Epilogue: Heavy Metal Queen
The day of the attack was an otherwise normal one for planet Optimus and Galactic Federation Headquarters. It rained, but that was nothing new, and everybody went about their work mostly unimpeded aside from a few nasty traffic jams that lasted until noon. This led to some slight irritation on the parts of many, but they dealt with it. Unaware of what would happen, they simply did their jobs, thinking of little more than the tasks at hand and what they would do in the evening once they had clocked out.
Planet Optimus, of course, was protected by an otherwise redundant amount of defenses, both manned and automatic. In addition to regular space patrols by the Egenoid Star Marines, there were thousands of orbital defense satellites, and should a threat be sighted, the Optimus Polar Bases held local defense fleets that could be deployed within minutes. All of this combined to make the Galactic Federation's stronghold seemingly impenetrable. However, the reality of the situation was that anything and everything had flaws, somewhere.
Should the Star Marines have their payroll delayed, they would cease all operations for the late party immediately, although of course they would resume once the matter was cleared up. There were ways to gain access to the defensive satellites as well; despite their best efforts, those running the Federation had not yet managed to eradicate all higher-ups with certain opinions and sympathies. As for local defense, they never imagined an attack on the level that required them would last less than the time required for them to arrive.
And so, the shockwaves ran through the entire universe on one fine day when the skies above Galactic Federation Headquarters opened up, and destruction rained from the heavens along with the water.
"We did it! Caught 'em with their pants down!" Third Captain Gelltor crowed over the comms linking the attacking fleet. "Planetside security's all dragging their asses back at the polar bases! They never dreamed we'd actually charge this place head-on!" The scrawny pickpocket had come a long way in a short time, using his association with Samus to lead up his own small but growing crime family, one with standards.
"Don't get cocky." Horzat snarled. "There's still the defense satellites. Watch your asses for those, and remember, we're here to smash and go. Nobody even think about landing but us, and remember, we're out of here in ten minutes! We don't want to be here when planetside arrives, or this'll be the last time we do this!"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah." Second Captain Welhaam chimed in. "Doesn't mean we can't have fun while we're here! Come on, boys! Light 'em up!" Though she held no official stature outside of her rank in the fleet, Welhaam had made connections in dark corners of the uninet that none of the other officers even bothered trying to understand. However she did it, it seemed that no information was forever safe from her these days.
"That's the spirit!" First Captain Firkgon yelled with unusual fervor. "My men have been waiting for months to see some action! Let's give it to 'em, fellows!" Despite his personality, the aged clan leader was still an Evir. His people comprised a huge portion of the fleet; planet Evir had completely seceded, and the Firkgon regularly entertained their leaders at his underwater palace. The arrangement was likely just as much to take part in the fight as it was over outrage over the Federation's actions, if not more, but nobody complained.
"Guess I can't argue with that." Fourth Captain Hrug growled calmly. "Not usually my kind of thing, but this is one of those days. We can dish it out when we have to." The massive Iz trucker's contribution wasn't as glorious as the others, but no less vital. The deep-space shipping companies, independent in the best of times, had suffered a plague of clumsiness and incompetence recently, "losing" massive amounts of cargo on a daily basis to "pirate attacks" that had become oddly likely to leave the shippers unharmed these days.
"Kids these days." Horzat grumbled, slouching in the seat next to Samus. Light from the beams flashing outside glinted off of the bionic replacements that took up his empty eye socket and missing limbs now, courtesy of the finest black market upgrades available. "Six months without a real fight, and when it finally comes along, they're like they just got some candy."
"Let 'em have their fun. We came here to wreck the joint, right?" Sa's voice came from the engine room. "We're in the clear so far, Samus. How you doing, guys?"
"Got another one!" Ji replied excitedly. "That's five so far!"
"No fair! I only got four!" Ni complained. "No wait, there we go!"
"Do try not to fall out of your seats this time, please." Falar asked them wearily. "It would not be a good idea this time, I think. At all." Her chick chirped in agreement.
"All right, all of you. Keep the ship alive. We'll try not to be long." Samus Aran, hero of the universe, stood up and walked towards the door. "Coming, you two?"
"Of course, Lady." The last member of the crew replied calmly. "There's not much for me to say at this point in time, but I'd like to be there, all the same. Although I still think we should have waited a few more months, and gathered more strength." To the casual eye, he was a human male in his midthirties; only careful inspection would pinpoint him as a top-of-the-line android. He no longer wore the Federation's uniform, but aside from that, Adam Malkovich was just as he had appeared in life once more.
"Yeah, we know, but if we wait any longer he might go down a rathole somewhere." Horzat shook his head. "Bad enough that we can't get a bead on that Renpou asshole. She's not letting him get away too."
"I know." Adam agreed. "Just as long as we don't get careless, or drag it out. You know what you're here to do. Let's do it, and leave. Any objections, lady?"
"Not this time." Samus shook her head, leading the way out of the cockpit and then the ship. "This time, it's not for the money, or for the galaxy, or for the people. This time, it's personal." Hanging from the bottom, she jumped through a broken window thirty stories up. Horzat and Adam followed her with less grace. The hall was deserted, and so she strode down it unchallenged, until she found her target. Blowing the door off its hinges with a missile, she sprang inside, wary of traps.
Commander Mark Todar sat calmly at his desk, waiting for her.
"It's been some time, Samus." He greeted her, ignoring the widespread obliteration occurring just outside the window behind him. Laser fire capable of decimating entire buildings backlit the Federation man, throwing his face into shadow. "You seem to have done quite well for yourself since we last met. An entire fleet of warships at your command, and this is only the military branch of your power. Impressive as always."
"You know me, Todar. I never stop at half-measures." Samus shrugged easily, cannon aimed at his head. "Come on in, boys."
"Ah, mister Horzat." Todar greeted the Zebesian calmly. "My, that all looks expensive. I wonder-" As he saw Adam, his breath caught, actually looking visibly shocked for once. "What. This is impossible."
"Did you really think your people were the only ones capable of creating an android advanced enough to hold a human mind in electronic form, Mark?" Adam smiled a little. "You always did overestimate the Federation's superiority."
"I see." Todar's face remained calm. "Well done indeed, miss Aran. Have you backed up your own persona as well?"
"It seemed appropriate to start planning ahead." Samus lied with a straight face; she hadn't been prepared to go that far, but there was no harm in spreading rumor, in case of listening devices. "I'm not getting any younger, after all."
"Really? That's one story we can cross off as false, then." Todar spoke, as always, with barely any facial movement, despite the agitation in his eyes. "There are quite a few of them these days, of course. Samus Aran, the walking miracle. Savior of the galaxy, hero to all. Some of the stories are really quite ridiculous, you know. Regardless, you've amassed quite a following. Petty crime is up fifty percent, the uninet is still in chaos, all the deep-space shipping companies are in revolt, and then there's the secessions. How many entire planets do you have behind you now? Five?"
"Only the ones you know about." Horzat chuckled grimly. "Nice try. Humor an old friend, Marky boy. What's your favorite ridiculous story?"
"A difficult question. I'd say the one about memories." Todar leaned forward ever-so-slightly, hands flat on his desk. "With one hand you bring death, and the other you bring enlightenment, they say. Genetic memory. Hereditary knowledge. Transferal of knowledge, of memories. They say that if somebody doubts your word, you can show them what happened, let them see and feel it themselves, with just a touch."
"They don't talk about the side effects, of course." Samus replied conversationally as she walked towards Todar. "We're not X, thank god. There's no hivemind involved. But what's shared is remembered. Always. If people want to see it with their own eyes, I can let them. It's done wonders for recruitment."
"You're telling me that it's true." Todar replied flatly. "That being physically superior to humans wasn't enough. Now you're claiming to be spiritually superior as well."
"Superior's a tricky word. I prefer different." Samus smiled coldly. "I'm just one more freak in a universe full of them. If you'd like me to prove it, though, I can provide. Would you like to 'remember seeing' somebody slowly melt apart in lava?"
"That's not really necessary." Todar declined. "You've come here to kill me. There's no need to get carried away. And with Adam here, it's fairly obvious why."
"You killed me, Mark." Adam said coldly. "We were roommates in the academy. We weren't exactly close; complete opposites. But when the worst happened, we understood each other. Naturally, idealogical differences forced us apart after we graduated. Even then, I still never believed you would do that. I let you into my office that night, and you murdered me, just like that."
"I suppose I did, yes." Todar admitted. "Renpou explained it to me. It needed to be done, and that was all there was to it."
Samus was ready when he went for the hidden gun. She shot his hand, and when he jerked back, she lunged for him and pulled him over the desk, smashing him bodily into the floor. Pulling his arms behind him, she placed her cannon against the back of his head.
"That's about it, really." She said conversationally. "Any last words?"
"I appreciate you giving me that much, at least." Todar admitted, voice still calm, despite the charred appendage. "It was nothing personal, Adam. Miss Aran. It was never personal."
"Wrong." Samus looked down at the man she was about to kill with disgust. More than anything, she wanted to whip him around and plunge the fangs into his face, to watch his calm break, watch him scream as she devoured him. More than anything in the universe, she wanted to do that. But she knew she couldn't. Maybe if the other two hadn't been there, she would have given in. But if she did that just once, she knew she would never be able to stop. "No, Todar. That's what you never got. You can't get any more personal than taking a life. You could never understand that."
To his credit, Todar didn't scream, not even once, as her beam slowly burned away the back of his skull, until nothing remained of his head but his face.
Turning away from the corpse, Samus started to leave, then paused, looking out the window. The amount of firepower descending upon the planet had increased dramatically all of a sudden. Through the window, she saw more ships descending, destroying buildings and deploying ground troops. Space Pirate ships, and Space Pirate troops. On her orders, her own ships weren't firing on them, but they watched them carefully, in case they would need to. In return, the Space Pirates concentrated on the Federation as well. This time.
"About time." She smiled grimly, breaking the window with a punch.
"I'll go back to the ship and get them ready to pick you up." Adam said as Horzat walked over to join her. "Have fun, lady."
"You know me." Samus said over her shoulder as she threw herself from the window, Space Jumping down. Landing on a well-manicured lawn, she watched a Space Pirate battlecruiser zeroing in on her.
As Horzat hovered down next to her on a retractable jetpack, the Pirate ground troops formed a wide circle around her. Zebesians and KiHunters both watched them carefully, but made no signs to attack. The ship came to a halt overhead, covering them from the worst of the rain, and deployed two more Pirates. An obese, reptilian Iz with spindly arms, a vertical row of abdominal spikes, and three faceted red eyes. By his side, a winged, sinewy Drakar, his golden eyes shining as his javelin tail spun around him.
"Welcome to the party. Figured you'd have your date back up by now." Samus said calmly. "Brought one of my own."
"So I see." Kraid, the Space Pirates' mad scientist, grunted. "Horzat. You're looking shiny, old man. I like the new look. Must have cost you a year's worth of mopping up piss and puke off the floor. Here I thought you'd be in a home by now. Congratulations."
"Shame I can't say the same about your chrome dome, Kraid." Horzat growled. "Hair loss in this day and age. Gotta be embarrassing looking in the mirror. You've lost weight, though, I'll give you that. Finally kicked the Sys-Gro, or did you just forget how to make it?"
"Well, we all seem to be getting along wonderfully." Ridley commented dryly. "Better that way, really. Don't want anybody thinking we teamed up or anything, right? How long do you figure we've got?"
"We'd better be out of here in five minutes." Samus cracked her knuckles. "Hardly enough time to really enjoy ourselves, really."
"A shame, a shame. Still, might as well make use of what time we have." Ridley grinned, millions of needle fangs bared.
Surrounded by death and destruction, two warriors both smiled, and let their instincts return them to the true reason they stayed alive.
Another day, another dollar. Another half-a-year-or-so, another story. Well, I had fun with this one, and I hope to have fun with future ones. What more is there to say, really? When I wrote Super Metroid, I was still a technical adolescent with serious mental health issues and not much skill, going at it on pure determination. I certainly hope I've improved some since those days, but that's beside the point. Regardless, there was enough in that old project to justify a sequel, and so I cobbled one together, and I'm fairly satisfied with the result. How I'll look at it six years from now is anybody's guess, but for now, I'm good.
Anyways, keeping with tradition with my last Author's Note, I'm more or less winging it at this point. I've been working all day and I'm working my way through a six-pack, so I daresay this is all that can be reasonably expected of me. I doubt I'll be returning to the world of Metroid after this; despite the open end, I don't really have any ideas as to where to take it from there. Plus, my relationship with the canon timeline is arguable at best, and will probably get worse once the newly-announced game comes out. Tradition when it comes to me and Metroid, I guess.
Now then, time for the "interactive" part of this, which is to say the part where I respond to questions/comments in reviews that haven't already been sufficiently answered in the story itself! MetaKraid pointed out the results of my C- in high school science courses, in regards to the blue X. A fix for that has been suggested, and is being implemented! Maximus1, on the other hand, pointed out a trend I have towards giving the heroes cynical, neutral advisors, which I freely admit to. It's not quite the same way David and Leigh Eddings did things, but I think their sizable influence on my style is still fairly apparent.
Finally, None Of Your Business points out another influence on my work; Erico, my mentor in this particular field. I still consider myself far shy of his talent, and owe him a great deal for getting me involved in this in the first place; I'd never have come this far without him. While I'm at it, I'd like to thank Masboy and Quill, two good buddies of mine who are always there to tell me how I'm doing, and a fellow named Nethertribes, who I've never actually met but who's providing my free advertising, which is always a good thing. Gracias, senor.
It seems this has been somewhat remedied, but right at first, this one wasn't doing too hot when it came to getting reviews. So, logically, we come to the last portion of this Author's Note. The part where I ask for some help from all of you readers. Specifically, feedback. How'd I do this time, folks? What stood out, and what needed more work? If I want to get better, I need input, so I'd seriously appreciate your opinions on that now that it's all said and done. I can take it, so don't be afraid of hurting my feelings.
Meanwhile, I'm going to prepare for my next project, which will probably be Breath Of Fire 2, but might instead be Zelda: Link's Awakening. You all know how it goes; personal issues might interfere, yadda yadda yadda. Regardless, one'll be along (relatively) soon, and then the other will (eventually) follow. We'll see what happens when I get there! Until then, everybody make sure you stay alive! I'll be doing my best to do the same.
~Magus523 June 14, 2009