and would see to it tomorrow.

They walked down the hall towards Teras's office in silence. The hall was a dull metal, with simple light fixtures attached to the ceiling, and the occasional blue-shielded door. Passerby and bystanders glanced at them, and whispered amongst themselves in nearly inaudible tones. But Samus did not pay attention to them. She was amazed by her stroke of good fortune, and how Teras so willingly let her go.

Meanwhile, Teras was locked in his own ponderings. "So, the warrant that our hackers intercepted was true. Samus Aran is a wanted fugitive," He thought. "Everything she said tallies up with that warrant. All signs point to her telling the truth, yet I still should be cautious. I'll see if I can run her ship's ID number through the Federation databases tomorrow. Regardless, it's a good thing I went to show that warrant to HQ, even though it cost me my ship. I probably should have told Teal, seeing as how she might have been spared some pain, but oh well."

Teras smiled to himself. "Though I must say, I never expected Samus Aran, or at least someone that could be her, to show up in a Scion brig." He glanced at Samus, making sure that she didn't wander off. "Yes, definitely an unexpected occurrence. She could be of great value to us. But I digress. I made the terrible mistake of letting the Federation follow me here. I might have to make a change of residence very soon…"